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Pac-12 Week 2 predictions

9/4/2014

Why Arizona will win: If you pick Arizona, are you only going with Power Five conference bias? Maybe. After all, UTSA looked great last week in dismantling Houston on the road. The Roadrunners are a veteran team that played a competitive game last year at Arizona, and it should be a big night for them playing a marquee foe at home. All that said, we watched the Wildcats stomp UNLV last week, and new quarterback Anu Solomon looked fantastic in his first career start. While it's a new experience playing on the road, he's a cool customer and shouldn't flinch. Also, the Wildcats' defense looked pretty stout -- stout enough to provide ample support for a high-powered offense. -- Ted Miller

Why Stanford will win: I went back and forth on this before deciding Stanford's national-best 17-game home winning streak was too impressive to ignore. Confidence level: 2/10. Stanford QB Kevin Hogan might have struggled against the Trojans last year, but his track record against ranked teams -- he's 10-1 -- suggests he'll be ready. Either way, expect it be close: The last four games in this series all have been decided by one score. -- Kyle Bonagura

Why USC will win: I also went back and forth on this one before deciding on USC for a few different reasons. First, yes, I know Leonard Williams was injured this week. But even an injured Williams is better than most defensive linemen in the conference. Heck, give me a Williams in a boot or a club cast or an eye patch and I’d still probably pick him in most one-on-one battles. Second, Steve Sarkisian is a good coach and he knows how to game plan against David Shaw. Last season, Washington lost to Stanford, 31-28, behind a huge performance from Ty Montgomery. USC’s defensive backs are better than what Sarkisian could employ last season and I don't think Montgomery and the Cardinal receivers will have as much success. And in 2012, Sarkisian’s squad beat Shaw’s squad. Third, sometimes you’ve got to take a chance. USC, back me up here against the rest of the #4pac. -- Chantel Jennings

Why Michigan State will win: The Spartans beat the team that beat the team last year, outlasting a Stanford crew in the Rose Bowl that had dispatched the Ducks in a key North Division battle. Moreover, we think Michigan State is better this year. The defense, led by coordinator Pat Narduzzi, is not only talented, but it knows its identity. With extra time to prepare, the Spartans' defense has been able to train its eyes to see through the Ducks' sleight of hand. It will be able to at least contain the Ducks. But the biggest difference is on the other side of the ball. MSU quarterback Connor Cook has been on a run since midway through the 2013 season, and he will be able to attack the Ducks' rebuilt secondary. We also think the Spartans will be able to run against the Ducks. The Spartans have played in many big venues. Autzen Stadium won't scare them, and it will be quiet Saturday evening. -- Ted Miller

Why Oregon will win: The Michigan State/Stanford comparisons are fair, but let's not forget Stanford gave up 40-plus points to the Ducks in three straight seasons before finally adjusting the last two years. Michigan State undoubtedly will benefit from that blueprint, but there's no way to adequately prepare for the nation's best player, Marcus Mariota. With Autzen rocking, the Ducks will roll and Mariota will emerge as the clear Heisman favorite. -- Kyle Bonagura

Why Washington will win: There's no question that quarterback play was a factor in the tight game against Hawaii. The addition of Cyler Miles, who is coming off a suspension, should help rectify that. He's got some experience and is extremely athletic. Also, Washington's front seven -- despite its Week 1 showing -- still has to be considered one of the best in the conference. Chris Petersen said he liked that his team had to face some adversity early. And the tight victory will probably serve the Huskies well going up against the No. 2 team in FCS football. -- Kevin Gemmell

Upset alert: Washington State at Nevada: Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo must have been licking his chops as he watched what Rutgers running back Paul James did to the WSU rush defense (173 yards, three touchdowns). The versatile dual-threat quarterback, who threw for 303 yards and a touchdown last week while rushing for 68 yards and a score, is in his fourth season and is as dangerous as they come. We know Washington State is going to score a lot of points. But if the Cougars can't find a way to contain Fajardo, he could single-handedly keep Nevada in the game. And once it gets to the fourth quarter, well, who knows? -- Kevin Gemmell

More consensus picks: Washington State over Nevada, Colorado over Massachusetts, Utah over Fresno State, California over Sacramento State, Arizona State over New Mexico, UCLA over Memphis and Oregon State over Hawaii.