SportsPac12: Pac-12 Football - Week Two Predictions
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Pac-12 Football - Week Two Predictions

September 07, 2018

Pac-12 Football: Week Two Predictions & Previews


  




Arizona (0-1) vs. Houston (1-0)
Saturday, September 8, 9:00 a.m., PT, ABC/ESPN2
TDECU Stadium, Houston, TX

Pick: Houston in a Close Win
 

Many will count the Wildcats out this week after losing at home to BYU, but Arizona has too much talent and quality coaching not to improve. The problem will be improving enough. Houston cruised to a 45-27 win over Rice last week behind quarterback D'Eriq King's 320 yards and three touchdowns, and its defensive line can be imposing. Khalil Tate saw limited action against the Cougars last year, throwing an interception late. But that was before the world knew what he could do; he'll be looking to reintroduce himself in a big way on Saturday. Few doubt Tate will rush for more than 14 yards, but the ubiquitous presence of future NFL star defensive tackle Ed Oliver could keep him from having a career day, especially with UA's offensive line deficiencies. The Wildcats could use a 100-yard rushing performance from J.J. Taylor to ease the pressure on Tate, and allow him to connect with receivers Shawn Poindexter and Tony Ellison more effectively. Big plays and turnovers could sway this one in favor of Arizona, but Houston's defense seems too stout for the Cats on the road this time around.

Notes: The Cougars lead the all-time series 3-1-0, and prevailed in the last one, 19-16 in 2017. Head Coach Kevin Sumlin spent four seasons as the head coach of Houston, from 2008-11, compiling a 35-17 record, including a 12-1 record in 2011. This is his first time back.

Result: Houston 45, Arizona 18

PREDICTION CHECK
—Pick—
Houston def Arizona 

    —Type—
    Close 



         




    UCLA (0-1) vs. Oklahoma (1-0)
    Saturday, September 8, 10:00 a.m., PT, FOX
    Memorial Stadium, Norman, OK

    Pick: Oklahoma in a Blowout Win

    The Bruins could have used an FCS opponent this week to set some things right after their upset loss to Cincinnati, but instead will face one of the most impressive teams in the nation in explosive Oklahoma. The Sooners crushed FIU 63-14 behind the accurate passing and elusive running of quarterback Kyler Murray, who missed on only two passes, throwing for two scores, while averaging 19 yards per attempt. He's complemented by tailback Rodney Anderson, who gained 100 yards and scored twice on just five carries. UCLA sputtered on offense behind freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson after 
    Wilton Speight was knocked out of the game, and the Bruin defense failed to make crucial stops with time winding down. It's difficult to imagine UCLA coming away from Norman with a victory, let alone keeping it close. Chip Kelly and his players need to use this as a developmental game and keep trusting the rebuilding process.

    NotesOklahoma leads the all-time series with UCLA 3-1, but the Bruins won the last contest 41-24 in 2005. This will be the third series meeting that UCLA has played with Oklahoma in Norman. UCLA is 17-14-0 all-time vs. teams in the current Big 12 Conference.

    Result: Oklahoma 49, UCLA 21

    PREDICTION CHECK
    —Pick—
    Oklahoma def UCLA 
    —Type— 
    Blowout 




      




    #23 Oregon (1-0) vs. Portland State (0-1)

    Saturday, September 8, 11:00 a.m., PT, Pac-12 Network
    Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR

    Pick: Oregon in a Blowout Win


    This matchup seems tailor-made for the new NCAA rule that allows freshmen to play in up to four games without burning their redshirt. The Ducks played 10 true freshman vs Bowling Green, and we're likely to see more this week. We probably won't see much of starting quarterback Justin Herbert, however, though he doesn't need much playing time to put up big numbers. Last week, he threw for five touchdowns in just 10 completions, averaging 28.1 yards on each, and also rushed for a score. Instead, look for Tony Brooks-James to get more carries to establish himself as the primary running back, and for the likely debut of true freshman quarterback Tyler Shough. But don't expect much from Portland State. The Vikings have lost 14 straight games dating to 2016, while Oregon has won 21 straight nonconference games at Autzen.


    NotesOregon leads the all-time series 4-0-0, and routed Portland State 69-0 last time they met, in 2010.  Justin Herbert surpassed the 4,000-yard passing mark against Bowling Green, equaling the fastest to reach the plateau in terms of games (18 for Marcus Mariota) and starts (16 for Joey Harrington). 

    Result: Oregon 62, Portland State 14


    PREDICTION CHECK

    —Pick—
    Oregon def Portland State 
    —Type—
    Blowout 







    Colorado (1-0) vs.  Nebraska (0-0)
    Saturday, September 8, 12:30 p.m., PT, ABC

    Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE

    Pick: Colorado in a Close Win

    If new Nebraska head coach Scott Frost can replicate the Chip Kelly-style spread-option he ran at UCF, we could see a wide-open display of scoring in Lincoln. Colorado's trio of quarterback Steven Montez, wideout Laviska Shenault Jr., and running back Tavon McMillian, set off offensive fireworks last week against CSU. But while the Buffs had film to help them prepare for the Rams, they won't have much scouting insight on the Huskers, whose opener with Akron was cancelled due to severe weather. All CU really knows about Nebraska's offense is that freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez will start, directinig a run-first attack, which should rely heavily on senior tailback Devine Ozigbo. Last year, Nebraska's
     defense under Mike Riley was one of the least disruptive and least efficient in the FBS, and new defensive coordinator Erik Chinander has few established play-makers at his disposal. We can be certain of this much: the Buffs and Huskers dislike each other as much as any pair rivals in the country. The 70,000-strong home crowd will be loud and intimidating, but noise won't be enough to compensate for the Huskers' lack of experience in Frost's system, and Colorado's more established and explosive offense. Look for Colorado to win by a touchdown.


    Notes: Colorado's 120-year rivalry with Nebraska dates back to 1898. Nebraska leads the all-time series 49-18-2, and won the last meeting 45-17 in 2010. A total of 34 players made their Buffalo debut in the season-opener, the most in CU history. 


    Result: Colorado 33, Nebraska, 28



    PREDICTION CHECK

    —Pick—

    Colorado def Nebraska 

    —Type—

    Close 



      



    #9 Washington (0-1) vs. North Dakota (1-0)
    Saturday, September 8, 2:00 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Network
    Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA

    Pick: Washington in a Blowout Win

    Following Washington's emotionally draining showdown with Auburn last week, just about any other opponent would feel like a breather, and FCS North Dakota fits that bill nicely. After holding the Tigers to 25 points, the Huskies should have no problem shutting down the Fighting Hawks, despite their impressive 35-7 victory over Mississippi State last Thursday. Offensively, Myles Gaskin figures to put up a bigger number than his 75 yards last week, which nonetheless enabled him to break Napoleon Kaufman's all-time UW yardage record. Quarterback Jake Browning should have a much easier time of it as well, especially after connecting so well with Aaron Fuller, Andre Baccellia, Ty Jones, and Quinton Pounds. The Hawks' all-purpose back John Santiago, who had 161 combined yards against MVS, will cause problems for his FCS opponents, but not the HuskiesIn short, this game should never be in question, with the Dawgs running away early and often.

    Notes: This is the first-ever meeting between the two teams. Washington has won 16 consecutive non-conference home games. Jake Browning needs just four touchdowns to join the Pac-12’s all-time top-10. He moved up six spots to No. 21 on the all-time Pac-12 career passing yardage list with 296 yards vs. Auburn.

    Result: Washington 45, North Dakota, 3

    PREDICTION CHECK
    —Pick—
    Washington def North Dakota 
    —Type—
    Blowout 








    Utah (1-0) vs. Northern Illinois (0-1)
    Saturday, September 8, 4:30 p.m. PT, ESPNews
    Huskie Stadium, DeKalb, IL 

    Pick: Utah in a Comfortable Win

    A number of pundits have had this game on their Upset Specials list since preseason, but after the 26-point thumping Iowa laid on NIU last week, and Utah's dominant performance against Weber State, that possibility seems far less likely. The Huskies gave up 352 yards to the Hawkeyes, while gaining just 211. By contrast, the Utes allowed the Wildcats only 59 on defense, putting up 587 yards in total offense on their own behind Tyler Huntley's 279 passing and four touchdowns, and Zack Moss' 150 yards and one score. The Huskies have a couple imposing players to be aware of, including defensive end Sutton Smith, who 
    led the country with 14 sacks and 29.5 tackles for losses last season, and offensive lineman Max Scharping. Both are ranked among the Top 10 players in the nation according to Athlon sports. There's also DeKalb Stadium, a small, but hostile 24,000-seat venue, where the Huskies have gone 12-4 in home openers since 2000. But the Utes will win this one comfortably.

    Notes: This is the first time the Utes have played Northern Illinois, or any other school from the Mid-American Conference. Simultaneously, it will Utah's first appearance on ESPNews. NIU will return the game next year, playing the Utes in Rice-Eccles Stadium on Sept. 7, 2019. 

    Result: Utah 17, Northern Illinois 6

    PREDICTION CHECK
    —Pick—
    Utah def Northern Illinois 
    —Type—

    Comfortable 






    Oregon State (0-1) vs. Southern Utah (0-1)
    Saturday, September 8, 5:00 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Network
    Reser Stadium, Corvallis, OR

    Pick: Oregon State in a Comfortable Win

    After opening their season with a lopsided loss at Ohio State, the Beavers bring what they learned about themselves—much of it positive and encouraging—home to face a more manageable foe in Southern Utah. SU has proven itself a tough FCS team, having shared or won the Big Sky championship the past two seasons. The Thunderbirds lost to North Alabama last week, however, despite quarterback Chris Helbig throwing for 316 touchdowns and two scores. They face a much bigger challenge in Corvallis against a team that suddenly believes it can compete with anyone. The Beavers performed better than expected in Columbus, especially on offense, with Artavis Pierce rushing for 168 yards and two touchdowns, and Conor Bount throwing for two more. As of this writing, it isn't clear whether he or Jake Luton, who was knocked out early against the Buckeyes, will start at quarterback. Either way, OSU should dominate Southern Utah from start to finish. Nonetheless, the Beavers need to reduce turnovers and mistakes to avoid an upset loss like those they've succumbed to in recent years, falling to Eastern Washington in 2013 and Sacramento State in 2011.

    Notes: Oregon State and Southern Utah have never met before, but the game marks the sixth consecutive season the Beavers have matched up against a Big Sky Conference team. Over that stretch, OSU played Portland State twice, Eastern Washington, Weber State and Idaho State once each. Oregon State has gone 14-4 in home openers dating back to the 2000 season.

    Result: Oregon State 48, Southern Utah, 25

    PREDICTION CHECK
    —Pick—
    Oregon State def Southern Utah 
    —Type—

    Comfortable 







    #9 Stanford (1-0) vs. #12 USC (1-0) 
    Saturday, September 8, 5:30 p.m. PT, FOX
    Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA

    Pick: Stanford in a Close Win

    As one of the biggest games of the week, if not the entire season, this rematch of last year's Conference championship is sure to have long-reaching implications. Whatever the outcome, it's reasonable to expect the Trojans to
     score more than field goals in their first four drives, now that JT Daniels has a game under his belt. It would also be safe to expect Stanford's Bryce Love to gain more than 29 yards, with USC having given up 308 to the Runnin' Rebels. The key for both teams could be winning the trench war when the Trojans have the ball. The Cardinal defensive front sacked Aztecs quarterback Christian Chapman five times, and USC offensive linemen Toa Lobendahn (pectoral strain), Austin Jackson (knee tendinitis) and Chuma Edoga (hip) have been been banged up and held out of practice this week. Should USC's offensive line prevail, the battle will likely shift down field, where Daniels found explosive wideouts Amon-Ra St. Brown and Trevon Sidney in deep routes against UNLV. But don't discount the three-headed running back corps of Aca’Cedric Ware, Stephen Carr, and Vavae Malepeai, who collaborated for 200 yards last week. Ultimately, however, the expected re-emergence of Love and the sharp passing of K.J. Costello, who threw for 332 yards and four touchdowns, including three to to the dependable JJ Arcega-Whiteside, should put up more points in what could be one of the best games of the year. Stanford wins, but not by much.

    Notes: The Trojans and Cardinal have opened Pac-12 play each of the last five seasons, in Week 2 or Week 3. The teams split the previous four regular-season meetings, with USC winning last year's installment 42-24, and edging Stanford in the title game 31-28. USC leads the all-time series 62-32-3.

    Result: Stanford 0, USC, 0

    PREDICTION CHECK
    —Pick—
    Stanford def USC 
    —Type—
    Close 




      




    California (1-0) vs. BYU (1-0)
    Saturday, September 8, 7:15 p.m., ESPN2
    LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, UT

    Pick: BYU in a Close Win


    The Bears will need their defense to produce takeaways against BYU, as it did against North Carolina, when Cal intercepted Tar Heels quarterback Nathan Elliott four times. 
    Minimizing the production of BYU's Squally Canada, who bruised the Wildcats for 98 yards and three touchdowns rushing, will be vital as well. On offense, the Bears are struggling to find their identity at quarterback: None of the three passers who rotated in and out last week—Ross Bowers, Chase Garbers, and Brandon McIlwainthrew for more than 60 yards, rendering receivers Vic Wharton III, Kanawai Noa, and Jordan Duncan less effective than expected. Running Patrick Laird was dependable, gaining 95 yards and scoring once, but that won't be enough against a Cougar team that limited Khalil Tate to 14 yards rushing in its upset of Arizona. Surprising BYU appears to be ahead of Cal in its development at this point, and while the game figures to be close, the Cougars will have the upper hand.

    Note: This is the fifth all-time meeting between the Bears and the Cougars, with BYU leading the series 3-1. The Cougars won the last meeting 42-35 in 2014. The teams have played only once previously in Provo, in 1999.

    Result: BYU 0, California 0


     PREDICTION CHECK

    —Pick—
    BYU def California
    —Type—
    Close




      





    Arizona State (1-0) vs. #15 Michigan State (1-0)
    Saturday, September 8, 7:45 p.m., PT, ESPN
    Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ

    Pick: Arizona State in a Close Win

    If you found Arizona State's season opening performance surprising you may be stunned by the outcome on Saturday. 
    Last week, Michigan State seemed frustrated by inefficient Utah State quarterback Jordan Love; the Sun Devils field a much better quarterback in Manny Wilkins, and perhaps the best receiver in the nation in N'Keal Harry. The pair combined for 140 yards and two touchdowns against UTSA, with Eno Benjamin adding 131 yards and a score on the ground. MSU quarterback Brian Lewerke threw for 287 yards and two scores against the Aggies, but didn't exploit their unproven secondary as well as anticipated. ASU's ability to get to the quarterback, having made an NCAA-leading 10 sacks last week, should make Lewerke's job that much tougher. It's realistic to expect this game to be close, but it doesn't stretch the imagination to envision the Devils winning by a couple touchdowns in their hostile home venue. Arizona State has a history of upsetting ranked teams in Tempe, and is 9-0 against Big Ten teams in Sun Devil Stadium.

    NotesThe series is tied 1-1 with Arizona State winning the last one 20-17 in 1986. A win would give the Devils their fourth-straight victory over a nationally ranked nonconference opponent in the regular season, after beating #8 Notre Dame in 2014, #20 Wisconsin in 2013, and #21 Missouri in 2011.

    Result: Arizona State 0, Michigan State, 0



    PREDICTION CHECK
    —Pick—
    Arizona State def Michigan State
    —Type—
    Close



      




    Washington State (1-0) vs. San Jose State (0-1)
    Saturday, September 8, 8:00 p.m., Pac-12 Network
    Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA

    Pick: Washington State in a Blowout Win

    The Cougars should have no trouble dispatching the struggling Spartans, who suffered an embarrassing loss to FCS opponent UC Davis last week, while giving up 446 yards in the air. By contrast, Washington State enters the game battle-tested, having come from behind in the third quarter to pull away from Wyoming in Laramie. Nonetheless, the Cougars have been known to overlook lesser early-season foes in the past, including Eastern Washington in 2016 and Portland State in 2015. Consequently, WSU must guard against complacency against a San Jose State team that will be hungry for redemption. If Wazzu's offense performs as well as it did last week, with quarterback Gardner Minshew throwing for 319 yards and three touchdowns, and tailback James Williams gaining a combined 153 yards rushing and receiving out of the backfield, the rout should be on from the beginning.

    NotesWashington State leads the all-time series with the Spartans 7-4-1. The Cougars last played SJSU in 1996, when the cougars won 52-16 in Martin Stadium. San Jose State won the previous meeting 20-13 in 1986, also in Pullman. 

    Result: Washington State 0, San Jose State, 0


     PREDICTION CHECK
    —Pick—
    Washington State def San Jose State 
    —Type—
    Blowout 




    *Close: Win  by 1-10 points; Comfortable: Win by 11-21 points; Blowout: Win by More than 21 points