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Pickin’ the PAC: can the Bears win the one we need them to win?

Go Bears.

NCAA Football: Utah at California
Go Bears.
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

One week following the loss to Stanford, this looks like a completely lost week for a somewhat lost team. The Washington Huskies have nothing but pride to play for on a weekend where, let’s face it, almost nothing will really get decided in terms of the PAC 12 race.

Still, a few teams may or may not get qualified for the postseason. I suppose that is something worth writing about.

Game of the Week

Cal at #19 Stanford

(Sat, 5pm PT, FOX, Stan -16, o55.0)

That 16 point spread seems somewhat generous given a) Stanford hasn’t been anybody not named Rice, UCLA or Oregon by that much this year and b) Cal hasn’t lost to anybody not named Oregon or Cal by that much this year.

Ok. that’s not very convincing. Let me try this again.

That 16 point spread seems somewhat generous because Washington Husky fans insist that Cal is not only better than 16 points but, in fact, they ought to be favored so that their beloved Huskies once again will have an inside track to the PAC 12 championship.

That’s much better.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really ring true. The Bears are on life support limping to the finish line. Like UW, their injuries are just too many and their bankable strengths too few. I fully expect them to put up an enormous fight. Ross Bowers is demonstrating himself to be a willing risk-taker while the rushing attack behind Patrick Laird and an offensive line playing way out over their skis has been more than serviceable.

But the bend-don’t-break Golden Bears do not have an answer for Bryce Love. Even a Bryce Love at 65%. That plus the formula that the Cardinal seemed to have found with QB KJ Costello chucking up cans of corn to those 7-feet tall Stanford receivers seems to be a winner.

I think Cal makes a real good game of this - they get bowl eligible with a win in this rivalry game - but Stanford is just too much.

Gekko’s Pick: Cal 22, Stanford 28

Rest of the PAC

Arizona State at Oregon State

(Sat, 12pm PT, PACN, OSU +7, o59)

Weird line in this game. I would have expected ASU to be a greater favorite with a higher over/under. Nevertheless, I think it is clear here that you need to consider OSU a decided underdog in the remaining two games that they have on the schedule.

The question is whether or not the Beavers have even a single win to gift interim coach Cory Hall. On the surface, there are few reasons to believe. ASU seems to have significant matchup advantages in pass defense, passing offense, special teams and rush offense.

Still, it seems to me that OSU is primed to bite someone and give Coach Hall a puncher’s chance at the full time job.

I’m calling it. OSU is going to win this one big and put an exclamation point on the end of the Todd Graham era in Tempe.

Gekko’s Pick: ASU 24, OSU 27

Arizona at Oregon

(Sat, 5pm PT, Oregon -2.5, o75)

Yes, you’ve read that correctly.

Oregon is favored to beat Arizona in a shootout.

I’m having a hard time digesting this line. Sure, QB Justin Herbert has been cleared to play and is expected to start this one. Offense, however, isn’t the problem.

The problem is trying to put a lid on the boiling hot offense led by phenom Khalil Tate. With rumors percolating that first-year defensive coordinator is preparing to make a move to Kansas State to replace Bill Snyder, the possibility of a distraction factor seems ominous. Can a distracted Duck D control Tate and that Wildcat rushing offense?

I don’t have any idea how Oregon is going to do that. Sure, they may luck out and see Tate roll an ankle on a 1st quarter bootleg or something. If that were to happen, consider that 2.5 point spread fully in play.

In the case that it doesn’t, expect an ass-whooping.

Gekko’s Pick: Arizona 55, Oregon 35

UCLA at #11 USC

(Sat, 5pm PT, USC -16.5, o71.5)

ESPN was so thrilled by UW’s loss to Stanford last week that they not only celebrated by sending Rod Gilmore and Quint Kessenich back to Seattle, but they jumped on the chance to put USC back on ABC. Who cares that the game against UCLA carries about as much national interest as a Golden Girls rerun?

This is USC, dammit!

Unfortunately for said national audience, there isn’t much intrigue in this matchup. The Bruins are a broken team. USC should trounce them. If we are lucky, we’ll at least get to see the end of the NASCAR Truck Series race before they break away to the football game.

Gekko’s Pick: UCLA 31, USC 45

BYEs: Washington State, Colorado