The conference has seven games against the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC
The Pac-12’s defining week has arrived, and it’s jam-packed: 14 hours of action on Saturday, with seven games against Power Five opponents, five games on broadcast television, and four kickoffs in primetime on the East Coast.
By the end of Week 2, the conference will have established its course for the rest of the season.
If you win the majority of your games against the SEC, Big Ten, and Big 12, this will be a memorable season for two reasons.
However, not every matchup is created equal. Utah’s trip to Baylor and Oregon’s trip to Texas Tech have more postseason implications than, say, Cal’s game against Auburn under the lights.
The multiplier effect is at the heart of Week 2. A string of marquee victories on Saturday would ensure that the Pac-12 enters round-robin conference play with five or six teams ranked in the AP top-25.
Later in the season, this would result in a slew of ranked matchups on ABC and FOX… to more high-quality victories for playoff contenders… to more spotlight games for Heisman Trophy candidates.
September foreshadows November, and November frames the New Year’s Six bowl selection process.
And September is defined by this week.
To the choices…
4-5 last week 4-5 seasons 0-1 five-star special
All bets are against the spread. BetMGM (via VegasInsider.com) provided the lines.
Oregon State is not among the FBS opponents.
(All times are in Pacific)
Nebraska at Colorado Kickoff: 9 a.m. on FOX Line: Colorado -3 (total: 59.5) Comment: An old Big 12 rivalry is reignited, with the Cornhuskers struggling for relevance and the Buffaloes coming off an upset win in Deion Sanders’ coaching debut. We’re wary of overreacting to Week 1 results, but we can’t see Nebraska’s labored offense, which scored only 10 points against Minnesota, keeping up with the Buffaloes’ playmakers. Pick: Colorado
Utah at Baylor Kickoff: 9 a.m. on ESPN Line: Utah -7.5 (total: 47.5) Comment: The Utes defeated Florida with relative ease, despite the absence of quarterback Cam Rising. Can they replicate their success on the road? Rising’s status is unknown, but there is some clarity on the Baylor sideline: Blake Shapen, the team’s quarterback, is out with a knee injury sustained in the shocking loss to Texas State. Whether or not Rising plays, the Utes will face temperatures in the upper 100s in the second half. They must win the game before the fourth quarter begins. Pick: Utah
Tulsa at Washington Kickoff: 2 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks Line: Washington -34.5 (total: 64.5) Comment: We don’t have much to say other than Tulsa’s secondary cannot possibly handle the onslaught. With the Huskies, the Over is usually a good bet; we would strongly consider it, especially if it falls below 64. Pick: Washington
Oregon at Texas Tech Kickoff: 4 p.m. on FOX Line: Oregon -6.5 (total: 66.5) Comment: The Tyler Shough Bowl lost steam after TTU’s collapse at Wyoming last weekend. The Red Raiders’ quarterback’s emotional reaction to facing his former team is only one aspect of this crucial matchup for the Ducks. Another example: How will Texas Tech’s porous defense handle an array of Oregon playmakers who scored 81 points against Portland State last week? Pick: Oregon
Arizona at Mississippi State Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. on SEC Network Line: Arizona +10 (total: 60.5) Comment: Last season, MSU dominated in Tucson, with the late, great Mike Leach on the sidelines, as quarterback Will Rogers threw four touchdown passes. Rogers has returned, but the Bulldogs are vulnerable on both sides of the ball. It remains to be seen whether the Wildcats can capitalize in the heart of SEC country. The game should be close the entire time, with the home team making a few more plays down the stretch. Pick: Arizona
UCLA at San Diego State Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. on CBS Line: UCLA -13.5 (total: 48.5) Comment: SDSU was not impressive in beating Ohio and Idaho State, and the Bruins were not completely dominant in a two-touchdown win over Coastal Carolina. The Aztecs have a significant motivational advantage because they always perform well against Pac-12 opponents. The schools last met in 2019 — SDSU’s only victory in the 23-game series despite being 90 miles apart. We expect the Bruins to use two quarterbacks, but will veteran Ethan Garbers and freshman Dante Moore be able to play a full game together? Pick: San Diego State
Wisconsin at Washington State Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. on ABC Line: WSU +6.5 (total: 58.5) Comment: Former Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell has taken over as head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers. They beat Buffalo in the opener and have a veteran quarterback in Tanner Mordecai, who played three years at Oklahoma and two at SMU before coming to Madison. The Cougars stunned Wisconsin last year and were impressive against Colorado State last week, but the oddsmakers aren’t giving them much credit. That, we believe, is a mistake. Pick: Washington State
Auburn at Cal Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. on ESPN Line: Cal +6.5 (total: 54.5) Comment: Under new offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, the Bears showed signs of life in Week 1, but they’ll need a lot more to keep up with the Tigers. The running game and tailbacks Jadyn Ott and Isaiah Ifanse are at the forefront of this process. If Cal is forced to pass, Auburn can apply more pressure and disrupt Spavital’s precise passing game. Because of Sam Jackson’s injury, the Bears have yet to name a starting quarterback, but we do know that veteran Ben Finley will be in the pocket. Warning: upset alert. Pick: Cal
Oklahoma State at Arizona State Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. on FS1 Line: Arizona State +3.5 (total: 52.5) Comment: This is a rare instance of the Pac-12 team being overvalued in Week 2 betting lines. The Sun Devils have a new coaching staff, a rookie quarterback, and a postseason ban. This does not appear to be one of OSU coach Mike Gundy’s best teams, but it doesn’t have to be elite to win in Tempe, where the heat should have little effect on the visitors. Stillwater will be scorching by the time the Cowboys leave town. Pick: Oklahoma State
Stanford at USC Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. on FOX Line: USC -29.5 (total: 68.5) Comment: The final scheduled game in a rivalry that dates back to 1905 has all the makings of a blowout in favor of USC, so we’re leery of giving 29.5 points. Stanford cannot win without a barrage of USC errors, as was the case in the massive 2007 upset, but it will not take extraordinary circumstances for the Cardinal to remain within striking distance of that huge number. Coach Troy Taylor will make life difficult for the shaky USC defense. Pick: Stanford
Straight-up winners: Colorado, Utah, Washington, Oregon, Mississippi State, UCLA, Wisconsin, Cal, Oklahoma State and USC
Five-star special: Colorado is a five-star destination. Even if the Buffaloes play half as well as they did against TCU, they will be more than three points better than a Nebraska team that excels at finding ways to lose.