Time flies in college football, doesn’t it? Seems like just yesterday the 2018 season was ending. And look at that shiny Pacific-12 Conference prediction mark we posted last year: 73-23. Can we top that? Doubtful, but we’re going to try, starting right now.
(Check out our broad, overall thoughts for the national season of college football here.)
First, our season predictions for the Pac-12 overall, followed by our picks for the first week of action. In the North Division, the order of finish will be Washington, Stanford, Oregon, Washington State, California, and Oregon State. In the South, it looks like Utah, Arizona State, Southern California, Arizona, UCLA, and Colorado.
The Huskies once again should win the league title game, although in the Conference of Champions for 2019, anything can happen. Be warned! The Pac-12 starts the season with five teams ranked in the Top 25, although none of those schools are in the Top 10.
Now, on to this weekend’s games … starting this afternoon, all times Pacific.
Note: The Arizona Wildcats opened their season last week with a 35-28 loss in Hawaii against the Rainbow Warriors. Doh! Glad we didn’t write last week, or we would have started the year with a loss.
UCLA at Cincinnati (4 pm Thursday): Head Coach Chip Kelly starts his second year with the Bruins as a road dog, but we expect UCLA to win this one. Most picks for the Bearcats are going off last year’s finish, but this is a new season. UCLA 28, Cincinnati 24.
Kent State at Arizona State (7 pm Thursday): We do not think the Sun Devils are going to be that good, but this is one of those opening-week mismatches that should not be scheduled any more. Arizona State 56, Kent State 21.
No. 14 Utah at BYU (7:15 pm Thursday): This is a grudge match, of course, for bragging rights in the state. The Utes are favored on the road, and they have a real shot at winning the Pac-12 this year. It starts in Provo. Utah 34, BYU 23.
Colorado State vs. Colorado (7 pm Friday): This neutral-site game in Denver should favor the Buffs again. They’re big favorites to win their fifth straight in this regional rivalry. The last three games haven’t been very close. Colorado 31, Colorado State 14.
Oklahoma State at Oregon State (7:15 pm Friday): Even if the Beavers are better, we can’t see them holding up, even at home, against the Cowboys. Winners of just nine games combined in the last four seasons, the home team is doomed again. Oklahoma State 37, Oregon State 17.
Eastern Washington at No. 13 Washington (12 pm Saturday): There is no line on this game, and that tells you all you need to know about it. Maybe in the game was played in Cheney … no, not even then. Washington 67, Eastern Washington 23.
Northwestern at No. 25 Stanford (1 pm Saturday): Lucky for the Wildcats, this is not an earlier start. Still, teams from the Midwest do not fare well on the Best Coast. This might be a close one, but expect the Cardinal to win in the end. Stanford 27, Northwestern 24.
UC Davis at California (3:30 pm Saturday): The Aggies lost the EWU in the FCS playoffs last year, and both teams shouldn’t be playing these games. However, we expect the Bears to be less impressive than the Huskies. California 31, UC Davis 10.
No. 16 Auburn vs. No. 11 Oregon (4:30 pm Saturday): Why does the SEC never play a true road game against a good Pac-12 team? We wonder. The Huskies lost one of these games to Auburn last year, but the Ducks will win this one. Oregon 34, Auburn 23.
New Mexico State at No. 23 Washington State (7 pm Saturday): This will be one of the uglier games of the season, truly. These Aggies are truly bad, and these Cougars may not win 11 games this season, but they’ll be rock solid. Washington State 77, New Mexico State 17.
Fresno State at Southern California (7:30 pm Saturday): The Trojans had a down season last year, and we expect them to recover in 2019. It starts with a thumping of the Bulldogs in Los Angeles. USC 44, Fresno State 21.
Check back here frequently for new Pac-12 content: Tuesday weekly wrap-ups and Thursday weekly previews!