A pretty ho-hum schedule last week, with only four Pac-12 games played while four teams were on bye weeks.
It was also a ho-hum prediction performance for yours truly. Went 3-1 straight-up but 1-3 against the spread. Hoping for better this time around.
As usual, all betting lines come courtesy of VegasInsider.com. And as usual, my pick for the UW game will come in a separate post tomorrow. Away we go …
Oregon (8-0, 5-0 in Pac-12) at Stanford (7-1, 5-1), 6 p.m., ESPN/WatchESPN (UO by 11) — The game of games this season in the Pac-12. Stanford’s upset last season makes me a little wary of predicting a shootout, but you know Mark Helfrich will have a gameplan prepared to counter the kind of things Stanford’s defense did last season to limit Marcus Mariota and the gang. Cardinal should get a boost from docile home crowd, but I just don’t see Oregon losing to these guys two years in a row. Ducks should secure stranglehold on Pac-12 North tonight. The pick: Oregon 38, Stanford 24.
USC (6-3, 3-2) at California (1-8, 0-6), 12 p.m., FOX (USC by 17) — Six weeks ago, this might have felt to Bears fans like a winnable game. But Ed Orgeron has the Trojans playing at a high level, and I shudder to think what Marqise Lee might do to that Cal secondary. Shudder, I say. The pick: USC 31, California 10.
Arizona State (6-2, 4-1) at Utah (4-4, 1-4), 1 p.m., Pac-12 Networks (ASU by 6.5) — If the Utes weren’t playing so poorly, this would be a classic trap-game upset pick, especially given ASU’s habit of disintegrating in November. The Sun Devils appear pretty locked in, though, and with so much still at stake in the Pac-12 South, it’s hard to see them approaching this one with anything less than full effort. And even harder to imagine the struggling Utes will be able to slow what has become one of the conference’s most dangerous offenses. No revenge for Dennis Erickson here. The pick: ASU 42, Utah 20.
UCLA (6-2, 3-2) at Arizona (6-2, 3-2), 7 p.m., ESPN/WatchESPN (UCLA by 1.5) — Thought at first this spread seemed awfully low, but the Wildcats have played well recently and are playing at home, so maybe Vegas is right to forecast a closer game. Still, not sure I’m buying that these teams are all that close to each other in terms of talent. Losses to Stanford and Oregon have made UCLA look a little less appealing, but Brett Hundley and Co. should still have enough firepower to shred Arizona’s defense, and at least contain UA running back Ka’Deem Carey. The pick: UCLA 31, Arizona 20.
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple