The Pac-12 North thoroughly embarrassed the conference last week, which has created a pressure-cooker for the entire conference heading into week 2- a slate of games that Jon Wilner has called “the biggest of the season.”
George Wrighster and I already went through and picked each game in this week’s Pac-12 Apostles Podcast (Spotify link below), as did our friends Bryant Conger and Rob Bowron over at 12Pac Radio. Here, I’ll list each game, our picks, and what’s at stake for each Pac-12 team.
#12 Oregon at #3 Ohio State
Kickoff: 9AM Pacific
Opening Odds: Ohio State -14.5
What’s at stake: This might be the Pac-12’s only chance to have a signature out-of-conference win in 2021. Yes, UCLA dominated LSU, but you can almost guarantee Ohio State finishes the season in the top 10, and the same can’t be said for Ed Orgeron’s Tigers. Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal and offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead made an interesting gamble when they decided Anthony Brown was going to be the guy at QB this year, and now Brown is going to be on the biggest stage he’s likely ever had as a starter, in front of two dozen NFL scouts. Perhaps the biggest thing at stake is the recruiting high ground, as Ohio State just beat Oregon for J.T. Tuimolaou, a consensus top-10 prospect in the class of 2021 out of the state of Washington.
Our Picks: Ralph, George, Bryant and Rob are all in on the Ducks to cover the original +14.5, but the line has moved to as low as +10.5.
California at Texas Christian
Kickoff: 12:30PM Pacific
Opening Odds: TCU -10.5
What’s at stake: Cal looked as if they were about to put Nevada away last week, but they abandoned the run game and found themselves on the wrong end of a 21-17 score. While this game would provide solid bragging rights, and relieve a little bit of the external pressure on head coach Justin Wilcox for five consecutive seasons of diminishing offensive output, a loss wouldn’t do much to affect the Golden Bears ability to compete within the Pac-12 North.
Our Picks: Ralph, George, Bryant and Rob are all in on Cal +10.5
#5 Texas A&M at Colorado
Kickoff: 12:30PM Pacific
Opening Odds: Texas A&M -17
What’s at stake: The reputation of Boulder, Colorado. I’m not sure anyone expects the Buffaloes to beat the Aggies, but after solid wins at home against UCLA last year, and Nebraska the year before, I feel like we’re on the precipice of respecting Boulder as one of the tougher environments to go into and come away with a win. Colorado also has continued to recruit Texas through their third straight coaching regime, and a respectable showing against a top 5 team out of the Lone Star state definitely wouldn’t hurt the progress and inroads they’ve made.
Our Picks: Ralph, George, and Rob have Colorado +17, Bryant has Texas A&M -17
Portland State at Washington State
Kickoff: 3:00PM Pacific
Broadcast: Pac-12 Network
Opening Odds: We invented a line of Wazzu -28.5
What’s at stake: The current narrative, and I believe it’s completely fair, is that Nick Rolovich actually interfered on behalf of Utah State last week and lost Washington State the game. Not only do the Cougars need to put Portland State away early, they need to pile it on just to hit the snooze button on the already growing mob of alumni calling for Rolovich’s head. This is also a good chance for Washington’s State’s staff to publicly acknowledge that RB Max Borghi is one of the best players in the conference, and is deserving of more than 12 touches.
Our Picks: Ralph and George have Washington State -28.5
Washington at Michigan
Kickoff: 5PM Pacific
Opening Odds: Michigan -6.5
What’s at stake: Jimmy Lake lost to an FCS at home team last week, kept several talented RBs on the bench, is bleeding recruits, and in the midst of all this struggle, he gets to lead the Huskies into one of the toughest environments in all of football. What’s at stake here is jobs- Maybe not Lake’s, but John Donovan has to do more than put together one scripted TD drive, and he’s going to have to do it with a QB in Dylan Morris who turned the ball over three times last week. Good luck.
Our Picks: Ralph and Bryant have Michigan -6.5, George and Rob have the Huskies +6.5
San Diego State at Arizona
Kickoff: 7PM Pacific
Broadcast: Pac-12 Network
Opening Odds: Arizona -1
What’s at stake: Jedd Fisch was laughed at when he was hired, and has spent the last several months turning the narrative about the naivete of his hire on its head, turning up the dial on recruiting, alumni relations, media accessibility, and fan relations. The fact remains, however, that Arizona hasn’t won a game in almost two years, and while this isn’t Rocky Long’s San Diego State, the Aztecs have never been an easy out for any Pac-12 team. Jedd Fisch literally went door to door this week recruiting students to fill out the “Zona Zoo” student section, and if those kids show up and witness a loss, he might not get them back. The Wildcats are in a must-win situation.
Our Picks: Ralph, George, Bryant and Rob are all in on Arizona -1
#21 Utah at BYU
Kickoff: 7:15PM Pacific
Opening Odds: Utah -1
What’s at stake: Utah fans aren’t going to like this, because I know how much it means to them to have a stranglehold on this rivalry, but absolutely nothing is at stake. The Utes have built up enough respect and goodwill in the Holy War, and while they’d certainly be sore about leaving Provo with an L, no one is going to lose their job, nothing is going to change as far as their chances within the Pac-12 South, and it would have a negligible impact on recruiting. All that being said, the conference needs this win to keep the Utes in the Top 25.
Our Picks: Ralph and Bryant have Utah -7, and George and Rob are on BYU +7
UNLV at #23 Arizona State
Kickoff: 7:30PM Pacific
Opening Odds: Arizona State -32.5
What’s at stake: Generational trauma. There’s absolutely no way Arizona State loses to the Rebels, but because it happened in 2008 when the Sun Devils were looking ahead to a visit from Georgia, there’s a paranoia that exists within the Sun Devil fan base that only a blowout win will help exorcise. As far as on-field stakes, RB Rachaad White has an outside shot at national recognition and awards if he can stay healthy, and it would be nice to see ASU lean into that.
Our Picks: Ralph and Bryant are on ASU at -32.5, while Rob and George have UNLV covering the spread
Stanford at #14 USC
Kickoff: 7:30PM Pacific
Opening Odds: USC -17
What’s at stake: Stanford just took an ugly loss against Kansas State, and people are still completely unconvinced that Clay Helton can cover a 17-point spread. So much so, that the line has moved three whole points to 14 over the last few days. David Shaw’s uncharacteristic public optimism about this Stanford team heading into 2021 threw a lot of people off who thought that the drop in recruiting and increase in grad transfers were contributing to the demise of the Cardinal, but after last week’s loss, people are questioning if Shaw’s tenure in Palo Alto is reaching its twilight- especially since he seems unsure about the best way forward at the QB position. On the other side, no one believes Clay Helton is going to blow out Stanford, so all he has to do to maintain the same level of perpetual discontent that has existed amongst the Trojan fan base for the last 5 years is not lose the game.
Our Picks: All of us are on Stanford +17
Hawaii at Oregon State
Kickoff: 8PM Pacific
Opening Odds: Oregon State -11
What’s at stake: Jonathan Smith’s charm has seemed to make him immune to criticism from Pac-12 fans. No one expects Oregon State to win, as long as the offense continues to innovate and maximize lesser talent for our entertainment, we ignore the scoreboard. But Purdue seemed to have Smith’s number, and if Todd Graham, who has an awful history in Corvallis, comes in and frustrates the Beavers, public opinion might start to shift. Oregon State not only needs to defend homefield and get a win, they need to settle the quarterback question once and for all so they can rally behind someone ahead of conference play.
Our Picks: The Apostles take Oregon State (Ralph and George), 12Pac takes Hawai’i +11 (Bryant and Rob)
Who are the Pac-12 Apostles?
The Pac-12 Apostles is a podcast for fans who love the Pac-12 conference. George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden are committed to the honest and fair conversation about the conference. Join us by becoming a Pac-12 Apostle. Subscribe and share the podcast.
Please leave a rating and review of our podcast on iTunes! We record a podcast once a week with emergency episodes when necessary. Our podcasts are always heavy on Pac-12 football. But we make it a point to also try and cover the other notable Men’s and Women’s Pac-12 sports. We cover recruiting and any other major storyline in the Pac-12 universe.
George Wrighster is a former Pac-12 and long-time NFL tight end. As a television/radio host, opinionist, and analyst, who is UNAFRAID to speak the truth. Contrary to industry norms he uses, facts, stats, and common sense to win an argument. He has covered college football, basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB since 2014. Through years of playing college football, covering bowl games, coaching changes, and scandals, he has a great pulse for the conference and national perspective.
Ralph Amsden is a sportswriter and podcaster. He is the publisher of Rivals’ ArizonaVarsity.com, and was previously the managing editor of the Arizona State University Rivals affiliate, DevilsDigest.com. Wyoming born, Arizona raised, and now based in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife and four kids, Amsden made his mark in Arizona sports media through investigative reporting, and being one of the first people to leverage social media and the podcast medium to grow his platform. In addition to his podcasts, he is the Content Director for UnafraidShow.com. Ralph might be sub-.500 in spousal disputes and schoolyard fights, but whether the topic is food, movies, music, parenting, politics, sports, television, religion, or zoological factoids, he’s always UNAFRAID to square up.