The Gekko is coming off a perfect picks week including the call for ASU's straight up upset of UCLA at the Rose Bowl. Yeah, you know it.
Can the mojo continue for one more week?
Cal @ Utah (-6)
ESPN's College Gameday will, for the second time ever, be visiting a PAC 12 site without the benefit of either Oregon or USC being involved in the game. The first time was two weeks ago when they covered UCLA's visit to Arizona.
This would suggest that something is going very right or very wrong in the PAC 12.
Either way, I find this to be a very compelling matchup. On the one hand, you have an upstart Utes team that has surged this season with impressive wins at home against Michigan and on the road at Oregon. It is a team that is anchored by a stout defensive front seven and whose offensive identity lies in its ability pound the rock with RB Devontae Booker. It is also a team that happens to be getting star DE Hunter Dimick back this week.
On the other hand, you have a Cal team who has risen from the ashes of a program that just two seasons ago earned zero wins against FBS competition. Their identity is tied inextricably to the development of QB Jared Goff who has risen to the top of all of the NFL draft boards based on his pinpoint accuracy, his great decision-making and a penchant for moving the chains on third down. He's been aided by a terrific receiving corps, a capable rushing attack and a better than expected defense that leads the PAC 12 in both sacks and turnovers created.
How do you call this one? The fact that this game is being played in Utah would seem to favor the Utes. They have a passionate fanbase and they are conditioned to handle playing a full game in altitude of Salt Lake. Though I'm not terribly concerned about the Utah offense going crazy in this one, I can't help but to feel like that the already thin Cal defense will be completely gassed by the time the fourth quarter comes along.
Nevertheless, I think I'm going Cal in this one. The fact of the matter is that Utah has only faced one decent QB this season - that would be Utah State's Chuckie Keaton - and he was very gimpy in that one. We don't really know how good Utah's defensive back end is and we certainly don't know how effective they will be against one of the leagues best passing offenses. In an otherwise close game, I think I have to favor the team with the better QB...even if it is a close one. I'm going Cal here.
Gekko's Pick: Cal 33, Utah 30
Rest of the PAC
Colorado @ ASU (-15)
The Sun Devils found their footing at just the right time with their upset victory over UCLA in Los Angeles last week. That win demonstrated that ASU can still confuse an opposing offense with their pressures and that their own offense can still generate some explosive plays.
However, it is important to note that ASU was able to get up on UCLA by generating turnovers against a true freshman QB. Colorado QB Sefo Liufau is not a freshman and has had plenty of experience lining up opposite of a Todd Graham defense. I don't expect him to get quite as rattled as counterpart Josh Rosen did. I also think its about time that WR Nelson Spruce to really get off. Will it be enough? I'm afraid this will be one of the "close but not close enough" games that we will see play out this weekend.
Gekko's Pick: Colorado 31, ASU 38
Oregon State @ Arizona (-9)
If there is a PAC 12 win on Oregon State's schedule, this might be their best chance. The Wildcats are not in a great position to be able to defend the kind of spread attack that the Beavers and their young QB Seth Collins is going to present. In addition, the Beavers defense figures to benefit from the expected absence of 'Zona QB Anu Solomon. With backup Jerrard Randall in there, the Wildcats make themselves one-dimensional which does nothing but benefit Kilane Sitake as h e builds his defensive game plan.
Is there enough here to call the upset? I was tempted, but I think not. I see Arizona making just enough plays against a young and mistake-prone Beaver team to pull out a close (and sloppy) win at home.
Gekko's Pick: Oregon State 23, Arizona 24
WSU @ Oregon (-17)
Count me among those that don't think WSU has been nearly as bad as their unsightly losses to Portland State and Cal might suggest. When I look at the Cougs, I see a team that is getting pretty decent play out of its defensive line, better than expected play out of the quarterback position and consistent, top-of-conference type of production out of their wide receivers. Could their run game be better? Yes. Is their own secondary questionable? Yes. Is their special teams anything but special? Of course. Nevertheless, this is a team that can still bite somebody.
Could that team be the Ducks? It certainly could be. This is exactly the kind of "lower tier" PAC team that this iteration of the Oregon Ducks matches up very poorly against. The Cougs figure to offer some resistance to the Duck rushing attack and definitely have the kind of scheme that could carve up an Oregon secondary that is down their best CB in Chris Seisay and is sucking wind overall. I think this one could turn out to be the most entertaining game of the week, but I can't call for a straight up upset.
Gekko's Pick: WSU 35, Oregon 38
BYES: UCLA, Stanford