Pac-12 picks: No early cakewalks for Colorado, UCLA

Texas A&M wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones (9) and UCLA defensive back Randall Goforth (3) battle for a ball in the end zone during the 2016 season opener at College Station. The Aggies and Bruins will meet again on Sunday at the Rose Bowl. (Sam Craft / AP)

The first weekend of Pac-12 football gave us quite the study in contrasts.

Way down under, Stanford hit some impressive heights in a 62-7 romp of Rice at Allianz Stadium in Sydney, Australia. In Fort Collins, Colorado, it was a mile-high disaster for Oregon State, which fell right back down to earth after a 57-28 loss to Colorado State.

So maybe “week zero” didn’t get the college football juices going like you thought it would. No worries, the real stuff is here now. My advice? Give the Rocky Mountain Showdown a look on Friday, check out USC-Western Michigan on Saturday and don’t miss UCLA-Texas A&M on Sunday.

Below are my picks for those three games, along with the other seven scattered throughout the Pac-12 this weekend.

North Dakota at Utah

No line: In these guarantee games, both teams are big winners. One does it on the scoreboard and the other does it in the checkbook. Utes should roll. The pick: Utah, 48-10.

New Mexico State at Arizona State

Arizona State by 26: The Sun Devils are a bottom-tier Pac-12 team, but the Aggies are, at best, a middle-tier FCS team still disguised as an FBS member. The pick: Arizona State, 52-21.

No. 8 Washington at Rutgers

Washington by 27.5: I promise you, the Scarlet Knights didn’t schedule this home-and-home thinking the Huskies would eventually transform into a national semifinalist. The pick: Washington, 45-17.

Colorado State vs. Colorado

Colorado by 5.5: That high school game you were planning on going to Friday night? Skip it and turn this on instead. The Rams are the real deal, the Buffaloes are still underrated and it should be a doozy in Denver. The pick: Colorado State, 30-27.

California at North Carolina

North Carolina by 11: This game would’ve looked a whole lot better last year, but the Davis Webb hangover in Berkeley is worse than the Mitch Trubisky hangover in Chapel Hill. The pick: North Carolina, 32-20.

Portland State at Oregon State

No line: Now that the Beavers have figured out they need to give the rock to Ryan Nall more, everyone else on OSU’s schedule should be slightly worried. Plus, PSU already got its Power Five upset of the decade. The pick: Oregon State, 48-13.

Western Michigan at No. 4 USC

USC by 27: The offseasons of these two programs looked very different. The Broncos learned they’d have to replace P.J. Fleck. The Trojans learned their quarterback is the Heisman favorite. The pick: USC, 56-21.

Southern Utah at Oregon

No line: Willie Taggart has fallen on hard times with the recent loss of his father. Surely, a win would be special for the first-year Oregon coach. The pick: Oregon, 45-15.

Montana State at No. 24 Washington State

No line: Well, I suppose it was a fun storyline while it lasted… The pick: Washington State, 45-28.

Northern Arizona at Arizona

No line: It was 77-13 ‘Cats the last time these two met. Arizona doesn’t have that kind of firepower these days, but this shouldn’t be too hard for them. The pick: Arizona, 33-16.

Texas A&M at UCLA

UCLA by 4: I don’t foresee football teams from Los Angeles winning on Sundays too often this season, but this might be one of those rare occasions. My pick: UCLA, 28-27.

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