The first full week of the Pac-12 schedule is upon us, with five games pitting conference foes against each other, with most of the games intriguing.
The only yawner is Cal and its hapless defense visiting Oregon and its potent offense. Then again, it might be fun to watch De’Anthony Thomas and Marcus Mariota post career numbers against the Golden Bears.
The other games include an improving Colorado team against an Oregon State succeeding again under Mike Riley, Stanford playing upset-minded Wazzu in Seattle and USC trying to re-establish itself in the Pac-12 South at ASU.
Arizona travels to Seattle to play Washington, but I will not make a prediction about the game in this space because this site is geared toward Wildcat sports.
Javier Morales 2013 Overall Record: 1-2 (.333).
Javier Morales Against the Spread: 2-1 (.667).
When: Today, Noon, Tucson time. Where: Reser Stadium, Corvallis, Ore. TV: Pac-12 Networks.
Spread: Oregon State by 11.
When does Oregon State play Arizona?: The teams do not meet in the regular season.
When does Colorado play Arizona?: Sat., Oct. 26, Boulder, Colo.
Why Colorado will win: The Buffaloes have a viable offense this season. Connor Wood is fourth in the nation in passing (370.7 ypg) and receiver Paul Richardson leads the nation in receiving yards per game (208.5). The Buffaloes are averaging 39.5 points per game in their two victories, more than double their output from 2012. Oregon State’s heavy reliance on quarterback Sean Mannion is cause for concern for the Beavers.
Why Oregon State will win: Mannion’s ability to lead the Beavers’ offense is enough to make up for a lack of a running game. He ranks second in the country with 401 passing yards per game. Outside Wood and Richardson, the Buffaloes don’t have many other playmakers. Richardson has gained more than twice as many yards as any other Colorado receiver.
Outcome: Oregon State will win by 10.
Reason: The Beavers won in unlikely fashion last Saturday with a late interception return for a touchdown against San Diego State. Mike Riley’s team is again gaining steam as midseason approaches, a trademark of his teams. Colorado is improved under Mike MacIntyre, especially with its offense, but the Buffaloes will not have enough on the road.
When: Today, 7 p.m., Tucson time. Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle. TV: ESPN.
Spread: Stanford by 9.5 points.
When does Stanford play Arizona?: The teams do not meet in the regular season.
When does Washington State play Arizona?: Sat., Nov. 16, Arizona Stadium.
Why Stanford will win: Stanford manhandled the Cougars up front a year ago in a 24-17 win at home. The Cardinal set a school record with 10 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. The Cougars were limited to (minus)-18 yards rushing. The physical Cardinal defense can key on Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday again because Wazzu averages only 63 yards on the ground a game. Halliday has thrown 10 interceptions already.
Why Washington State will win: Despite Stanford’s dominance in the trenches last year, the hapless Cougars still managed to keep things close in Palo Alto. Halliday is becoming a special quarterback in Mike Leach’s spread offense. He has thrown for 1,288 yards and 10 touchdowns in four games while standout receiver Gabe Marks has 31 receptions for 348 yards and three scores.
Outcome: Washington State will upset Stanford by 3.
Reason: Despite lacking a running game again, Leach’s offense is good enough to produce against Stanford. The Cardinal allowed ASU quarterback Tyler Kelly to pass for a career-high 367 yards last week in a 42-28 win. Arizona fans remember the field day Matt Scott had against Stanford’s defense last season. Washington State’s defense is also rated No. 10, allowing only 264.8 yards a game.
When: Today, 7:30 p.m., Tucson time. Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Ore. TV: Pac-12 Networks.
Spread: Oregon by 36 points.
When does Cal play Arizona?: Sat., Nov. 2, Berkeley, Calif.
When does Oregon play Arizona?: Sat., Nov. 23, Arizona Stadium.
Why Cal will win: Cal coach Sonny Dykes, a Leach protege is producing offensively with the Golden Bears like Leach is at Washington State. Cal has thrown for 438.7 passing yards per game, which is second-best in the country. True freshman Jared Goff has thrown for 1,306 yards and seven touchdowns in the three games while Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs have combined for 49 receptions for 641 yards and four touchdowns.
Why Oregon will win: The Ducks mean business and they will not allow an easy win leave their grasp en route to a potential BCS title game appearance. They are averaging 61.3 points per game, which ranks second in the nation. Defensively, Oregon is holding opponents to 9 points per game, which ranks fifth in the country. Quarterback Marcus Mariota is the No. 1 Heisman candidate who has thrown for 889 yards and seven touchdowns while also rushing for 262 yards and four scores. De’Anthony Thomas has rushed for 338 yards and six touchdowns.
Outcome: Oregon will win by 48.
Reason: Often overlooked is Oregon’s success with turnover margin. The Ducks rank second nationally with a plus-2.3 margin in turnovers. They traditionally have been very opportunistic. Most important, Cal has one of the worst defenses in the nation. The Golden Bears rank No. 121 out of 123 FBS teams allowing 556.3 yards per game. This will be a long night for Cal in Eugene. Do yourself a favor and watch a different game or go to the movies.
When: Today, 7:30 p.m., Tucson time. Where: Sun Devil Stadium. TV: ESPN2.
Spread: ASU by 6.
When does USC play Arizona?: Thurs., Oct. 10, L.A. Coliseum.
When does ASU play Arizona?: Sat., Nov. 30, Sun Devil Stadium.
Why USC will win: The Trojans’ defense is the best in the Pac-12, ranking fourth nationally allowing only 230.5 yards a game. Their front seven is one of the best in the country, led by defensive linemen Leonard Williams, Morgan Breslin and George Uko, who combine for 10 sacks. USC allows only 59.3 yards rushing a game while ASU is gaining only 108 yards a game on the ground (ranking 107th in that category nationally).
Why ASU will win: ASU defensive tackle Will Sutton (no sacks or tackles for lost yardage) is due for a big game. He must be chomping at the bit with USC’s defenders grabbing all the headlines this season. Taylor Kelly, who has thrown for more than 300 yards in ASU’s first three games, has the ability to stretch USC’s vaunted defense by running more than he has this season (only 45 yards rushing in the first three games)
Outcome: ASU will win by 10.
Reason: ASU’s concerns about its special teams and running game are not as serious as USC’s problems on offense. The Trojans have been unable to get receiver Marqise Lee uncorked. There’s no reason to believe that will happen against a decent ASU defense playing at home. USC quarterback Cody Kessler (89.5 passing yards per game) ventures into his first hostile environment. That must be scary for USC fans.