Pac-12 Picks

Pac-12 picks: Oregon to roll again, Stanford will bang up Washington

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Javier Morales 2013 Overall Record: 5-3 (.625).

Javier Morales Against the Spread: 5-3 (.625).

OreColo

OREGON at COLORADO

When: Today, 3 p.m., Tucson time. Where: Folsom Stadium, Boulder, Colo. TV: Pac-12 Networks.

Spread: Oregon by 39.5.

When does Oregon play Arizona?: Sat., Nov. 23, Arizona Stadium

When does Colorado play Arizona?: Sat., Oct. 26, Arizona Stadium

Why Oregon will win: Oregon’s running game, often overlooked because of the quick-read passes in its spread offense, will be just fine if De’Anthony Thomas is able to play despite an ankle injury. Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner combined to run for 224 yards last week against Cal. Heisman-hopeful quarterback Marcus Mariota is also a threat running the ball. Oregon leads the country with 332.5 rushing yards per game and has averaged 398 in its last two wins over Colorado.

Why Colorado will win: The Buffaloes passing game can be dangerous. Paul Richardson had his worst game of the season against Oregon State, with five catches for 70 yards. He still leads the nation with 162.3 receiving yards per game. His five touchdown catches are tied for fifth in the nation.

Outcome: Oregon by 40

Reason: Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre was an assistant at Temple when the Owls upset 35-point favorite Virginia Tech in 1998, but those Hokies were not like the high-octane Ducks. The Buffaloes simply do not have the athletes to match Oregon down-for-down, quarter-for-quarter. This will be over by the second quarter.

WSUCAL

WASHINGTON STATE at CALIFORNIA

When: Today, 1 p.m., Tucson time. Where: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif. TV: Fox Sports 1.

Spread: Washington State by 1.5

When does Washington State play Arizona?: Sat., Nov. 16, Arizona Stadium

When does California play Arizona?: Sat., Nov. 2, Arizona Stadium

Why Washington State will win: Mike Leach’s spread offense will work against a struggling Cal defense. The Cougars’ passing game overpowered weaker opponents Southern Utah and Idaho, but it was stymied against a stout Stanford defense last week. Connor Halliday completed 24 of 36 passes but passed for only 184 yards before being knocked out of the game. Halliday may play today (he practiced with the Cougars this week) but backup Austin Apodaca is capable of a good game against the Bears.

Why California will win: Washington State has talent comparable to Cal’s, and the Golden Bears get to play the Cougars at home. Sonny Dykes’ team knows it needs to win because difficult games against UCLA, Oregon State and Washington follow in the next three games.

Outcome: Washington State by 7.

Reason: Never bank on the Cal defense, especially against an offense coached by Leach. The dismissal this week of defensive end Chris McCain for conduct detrimental to the team will not help a porous defense that already has a number of players out. The Bears rank 119th of 123 FBS teams in total defense and 121st in scoring defense, yielding 45.3 points a game.

WashStan

WASHINGTON at STANFORD

When: Today, 7:30 p.m., Tucson time. Where: Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto, Calif. TV: ESPN.

Spread: Stanford by 7.5.

When does Washington play Arizona?: The Huskies defeated Arizona 31-13 last week in Seattle.

When does Stanford play Arizona?: The teams are not scheduled to play in the regular season.

Why Washington will win: The Huskies’ pass defense — aided by Arizona’s struggling aerial attack last week — is the best in the Pac-12 in terms of pass efficiency. Washington will need to hold up against the challenge Stanford’s defense presents against Keith Price and Bishop Sankey.

Why Stanford will win: The Cardinal has the revenge factor, losing 17-13 last year in Seattle, with a capable quarterback in Kevin Hogan. Stanford lost to the Huskies with the ineffective Josh Nunes behind center. The Cardinal did not score an offensive touchdown in that game. Hogan, a sophomore, has completed 62.9 percent of his passes, with 10 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

Outcome: Stanford by 10.

Reason: Hogan is 9-0 as Stanford’s starting quarterback and the Cardinal front seven defensively is as good as any in the country. If Sankey rushes 40 times like he did against Arizona last week, he will require assistance walking out of the stadium.

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 and TucsonCitizen.com.

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