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Picking the Pac — Week Seven

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Colorado and USC duke it out in a matchup of Pac-12 South front-runners, while UCLA chases their first victory of the Chip Kelly era.

NCAA Football: Southern California at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Week seven is as top-heavy a slate of Pac-12 games as we've seen this season, with Washington vs. Oregon and Colorado vs. USC all but guaranteed to dominate Monday's water cooler discussions. However, don't sleep on UCLA's game against Cal, which the Bruins could use as a springboard to a strong finish to the season if Chip Kelly proves able to secure that elusive first win.

Ryan’s 2018 record straight up / against the spread: 40–10 / 19–20–2

Game of the Week

No. 19 Colorado Buffaloes vs. USC Trojans (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., FS1)

USC -7.0, o/u 58.0

Saturday afternoon’s Washington/Oregon game is the unquestioned true Pac-12 Game of the Week, but Colorado vs. USC promises to be a worthy contest in its own right. At 2–0, the Buffaloes are the only Pac-12 South team unbeaten in conference play, while the Trojans have bounced back from a rough 1–2 start by posting consecutive conference wins over Washington State and Arizona. Like most games involving Colorado this season, this one likely comes down to a question of which team wins the battle between the Trojans secondary and Laviska Shenault Jr. A Buffs win would mean that Colorado’s path to the conference title game would be remarkably clear, while a USC victory could potentially give the Trojans a half-game lead in the conference race. As is always the case, USC should have the edge with regard to the Jimmies and Joes, but I’m not sure I trust a pass defense that has given up 10 touchdowns against just one interception to contain Steven Montez and Shenault Jr. Colorado 34, USC 27.

All the Rest

Friday

Arizona Wildcats vs. Utah Utes (7 p.m., ESPN)

Utah -13.5, o/u 51.0

Arizona continues to be one of the conference’s most intriguing teams, having knocked off Cal last week despite scoring just 10 offensive points. The victory, predicated upon two Arizona pick-sixes in the final 18 minutes of the game, potentially stopped the bleeding from a Wildcats season that threatened to make a mockery of Kevin Sumlin’s inaugural campaign. On the other hand, Utah is coming off of one of their program’s biggest wins in years after thrashing No. 14 Stanford 40–21, and that defense jealously guards every yard between the line of scrimmage and the end zone. J.J. Taylor is no slouch, but I just don’t see him popping off against the Utes defense with the nation’s second-best per-rush average among Power Five programs. Utah 28, Arizona 13.

Saturday

UCLA Bruins vs. California Golden Bears (4 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)

Cal -7.5, o/u 52.0

Maybe it’s recency bias from watching the winless Bruins hang with the Huskies last week until the game's final minute, but it's hard not to feel like UCLA is on the verge of popping off and beating a team that no one expects. While it's entirely conceivable that might happen Saturday against Cal, I'm not confident enough to pick the Bruins to take that first pivotal step forward in a road game. California 35, UCLA 24.