Six weeks into the Pac-12 season and the contenders and pretenders are beginning to show their faces. Last week I was 4-1 at predicting winners for the conference. Overall a good week, but room for improvement.
The UCLA Bruins haven’t won in the Strawberry Hills since 1998. History should have been taken into account when I made my pick for the Cal Bears to lose at home. Have you figured out Cal this year? I haven’t.
Here are my picks for week seven. Enjoy the games!
All times Pacific
Is this a trap for the Sun Devils? A big win on the road at Cal last week and next week the Oregon Ducks come calling to Tempe. Could it be that the Buffs might get lost in the fray. Don’t count on it. Arizona State has a defense that wreaks havoc in the opposition’s backfield. Three out of five games this year ASU has recorded double digit tackles for losses. Oh they average 38 points a game on offense.
Having a bye to prepare for the spread option Todd Graham offense will benefit the Buffs for a quarter or two. Colorado is struggling to find an identity on offense, and without Paul Richardson to stretch the field, points will be tough to come by.
Prediction: Arizona State 44 Colorado 23
Utah Utes (2-3) (0-2) at UCLA Bruins (4-2) (1-2) Noon
Led by a defense that is statistically third in the Pac-12, Utah can take advantage of a banged up Johnathan Franklin. Redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley needs Franklin to take the pressure off the passing game.
Kyle Whittingham has a bit of a QB quandary as he shuffles playing time between starter Jon Hays and freshman Travis Wilson. My guess is the Utah D can keep the game close enough for one the quarterbacks to have a chance to win at the end. That being said, I simply trust the Bruins offense more than the Utes.
Prediction: Utah 17 UCLA 26
Last week we witnessed the maturation of Josh Nunes. The Stanford QB beat the Arizona Wildcats at their own game winning in a shootout. Down by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the first year staring junior is becoming more of an asset than a liability post Andrew Luck.
Notre Dame has been winning by playing great defense. Led by a vicious front seven, the Irish have a ton of talent near the line of scrimmage, highlighted by senior Manti Te’o. The secondary worries me with converted defender Matthias Farley at safety, and freshman KeiVarae Russell at corner. I can’t wait for this one to kick off.
Prediction: Stanford 27 Notre Dame 26
10 Oregon State Beavers (4-0) (3-0) at BYU Cougars (4-2) 12:30pm
It isn’t like Oregon State is avoiding a challenging schedule. Wins against the Wisconsin Badgers, Arizona, and UCLA are enough to get Mike Riley’s team noticed. Finding themselves in the top ten, the challenge continues in Provo Saturday.
Here’s the bad news, Sean Mannion is out at QB for a undisclosed amount of time as he awaits knee surgery. BYU’s offense is bad enough for the Beavers to survive. Backup Cody Vaz has minimal experience and OSU will get the Cougars best shot. Here is my upset pick of the week.
Prediction: Oregon State 23 BYU 26
11 USC Trojans (4-1) (2-1) at Washington Huskies (3-2) (1-1) 4pm
A healthy Trojans roster is a nasty team to tangle with. The Huskies are no slouch when it comes to talent either. Keith Price will have to have a big game and running back Bishop Sankey must duplicate his 104 yard effort at Oregon.
The Huskies have forced at least one turnover in every game this year. However, in the past two games the offense has failed to take advantage scoring a collective zero points on three takeaways.
Prediction: USC 33 Washington 23
California Golden Bears (2-4) (1-2) at Washington State Cougars (2-4) (0-3) 7:30pm
Here’s a number for you, 100. What is that? That would be the FCS offensive rank for points scored by the Mike Leach led Cougars offense. Clearly there is work to be done in Pullman. Neither Connor Halliday nor Jeff Tuel have have separated themselves as a clear number one QB.
Now for the team that perplexes me beyond no end. Cal has talent coming out of its ear holes. Offensively this is a squad that should average close to 40 a game. Maybe the big win over UCLA this past Saturday was the turning point that the Bears needed. Even if the win was a mirage (which I don’t think it was) Cal should have no problem this weekend.
Prediction: Cal 38 Washington State 19