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Pickin’ the PAC: football starts now

The Cardinal and Beavers are both in action.

NCAA Football: Oregon at Oregon State
Ryan Nall brings it to primetime this weekend.
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

My friends, we need to talk. For tomorrow there is football. Real live, on-tv, sit-your-ass-on-the-couch-and-crack-a-cold-one, yell-at-the-kids-to-shut-the-hell-up-and-put-the-dogs-in-their-kennel football.

I’m not making this up.

The arrival of the season means that it is time for the Gekko to put his money where his mouth is and to make his picks. I’m going to endeavor to keep track of my picks and the overall point differential between my scores and the final actual scores as we go along. We’ll see about how good a season I really have.

Of course, I start out 0-0 with a perfect point differential. Go Gekko!

Oregon State at Colorado State (11:30am PT, CBS)

Vegas: OSU +4, o/u 60

Well, now we get to see if all of the feel-good vibes coming out of Corvallis during camp amount to something more than some new metallic orange hoodies and a bunch of warm fuzzies for Beaver fans.

New QB Jake Luton will have his hands full on the road in a hostile environment against one of the top programs in the Mountain West as he looks to lead his new team to a season opening victory on the road. Luton, who beat out incumbents Darrell Garretson and Marcus McMaryion (who has since transferred) to take the OSU job as a grad transfer out of Idaho, is having the hopes and dreams of Beaver fans pinned to his rather broadly fitting jersey.

And for good reason.

Luton has all the tools that a QB needs - he stands 6’5”, has a strong arm and has starting experience. In addition, he is surrounded by a bevy of playmakers who can take the pressure off of him. RBs Ryan Nall, Artavis Pierce and Thomas Tyner (the Oregon transfer) are a capable trio. WRs Jordan Villamin and spot starter Isaiah Hodgins provide Luton a pair of options who both stand over 6’4” and 210 pounds on the perimeter. There is some fire power here.

NCAA Football: Oregon State at Washington
LB Bright Ugwoegbu will be chasing QBs tomorrow.
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

But the real question is how OSU stands up to the Colorado State offense. Most people don’t realize that the Rams finished 2017 in torrid fashion averaging 48 points a game over their last six. No matter what you think of their competition, that’s a lot of cheese.

Rams fans are encouraged by the fact that Coach Mike Bobo (the former Georgia OC) returns just about everyone from that offense. Vudu magician QB Nick Stevens is back after having been given a second chance as the starter - an opportunity that he seized, seasoned, grilled and dined on for all of the second half of last year. He’ll have available to him his all conference center, all of his running backs and his two best receivers from a year ago.

Oh, and then there is this little thing about Colorado State’s high tech (and beautiful) new stadium that opens tomorrow.

The new home of the Colorado State Rams in Fort Collins, CO

This could be a barn-burner folks. The question is whether the Beaver offense is ready to go and whether OSU stars like OLB Bright Ogwoegbu, ILB Manase Hungalu, and DT Kalani Vakameilalo can generate a few stops.

I think that they can.

Gekko’s Pick: Oregon State 48, Colorado State 43

Stanford (#14) vs Rice in Sydney, Australia (7pm PT, ESPN)

Vegas: Stanford -31, o/u 51

This game won’t be as nearly interesting as the Beaver matchup, but

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Stanford
Bryce Love is fast.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

it is worth watching if for no other reason than to scout out some of the issues that make people wonder if Stanford is a legitimate threat or a candidate to bomb in the North.

The first question is the health and ability of QB Keller Chryst. We’ve burned a lot of air time debating whether or not Chryst’s strong finish to 2016 before his ACL injury was a sign of things to come or fool’s gold propped up by poor competition.

We are all also very interested in what the Cardinal will have happening on either side of the line of scrimmage. While Rice won’t necessarily be a great test for that, we’ll at least get a sense of who the key guys on the o-line will be and what younger players will be worked into the d-line rotation.

Finally, we are all going to get to feast our eyes on Stanford’s new playmakers in a post-Christian McCaffrey world. RB Bryce Love will be a point of focus. I’ll also be interested to see if they are able to work burner Isaiah Brandt-Sims into the offense as a weapon who can stretch the field. Finally, I’ll be interested to see how they use that crop of young and talented tight ends backing up incumbent Dalton Schultz.

This is going to be a big win the Cardinal.

Gekko’s Pick: Stanford 44, Rice 10