Another year, another round of picks. Last year I was doing rather well with our staff picks, but for some reason we quit doing the feature as the coaching search heated up. This year I look to improve upon my 78% accuracy rate. (And yes, I know picking USC and Oregon every week is hardly a challenge)
Northern Colorado vs. Utah
Utah gets things started with a late afternoon tilt against Northern Colorado in a game that anyone with a Satellite Dish cannot see. I don’t know much about Northern Colorado, except their back-up punter stabbed the starter a few years ago. Nothing says renegade program like some kicker on kicker violence. I actually think Utah is a pretty good team and wins handily.
Utah 41, N. Colo 17
UCLA at Rice
Am I crazy to think that Rice can beat UCLA in Houston? Probably. Jim Mora’s Bruins have more talent, but they are breaking in a new QB, a new system and Mora is coaching his first college game. They have to do this in the late afternoon on the road. It won’t be easy, but Mora gets his first win.
UCLA 28, Rice 13
Washington State at BYU
Am I crazy to think that WSU can beat BYU in Provo? I think the Cougs will be solid under Mike Leach, but getting a win on the road, at BYU is never easy. BYU was a 10-win team a year ago and return 29 starters, including a good QB in Riley Nelson. Jeff Tuel and Marques Wilson give Leach some offensive firepower. The Blue Cougs, edge the Crimson Cougs…Whoa Nellie!
BYU 42, WSU 38
NAU at ASU
Someday NAU will beat either ASU or UofA. As tempting as it is to pick it this year, I just don’t think it will happen. The Devils are due for a down year, but they are still better than NAU. Expect this one to be close early on, but once Taylor Kelly gets comfortable, the Devils will do enough to win.
ASU 35, NAU 20
San Jose State at Stanford
It’s the John Wilner bowl! I don’t think Stanford will be as good as many people do, but they are good enough to beat San Jose State. The Spartans are not that good and despite losing a ton to the NFL Draft, the Cardinal are still solid. Stanford is breaking in a new QB, but it does not take a 1400 SAT score to know that a team like San Jose State is a good team to get one’s feet wet.
Stanford 44, San Jose State 10
Nevada at Cal
Nevada is not bad and Cal has underachieved. Cal is clearly more talented and is celebrating the renovations to their stadium, but the Wolfpack bring their versatile, read option attack to challenge the Bears. Nevada will make Cal work for the win, but Cal will get the “W”. BTW I still can’t fathom why Cal has not had a good QB since Aaron Rodgers. Jeff Tedford has made more average QB’s millionaires (Kyle Boller anyone?) than anyone since Al Davis.
Cal 35, Nevada 21
Colorado State at Colorado
Remember when this was a good rivalry? Well, Sonny Lubbick is nowhere in sight, though the Rams have a new coach with a nice, shiny national championship ring. Colorado appears destined to finish at the bottom of the Pac-12, but may be good enough to get the win in Denver. (Will more fans attend this game or a Payton Manning scrimmage?) CSU is just 1-4 against the Buffs since 2007. Make that 1-6.
Colorado 27, Colorado State 13
Hawaii at USC
Hawaii has cool uniforms and a lovely campus. That’s about all they have going for them in this one. Two years ago they gave up 49 to USC but scored 36. The 49 sounds about right, the 36 does not. Hawaii will get some late points against a thin USC bench, but by then Matt Barkley will have his pads off and will be looking ahead to Syracuse and his first of two trips to the New York area.
USC 49, Hawaii 24
San Diego State at Washington
I like Rocky Long as a coach and will love him if he follows through on his idea of emulating the high school team from Arkansas that does not punt. The Aztecs have some talent, but lost an NFL QB and RB from last year’s eight-win squad. That being said, they do former Oregon State QB Ryan Katz, who won’t be intimidated by the Seattle crowd. Aztecs make this one fun, but Washington has too much offensive firepower.
Washington 42, San Diego State 28
Arkansas Sate at Oregon
Gus Mahlzahn is a rising offensive star and could do some great things at Arkansas State with his ties to local high schools. Don’t be shocked if he is not the Razorbacks head coach eventually. He knows offense and the Red Wolves return their QB who is their leading rusher and passer. They also bring back some other offensive talent. They hung with Illinois and Va Tech a year ago and smoked Memphis. They will scores some points on Saturday, but not nearly enough .
Oregon 59, Ark State 28
Toledo at Arizona
Toledo was a nine-win team a year ago who lost to Ohio State by five, Syracuse by three in overtime and held Boise State to just 40. They shouldn’t be intimidated by the home crowd at Arizona, though they have been outscored by the Wildcats 82-18 in two meetings over the past four seasons. Toledo returns just eight starters and lost 21 lettermen off last year’s team, including their leading receiver and top two rushers. They do return both of their top QBs and may go with a platoon system this year. Arizona is breaking in a new coach, an old/new QB and two new systems. There will be some issues, but the Cats should still take this one.
Arizona 38, Toledo 21
Note: Oregon State’s opener against Nichols State has been postponed due to Hurricane Isaac. Nichols State is in Louisiana and they cannot get flights out to reach Corvallis. This should teach the Beavers (and the rest of college football) about scheduling non-regional I-AA teams. Next time schedule Portland State or Eastern Washington.
This Season: 0-0
Last Season: 46-13