Pac-12 Picks: Week Three

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Sep 7, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Arizona Wildcats runningback Jared Baker leaps through the tackle of UNLV Rebels defensive back Mike Horsey during an NCAA football game at at Sam Boyd Stadium. The Wildcats won the game 58-13. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Here we go again. I picked every game last week, probably because the vast majority were gimme games against FCS opponents. This week I may not be so lucky with so many tough, competitive matchups this weekend. As always, the score prediction for Washington’s game at Illinois will come tomorrow in the game preview.

Record Last Week: 9-0

Total Record: 16-2

#16 UCLA at #23 Nebraska 9:00am Saturday

After this game, we’ll know a lot more about Mora’s team. If they can defeat a ranked non-conference opponent on the road, it will be a huge boost and help strengthen their status as Pac-12 South favorites. It doesn’t even matter if it’s an ugly win. A difficult slog or a late comeback is just fine in this sort of situation. If they decisively whip the Cornhuskers, that would just be gravy for a team that has dealt with the death of a teammate, walk-on Nick Pasquale. Mora is a fiery, stubborn individual, and so often a team takes on the personality of its coach. I expect that if that’s the case for UCLA, it’s likely they play even better in the face of this tragedy. If they come out flat after a week of dealing with a death in the UCLA family, the nation will understand, but I’m a believer in Brett Hundley, Anthony Barr and their blue and gold clad compatriots.

UCLA 28, Nebraska 24

#5 Stanford at Army 9:00am Saturday

Less of a test for the Cardinal. East coast road trips can be tough, but Stanford should overwhelm Army with superior talent and physicality, and that will be the expectation. If things go wrong and the end result is ever in doubt, it would hurt Stanford in the rankings, though Coach Shaw probably cares far more about the Pac-12 North standings than they care about the AP poll.

Stanford 45, Army 10

Fresno State at Colorado 11:00am Saturday

One of the most intriguing games of the week as far as the Pac-12 goes. Fresno State is certainly considered the better team, and they possess a veteran, future-NFL draft pick QB in David Carr, who has 661 yards and 8 touchdowns through two games, both wins. But this will be the first road game for the Bulldogs, and Colorado has been on fire offensively. QB Connor Wood has 741 passing yards, 6 touchdowns and 2 picks off of 68% passing, with junior wide receiver Paul Richardson responsible for a ridiculous 21 catches, 417 receiving yards, and 4 scores. And despite a too-close 38-24 win over Central Arkansas, the Buffaloes showed backbone in the season-opening rivalry win versus Colorado State. In what will probably be a shoot-out, I’ll pick Colorado for a win that would do wonders for the top-to-bottom strength of the Pac-12.

Colorado 38, Fresno State 35

Boston College at USC 12:00pm Saturday

It’s almost a little sad that this is a difficult game to pick. Lane Kiffin needs a win here to keep an embarrassing spectacle from turning into an absolute debacle. A loss would start the Trojans off at 1-2, with the one win at Hawaii looking even less impressive after Oregon State beat the Rainbow Warriors after previously losing to Eastern Washington. The passing game is obviously nonexistent, with a combination of poor quarterbacking and poor play-calling deserving the blame, but the defense is pretty fearsome and the run game is solid. As long as USC hasn’t simply given in, there’s a decent chance they win this game by dominating one phase of the game and squeaking by with maybe a touchdown and a field goal or two on offense. I picked them to lose against WSU and they did, but I don’t think things are going to get worse this weekend for the Trojans.

USC 16, Boston College 10

Tennessee at #2 Oregon 12:30pm Saturday

I’m not sure why anyone is pretending like this will be a close game at Autzen Stadium. Just because Tennessee plays in the SEC doesn’t mean they are magically endowed with the strength and skill of the conference’s best teams whenever they go play a different conference. They are unranked, and the 2-0 record is a result of wins over Austin Peay and Western Kentucky. Last year, they won five games. Oregon is the #2 team in the country, and they dominate in Eugene.

Oregon 45, Tennessee 17

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