The Pac-12 schedule begins in earnest this week. Yes, we have had random conference games over the first several weeks, but now everyone will dive into the deeper end of the pool.
Well, not Oregon. The No. 3 Ducks — the Pac-12’s only unbeaten team —take on Arizona — the Pac-12’s only winless squad. Shouldn’t the Wildcats just phone in a forfeit and save the travel costs for their recruiting budget?
Every other game is more intriguing, starting with Cal’s visit to Washington, where the Bears will try to post a third straight win over the Huskies, and hope to do so in a game that ends earlier than 1:23 a.m.
Cal won 12-10 in Berkeley in 2018 when Evan Weaver settled thing with a pick-six. The Bears survived a long weather delay due to a lightning storm to win 20-19 two years ago. The teams' scheduled matchup last season was nixed by the pandemic.
Beyond merely the game outcomes this week, there are quarterback stories hanging over many of the other matchups across the conference.
All picks against the spread
Consensus betting line from vegasinsider.com
Last week: Jake 8-3, Jeff 6-5
This season: Jake 23-11, Jeff 18-16
WASHINGTON STATE (plus-15) at UTAH, 11:30 a.m., Pac-12
Jake: Washington State quarterback Jayden da Laura is questionable for Saturday’s game. Without him Cougars are easy meat. Charlie Brewer is leaving Utah, but Cameron Rising was likely to be the Utes’ starting quarterback this week anyway. Pick: Utah
Jeff: Not all 1-2 teams are created equal. First road game this season for the Cougars against a team with a chip on its shoulder. Pick: Utah
UCLA (minus-4.5) at STANFORD, 3 p.m., Pac-12
Jake: The Cardinal finally gets a home game and should stay close or win despite its injuries. QB Tanner McKee keeps getting better and will make up for the absence of RB Austin Jones. Pick: Stanford
Jeff: The Cardinal is at home (at last) and getting points. Plus, Stanford has won 12 of the past 13 meetings. Pick: Stanford
CAL (plus-7.5) at WASHINGTON, 6:30 p.m., Pac-12
Jake: Cal’s so-so performance against Sacramento State and Washington’s rout of Arkansas State increased the point spread. But we still think this is a toss-up game. Pick: Cal
Jeff: Washington hasn’t defended the run, Cal can’t stop the pass. Turnovers are the difference here — Cal is plus-1 on the season, UW is minus-4. Pick: Cal
ARIZONA (plus-28.5) at OREGON, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Jake: This is a huge spread, and rain in Eugene might hold the score down. But there is only a 6 percent chance of rain Saturday night, and unless Arizona gets an early break, the Wildcats will collapse. Pick: Oregon
Jeff: Arizona hadn’t lost to Northern Arizona since 1932. Until last weekend. This is bad team. Pick: Oregon
OREGON STATE (plus-11) at USC, 7:30 p.m., FS1
Jake: The Beavers scored 87 points in their past two games and their quarterback (Chance Nolan) is second in the Pac-12 in passer rating. We assume Kedon Slovis will remain the Trojans’ starting quarterback. None of this matters. USC has superior talent. Pick: USC
Jeff: Who will play quarterback for the Trojans going forward? What will be freshman Jaxson Dart’s reaction if Kedon Slovis is back under center. Pick: USC
COLORADO (plus-14.5) at ARIZONA STATE, 7:30 p.m., ESPNU
Jake: Both teams were rather disappointing last week, but the Buffaloes were more disappointing at home than ASU was on the road. Pick: Arizona State
Jeff: The Buffaloes have 323 yards and 7 points in their past two games. Total. Pick: Arizona State
Cover photo of Husky Stadium in Seattle by Joe Nicholson, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo