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:
- David Saez: 17-2 (9-0 last week)
- Corey Buchanan: 16-3 (8-1)
- Franklin Bains: 16-3 (8-1)
- Alex Shoemaker: 16-3 (8-1)
- Ryan Beltram: 14-5 (8-1)
- Isaac Rosenthal: 14-5 (8-1)
No. 16 UCLA (1-0) at No. 23 Nebraska (2-0), noon, ABC
These teams have met 12 times and are even in the series at 6-6. They are led by a pair of dual-threat quarterbacks in sophomore Brett Hundley for UCLA and Nebraska’s senior Taylor Martinez. Hundley is 74 passing yards away from cracking the top-10 all-time among UCLA quarterbacks. In last year’s 36-30 UCLA win, the Bruins piled up 653 yards of offense against the Huskers.
X-factor: Jordan James. The Bruins had no trouble running the ball with Johnathan Franklin last year at the Rose Bowl. This year, they take their trip to Lincoln, Neb., with a new starting running back. It’s a new Nebraska team, but if anything it’s also an improved UCLA team, and that could mean trouble for the Nebraska run defense.
Alex: UCLA Isaac: Nebraska Corey: UCLA Franklin: UCLA David: Nebraska Ryan: Nebraska
No. 5 Stanford (1-0) at Army (1-1), noon, CBS Sports Network
10 games in the series, this one is also split evenly, five games a piece. The last meeting, though? In 1979, and it went to Army, 17-13. This is a very different Army squad and a vastly different Stanford team though. Where Army has fallen off of the face of the college football landscape, Stanford is now at the very top — their three consecutive rankings in the top five is second-longest in school history. Army hasn’t beaten a ranked team since 1972.
X-factor: Ed Reynolds. The rushing game is interesting, as the rush defense is Stanford’s strength and Army is known for its triple option. But Army returns a pair of starting wide receivers who, while they don’t accumulate many stats, could change a close game. Reynolds picked off a pass against San Jose State to lengthen the Cardinal’s nation-leading streak of games with a takeaway.
Alex: Stanford Isaac: Stanford Corey: Stanford Franklin: Stanford David: Stanford Ryan: Stanford
Fresno State (2-0) at Colorado (2-0), 2 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Colorado has won four of six games in this series, but the last iteration of it went Fresno State’s way completely. The depleted Buffalo squad lost 69-14 to the Bulldogs, who hounded them with 665 yards to 278. This is a completely different Colorado squad than the one we’ve seen the last couple years and could be the first Buff team since 2008 to start the season 3-0. But it’s against one of six teams this year who’s played overtime this fall, and one of three teams who have won that overtime session.
X-factor: Colorado Pass Attack vs. Fresno State Secondary. The Bulldogs have an experienced secondary, as they return three starters, including All-Mountain West safety Derron Smith, a junior, and third-team All-Mountain West cornerback LJ Jones.
Alex: Fresno State Isaac: Colorado Corey: Fresno State Franklin: Colorado David: Colorado Ryan: Colorado
Boston College (2-0) at USC (1-1), 3 p.m., Pac-12 Network
These teams have played thrice and USC has won each occasion, the last time coming in USC’s last bowl win — 24-13 over Boston College in the 2009 Emerald Bowl. These are very different occasions though for both teams. BC has two respectable wins over regional foes Villanova and Wake Forest, while USC struggled to put away Hawaii before crumbling on a big stage against Washington State. USC head coach Lane Kiffin has named Cody Kessler the starter, that much we know. What we don’t know if he’s going to be able to move the ball now.
X-factor: Andre Williams. The senior running back for BC already has 318 yards totaled up on the ground for the Eagles, picking up 204 yards last week and ACC player of the week honors against Wake Forest. USC’s defense is stout, but if it can’t put a harness on Williams, it might be a long night at the Coliseum for Trojan fans.
Alex: USC Isaac: USC Corey: USC Franklin: Boston College David: Boston College Ryan: USC
Tennessee (2-0) at No. 2 Oregon (2-0), 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN
The second meeting between these two schools, the first was a 48-13 second-half drubbing by Oregon in 2010. Since then, Tennessee has fired its head coach, Derek Dooley, and brought in former Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones. The Vols are switching back to a 4-3 defense after a highly publicized attempt at 3-4 by Dooley. In the meantime, Oregon has been to three BCS bowls and won two of them. This matchup has a lot of question marks, and Oregon won’t run away with it; however, there’s no question who the favorite is.
X-factor: Justin Worley. If there’s one point that was made resoundingly clear in the Oregon-Virginia game, it’s that you need to be able to answer the wake left in Oregon’s path as their offense marches on. There are things that a defense can exploit against Oregon’s offense (its offensive guard play leaps to mind), but it’s never going to stop Marcus Mariota. Worley has played effectively so far, but he needs to be able to lead a Tennessee offense that can hang with Oregon’s scoring or it’s just going to be 71 yards and a cloud of dust again.
Alex: Oregon Isaac: Oregon Corey: Oregon Franklin: Oregon David: Oregon Ryan: Oregon
No. 19 Washington (1-0) at Illinois (2-0), 6 p.m., Big Ten Network
Washington is 5-4 in this series. The Huskies won the last game 52-14 in Champaign, but Illinois had a Rose Bowl win over Washington in 1964. This is the first time since 2003 that theHuskies have shown up in the AP poll in back-to-back weeks, with senior quarterback Keith Price and running back Bishop Sankey leading the charge against Boise State. The offense looks strong and returns its argument for best tight end in college football in Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, back from serving a week one suspension. Illinois let the score against Directional Illinois University look closer than the game was before crushing Cincinnati; quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase looks solid and has 728 total yards, an FBS tenth-best 363.5 passing ypg.
X-factor: Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. A lot of questions are ready for the star tight end and he deserves to answer every one of them. He missed week one for an offseason DUI, which hampers his first-round draft plans a bit. He started full practice this past week and might not be 100%, something that will need to change when the Huskies meet the meat of their schedule in a couple weeks. To quote Ted Miller of the ESPN Pac-12 blog, you know what’s the best way to dispel rumors of poor play? “Play better.” Illinois will be tough and Washington will need ASJ at near-peak performance to be in full command of the Xs and Os.
Alex: Washington Isaac: Washington Corey: Washington Franklin: Washington David: Washington Ryan: Washington
Southern Utah (2-0) at Washington State (1-1), 6:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Washington State’s taken an interesting ride into week three of this season. After a hard-fought loss in Auburn, Alabama, the Cougars took to Los Angeles and won a defensive battle with USC. The Cougs are the toast of the town of college football now, and return to Pullman to open their 2013 home slate with FCS Big Sky opponent Southern Utah. Wazzu’s pass defense is first in the Pac-12, and sixth in the country, allowing just 72.8 yards passing a game.
X-factor: Connor Halliday. Halliday’s 279.5 yards per game is good enough for 39th in the country — solid considering the talent of USC’s pass defense. But the junior has one touchdown against five interceptions. And against an FCS opponent, Halliday needs to take a step forward or coach Mike Leach will replace him to keep the air raid chugging along.
Alex: Washington State Isaac: Washington State Corey: Washington State Franklin: Washington State David: Washington State Ryan: Washington State
No. 4 Ohio State (2-0) at California (1-1), 7 p.m., Fox
Cal’s seventh meeting with Ohio State is an important contest for both teams. Ohio State has won six of those seven times and now comes in with a slightly banged-up quarterback in Braxton Miller. But while Cal’s freshman quarterback Jared Goff has set a freshman record with his 935 yards in two games, Cal’s defense has been quite unimpressive, giving up significant yardage and points to Portland State back DJ Adams.
X-factor: Ohio State’s Defensive Athleticism. Ohio State back Jordan Hall (who is much better than DJ Adams) is going to get his yards. A lot of them. But Ohio State hasn’t faced much of an offensive challenge thus far this season, and Cal can present an offensive challenge for the Buckeyes. Ohio State’s test in this game will be stopping Cal a couple times and maintaining a sizable lead against the streaky Bears.
Alex: Ohio State Isaac: Ohio State Corey: Ohio State Franklin: Ohio State David: Ohio State Ryan: Ohio State
Oregon State (1-1, 0-0) at Utah (2-0, 0-0), 10 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Oregon State leads the series with Utah 9-6-1, and won last year 21-7. But this is a very different Beaver team and a stronger Ute rushing attack. OSU quarterback Sean Mannion threw for 372 yards and four TD in the win over Hawaii last week, but lead rusher Storm Woods is up to 118 yards after two weeks. There’s a lot of questions about this OSU squad that’s already lost to an FCS team. Utah on the other hand has been superb through two, beating Utah State (11-2 in 2012), and holding USU QB Chuckie Keeton in check, before crushing FCS Weber State 70-7. Tyler Wilson is probably in the top half of the conference in quarterbacking right now.
X-factor: Wilson v. Mannion. The quarterbacks are no doubt among the top in the conference right now. They’ll be jockeying for position in this one, and with the Beavers’ pass defense in complete disarray, it will fall to Mannion to be beyond superb if OSU wants to come away with a second win, and a first quality win. But if Wilson wins the battle? Let’s just say that the three-point spread favoring Utah is too slim.
Alex: Utah Isaac: Oregon State Corey: Oregon State Franklin: Utah David: Utah Ryan: Utah
UTSA (1-1) at Arizona (2-0), 10:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
First meeting between these two schools. Arizona comes in with big wins over Northern Arizona and UNLV, B.J. Denker and Ka’Deem Carey looking in midseason form, which is scary. Carey comes in with 171 yards, all in the UNLV game and safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant leads the FBS in picks with three so far this season. Bondurant returned two of them for touchdowns. They face the Roadrunners of Conference-USA, fresh off a whipping from Oklahoma State. UTSA quarterback Eric Soza leads the team in rushing and has thrown for 545 yards.
X-factor: Contain Eric Soza. Arizona is going to overmatch UTSA in just about every regard. Their offense is far superior, and their defense is opportunistic. But Soza is a next-level talent and could make UTSA drives somewhat interesting. Arizona keeps him to the pocket and this one will be a blowout.
Alex: Arizona Isaac: Arizona Corey: Arizona Franklin: Arizona David: Arizona Ryan: Arizona
No. 20 Wisconsin (2-0) at Arizona State (1-0), 10:30 p.m., ESPN
Arizona State actually leads the series 2-1, the one loss coming in 2010, when Wisconsin used a 20-19 thriller to surge to a Rose Bowl game. ASU has heavily improved in penalties thus far this year compared to the last couple years, dropping from 4.2 per game last year to just one in the season opener against Sacramento State. They are led by QB Taylor Kelly and nose tackle Will Sutton, who chipped in on a 55-0 shutout win over Sac State. Wisconsin has been dominant in two games, beating UMass 45-0 and Tennessee Tech 48-0. James White, who backed up the inimitable Montee Ball, leads a powerful rushing attack and is aided by Joel Stave — more than a game manager with 416 yards this year.
X-factor: Marlon Grice v. the Wisconsin defense. Grice led the ASU offense in both receiving and rushing last Thursday, as Kelly lobbed the ball around among against the Big Sky opponent. And while it will be interesting to see Sutton and White opposing forces, that battle is not nearly as important as the one between an unproven Arizona State offensive threat and an untested Wisconsin defense.
Alex: Arizona State Isaac: Wisconsin Corey: Wisconsin Franklin: Wisconsin David: Wisconsin Ryan: Wisconsin