Pac-12 football is back and we at EDN Sports will do a weekly Pac-12 Pick’em. Each week we’ll give you our picks and track how we’ve done so far.
Season Pick’em Standings:
- Alex Shoemaker: 0-0
- Isaac Rosenthal: 0-0
- Corey Buchanan: 0-0
- Franklin Bains: 0-0
- David Saez: 0-0
- Ryan Beltram: 0-0
Utah State (0-0) at Utah (0-0)
Both of the Pac-12 newcomers have had a disappointing welcome to the conference. Colorado has gotten demolished several times, while Utah has simply underwhelmed lately. This rivalry game was fully in the Utes’ hands from 1998 to 2009, but Utah State won the 2012 game 27-20 and enters the season with the nation’s fourth-longest winning streak with seven-straight wins.
X-Factor: Both teams return quarterbacks who ended last season with the team. If Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton (27 TD, 9 INT in 2012) has anyone to throw to, USU’s defense (seventh in the nation in 2012) should take over the rest.
Alex: Utah Isaac: Utah Corey: Utah Franklin: Utah David: Utah Ryan: Utah State
USC (0-0) at Hawaii (0-0)
USC and Hawaii have played this game eight times and USC has won as many times. The closest Hawaii has made this game was in 2010 when USC won 49-36. The Rainbow Warriors return 17 starters from a team that went 3-9 last year. USC will be suspect, trying to replace four-year starter Matt Barkley, but projected starter Max Wittek (who also went to Barkley’s Mater Dei) will have plenty of options to throw to.
X-factor: Speaking of which, Marquis Lee will be looking to spark Heisman talk. If Lee can go off, Hawaii doesn’t have an answer for him.
Alex: USC Isaac: USC Corey: USC Franklin: USC David: USC Ryan: USC
Northern Arizona (0-0) at Arizona (0-0)
This series has been played 12 times and Arizona has won 11 of them. The Wildcats won the last game 41-10 in 2011, and while they too need to replace a starting quarterback, the opposing Lumberjacks are an FCS school. This is a tuneup for Arizona and Rich Rodriguez has the team on an upward trajectory.
X-factor: Ka’Deem Carey is a well-known force and he’ll have a great season, but the question in this first 2013 contest is who will replace 2012 senior QB Matt Scott. The Pac-12 blog suspects we’ll see the debut of B.J. Denker, though RichRod won’t spill the beans.
Alex: Arizona Isaac: Arizona Corey: Arizona Franklin: Arizona David: Arizona Ryan: Arizona
Nicholls (0-0) at Oregon (0-0)
X-factor: Nicholls players and coaches have been talking about the teaching opportunities here being the real win. If Nicholls’ defense can keep Marcus Mariota on the field in the second quarter, I think they can call that a win.
Alex: Oregon Isaac: Oregon Corey: Oregon Franklin: Oregon David: Oregon Ryan: Oregon
Eastern Washington (0-0) at Oregon State (0-0)
Another tuneup game for a Pac-12 team. Eastern Washington is one of the best FCS teams, but the main thing the Eagles are known for in the FBS world is their bright red turf. The Beavers return deep threat Brandin Cooks and tailbacks Storm Woods and Terron Ward, as well as both quarterbacks in Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz, from a team that went 9-4 last fall. The Beavers have won both games in this series (the last 56-17 in 2006) and should take the third with ease.
X-factor: Like Arizona, Oregon State is looking to decide on their quarterback still. Mannion is the ostensible starter, but Vaz is a quality option that will likely see some playing time in this game.
Alex: Oregon State Isaac: Oregon State Corey: Oregon State Franklin: Oregon State David: Oregon State Ryan: Oregon State
Washington State (0-0) at Auburn (0-0)
This game is one of the more intriguing games of the week and harder games to pick. Both teams are in the middle of a rebuilding stage. Cougars head coach Mike Leach, after an abysmal first season, hopes his air-raid offense led by quarterback Connor Halliday. As for Auburn, they enter the first year of the Gus Malzhan era after his brief stint with Arkansas State. The Tigers face one of toughest schedules in the entire country, and a loss to the Cougars would be devastating.
X-factor: Leach is known for his air-raid offense, and you can expect the Cougars will be looking to air the ball out against the Tigers’ secondary. However, all four starting defensive backs returning for Auburn making for a very interesting matchup.
Alex: Auburn Isaac: Washington State Corey: Auburn Franklin: Auburn David: Auburn Ryan: Auburn
Nevada (0-0) at UCLA (0-0)
The Bruins are one of the dark horse candidates to win the Pac-12 and many expert’s sleeper team to for the season. UCLA returns seven starters on offense in head coach Jim Mora’s second season with the team. Nevada is in the first season under new head coach Brian Polian, replacing one of the best head coaches in Chris Ault. The famous pistol offense run by the Wolf Pack developed quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick into sensational runners, and they have another great in returning starter Cody Fajardo.
X-factor: UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, one of the most dominant defensive players in college football, will be key for the Bruins to win. With a mobile quarterback, Barr will be needed to help prevent scrambles and shut down the run game.
Alex: UCLA Isaac: UCLA Corey: UCLA Franklin: UCLA
David: UCLA Ryan: UCLA
Boise State (0-0) at Washington (0-0)
It’s yet another year where Washington will try to break through from a mid-tier Pac-12 program to the national rankings. The Huskies return a backfield of Bishop Sankey and senior Keith Price and all-American tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, to match up once more with the Broncos of Boise State. This is the third game of the series, the last one took place in the 2012 Las Vegas Bowl, which Boise won 28-26. Washington took a late lead after trailing 18-3, but returning starting QB Joe Southwick led the team down the field for a game-winning field goal.
X-factor: Sefarian-Jenkins will be one of the best tight ends easily this fall and Price will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2012 campaign. With 20 starters coming back for UW and just 10 back for BSU, this game could come down to a pitch-and-catch game for the Huskies if the Bronco pass defense is not on point.
Alex: Boise State Isaac: Boise State Corey: Washington Franklin: Washington David: Boise State Ryan: Washington
Northwestern (0-0) at Cal (0-0)
Cal’s first-year head coach Sonny Dykes takes over for a program that is in shambles. Former coach Jeff Tedford always had talent, but his inconsistent results earned him the axe after last year. Dykes’ men are once again talented, but this year they have some speed on the edges as well. They mark up across from Northwestern, a team that returns 17 starters from a 10-3 2012 campaign. Two of those starters are the backfield duo of QB Kain Colter and RB Venric Mark, who ran for a combined 2,200 yards last year. The teams have met once before: a 20-14 Northwestern win in 1949.
X-factor: The offenses should shine in this contest which could prove to be high-scoring. Brandon Bigelow, a junior, returns to start at halfback and should be better with speedy wideouts Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs on the outside.
Alex: Northwestern Isaac: Cal Corey: Northwestern Franklin: Cal David: Northwestern Ryan: Cal
Colorado (0-0) vs. Colorado State (0-0) (neutral site)
This is a tricky matchup because the recent and more historical past really won’t say anything about this year’s teams. Colorado is the other most recent member (with Utah) in the Pac-12, but despite historical significance in the college football landscape, the Buffaloes have gotten demolished in their two years in the conference. Colorado State went 4-8 last year, but return 18 starters from a unit that won this game 22-17 last year. The last time Colorado lost this game in back-to-back years was ’99 and ’00.
X-factor: Colorado QB Connor Wood was named the starter this week and he’ll mark up against Colorado State’s Connor Smith. If Colorado is going to take the long road back to competitive conference play, it will run through the first-time starter who threw 1 TD and 4 INT last fall.
Alex: Colorado Isaac: Colorado Corey: Colorado State Franklin: Colorado David: Colorado Ryan: Colorado State