Pac-12

Pac-12 Picks: Revamped Utah offense will be too much for Oregon State

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Washington State did what I thought it would — keep the game close against USC last week — but I didn’t think the Cougars would pull off the upset.

I am not as embarrassed as USC coach Lane Kiffin must be losing against a Washington State program that is 12-49 over the last five seasons. The Cougars are getting better under Mike Leach. I can only hope my picks similarly improve.

Morales 2013 Overall Record: 0-1 (.000).

Morales Against the Spread: 1-0 (1.000).

Helmet.OSUUtah

OREGON STATE AT UTAH

When: Tonight, 7 p.m., Tucson time. Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium. TV: Fox Sports 1.

Spread: Utah by 3.

When does Oregon State play Arizona?: The teams do not meet in the regular season.

When does Utah play Arizona?: Sat., Oct. 19, at Arizona Stadium.

Why Oregon State will win: Oregon State junior quarterback Sean Mannion ranks second nationally with 794 passing yards, more than three quarters of the Beavers’ total output on offense. The Beavers will have a rough going against Utah’s talented front seven, but the Utes are vulnerable against the pass without an interception to this point. Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton passed for 314 yards in the season opener against the Utes.

Why Utah will win: The Utes’ offense, run to perfection thus far behind sophomore quarterback Travis Wilson, is more similar to Eastern Washington’s potent offense than Hawaii’s sputtering unit that Oregon State shut down last week. We all know how Oregon State fared against the Eastern Washington and quarterback Vernon Adams allowing 536 total yards.

Outcome: Utah will win by 7.

Reason: The Utes are playing at home — their first Pac-12 road game is not until Oct. 19 at Arizona — and Wilson is showing signs of having a breakout year working with new co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson, who coached at Oregon State and ASU. The Beavers’ road record in recent years is 5-14. They have traditionally started slow under Mike Riley. They won’t work their kinks out in time for this one. The lack of an established running game will make life difficult for Mannion against a good Utah defense.

WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.

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