Huskies Insider Blog

Pac 12 picks: "I can't be the only one who cares!"

Here’s Arizona coach Mike Stoops summing up my feelings when it comes to my computer's performance and the lack of air conditioning in my place.

Here’s my pick for Friday night’s game in Tempe…

What a circus.

Seriously, Arizona State wears black uniforms, gets flagged for their usual plethora of penalties, turns the ball over carelessly, sprinkles in a few questionable hits and does everything they can to lose the game --- don’t the Devils know they are infringing on the copyrights held by the Oakland Raiders.

Typical Hurricane Dennis team, so talented, so undisciplined, so destined to fall short of expectations.

Still, ASU QB Brock Osweiler of Kalispell, MONTANA, looks like he’s going to be pretty good. Because he’s 6-foot-8, he will be compared to Dan McGwire (pause for a moment while Seahawks fans fight back their gag reflex), but Osweiler, a one-time Gonzaga hoops recruit, is different than McGwire in that he’s - well, um, you know - good. He’s so much more athletic. He’s got a good arm, and the system works for him. He seems to have pretty good receiver in Aaron Pflugrad, who’s dad, Robin, is the head coach at MONTANA. Pflugrad was a receiver at Oregon (and his sister Amanda was a cheerleader at OU and probably the most googled cheerleader in NCAA history), but Aaron transferred when his dad was let go by the Chipper. They showed last night they might be one of the better pass-catch combos in the Pac 12.

So ASU won, they should have covered. They were up 14 and then remembered they are the ASU Sun Devils and nothing is easy.

Some of the credit for Arizona State's win can go to Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, who iced his own kicker by calling, not one, but two timeouts with 17 seconds left as Grant Ressel was waiting to attempt a 48-yard field goal with the scored tied at 30-30.

"We tried to get five more yards. They were jumping, (Vontaze Burfict) was jumping all over and blowing our guard up and timing it and going every time," Pinkel said. "And we thought just maybe we could get him to jump offsides and we'd have gotten the first down."

Well, I better get to today’s picks because as Rick Neuheisel screamed this week: “I can’t be the only one who cares!”

There’s nothing like having a little existential crisis at the end of practice.

The lines are from …. And I’m using the Caesar’s Palace lines since I’m still paying off my last visit there. They tried to take a kidney but it wasn’t functioning well enough.

Oregon State at Wisconsin (-20.5)

This has a disaster written all over it. Oregon State heads into Camp Randall without its best running back, its best receiver, a multitude of injuries in other positions and two rotating quarterbacks to face the No. 8 team in the country. Gee, General Custer, what could possibly go wrong?

Remember in 2001 how Oregon used to run up the score in an effort to help Joey Harrington become Joey Heisman? Well, this is different. Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema runs up the score on teams upon principle. He scored 83 points on Indiana last season for no apparent reason other than he could. It prompted one of the funniest rants I’ve ever heard from Mike Gastineau – an Indiana alum – on KJR. Of course, I can’t find it. Bielema strikes me as the guy that takes a pick-up hoop game or a church league softball game way too seriously. You know “that guy.” I live my life under the theory, “Don’t be, ‘that guy.’”

The pick: Look, I think Mike Riley is a great coach. I think he gets slightly less talented and far less heralded kids and makes them into good football players. I’m not sure what he’s doing with the quarterbacks. My advice to Ryan Katz: “If you don’t like it, play better.” But you know, Katz could play like Aaron Rodgers and I don’t know if the Beavers could win. Wisconsin wins this one going away with Bielema kicking sand in their face by scoring a cheap TD late, because that’s what he does.

If I were a betting man … I would give the points knowing that no spread is too big for Bielema’s Badgers to cover.

California (-6) at Colorado

I really don’t have a lot of great quips or anecdotes about this game. But it obviously provides some level of intrigue since the Huskies have to play both teams, and both are expected to be wins. Cal’s defense is really good. When Pat Hill of Fresno State compliments you, it’s earned. Is Zach Maynard any good? Well, we’ve established he’s better than Brock Mansion. Then again, Jeff Tuel playing with two broken collarbones is better than Mansion. I think Ronnie Fouch might be better too, okay maybe not.

While Cal seems to be better than expected since Maynard looked decent and capable, the Buffalos seem to be worse than expected. I figured with Rodney Stewart and a decent quarterback in Taylor Hansen, the Buffs would be able to move the football. They did nothing against Hawaii. The Warriors front seven is pretty good, but it was aided by just a not-very-talented Colorado offense. Head coach Jon Embree is playing a lot of his guys, meaning youth and inexperience, that doesn’t help you in the Pac 12.

The pick: With a misfiring Colorado offense and a stout Cal defense meeting, all Maynard has to do is manage the game and complete a few passes and it’s a big road win for the Bears. He will do that and a little more.

If I were a betting man … I’d go against my grandma’s advice about betting against road underdogs. She was really against this. But it’s six points. And the Bears will cover it.

Nevada at Oregon (-26.5)

A year ago, this game might have been interesting. A year ago, Nevada was good enough to beat Boise State, a team Oregon hasn’t quite figured out how to beat. But the Wolfpack lost a lot from last year’s team, including quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running back Vai Taua, who accounted for like 2/3 of the offense. Kaepernick is now with the 49ers and spending his days how in the world Alex Smith was taken with the first pick of the draft and still is the starting quarterback for the 49ers.

Oregon is still a little “Chip-py” after losing last week. The questions about their inability to not play well against top 10 level opponents didn’t really exactly please Chip Kelly during the Pac 12 conference call.

The pick: A win – no matter how big the deficit – won’t stop the questions. Neither will Kelly’s terse answers. But that doesn’t mean the Ducks won’t try to make it big. They are angry and they want to take it out on someone. Nevada just happens to be the team that walked into it.

If I were a betting man … I’d give the points, and it’s a lot of them. The Ducks are going to try prove a point by routing the Pack. But people who know college football will still have the same questions and skepticism till Kelly and the Ducks prove them wrong. I’m guessing 42-10

Stanford (-21) at Duke

This game might be more interesting if this was basketball. Because Duke basketball is so easily hateable. My desire to see the Blue Devils hoops team lose is like my desire to see girls say, “No,” when their boyfriends ask them to get married at a sporting event over the jumbotron – it’s off the chart. Guys do that when they are worried the girl might say no. "Surely, she can't say, no, in front of all these people." Oh really?

Why are we talking about Duke hoops? Well, what is there to discuss about the Blue Devils football game. Did you know Steve Spurrier once coached there? And they were sort of decent. But they’ve lost to FCS teams the last three times they’ve played them.

The pick: Really? Really? Do I have to write it out? Stanford will win. They will win. They will win with ease.

If I were a betting man … I’d give the points because Stanford’s ground game is good enough to score still even when Andrew Luck is on the bench for the entire fourth quarter. I’m guessing 38-10.

UNLV at Washington State (-13)

The Marshall Lobbestael interim era re-begins again in Pullman with the bowl hopes hanging by a hair – a ginger hair. Having covered the Cougs in 2008, I liked Lobbestael. I thought he had a pretty strong arm and was tough. Only they forced him into playing that season when Gary Rogers and Kevin Lopina both got hurt. He was nowhere near ready to play for a good team with weapons that could take pressure of him. And the 2008 Cougs had none of those things. Not surprisingly he struggled. It is different this year. Lobbestael has been in the program for a while now. He’s a senior. He may not have had a bunch of game snaps, but he gets it now. And it’s not like he’s going up against the world’s greatest defense from UNLV.

The Rebels head coach, Bobby Hauck, was a one-time special teams coordinator for UW during the Neuheisel and he cared. Hauck then went on to coach my Grizzlies to three national title games – all losses – which I witnessed first-hand. Hauck is 2-12 at UNLV, but did just get a contract extension to 2014.

The pick: I personally watched UNLV’s defensive coordinator Kraig Paulsen in two different stints as Montana’s D-coordinator. He’s a big proponent of playing bend don’t break defense. Well, the Rebels have bent and bent and bent and are one of the worst defenses the FBS level. Obviously, I wasn’t a fan. It doesn’t matter that Tuel won’t be in the game. The Cougs will win with ease.

If I were a betting man … I’d give the points. Remember when the Cougs were so bad that every opponent covered against them no matter how big the spread? Well, UNLV is like that and the spread is under two touchdowns. I’m guessing 35-17

Utah at USC (-8.5)

Two teams that didn’t play very well in their season openers will meet in the Coliseum. It’s Utah’s first game in a BCS conference, maybe the Utes should play like it instead of the Mountain West also-ran they looked like last week. Utah is way better than it showed last week. Could the Utes have been overlooking Montana State for the big showdown with USC? Yes, that’s very possible.

So what’s USC’s excuse for almost losing to Minnesota? Well, it could be that their head coach did the perceived jerkish move of going for two early in the game, for no other reason than he felt like it and he does it all the time. It seems just odd to do.

Know this, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham won’t make such decisions. When you can’t just blow teams away with obviously superior talent, that’s why you have to teach, coach, motivate and manage. Someone should tell Kiffin to try it, or is he still operating under that wrong assumption that USC is that much more talented than the rest of the Pac 12.

The pick: Easily the toughest game to pick. You have a slightly less talented team with the better coach taking on a slightly more talented team with the worse coach. I guess judging what the difference is in talent. My guess is that it’s not as great as some people would think. Utah has talent and depth. But playing their first Pac 12 game at The Coliseum? That’s a lot to ask.

If I were a betting man … I’d take the points and go with Utah. The Utes might not win, but they will keep it close enough to cover.

San Jose State at UCLA (-21)

“I can’t be the only one who cares” … about this game. Well, maybe the dwindling group of Neuheisel supporters in Pasadena care. If you think I won't be using those eight words of goodness for the rest of the year, you would be very, very wrong. It’s clear that Kai Maiava doesn’t care, or else he has cataracts and the UCLA staff doesn’t know it.

Remember when Kirk Herbstreit picked the Bruins to win the Pac 12 South, yeah, he seems to not remember either.

The good news for the Bruins is that they are paying $425,000 for San Jose State, which lost to Stanford 57-3 last week, to come down to the Rose Bowl and be a punching bag.

What if the punching bag punches back? It seems unlikely since San Jose State is 0-17 against BCS level teams. And, surely the quarterback duo of Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince can counter punch. At this point, Brett Hundley needs to start playing before he starts realizing what he’s gotten himself into.

The pick: UCLA will win this game. It won’t matter if Brehaut, Prince, Hundley or Neuheisel takes the snaps. But this is a game where you get things right. Execute on offense, play better defensively and build up some confidence from a minuscule amount to a tiny amount. It would also make things easier if you win big.

If I were a betting man … I’d give the points and hope that for once the Bruins show up to play, and none of them were hanging in Maiava’s room the night before the game. Neuheisel and the Bruins don’t just need a win, they needs a decisive win for a myriad of reasons, one of them being to prove that Neuheisel won’t be the only one who cares. I’m guessing about 38-7.

Huskies pick in a separate blog post ...