Where does the time go? It seems like just days ago I was previewing the 2012 Pac-12 slate of games. Now we are deep into the schedule as week six approaches. Surprises so far? How about the development of Oregon State Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion and his talented group of receivers. Mike Riley has OSU rolling at a 3-0 start.
Once again that team in Palo Alto upset the USC Trojans. After four seasons is it really considered an upset when the Stanford Cardinal gets the better of Matt Barkley? Here’s a surprise if you are into sarcasm, the Oregon Ducks are averaging 52.4 points a game. Weird right?
Last week I was 4-1 in picking winners. Here are my selections for this weekend including Thursday night. Enjoy the games!
All times Pacific
13 USC Trojans (3-1) (1-1) at Utah Utes (2-2) (0-2) Thursday 6pm
Before the season started I had this Thursday night meeting circled on the calendar. Two undefeated teams meeting in a Pac-12 South battle with possible championship implications. It would be the biggest football game in Salt Lake City history.
However, three losses, and a combined 1-2 conference record later, some of the preseason shine has worn away for these two teams. USC has too many play-makers. Barkley can get the ball in the hands of talented receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. Utah has a respectable defense but the offense is just bad.
Prediction: USC 36 Utah 17
Arizona Wildcats (3-2) (0-2 Pac-12) at 18 Stanford Cardinal (3-1) (1-1) Noon
Remember when the Wildcats were undefeated and ranked? It’s been a rough two weeks for Rich Rodriguez. The good news is, that there is opportunity to get back into the national conversation with a win over 18 Stanford.
However, don’t count on it, as the Cardinals will win this game old-school style with defense and a punishing run game.
Prediction: Arizona 27 Stanford 34
Washington State Cougars (2-3) (0-2) at 14 Oregon State Beavers (3-0) (2-0) 3pm
Winning has returned to Corvallis thanks to Sean Mannion living up to his billing. Markus Wheaton at receiver and Storm Woods at running back help balance the attack. OSU also has a stingy D that is giving up a respectable 20 points per game.
Washington State doesn’t have the run game to keep OSU playing honest on pass defense, so expect the Beavers to be aggressive in the secondary. Mike Leach continues to pound Tums on the sideline.
Prediction: Oregon State 34 Washington State 20
I witnessed the Bruins in person last Saturday in Folsom Field. Don’t be fooled when quarterback Brett Hundley goes into the shotgun, as this team likes to pound the football with their speedy running back, Johnathan Franklin.
The Bruins pass defense worries me against the skill players for Cal. QB Zach Maynard has an array of weapons, but is coach Jeff Tedford using them correctly? I would like to see the Bears go with Isi Sofele in the run game more. The talented back is averaging a mere 13 carries per game, a number that should be closer to 25 per contest.
Prediction: UCLA 33 Cal 27
23 Washington Huskies (3-1) (1-0) at 2 Oregon Ducks (5-0) (2-0) 7:30pm
So the next team on the “Can Anyone Beat Oregon Tour 2012″ is Steve Sarkisian’s Huskies. I have been asked on radio if UW can pull this one off. My answer is no. I like Keith Price at quarterback a lot, but his offensive line gives me reason for pause this weekend.
If you haven’t noticed the Ducks score a lot of points. On the ground UW gives up an average of 4.1 a play. Marcus Mariota is just a freshman quarterback, but he has Chip Kelly’s race car humming.
Prediction: Washington 26 Oregon 48