Thursday, August 30, 2012
Pac-12 predictions: Week 1
By Ted Miller
I went 72-25 picking Pac-12 games last year. Now Kevin has shown up to make me look bad.
Welcome to Week 1.
Utah 33, Northern Colorado 13: A good chance for QB Jordan Wynn to gain some confidence. Keep an eye on the new offensive tackles protecting his flanks. Also see if anyone can block DT Star Lotulelei.
Arizona State 40, Northern Arizona 17: Expect the new-look Sun Devils to look good in the debuts of coach Todd Graham and QB Taylor Kelly.
UCLA 30, Rice 21: Redshirt freshman QB Brett Hundley's first start is on the road. Rice's crowd isn't known as vicious, but road games are never easy. How well will the Bruins' new-look 3-4 defense stop the run?
BYU 33, Washington State 30: Tempted to pick Washington State's Cougars with Mike Leach making his debut, but there's a reason Vegas favors the Cougars of Provo by double digits.
Stanford 40, San Jose State 10: I expect the Cardinal to look sharp, if conservative, on both sides of the ball. New QB Josh Nunes just needs to manage the game and avoid mistakes. Interested to see how dominant the Cardinal's defense looks, particularly up front.
California 35, Nevada 20: The Bears should be fired up for their first game in renovated Memorial Stadium. And many of them remember what happened in 2010 at Nevada. Good news is Colin Kaepernick is playing across the Bay now with the San Francisco 49ers.
Oregon State, Nicholls State: Game postponed.
Colorado 23, Colorado State 17: New Rams coach Jim McElwain adds a wrinkle to the series, but the Buffaloes probably have enough to prevail. It helps that new QB Jordan Webb is an experienced starter, even if his experience was at Kansas.
USC 45, Hawaii 17: Matt Barkley and the Trojans begin their "unfinished business." Will they impress against Norm Chow and the Warriors?
Washington 35, San Diego State 24: Might be trickier than some Huskies fans think. While QB Keith Price is the Huskies' star and leader, most will be curious about the defense under new coordinator Justin Wilcox. Expect some encouraging moments. And some mistakes.
Oregon 50, Arkansas State 20: Another season of high expectations for the Ducks begins, this time with the unknown of QB Marcus Mariota in the cockpit of the offense. Don't be surprised if Arkansas State has plenty of offensive tricks with coach Gus Malzahn.
Arizona 40, Toledo 28: The Wildcats' offense should roll with QB Matt Scott. But what about the defense?
And here are Kevin's picks:
Utah 35, Northern Colorado 10: Da' Bears won't be able to do much against Utah's defense, which should be resting by the start of the fourth quarter. Will be interesting to see how Utah's offensive tackles play. Getting quarterback Jordan Wynn through the game healthy would also be a bonus.
Arizona State 42, Northern Arizona 24: Taylor Kelly's debut at quarterback will go well, and Cameron Marshall will run wild. But I think a lot of people are anxious to see what role Michael Eubank is going to play in the offense.
UCLA 24, Rice 10: Looking forward to seeing Brett Hundley take the field for the first time as a quarterback. But I'm even more interested in seeing what the Bruins' defense looks like as a 3-4.
Washington State 42, BYU 27: Maybe I'm completely backwards on this, but I just don't see WSU as an almost-two-touchdown 'dog. Too many offensive weapons. No one at BYU can keep up with Marquess Wilson. I'm prepared to chug some crow if it blows up in my face.
Stanford 35, San Jose State 10: The Cardinal have dominated the series and with Stepfan Taylor as the focal point of the offense early, I see no reason for that to change. All eyes are on the left tackle spot to see which true freshman will emerge.
Cal 31, Nevada 24: The Wolfpack whupped the Bears the last time they met, but that was a very different Nevada team and a very different Cal team. The Bears' defense gets the job done and the offense will be efficient.
Oregon State, Nicholls State: Game postponed.
Colorado 17, Colorado State 10: The Buffs -- who plan to play about 15 true freshmen this year -- will have to grow up fast. But they should win on athleticism alone. Excited to see Jordan Webb in action with his new team.
USC 49, Hawaii 10: The Trojans will score early and often against Norm Chow's squad. Methinks even though it's Hawaii, USC wants to come out and make a statement to the country that it is worth its top billing.
Washington 31, San Diego State 14: The Aztecs have been a better program the last couple of years, but there's no one comparable to Keith Price in the Mountain West and they won't have any answers for him.
Oregon 45, Arkansas State 7: Marcus Mariota blows up. January airline flights from Eugene to Miami see a record spike. Like everyone, I'm excited to see what the offense looks like with Mariota running it. But I'm more excited to see the best defense of the Chip Kelly era.
Arizona 28, Toledo 21: The Wildcats have plenty of offensive potential. Finding quality defensive playmakers will be paramount as the season progresses and the schedule stiffens.