With real Pac-12 football games returning over the next two weeks, Picking the Pac will replace the Weekly Six Pac in the UWDP rotation. So instead of saying farewell, I’ll just say see you next week.
1. There is one Pac-12 game in Week 0, so I want to make sure I get my official ATS pick on the record. USC will host San Jose State at the Coliseum to start their final season in the Pac-12. USC is favored by 30 (All betting lines from DraftKings Sportsbook. Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details), which sounds like a huge number, especially considering that the Spartans were a decent team a year ago. Brent Brennan’s team went 7-5 on the strength of a good defense, but many of the best playmakers in the front seven have moved on. Analysts say the secondary is the team’s strength, but I am skeptical that they will be able to keep pace with USC’s exceptional pass-catchers, especially if Caleb Williams has lots of time to throw. Former Hawaii QB Chevan Cordeiro helms SJSU for his sixth year in the MWC and should at least give them a steady hand. As in many David vs. Goliath non-conference match-ups, the question of whether the favorite will cover comes down to whether they take their foot off the gas. USC has CFP aspirations and lots of eyes for a smaller Week 0 slate, so I will bet that the starters stay in just long enough. USC 49 - SJSU 17.
2. Speaking of USC, the Trojans made big headlines by poaching UW AD Jen Cohen this week. The news seemingly came out of nowhere, but perhaps Cohen sees the completion of the Big 10 move (and consequential closing of TV deal negotiations), plus the relative stability of Kalen Deboer and the football program provides a reasonable time to exit stage left. On the USC side, the Trojans will have plenty of new business for Cohen to handle, including scheduling, acclimating to the B1G, and improving facilities. Redlands Daily has a more comprehensive look at Cohen’s new gig.
3. In a series of posts, House of Sparky is predicting the outcome of every ASU game this year without the benefit of in-week information. They have thus far projected the first five games of the season and have the Devils at a very realistic 3-2 following a loss to Cal.
4. Arizona Desert Swarm has its projected Wildcat depth chart as the team gets closer to week one. Jedd Fisch’s squad will continue to rely on Jayden De Laura as the catalyst of a dangerous passing attack. To make much progress, Arizona’s defense will need to improve considerably. Somewhat surprisingly, the blog has UW transfer Daniel Heimuli starting at LB over the bigger named Oregon transfer Justin Flowe.
5. As for Cal, the Bears also need to improve on the defensive side to have any shot at a bowl. Justin Wilcox’s defenses have been his calling card in his career and if he can’t restore this one to form, it might cost him his job. Wilcox will need a strong core of returning players and a few portal additions to gel quickly to improve on last year’s poor performance. Write for California has an in-depth breakdown of where the changes need to come.
6. If there’s one team in the conference that doesn’t need a drastic turnaround on defense, it’s Washington State. Instead, the Cougars need Cam Ward to show development at the QB position. Coug Center takes a look at Ward’s progress in fall camp with a new offensive coordinator to see how likely it is that their QB takes the next step and matches the productivity on the other side of the ball.