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: 8-2
- Corey Buchanan: 8-2
- Franklin Bains: 8-2
- David Saez: 8-2
- Ryan Beltram: 6-4
- Isaac Rosenthal: 6-4
Sacramento State (0-1) at Arizona State (0-0)
Sacramento State beat Oregon State to open the 2011 season, which sent the Beavers into a tailspin. 2013 Arizona State is not 2011 Oregon State, and on top of that, the men of Tempe started the season with a bye in week one. While ASU got an extra week to prepare, Sac State got pounded 24-0 by San Jose State. So long as they don’t completely hit the snooze bar, the Sun Devils should easily handle the Hornets in the first matchup between the two schools.
X-Factor: Will Sutton. The redshirt senior Sun Devil defensive lineman is back to his natural playing weight and looking to “create problems” for Pac-12 teams this season. He should wreak havoc on the FCS squad’s offensive line all game long and leave plenty of wiggle room for returning quarterback Taylor Kelly.
Alex: Arizona State Isaac: Arizona State Corey: Arizona State Franklin: Arizona State David: Arizona State Ryan: Arizona State
Weber State (1-0) at Utah (1-0)
Weber State joins Sac State as Big Sky teams facing Pac-12 opponents this week. The Wildcats march from Ogden to Salt Lake City to meet the Utes, and where Weber took a 50-40 score to dispatch Stephen F. Austin — incidentally of the Southland Conference with Nicholls — Utah was probably the underdog when they rode an Andy Phillips onside kick to a 30-26 win. Utah will be the favorite in their fourth meeting with Weber (Utah is 3-0), where Tyler WIlson will look to flex his muscles a bit.
X-factor: The Utah Running Game. Wilson was excellent in the season opener going 17-for-28 for 302 yards, throwing two touchdowns against no interceptions. With catches of 51 and 56 yards helping him out, the big play helped him out. In the Pac-12 south race, he’ll need the running game to help him out too, something that these types of opponents are really good practice for. Sophomore James Poole and senior Karl Williams rushed for 47 and 45 yards against Utah State and both should see significant playing time.
Alex: Utah Isaac: Utah Corey: Utah Franklin: Utah David: Utah Ryan: Utah
No. 2 Oregon (1-0) at Virginia (1-0)
Oregon faces a much stronger test in week two, but one that still has the Ducks heavily favored. The Ducks put three rushers on the field who gained more than 100 yards on the ground in week one, a season yardage mark that Virginia’s leading rusher Kevin Parks is still 35 yards away from. Granted BYU’s defensive front full of Samoans, keyed by senior weak-side linebacker Kyle Van Noy, is stouter than that of Nicholls, but Virginia’s offense doesn’t have much to write home about. In this first matchup between Ducks and Cavaliers, don’t be surprised if Oregon’s formula is similar to how it put away the Volunteers in 2010 or the Wolverines in 2007.
X-factor: Alejandro Maldonado. The maligned kicker has had some disappointing outings over the past couple years, but he has taken over the punting duties for the Ducks this fall, and unlike last Saturday, they’ll likely need him this week. Virginia benefitted from field position thrice against BYU, with both of the Cavaliers’ crucial touchdowns coming with a short field and the Cougars committing a safety. If the Ducks are forced to punt, deep kicks will help out the defense immensely.
Alex: Oregon Isaac: Oregon Corey: Oregon Franklin: Oregon David: Oregon Ryan: Oregon
Portland State (1-0) at California (1-0)
Another Big Sky team facing a Pac-12 team, and another one that drubbed their week one opponent but is the strong underdog. Portland State roundly defeated Eastern Oregon (raise your hand if you knew they had a football team), but face a strong and angry Cal Golden Bears team who are ready to show they’re not the Cal teams of the past four years. The one matchup in this series took place in 2006 when Cal won 42-16. True freshman Jared Goff had 445 yards, a Cal freshman record, in their season opener against Northwestern.
X-factor: Sonny Dykes. The Louisiana Tech transplanted head coach came close to taking the season opener, but Northwestern’s Treyvon Green ran away with that one — running for 129 yards and two TD (including the score that put Northwestern up by two scores). With a game that Cal should have full control of, it’s time for Dykes to prepare the team for a home date with Ohio State on Sept. 14.
Alex: Cal Isaac: Cal Corey: Cal Franklin: Cal David: Cal Ryan: Cal
Central Arkansas (1-0) at Colorado (1-0)
Central Arkansas comes into this game after winning their first game over a school whose actual name is Incarnate Word. That might be the most interesting thing in this game for the newly intriguing Colorado Buffaloes. It’s the first matchup between the Buffaloes and Bears. Connor Wood should look to grow after a strong first showing against Colorado State, and the team will look to improve to 2-0 after coming into the season on an eight-game losing streak.
X-factor: Christian Powell. Wood had 400 yards against Colorado State, but they’ll meet Fresno State on Sept. 14 in a rematch of a game they lost 69-14 last year. Fresno State has had a good start to the season, knocking off Rutgers in OT in week one, and will be the toughest test for Colorado so far. Powell (41 yards in week one) needs to establish a presence against the weaker foe, so that the Bulldogs can’t cheat up or load the box.
Alex: Colorado Isaac: Colorado Corey: Colorado Franklin: Colorado David: Colorado Ryan: Colorado
Hawaii (0-1) at Oregon State (0-1)
Suddenly a closer matchup than Beaver fans thought coming into the season. After a loss to Eastern Washington, every game feels tenser, and Hawaii is no longer to be overlooked. Oregon State has won five games in this eight-game series, the last one going the Beavers’ way 45-7 in 2008. Oregon State’s defense will be the focus at practice all week, after last week giving up over 400 yards to opposing QB Vernon Adams, and because Oregon State’s offense looks strong. Brandin Cooks will look to continue a campaign for the Biletnikoff Award after corralling in nearly 200 receiving yards against the Eagles.
X-factor: Oregon State’s secondary. The Beavers are pretty solid up front, but gave up 411 yards through the air to Adams, allowing him four touchdowns without an interception. Jordan Poyer’s departure for the NFL was a big factor in a depleted defensive backfield, but if they want to win, they need to not let opposing quarterbacks easy opportunities. Because the offense isn’t leaving too many missed opportunities on the field.
Alex: Oregon State Isaac: Oregon State Corey: Oregon State Franklin: Oregon State David: Oregon State Ryan: Oregon State
Arizona (1-0) at UNLV (0-1)
Arizona goes on the road to take on the Rebels, which is a good thing for UNLV who has lost their last 23 road games, with the 23rd a bad loss to Minnesota last week. However, Arizona returns Ka’Deem Carey to the gridiron after his serving a one-game suspension during their hosting of Northern Arizona. The Wildcats ran all over the Lumberjacks and with the addition of their All-American, they should be even better. These teams have met once before, in 2001 when Arizona won 38-21.
X-factor: Wildcat Receivers. UNLV didn’t have much trouble moving the ball on the Minnesota Golden Gophers, but still got beat by 28. And with Carey back, the All-American will get his carries and his yards. But with last year’s leading receiver Austin Hill (1,364 yards in 2012) still out with a torn ACL, Denker will need some targets to throw to as the Wildcats take to the road.
Alex: Arizona Isaac: Arizona Corey: Arizona Franklin: Arizona David: Arizona Ryan: Arizona
Washington State (0-1) at No. 25 USC (1-0)
The first Pac-12 game of the season will feature two of its most confusing teams. USC started the season with a trip to Hawaii where their offense struggled against the Rainbow Warriors’ not-all-that-tricky defense, while Washington State’s air raid pushed Auburn’s SEC defense to the brink. USC leads the series 58-8-4, with the last contest going USC’s way in 2010 — 50-16. Cody Kessler and Connor Halliday will look to make huge steps forward in this matchup, both are nominally the starter, but both could easily be replaced if they replicate the miscues of last week.
X-factor: Kessler. USC’s got the clear talent advantage at all sectors of the field, but the offense gave Trojans fans a stinker of a season opener. Kessler was named the starter this week and now has all the pressure. Silas Redd’s hopeful to return for his season debut, which will remove a lot of pressure. But once again, as it should be in most games, the game will come down to the starter’s ability to get the ball in the hands of Marqise Lee. Battling the air raid, whether USC’s offense works or not should decide the game.
Alex: USC Isaac: USC Corey: USC Franklin: USC David: Washington State Ryan: USC
San Jose State (1-0) at No. 5 Stanford (0-0)
Stanford starts the season with the team that tested them early last season. Stanford leads the series 51-14-1, but San Jose State challenged them en route to a 20-17 Cardinal win. Stanford started the season at No. 4, their highest preseason ranking in team history, and thus embarks on a huge campaign this fall, though not playing seems to have unfairly dropped them a spot in the AP poll. They’ll rely on their trademark running game and last year’s revelation in Kevin Hogan, now starting the season, and should put the Spartans away in the first half this go around.
X-factor: Anthony Wilkerson. The senior has played behind the transformative Stepfan Taylor the past four years and now gets his year to shine behind Stanford’s trees on O-line. It’s no secret that the Cardinal will run the ball a lot, as David Shaw has seamlessly kept up the smashmouth offense of Jim Harbaugh. But Wilkerson’s got to show that he can handle the increased load — his 50 carries in 2012 was 5 less than Hogan and 272 less than Taylor.
Alex: Stanford Isaac: Stanford Corey: Stanford Franklin: Stanford David: Stanford Ryan: Stanford