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California quarterback Chase Garbers (7) releases a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
California quarterback Chase Garbers (7) releases a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)|Associated Press
NCAAF

Pac-12 Football: Madwed (5-1 last week) picks Arizona St at Cal, USC at Washington, Stanford at Oregon St, UCLA at Arizona, Wash St. at Utah

First game is Friday at 10:30 pm EDT. Other games Saturday.

Jesse Madwed

Jesse Madwed

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(15) CALIFORNIA -4.5 over Arizona State, Friday 10:30 PM EDT

The Golden Bears continued their strong start to the season last week with a road win against Ole Miss. While it might not have been the win that inspires respect to the conference nationwide, it didn’t go unnoticed in the Pac-12. Meanwhile, Arizona State lost in a somewhat shocking way to Colorado at home. Their defense had appeared to be by far their strongest unit in the first few weeks of the season, only to get crushed by a previously middling Buffaloes passing attack. Despite the hype assigned to star running back Eno Benjamin before the season, ASU is 10th in the conference in rushing at 111.5 ypg and 3.2 ypc. California has more than enough secondary talent to completely shut down the Sun Devils passing attack, and should have enough bandwidth left to stop the run game like everyone else has. Even if Arizona State gets their defense back on track, I see Cal winning this one pretty convincingly at home.

(17) WASHINGTON -10.5 over (21) USC, 3:30 PM EDT

Washington was able to get back on track last week in a blowout win at BYU (which beat USC the week before). Jacob Eason was nearly perfect and they were able to get the rushing attack going despite the absence of Salvon Ahmed. The emergence of Sean McGrew and Richard Newton at the position give the Huskies the kind of multi-headed monster they never needed in the Myles Gaskin era. USC could have some trouble as their rushing defense has given up over 170 ypg. Even though they beat Utah last week, they still gave up almost 250 yards on 5 ypc. Washington should be looking to run the ball consistently. The Trojans have somehow been able to keep up a respectable performance despite being forced to turn to their third QB of the year. Matt Fink looked solid last week, especially on deep balls. Washington’s stingy pass defense should be able to stifle their air attack enough. This game is significant for either team's hope of an outside shot at a big bowl game, and I see Washington winning by multiple scores.

OREGON STATE +4 over Stanford, 7 PM EDT

This is a battle between the most disappointing team in the conference and the worst team. These days Oregon State doesn’t have much of a home field advantage and I think Stanford is eager to show they aren’t the second worst team in the Pac-12. Unfortunately the results won’t match the will to win. The Cardinal have been downright awful on offense this year. Last in the conference in passing and 9th in rushing. Oregon State’s rush defense is equally bad (207.3 ypg allowed), but their passing defense is respectable. Stanford might win a close one, but the Beavers will keep it close by keeping the ball on the ground and relying on their third in the Pac-12 rushing attack. OSU has been able to put up points this year, even in their two losses. Stanford will leave Corvallis feeling no better about their season.

(19) UTAH -6 over Washington State, 10 PM EDT

Coming off the Pac-12 After Dark game to end all P12AD games with their discouraging 67-63 loss to UCLA, Washington State looks to get their season back on track. It looked like they might make another sneaky run towards contention in the Pac-12 North, but a loss to the lowly Bruins likely ends that dream. Utah is in a similar position to Oregon, Washington and USC in that they now cannot afford to slip up the rest of the year. That slip will likely happen eventually, but I see them coming back strong after a tough loss to USC. Utah will be able to run all over the Cougars and they will stop them enough to win by at least a touchdown at home. The Utes will use the ground game to keep the ball out of Anthony Gordon’s hands for significant stretches. Washington State will leave Salt Lake City wondering how their season went up in flames so quickly.

ARIZONA -6.5 over UCLA, 10:30 PM EDT

Think UCLA might be back on track after an unbelievable comeback in Pullman? Not so fast, my friend. The Bruins still gave up 720 yards on offense and benefited immensely from six Washington State turnovers (they only had 1). Relying on a +5 turnover margin is, uh, not a sustainable model for winning. Arizona is coming off a bye week and won convincingly over Texas Tech the last time they took the field. The Wildcats have put up over 300 rushing yards a game and should be able to keep it going against a pitiful UCLA rush defense that ranks 11th in the conference. I see this one being a high scoring game, but Arizona is simply much more well rounded than UCLA. The good vibes should end for the bruins by the end of this one and Arizona should win by at least a touchdown at home