Five right, one wrong with last week’s selections sets the current mark at 33-7. Arizona and Utah take the week off, the rest go head to head in Pac-12 play with Washington State and USC kicking off the festivities with a Friday night date in Pullman. But first our recap of last week’s results.
Friday, September 22
Utah 30 – Arizona 24 (pick: Utah 35-23)
Tyler Huntley – Utah’s sophomore starting quarterback – completed 8 of 9, one for a score before exiting the game in the second quarter with a pile driven right shoulder separation. Having an experienced back-up at the position paid quick dividends for the Utes with Troy Williams – who started 13 games last season – taking the helm in the conference opener, throwing for a score and rushing for another. Arizona’s Brandon Dawkins suffered three picks and was ruled to have fumbled away the Wildcats’ last possession when video replay was unable to confirm he had been downed on the play. JJ Taylor’s earlier fumble didn’t help the Arizona cause either.
Saturday, September 23
USC 30 – California 20 (pick: USC 38-18)
A little of both… Cal is an improved football team and USC has yet to play to its potential. Maybe the better perspective on this game is just how fine a line can separate any two teams in the Pac-12. No doubt the Trojans have talented players across the roster, though injuries are adding up. There is also little doubt the Bears have nowhere to go but up under Justin Wilcox; the program has struggled since the early days of the Tedford regime. Maybe some of that was on display too but the point is worth restating – until proven differently, Washington will command a sizable favorite status but the rest of the rest of the schedule is a turning into a bunch of pick ‘ems.
Washington 37 – Colorado 10 (pick: Washington 37-21)
Within a field goal at the half, the Buffalos more or less ran themselves right out of the ballgame with three Steven Montez interceptions – one a pick six – and a 57-yard Myles Gaskin touchdown scamper in a rematch of last year’s conference championship. Gaskin ended up with 202 yards and a pair of scores on 278 carries.
Stanford 58 – UCLA 34 (pick: Stanford 30-27)
Bryce Love more than made up for the loss of starting quarterback Keller Chryst to injury in Stanford’s win in Palo Alto. Third string quarterback K.J. Costello took over the huddle but the play book needn’t change, get the ball to Love. Thirty times. For 263 yards and a touchdown. The real beneficiary was his back field mate Cameron Scarlett who took the ball into the end zone three times on eight carries.
Washington State 45 – Nevada 7 (pick: WSU 55-17)
The perfect “tune-up” before a Friday night showdown in Pullman against USC. Luke Falk threw for five TD’s and the Cougar defense held the Wolfpack off the scoreboard until the last two minutes of the game.
Arizona State 37 – Oregon 35 (pick: Oregon 47-20)
The Ducks got pretty much what they deserved in the desert. Penalties cost Oregon field position, return yardage, first downs and extended Sun Devil possession in a game most were likely correct in seeing as a 14 point Oregon win. If they play cleanly that conceivably could have been the result. Instead, two penalties and a punt on the first possession torpedoed any advantage one hoped to gain in not deferring the coin flip decision to the second half and things didn’t change much from there. The Oregon defense was at times impressive but at others vulnerable and either the offense or the defense could have been a decisive factor had either unit decided to take control of the football game. If that lesson is absorbed in the loss, well, no one expected the Ducks to run the table anyway and it may pay dividends with an unexpected victory later in the schedule.
Friday, September 29
USC @ Washington State
Spending a Friday night in Pullman in the rain sounds like the first prize in the world’s worst contest contest, but that’s what the Trojans are faced with after a less than sparkling outing at Cal last week. The rain – 80% chance at this writing – could well play into USC’s favor in defending the Cougs Air-Raid offense, but senior quarterback Luke Falk is an experienced hand. A bit of an upset and a bit of a signature win for both Falk and head coach Mike Leach. Cougs 43-32.
Saturday, September 30
Washington @ Oregon State
One of the more mind-boggling theories in current cosmology is the “Many Universes” school of thought. It holds that in the countless vastness of space other solar systems have developed along similar lines as ours and that further, there are so many so many of these alternate existences that every possible sequence of events is playing out on at least one of them. In one of those systems, maybe the Beavers pull off the upset. Not this one. Washington 54-13.
Arizona State @ Stanford
The Sun Devils will carry some momentum into Palo Alto, no question. Will it be enough to knock off the Cardinal? Probably not. Oregon’s offense shot itself in the foot more often than the ASU defense held their ground. That won’t be the case 0 Stanford is disciplined enough to not make the mistakes Oregon did, winning comfortably, 37-24
Colorado @ UCLA
A bit of a wake-up call for the Buffs last week against Washington and if they want a rematch in the conference title game, they need to win the South. The Bruins were shredded by Stanford and while Colorado hasn’t shown that kind of offensive firepower, the have enough to win in the Rose Bowl, 33-23
California @ Oregon
A must win for Oregon and a springboard to a surprisingly respectable season for Cal. Penciled in by most as a “W” in the preseason, the Ducks brain-dead performance in Tempe coupled with the first three quarters of the Bear’s tussle with USC, there are more than enough “what-if’s” to go around on this one. Autzen’s home field may be as much of an advantage for the Ducks against the Bears as it will be in any other home date this season. Probably should make use of it. Oregon 48-32.
~ Rick Morgan