Pac-12 picks of the week: Finding the hidden intrigue on a Saturday lacking high-profile matchups

Pac-12 picks of the week: Finding the hidden intrigue on a Saturday lacking high-profile matchups

The only marquee matchup on the Pac-12 schedule this week features Washington venturing to Big Ten country to face Michigan State.

But take a broader view, and you’ll find at least two other games worthy of scrutiny: Oregon State’s lunchtime date with San Diego State and Washington State’s afternoon affair with Northern Colorado.

The intrigue isn’t so much in the outcome — both games should be lopsided — but the implications: Victories by the No. 16 Beavers and No. 23 Cougars would create a collision of undefeated, ranked teams next week in the ‘Pac-2’ title game.

WSU and OSU, the two schools left behind in the realignment game and the only remaining members of the conference as of next summer, are set for a Sept. 23 showdown in Pullman. The duel will be broadcast on network television (FOX) at 4 p.m.

If the teams win this week, both will be 3-0 and ranked at the time of kickoff.

And the goal for any conference, after all, is to have undefeated, ranked teams collide in the championship game.

To the picks …

Last week: 6-4
Season: 10-9
Five-star special: 1-1

All picks against the spread
Lines taken from BetMGM (via VegasInsider.com)

Not included (FCS opponents): Utah, Cal, UCLA, Washington State and Stanford

Idle: USC

(All times Pacific)

San Diego State at Oregon State
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. on FS1
Line: Oregon State -24.5 (total: 48.5)
Comment: The Aztecs were run off their home field last week by UCLA and don’t have the playmakers to keep pace with Oregon State, which dominated another Mountain West team, San Jose State, in its opener. (OSU reminds the Hotline of SDSU’s best teams under former coach Rocky Long: solid defense, physical, run-heavy attacks.) This is only close if the Beavers are sloppy and hand the Aztecs points with turnovers and breakdowns on special teams.
Pick: Oregon State

Washington at Michigan State
Kickoff: 2 p.m. on Peacock
Line: Washington -16.5 (total: 57.5)
Comment: Tough to project Michigan State’s frame of mind following the suspension of coach Mel Tucker, but we don’t see how the massive disruption in East Lansing hurts UW’s prospects. That said, the spread is too large for our liking given that MSU is playing a revenge game on its home turf. The Spartans were embarrassed last season in Seattle. Not close, but not a wipeout, either.
Pick: Michigan State

Hawaii at Oregon
Kickoff: 5 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks
Line: Oregon -37.5 (total: 68.5)
Comment: Hawaii needed a late touchdown to secure its lone victory thus far — over Albany. Oregon’s mascot better have a hearty pregame meal. The Duck will be doing a lot of pushups.
Pick: Oregon

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Colorado State at Colorado
Kickoff: 7 p.m. on ESPN
Line: Colorado -22.5 (total: 59.5)
Comment: Trap game for the Buffaloes following their big win over Nebraska and with a trip to Oregon next week. Meanwhile, Colorado State had two weeks to prepare for the in-state affair. Combine those elements, and we view the point spread as a tad high. Win outright, and Colorado will be halfway to bowl eligibility three games into the Deion Sanders era.
Pick: Colorado State

Fresno State at Arizona State
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. on FS1
Line: Arizona State +3 (total: 50.5)
Comment: To the extent a team in ASU’s condition (rebuilt roster, new coaches, rookie quarterback and no bowl prospects) can afford to overlook anyone, the Sun Devils face that very challenge in Week 3. They just played Oklahoma State, and USC comes to town next week. Fresno State struggled against Eastern Washington but won at Purdue in the opener and has a master at the controls in head coach Jeff Tedford.
Pick: Fresno State

UTEP at Arizona
Kickoff: 8 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks
Line: Arizona -17.5 (total: 56.5)
Comment: The Miners were beaten soundly last week by Northwestern and claim Incarnate Word as their lone conquest of the season. We were impressed by Arizona’s defense, which held Mississippi State to 24 points in regulation despite five turnovers by the offense. UTEP won’t score more than 17 points, but can Jayden de Laura and Co. get into the mid-30s? We like the Under better than either side of the spread, to be honest.
Pick: UTEP

Straight-up winners: Oregon State, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Fresno State and Arizona

Five-star special: Fresno State. The Bulldogs always play well against the Pac-12. While the oddsmakers view them as the favorite, they will undoubtedly have an underdog mentality.

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