While things went pretty well for the Pac-12 in Week 1 – teams combined to go 7-3 – that was not the case for me as I finished a mediocre 6-4 on the opening weekend. Here are my picks for this week:
Arizona State vs. Sacramento State (Thursday)
This should be a nice way to start the season for the Sun Devils before they play five of their next six games against teams that are currently ranked. The Sun Devils return a lot of weapons, including quarterback Taylor Kelly, running backs Marion Grice and D.J. Foster and defensive lineman Will Sutton. A lot of people picked Arizona State as the winners of this year’s Pac-12 South, but we’ll have to wait at least a week to see how good they really are.
Pick: Arizona State
Utah vs. Weber State
The Utes are looking to go 2-for-2 in the first two weekends of the season, which would already put them just three wins shy of last season’s total. Utah quarterback Travis Wilson was pretty impressive in his 2013 debut and should at least repeat his performance against the Wildcats’ mediocre defense. If Utah can beat Utah State, they should be able to handle Weber State.
Oregon at Virginia
The Ducks racked up an impressive 772 yards last week in a blowout of Nicholls State. Quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back De’Anthony Thomas accounted for 475 of those yards and five touchdowns. While they likely won’t put up 700-plus yards against the Cavaliers, they shouldn’t have any trouble taking care of an above-average ACC team on the road.
California vs. Portland State
Bears true freshman quarterback Jared Goff was pretty impressive in his collegiate debut, throwing for more than 400 yards and two touchdowns. However, a bit of bad luck on tipped passes turned into the decisive plays of the game, as Northwestern linebacker Collin Ellis returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the second half. If Goff can continue his success the rest of the season, he could be one of the better quarterbacks in the Pac-12 in the years to come.
Colorado vs. Central Arkansas
How about them ‘Buffs? One game into the season and they already have as many wins as they did last year. Paul Richardson‘s return from a knee injury for Colorado was extremely helpful, as the wide receiver caught 10 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns en route to being named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week. The Buffaloes should surpass last season’s win total in Week 2.
Oregon State vs. Hawaii
The Beavers should bounce back a week after an embarrassing loss to Eastern Washington. Despite the poor performance fromm their defense, there were a lot of positives, including the play of quarterback Sean Mannion, who threw for 422 yards and three touchdowns. The Eagles are a better team than Hawaii, so if Oregon State drops this game, they could be looking at a long season.
Pick: Oregon State
Arizona at UNLV
A week after throwing much less than they threw, head coach Rich Rodriguez vowed to open up his playbook more against the Rebels. Quarterback B.J. Denker should have a much better game and will be aided by the return of running back Ka’deem Carey. The Rebels might be worse than NAU was, so Arizona should have no trouble in this one.
USC vs. Washington State
As expected, the Trojans’ defense was as good as advertised in the season opener, forcing four interceptions and recording seven sacks. However, the offense was worse than expected, only scoring 23 offensive points against a weak Hawaii defense. Things probably won’t be much better on offense this week, so the game will likely remain close until the end. But the Cougars don’t have the firepower to pull off the upset.
Stanford vs. San Jose State
The Cardinal open their season with an interstate showdown against the Spartans at home. San Jose State has a pretty good quarterback in senior David Fales, but he’ll have to play the greatest game of his life in order to knock off Stanford. It will be interesting to see how Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan plays after his impressive five-game stretch to end last season.
In case you missed them, click here for last week’s picks.
Tags: 2013 Football Predictions Arizona State Sun Devils Arizona Wildcats B.J. Denker California Golden Bears Colorado Buffaloes D.J. Foster De'Anthony Thomas Follow Index Jared Goff Ka'deem Carey Kevin Hogan Marcus Mariota Marion Grice Oregon Ducks Oregon State Beavers Pac-12 Football Paul Richardson Rich Rodriguez Sean Mannion Stanford Cardinal Taylor Kelly Travis Wilson UCLA Bruins USC Trojans Utah Utes Washington Huskies Washington State Cougars Will Sutton