Huskies Insider Blog

Pac-12 picks, Week 1: Every conference team in action on opening weekend

Hey. Guess what? Football season begins today in earnest, with three Pac-12 teams in action against non-conference opponents. All 12 conference teams play this weekend, which means, according to Huskies Insider blog tradition, that we have a whole bunch of predictions for you.

Picking the outcome of games was actually a decently successful venture foryours truly in 2014, as I finished the year with a 67-24 record picking straight-up winners, and a 44-39-2 mark picking against the spread (strictly for fun, of course). Not otherworldly, but not bad, either (do they gamble on sports in other worlds, anyway?).

So here we go again, our first batch of picks for the 2015 season. As always, all lines are courtesy of VegasInsider.com, and are for entertainment and gambling purposes only. And our pick for the Huskies game (7:15 p.m. Friday at Boise State) will come in a separate post on Thursday.

THURSDAY

Michigan at Utah, 5 p.m., FOX Sports 1 (Utah by 5) -- Not a bad way for the league to begin the season, with what I think could be a sneaky-good Utah team against Jim Harbaugh University. But I don’t suspect that Harbaugh was able to work enough miracles in his first offseason to make much of a difference in this one. The Utes return several key players from a team that won nine games last season -- a season in which it won at Michigan -- and while the Wolverines are down (5-7 final record last season), they’re still a big enough name to inspire a pretty rowdy stadium atmosphere. That, along with a still-salty defense an improved offense led by tailback Devontae Booker, points me toward the Utes. The pick: Utah 28, Michigan 20.

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Texas-San Antonio at Arizona, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Networks (Arizona by 32) -- Don’t know if I envision the kind of blowout necessary for Arizona to cover, because UTSA is senior-laden and better than you might assume. Still think the Wildcats will roll, though, with Anu Solomon showing some more polish than he did as a redshirt freshman. The pick: Arizona 42, UTSA 20.

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Colorado at Hawaii, 10 p.m., CBS Sports Network (Colorado by 7.5) -- If anyone in Boulder can stay awake for this 11 p.m. Mountain time kickoff should see the Buffaloes handle a Hawaii team picked to finish fifth in the West division of the Mountain West (and no, Joey Iosefa is no longer there). The pick: Colorado 38, Hawaii 24.

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FRIDAY

Weber State at Oregon State, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Networks (no line) -- Some FCS teams have given the Beavers trouble in Corvallis. Weber State, God bless it, should not be one of them. The pick: Oregon State 49, Weber State 14.

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SATURDAY

Stanford at Northwestern, 9 a.m., ESPN (Stanford by 12.5) -- This feels like a game in which the Cardinal methodically wear the opponent down, never lead by more than two scores but win by 10 points fairly easily. Maybe an early start on the East Coast helps the Wildcats -- and their experienced secondary could give Kevin Hogan some trouble -- but I don’t see Northwestern as a tremendous threat to win this game. Watch that point spread, though. The pick: Stanford 24, Northwestern 14.

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Portland State at Washington State, 11 a.m., Pac-12 Networks (no line) -- You know how Mike Leach’s teams throw for like 1,000 yards and a bunch of touchdowns against Pac-12 defenses? Well, here’s a guess they can do it against a Big Sky school, too. Not sure what to think of the Cougars’ defense, but for at least a week, they probably won’t really have to play any. The pick: WSU 63, Portland State 21.

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Virginia at UCLA, 12:30 p.m., FOX (UCLA by 20) -- The debut of the Bruins’ true freshman quarterback, Josh Rosen, comes against a mediocre power-conference program that shouldn’t have much of a shot on Saturday afternoon at the Rose Bowl. Rosen, Paul Perkins and Co. should be able to get organized against a Cavliers defense that lost several key players from last season. Let’s call it a Virginia cover, though. The pick: UCLA 35, Virginia 16.

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Grambling State at California, 2 p.m., Pac-12 Networks (no line) -- Can’t imagine this will be very close. The pick: California 55, Grambling State 10.

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Arizona State at Texas A&M, 4 p.m., ESPN (Texas A&M by 3.5) -- This should be a fun game between two talented teams in what should be a good environment in Houston. ASU coach Todd Graham calls this the best team he’s had in four seasons in Tempe -- the Sun Devils return 17 starters -- but the Aggies, who will start quarterback Kyle Allen, are favored for a reason. They’re loaded at receiver, which helps. But I think ASU rises to the challenge here. The pick. Arizona State 31, Texas A&M 30.

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Eastern Washington at Oregon, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Networks (no line) -- If Chris Petersen’s return to Boise this week is “awkward,” I wonder what the best word might be to describe Vernon Adams facing his former team in his first game as the Ducks’ starting quarterback. Will Adams do to the Eagles what he’s done to opposing defenses throughout his career? I’m guessing yes. The pick: Oregon 42, Eastern Washington 28.

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Arkansas State at USC, 8 p.m., Pac-12 Networks (USC by 27.5) -- Not a great way for Arkansas State to begin the Blake Anderson era. Think the Red Wolves are still a pretty solid outfit, but the Trojans have them overmatched. The pick: USC 49, Arkansas State 20.

Christian Caple can be reached at christian.caple@thenewstribune.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple

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