Saturday is the Pac-12’s most important day of the early season, headlined by Oregon visiting Ohio State and Washington trekking to Michigan.
Texas A&M tests Colorado in Denver, Cal heads to the Lone Star State to face TCU and rivals Utah and BYU collide in Provo.
The Pac-12 won’t have a better chance all season to boost its image. On the heels of UCLA’s win over LSU last week, strong showings in Big Ten country could pay long-term dividends.
For instance, if the Ducks have any realistic designs on competing for a spot in the College Football Playoff, they likely need a win over the Buckeyes.
If things go badly, the residue could be just as long-lasting.
All picks against the spread
Tuesday night consensus betting line from vegasinsider.com
Last week: Jake 8-4, Jeff 5-7
This season: Jake 9-4, Jeff 6-7
OREGON (plus-14.5) at OHIO STATE (9 a.m., FOX)
Jake: This pick depends on whether Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux plays. He’s listed as day-to-day with an ankle sprain. I’m guessing he plays and the Ducks cover. Barely. With a late score. Pick: Oregon
Jeff: Part of me wants to pick the Ducks, but Ohio State has won 23 straight home games — 18 of them by 20 points or more. And the Buckeyes are 9-0 all-time vs. Oregon, winning by an average of 16.4 points in their five meetings at Columbus. Pick: Ohio State
TEXAS A&M (minus-17) vs. COLORADO at Denver (12:30 p.m., FOX)
Jake: The Buffaloes’ blowout of Northern Colorado proved nothing. Texas A&M is looking for style points to get to the College Football Playoff. Pick: Texas A&M
Jeff: The Buffaloes have lost 25 straight games to teams ranked in the top-15 nationally, dating back 14 seasons. The Aggies are No. 6. Pick: Texas A&M
CAL (plus-11) at TCU (12:30 p.m., ESPNU)
Jake: This spread keeps growing, suggesting bettors have no faith in the Bears. But Cal’s defense will keep the game close. Pick: Cal
Jeff: I’m 0-for-5 the past 2 seasons on games involving the Bears so this pick can’t be encouraging to Cal fans. Pick: Cal
PORTLAND STATE (no line) at WASHINGTON STATE (3 p.m., Pac-12)
Jake: Quarterback Jayden de Laura will probably make his first start of the year for WSU, which is listed as a two-touchdown favorite on some sites. That sounds about right. Pick: Washington State
Jeff: If the Cougars lose this one after falling too Utah State a week ago, coach Nick Rolovich may have to consider getting vaccinated to secure his job. Pick: Washington State.
WASHINGTON (plus-6.5) at MICHIGAN (5 p.m., ABC)
Jake: Huskies’ egos are bruised after the loss to Montana, and if they get behind early it could be a rout. Pick: Michigan
Jeff: Can a team that lost at home to Montana stay close at Ann Arbor, even against an unranked Wolverines’ team? Pick: Michigan
SAN DIEGO STATE (plus-1) at ARIZONA (7 p.m., Pac-12)
Jake: San Diego State trailed a horrible New Mexico State team at halftime before rallying, and Arizona was surprisingly competitive in the loss to BYU. Pick: Arizona Pick:
Jeff: The Aztecs are 6-1 in their past seven games vs. Pac-12 opponents. And those teams were all better than Arizona. Pick: San Diego State
UTAH (minus-7) at BYU (7:15 p.m., ESPN)
Jake: Playing in Provo is never easy, but I’m a fan of the Utes’ defense and QB Charlie Brewer. Pick: Utah
Jeff: Zach Wilson is gone. Steve Young is not walking through that door. Neither is Jim McMahon, Ty Detmer or Robbie Bosco. The streak continues for the Utes. Pick: Utah
STANFORD (plus-17.5) at USC (7:30 p.m., FOX)
Jake: With Tanner McKee established as its starting quarterback, Stanford will be better than it was in its lousy showing against Kansas State. Pick: Stanford
Jeff: A new quarterback this week for the Cardinal. USC still has a pretty good one in Kedon Slovis. Pick: USC
UNLV (plus-32) at ARIZONA STATE (7:30 p.m., ESPN2)
Jake: The Rebels are big-time bad, but this is a huge spread. It will depend on what happens in garbage time in the fourth quarter. Pick: Arizona State
Jeff: The Rebels lost to Eastern Washington last week, but this point spread is big. Too big. I think. Pick: UNLV
HAWAII (plus-11) at OREGON STATE (8 p.m., FS1)
Jake: The Beavers won’t decide on a starting quarterback (Sam Noyer or Chance Nolan) until late in the week, and that’s not a sign of strength. But Hawaii struggles on the mainland. Pick: Oregon State.
Jeff: The Beavers gave a decent accounting of themselves last week in a loss at Purdue. They’re happy to be home. Pick: Oregon State
Cover photo of Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown by Troy Wayrynen, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo