Picks, Predictions and Prognosis for Every Week 7 Pac-12 Football Game
Week 7 has yet to kick off in the Pac-12, but the bar was set high with the back-and-forth between head coaches David Shaw of Stanford and Steve Sarkisian of Washington.
If the fireworks on the field match those off it, we're in for a wild set of games.
Sarkisian and Co. turn their attention from Stanford to rival Oregon in the game of the week. The Huskies haven't beaten the Ducks since 2003, and doing so this year means spoiling Oregon's BCS championship aspirations.
USC takes another step in its life after Lane Kiffin in the Thursday night showcase. Both the Trojans and Wildcats are searching for consistency from their quarterbacks, which could make for a low-scoring affair.
Record Last Week: 4-1 (Against the spread: 4-1)
Record on the Season: 41-4 (ATS: 29-16)
Arizona at USC (-6)
Thursday, Oct. 10, 10:30 p.m. ET | FOX Sports 1
USC's misfortune began last October in a 39-36 loss at Arizona. That outcome started a 1-5 run against Pac-12 competition that has extended into this season and ultimately cost former head coach Lane Kiffin his job.
USC gets to start over again vs. the Wildcats, with Ed Orgeron at the helm and a renewed outlook. Arizona is improved defensively, but it has struggled to find an offensive identity, with quarterback B.J. Denker's inconsistencies in the passing game.
The Trojans defense will sell out against the run and limit Arizona star running back KaDeem Carey's opportunities, forcing Denker to put the ball in the air against a secondary with seven interceptions.
Much like Washington, USC should be able to grind down the Wildcats before eventually pulling away.
Prediction: USC 28, Arizona 21
No. 2 Oregon (-10.5) at No. 16 Washington
Saturday, Oct. 12, 4 p.m. ET | FOX Sports 1
Stakes in the heated Oregon-Washington rivalry are the highest they've been in some time. The Huskies cling to championship aspirations in the Pac-12 North, but they can't afford a loss after falling at Stanford in Week 6.
This year's Washington team has the program's best shot at ending Oregon's nine-year winning streak in the series.
The Oregon defense has thrived, with the nation's second-best turnover margin, but the Ducks are also holding opposing offenses to just 11.8 points per game.
Washington needs its uptempo offense to open the field for running back Bishop Sankey, but the line must protect quarterback Keith Price. He'll see consistent pressure from defensive end Tony Washington, whose four sacks rank him among the nation's top 20.
The Huskies will provide Oregon its first legitimate challenge, but the Ducks are just a little bit further ahead. Big plays were Washington's undoing against Stanford, and no team is more adept at generating big plays than the Marcus Mariota-led Ducks.
Prediction: Oregon 45, Washington 38
No. 5 Stanford (-10) at Utah
Saturday, Oct. 12, 6 p.m. ET | Pac-12 Network
Stanford and Utah are similarly built teams. Keying Stanford's defense is an aggressive front seven, featuring Josh Mauro, Trent Murphy, A.J. Tarpley and Shayne Skov.
The Utes have their own impressive defensive front, with Trevor Reilly, Nate Orchard, Jason Whittingham and Jared Norris. Utah got to UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley three times in last week's 31-24 loss.
Quarterbacks Kevin Hogan of Stanford and Travis Wilson of Utah give the offenses similar looks with their two-way abilities. Utah wide receiver Dres Anderson and Stanford wideout Ty Montgomery are also big threats.
Utah should give the Cardinal a stiff challenge, but the MUSS (Mighty Utah Student Section) could be witness to another heartbreaking home finish.
Prediction: Stanford 28, Utah 24
Colorado at Arizona State (-24)
Saturday, Oct. 12, 10 p.m. ET | Pac-12 Network
Arizona State's imposing defensive front line got to Colorado's quarterback for five sacks in last season's 51-17 Sun Devils rout.
This year's Sun Devils defense has been unable to replicate its sack production of 2012. Arizona State got to USC quarterback Cody Kessler four times in Week 5, but went without a sack last week against Notre Dame.
Colorado's offensive line is improved from a year ago, when it allowed 50 sacks. The Buffaloes have surrendered eight this season, but the Sun Devils will be itching to break out.
The Buffs are making progress under Mike MacIntyre, but their first two forays into conference play suggest they still have a long way to go. Arizona State's aggressive—and angry—defensive front and the offense's quick-strike ability should have the Sun Devils cruising.
Prediction: Arizona State 52, Colorado 17
Oregon State at Washington State (Pick)
Saturday, Oct. 12, 10:30 p.m. ET | ESPNU
Two of the most prolific passing offenses in the conference—and nation—should light up the scoreboard in Martin Stadium.
However, the story of this game could be Washington State's defense. Aside from a blowout loss to Stanford in which nothing went right, the Cougars have held opponents to just 14 points per game.
Key to the Cougars defense is its turnover creation. With 14 takeaways, Washington State ranks 10th nationally.
Conversely, Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion has a 10-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His top target, Brandin Cooks, should give the Washington State secondary a workout.
Prediction: Oregon State 38, Washington State 34
Cal at No. 11 UCLA (-23)
Saturday, Oct. 12, 10:30 p.m. ET | ESPN2
Cal took advantage of six UCLA turnovers to blitz the Bruins last season, 43-17.
Don't think the Bruins have forgotten about that game. Head coach Jim Mora put special emphasis on last year's final score during his weekly teleconference call.
UCLA hasn't been a fast-starting team this season, but that shouldn't be a problem against Cal. The Golden Bears have been outscored in first quarters, 86-31.
The Golden Bears are struggling with injuries and cannot find any answers on defense. That's a bad combination against UCLA.
Prediction: UCLA 55, Cal 17