Pac-12 picks of the week: Finding the hidden intrigue on a Saturday lacking high-profile matchups

We’ll have one eye on Corvallis and another on Pullman

The Pac-12’s only marquee matchup this week is Washington’s trip to Big Ten country to face Michigan State.

Take a broader look, and you’ll find at least two other games worth watching: Oregon State’s lunchtime game against San Diego State and Washington State’s afternoon game against Northern Colorado.

The appeal isn’t so much in the outcome — both games should be lopsided — as it is in the ramifications: With victories by the No. 16 Beavers and No. 23 Cougars, the ‘Pac-2’ title game next week will feature a clash of undefeated, ranked teams.

WSU and OSU, the two schools left out of the realignment game and the conference’s only remaining members as of next summer, will square off in Pullman on Sept. 23. The fight will be broadcast on FOX network television at 4 p.m.

If both teams win this week, they will be 3-0 and ranked at the start of the game.

After all, the goal of any conference is to have undefeated, ranked teams meet in the championship game.

To the choices…

6-4 last week Season record: 10-9 1-1 special: 5 stars

All bets are against the spread. BetMGM (via provided the lines.

Utah, Cal, UCLA, Washington State, and Stanford are not included as FBS opponents.

Idleness: USC

(All times are in Pacific)

Oregon State vs. San Diego State Line: Oregon State -24.5 (total: 48.5) Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. on FS1 Comment: The Aztecs were blown out at home by UCLA last week and lack the playmakers to compete with Oregon State, which dominated another Mountain West team, San Jose State, in its opener. (OSU reminds the Hotline of SDSU’s best teams under former coach Rocky Long in terms of solid defense and physical, run-heavy offense.) This is only close if the Beavers are sloppy and give the Aztecs points through turnovers and special teams breakdowns. Pick: Oregon State

Washington at Michigan State Kickoff: 2 p.m. on Peacock Line: Washington -16.5 (total: 57.5) Comment: It’s difficult to predict Michigan State’s mindset in the aftermath of coach Mel Tucker’s suspension, but we don’t see how the massive disruption in East Lansing hurts UW’s prospects. However, given that MSU is playing a revenge game on its home turf, we believe the spread is too wide. Last season, the Spartans were humiliated in Seattle. Not even close, but also not a rout. Pick: Michigan State

Hawaii at Oregon Kickoff: 5 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks Line: Oregon -37.5 (total: 68.5) Comment: Hawaii needed a late touchdown to secure its lone victory over Albany. Oregon’s mascot should eat well before the game. The Duck will be performing numerous pushups. Pick: Oregon

Colorado State at Colorado Kickoff: 7 p.m. on ESPN Line: Colorado -22.5 (total: 59.5) Comment: A trap game for the Buffaloes after their big win over Nebraska and a trip to Oregon the following week. Colorado State, meanwhile, had two weeks to prepare for the in-state game. When we combine those factors, we believe the point spread is a little too wide. If Colorado wins outright, it will be halfway to bowl eligibility three games into Deion Sanders’ tenure. Pick: Colorado State

Fresno State at Arizona State Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. on FS1 Line: Arizona State +3 (total: 50.5) Comment: To the extent that a team in ASU’s situation (rebuilt roster, new coaches, rookie quarterback, and no bowl prospects) can afford to overlook anyone, the Sun Devils will do so in Week 3. They just defeated Oklahoma State, and USC visits next week. Fresno State struggled against Eastern Washington but won at Purdue in the opener, and head coach Jeff Tedford is a master at the controls. Pick: Fresno State

UTEP at Arizona Kickoff: 8 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks Line: Arizona -17.5 (total: 56.5) Comment: The Miners were soundly defeated by Northwestern last week and have only one victory this season. Arizona’s defense, which held Mississippi State to 24 points in regulation despite five turnovers by the offense, impressed us. UTEP will not score more than 17 points, but will Jayden de Laura and company be able to get into the mid-30s? To be honest, we prefer the Under to either side of the spread. Pick: UTEP

Straight-up winners: Oregon State, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Fresno State and Arizona

Fresno State is a five-star special. The Bulldogs are always strong against the Pac-12. While the oddsmakers have them as the favorite, they will almost certainly have an underdog mentality.

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