Picking the Pac - Week 8

Doug Pensinger - Getty Images

It's Showdown in the Desert time as Will Sutton (above) and the ASU Sun Devils host Oregon tonight; elsewhere around the league, the Big Game takes place in October for the first time ever, Oregon State tries to remain undefeated and USC looks to score some style points with pollsters.

Thursday, 6:00PM PST, ESPN: Oregon 31, @ Arizona State 20

The Sun Devils get their first big chance to show if they're for real this year as they host Oregon. They'll give the Ducks a scare - their defense has the ability to really cause them problems as they are 2nd in the country in TFL, Sacks and Pass Efficiency Defense. Marcus Mariota is going to have his first true road test, and it probably won't go as smooth as he'd like. Still, Oregon builds everything off of a maddeningly effective running game and feature their best defense in a long time, both of which should be enough to overcome a strong challenge from Arizona State in the desert.

Saturday, Noon PST, Fox: Stanford 23, @ Cal 17

I've gone back and forth on this one; on the one hand, Josh Nunes has been terrible on the road, and Cal has the big bodies to stack up against the run, similar to how the UW defended them; on the other hand, Cal's pass-blocking has been horrible and Stanford's pass rush terrific, and their front 7 should also be able to keep in check a quietly effective Bear run game (195 ypg). Call it a hunch - I think Stanford plays PO'd and angry after feeling robbed last week at South Bend, and the Bears are a little too cocky after their modest 2 game win streak. Despite this being the Big Game, this will probably be the friendliest road crowd Nunes has seen so far, and I look for the Cardinal to win an ugly, mistake-filled game.

Saturday, 3:00PM PST, P12N: @ USC 48, Colorado 10

It continues to boggle my mind that WSU lost to Colorado - the Buffaloes are really, really bad this year. USC's maligned passing game will have every opportunity to look spectacular in this one, and the Trojan defense will feast on an anemic Colorado offense. The only thing that will keep this score from getting completely ridiculous is that Kiffin has shown himself to be content playing things rather conservative so far this year, although he may be tempted to pile on the points to impress pollsters.

Saturday, 7:30PM PST, ESPN2: @ Oregon State 27, Utah 17

I have a lot of respect for Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, and one of these weeks his Utes are going to rise up and win a game they aren't expected to win. Maybe it's this week, but I'm going with the Beavers. Cody Vaz proved he's up to the task of keeping the OSU passing game humming, and credit for that is largely due to the terrific play of Wheaton and Cooks at WR. When you consider that Utah's pass defense has been mediocre, I think the Beavers will continue to find success through the air even if their ground game is stuffed. The Utes need to get something going positively on offense - John White has been held in check and the passing game is a mess as Utah gives true frosh Travis Wilson his 2nd straight start at QB. I'm guessing Scott Crichton and Jordan Poyer give him a rude welcome to Reser Stadium. Utah's defense will probably keep this game respectable, but the Beavers should remain undefeated.

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