The Pac 12 season is stepping up in the intrigue department after a major upset last week. There are six teams ranked in the top 25 and all of them are in action this week to try and continue their strong starts to 2012.
Now is the time that the conference will start to shake out as teams start to figure out their identity and play up to their skill level. What does that mean for some of the fast starters in the Pac 12 South? Will the old guard in the Pac 12 North continue to rule? Only time will tell.
In the inter-division race, the North and South split a pair of games last week, going 1-1 against each other. That keeps the season series tied at 4-4 and adds some weight to the theory that the Pac 12 is deep and balanced this season.
The picks had a rough day last week, going just 2-3. That brings the season total to 12-8. We’ll look to to get things going in the right direction again for Week 6.
The Utes had a week off to think about the embarrassment they suffered down in the desert at the hands of the Arizona State Sun Devils in Week 4. This is a game they’ve had circled since the schedules came out and plan to make Salt Lake City a very hostile environment for the visiting Trojans. Don’t forget, we haven’t seen the Utes “blackout” look yet this year. Expect the Thursday start, the elevation of the game, and the electricity of the crowd to make USC falter just enough to keep it close. Trojans pull off the win, but they don’t impress anybody in the process. Trojans by 7.
Stanford got away from made them successful when they went up to Seattle and lost, and that was the power running game. Stepfan Taylor will have to be the focus this week at The Farm. The physical style of Stanford should give the thinned out Arizona defense all they can handle and will keep Matt Scott and the Wildcat offense on the sidelines getting cold. If Rich Rodriguez can’t figure out a way for his undersized 3-3-5 defensive front to slow down the big uglies of the Cardinal, it’s going to be long night in Palo Alto. Stanford by 10.
WSU hasn’t won as many games as they’ve wanted to, but they always make the games interesting. They hung in there against the Oregon Ducks last week and covered that spread with a late touchdown pass. Mike Leach looks like a coach who knows how to get his team to cover, or at least try his best. Let’s not forget the deep throw while trying to run out the clock against the UNLV Rebels as the Cougs sat just one point away from covering the spread. And while Oregon State has been very good this year, they haven’t shown the ability to blow a team away. That may come this weekend, but expect the Cougars to be slinging the ball until the very end in an effort to cover. Beavers by 14.
UCLA bounced back from a disappointing loss at home by taking care of business last week in Boulder. While the Colorado Buffalo weren’t projected to be much of a test, it proved a lot for the young talent of the Bruins to handle their business for a comfortable win. The offensive dynamic duo of Brett Hundley and Jonathan Franklin look to be clicking again, which is bad news for the Bears. Bruins by 10.
(23) Washington Huskies @ (2) Oregon Ducks (-24.5)
The rivalry between these I-5 neighbors is a fierce one, no matter what the Ducks’ players tell you. Washington is coming off an impressive defensive performance where they shut down the power running game of Stanford. This, however, will be a whole different task. The Ducks bring arguably the most speed in the country to the football field, and the most that UW has seen since their trip to Baton Rouge to take on the LSU Tigers. That game didn’t turn out so well. Look for the Ducks to separate late. Oregon by 28.