Welcome to another season of Picking the Pac!
The football odds I use each week can be accessed by clicking Rivals/Yahoo. the numbers are updated on thursday morning before I publish the article.
If you are interested in competing in our annual contest, you can find it at the Yahoo Pick 'Em website. The "Straight Up" category group ID# is 6777, the "Against The Spread" group ID# is 6782. The password for both categories is "dawgy style". Please use your Dawg Pound alias for the contest! Remember, you can participate in the Straight Up category, the Against The Spread category, or both (in past season everybody participated in both).
Northern Colorado at Utah
Utah is expected to be pretty good this season because they return a lot of experienced talent, have Kyle Whittingham as head coach, and they play in the weaker southern division of the Pac 12. Defensively the Utes will be stout as usual but will they be able to outscore the upper division teams of the Pac 12?
Personally I'm not all that impressed with the Utes and I'm not betting on them being much better than they were last season.
Where is the necessary firepower on offense going to come from? Jon Hayes and Jordan Wynn aren't what I would call big time quarterbacks. John White is a competent running back but I couldn't start polishing the Heisman for him.
Northern Colorado which recently stepped up to the FCS level when they joined the Big Sky isn't going to give them much more than token resistance in the opener.
Vegas: No Line - John B's Pick - Utah 41 Northern Colorado 14
Northern Arizona at Arizona State
ASU was the favorite to win the Pac 12 South last season until they ended the season and Dennis Erickson's coaching career with five straight losses. Todd Graham takes over this season and he has the reputation of running a pretty tight ship. It will be interesting to see how that works in the early going with Erickson's penalty prone personel.
This annual gimme game with the Big Sky Lumberjacks helps fill the athletic department coffers at Northern while guaranteeing the Sun Devils an early season tune-up win before they take a couple steps up in competition to face Missouri and Illinois.
Vegas: No Line - John B's Pick - Arizona State 45 Northern Arizona 10
UCLA at Rice
Jim Mora inherits a mediocre team with lots of holes and problems. A .500 finish would be viewed as a success this season even though the same type of result got Rick Neuheisel fired last season.
First year head man Jim Mora will be starting RS Brett Hundley who will be lining up behind a very questionable offensive line...that doesn't sound too good to me.
UCLA seems to play a lot of games in Texas. This year they take on the mighty Owls who aren't exactly pushovers anymore but shouldn't give the Bruins much of a problem either after they work the kinks out.
Vegas: Bruins by 16 1/2 - John B's Pick - UCLA 31 Rice 14
Washington State at BYU
On paper the hiring of Mike Leach is a genius move by Bill Moos. Leach has the experience needed to build a solid and consistent program in Pullman. He recruits players that fit his system that schools like Washington typically may not have an interest in.
Provo is never an easy place to play a football game. The stadium is always full and BYU usually fields a pretty competitive football team. This year is no exception and the oddsmakers are favoring the other Cougars by 13 heading into this one.
I think this game will be closer than most people think. Leach has inherited some young talent that is hungry to win and I think he gets win number one as a Cougar head coach on Thursday.
Vegas: BYU by 12 - John B's Pick - Washington State 45 Brigham Young 42
San Jose State at Stanford
The Cards have been on a historic run as of late. They haven't been this good since John Ralston was the coach and John Elway was the quarterback. That being said the loss of Andrew Luck and a bunch of other studs to graduation and the NFL should bring the Tree back to earth this fall. As Lee Corso often says...not so fast...The Cardinal have recruited well and second year head coach David Shaw truly believes that his team is reloading and not rebuilding.
SJSU used to knock off Stanford and Cal on occasion. This won't be that type of occasion on Friday since the Cards are currently riding among the elite in the football world.
Vegas: Tree by 25 - John B's Pick - Stanford 48 San Jose State 17
Nevada at Cal
Is this the year California and Jeff Tedford turn it around? You would think they would be on track to do that with all the studs they have recruited over the past few seasons on defense. Offense is where the questions lie. Will the Bears get consistent play at the QB position from Zach Maynard who struggled at times last season?
The Wolfpack knocked off the Bears two years ago. They have firepower to do it again if the Cal offense stalls and the Bear defense doesn't live up to expectations. This is the first game at the new Memorial Stadium and I think you need to take the Bears and the points.
Vegas: Bears by 11 - John B's Pick - California 34 Nevada 21
Colorado State at Colorado
Jon Embree has recruited well since taking over in Boulder and he needs to keep doing it if the Buffaloes have any hope of climbing out of the Pac 12 cellar any time soon.
This is the game of the year in Colorado for a couple of currently struggling football programs. The Buff;s are usually favored but the Rams seem to win more often than not since this games was moved to Denver.
Vegas: Buffs by 6 1/2 - John B's Pick - Colorado 28 Colorado State 24
Hawaii at USC
According to the polls the Trojans are everyone's favorite to win the national championship in the third year of the Kiffin era. This theory is based on how well the Trojans closed last season and the return of QB Matt Barkley who may end up being the first player taken in the 2013 draft.
The Warriors while tough at home have a propensity for folding on the mainland in big games. Perhaps that is why Vegas is going with the 40 point spread. I happen to think it will be a lot closer than that.
Vegas: Troy by 42 - John B's Pick - Southern California 52 Hawaii 17
Arkansas State at Oregon
I think Oregon is the team to beat in the Pac 12 this season because by the end of the season they will have more depth than USC.
This is the first of three non-conference yawners that the Ducks scheduled for this season.
Vegas: Ducks by 37 - Oregon 55 Arkansas State 17
Toledo at Arizona
The Rich-Rod era starts in Tucson against a pretty stout Toledo squad which should end up contending for the MAC championship. Toss the coin on this one because it could go either way. I am taking the Cats because they are playing at home.
Vegas: Wildcats by 10 1/2 - Arizona 31 Toledo 27
Nichols State at Oregon State
Vegas: No Line and Postponed due to Hurricane