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Pac-12 Football Picks: Some Clunkers For Sure, But Cal-Nevada Among the Good Ones

Stanford, USC, UCLA, Oregon and OSU also all have intriguing Saturday matchups.

Every Pac-12 team plays this weekend, beginning with a pair of games Thursday night and one Friday. None of those three will be competitive, pairing a Pac-12 school against an FCS foe.

But there are some good games set for Saturday, spanning morning ’til night.

Stanford kicks off its season at 9 a.m. against Kansas State at Arlington, Texas. Cal debuts 10 1/2 hours later, with a home game against Nevada at 7:30 p.m.

In between, Oregon, USC, Oregon State and UCLA have intriguing games, all of them televised.

*** Cal coach Justin Wilcox talks in the video above about the excitement building this week as the Bears prepare to play in front of fans for the first time since 2019

Here’s our takes on how all of these games will unfold:

All picks against the spread

Lines taken from vegasinsider.com

Last week & season: Jake 1-0, Jeff 1-0

THURSDAY

Weber State (no line) at Utah (4:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network)

Jake: Weber State is picked to win the Big Sky so it’s no pushover. But the Wildcat don’t face a defense like Utah’s in the Big Sky. Utes by about 17 points. Pick: Utah

Jeff: The Utes are 5-0 all-time vs. Damian Lillard’s alma mater, including wins by a combined margin of 111-17 the past two meetings. Pick: Utah

Southern Utah (no line) at Arizona State (7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network)

Jake: Let’s pick the score. I think Jayden Daniels will have a monster game against one of the weaker Big Sky teams. Let’s say 45-7. Pick: Arizona State

Jeff: The Sun Devils have won 21 consecutive home openers. Make that 22. Pick: Arizona State

FRIDAY

Northern Colorado (no line) at Colorado (6 p.m., Pac-12 Network)

Jake: I don’t think much of Colorado’s chances this season, but Northern Colorado was picked to finish 13th in the 13-team Big Sky. Buffs by at least 30. Pick: Colorado

Jeff: Northern Colorado has actually won twice in this series . . . most recently 87 years ago. Pick: Colorado

SATURDAY

Stanford (plus-1.5) vs. Kansas State at Arlington, TX (9 a.m., FS1)

Jake: We don’t know whether Jack West or Tanner McKee will be Stanford’s quarterback, and that’s never a good sign. Meanwhile, Kansas State QB Skylar Thompson will be making his 31st career start. Pick: Kansas State

Jeff: Yes, Stanford has QB questions and K-State has a veteran at that spot. But I refuse to believe David Shaw’s program dropping off. Pick: Stanford

Fresno State (plus-20.5) at Oregon (11 a.m., Pac-12 Network)

Jake: Fresno State has a game under belt and quarterback Jake Haener was impressive in a 45-0 victory over UConn, one of the worst teams in the country. The Ducks will be ready at Autzen Stadium, but that spread is just too big. Pick: Fresno State

Jeff: The Bulldogs beat a basketball school last week. This won’t be that. Oregon has beaten Fresno State seven times in a row. Pick: Oregon

San Jose State (plus-16.5) at USC (2 p.m., Pac-12 Network)

Jake: Nearly every starter is back from San Jose State’s 2020 team that went 7-1. USC could experience some first-game mistakes. The Trojans will win, but . . . Pick: San Jose State

Jeff: OK, more history, kids. These teams have met four times before and USC has won by an average of four touchdowns. They only need a three-TD margin to cover in this one. Pick: USC

Oregon State (plus-5.5) at Purdue (4 p.m., FS1)

Jake: Sam Noyer, who led Colorado to a surprisingly good 2020 season, is now the starting quarterback at Oregon State. He finds ways to win. Purdue starting quarterback Jack Plummer has a 2-7 record as a starter. Pick: Oregon State

Jeff: The only time these teams met was back in 1967 when OSU visited the No. 2 Boilermakers and scored an 22-14 upset. This Purdue team isn’t as good and the Beavers are getting points. Pick: Oregon State

Montana (no line) at Washington (5 p.m., Pac-12 Network)

Jake: I’m setting my own arbitrary point spread at 19 since Montana is pretty good, picked to finish second in the Big Sky. Pick: Washington.

Jeff: These teams have met 10 times since 1930. The Huskies are 10-0 an have outscored Montana 318 to 34. Really, what’s the point? Pick: Washington

BYU (minus-9.5) at Arizona (7:30 p.m., ESPN)

Jake: Jaren Hall, who missed the entire 2020 season with a hip injury, is BYU’s starting quarterback, succeeding Zach Wilson, who led the Cougars to a final No. 11 ranking in 2020. Arizona can’t compete with that. Not yet anyway. Pick: BYU

Jeff: The Cougars will take a step back from 11-1 now that Zach Wilson has moved on to the NFL. But they will have plenty to get over the Wildcats. Pick: BYU

LSU (minus-4.5) at UCLA (5:30 p.m., Fox)

Jake: UCLA is giving free tickets to its students, hoping it will have as many fans at the Rose Bowl as LSU. DTR needs to be better. He will be. Pick: UCLA

Jeff: Have the Bruins finally turned a corner under coach Chip Kelly? Well, maybe. But we can’t come to that conclusion based on UCLA routing Hawaii last week. The reality is, UCLA could be much-improved and still lose to an LSU team that will be better than people think.  Pick: LSU

Nevada (plus-3) at Cal (7:30 p.m., FS1)

Jake: Cal’s solid secondary will be tested by Nevada QB Carson Strong, a possible first-round NFL draft pick. I’m surprised Cal is favored against a team picked to win the Mountain West. Pick: Nevada

Jeff: A 3-point spread favoring the home team means the game is basically a pick-em on a neutral field. And given that the Wolf Pack has spent most of the past three weeks in the Bay Area (practicing at Stanford), this can’t feel much like a road trip to Nevada. Even so. Pick: Cal

Utah State (plus-13) at Washington State (8 p.m., Pac-12 Network)

Jake: Neither team has named a starting quarterback for this game, but the bigger question is this: Will Nick Rolovich be vaccinated by game time. The game is in Pullman, so . . . Pick: Washington State

Jeff: The point spread on this game keeps climbing, which suggests to me that Vegas believes Rolovich already has been vaccinated. Pick: Washington State

Cover photo of Oregon coach Mario Cristobal  by Dana Sparks via Imagn Content Services

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo