Sep 18

Weeks 2-3 Review: Pac-12 Picking the Winners Recap

The second and third weeks of the 2012 college football season featured plenty of surprises. Here’s a quick look back on the past two weeks of Pac-12 action, centered around my 12th Annual Picking the Winners Pac-12 preview, which appeared prior to the season on To recap my initial picks:

Week 2=At least I’m not a Buff. Week 3=However, I am a Trojan.

After a shaky second week (7-5) – mainly due to a series of big Pac-12 surprise victories – things returned closer to normal in week three (8-2). Let’s take a look back.

Week 2

If it was possible for Colorado to be more embarrassed than it was after losing to Sac State, they might have accomplished it last weekend in Fresno.

Cal over Southern Utah, 50-31 (picked at 44-10); Oregon over Fresno State, 42-25 (picked at 49-14); Stanford over Duke, 50-13 (picked at 38-13); USC over Syracuse, 42-29 (picked at 41-20); LSU over Washington, 41-3 (picked at 31-17): While these four were winners, all by predicted double-digit margins, I only came within 10 points of the final spread on the Trojans’ sloppy victory over the Orange. On the other hand, the Huskies did the conference no favors by laying a massive egg in already provincial SEC-land. My other two wins, Arizona State’s 45-14 whipping of Illinois and Washington State’s too-close-for-comfort 24-20 win over FCS Eastern Washington, were flip-flopped from predictions (I had ASU tight and WSU big).

Two of my five losses were pretty disappointing for the conference. Utah’s horrific performance in a 27-20 loss at Utah State was only overshadowed by Sacramento State taking down a Pac-12 foe for a second consecutive season in a 30-28 win over Colorado (the Hornets toppled Oregon State in 2011).

UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin has been spectacular through three games.

The other three losses in week two were all Pac-12 upsets that gained the conference some national respect. As I said in my preview, before picking Nebraska in a close one against UCLA, “this type of game – early September, traditional football power opponent, at the Rose Bowl – has been when the Bruins play their best.” That they did, notching a 36-30 upset. Arizona gained a measure of revenge for a pair of blowout losses to Oklahoma State the past two seasons by hammering the Cowboys, 59-38, in Tucson – and also serving notice that the Rich Rodriguez Regime is truly underway. And Oregon State, opening its season after the postponement of a Sept. 1 game vs. Nicholls State, stunned two-time defending Big 10 champion Wisconsin, 10-7.

Week 3

Washington over Portland State, 52-13 (picked at 56-10); Oregon over Tennessee Tech, 63-14 (picked at 69-6); UCLA over Houston, 37-6 (picked at 34-14): It’s always intriguing to me to see how close my picks come in games with an overwhelming favorite. In week three, I did pretty well in the Huskies’ and Ducks’ victories over FCS foes, as well as in UCLA’s win over Houston. Not so impressive were my picks in a couple of other victories that also appeared to be lopsided. I underestimated Arizona’s firepower, picking them only by 27 in an eventual 56-0 win over FCS South Carolina State. In reverse, Washington State’s closer-than-expected 35-27 win at UNLV was far less than the three-TD win I’d called for.

I’m not sure if this is right before the second or third time Ute fans stormed the field against BYU.

My other victories included a pair of hard fought losses for the conference. I picked Ohio State to whip Cal by 18. The Bears fought hard, dropping a 35-28 decision. I also picked Missouri to notch a 10-point revenge victory for last season’s loss in Tempe, but the Sun Devils rallied to make it close before losing, 24-20. I also had Utah over BYU, 31-21 – not the craziest call in the Utes’ eventual (and, by eventual, I mean Utah fans rushed the field three times before the game was officially over) 24-21 win.

This was a familiar site on the Farm last Saturday.

Speaking of rushing the field, it’s time to wonder when Stanford’s fans will come to expect a win against USC as their coaches and players seem to? The Cardinal’s fourth consecutive win in the series, 21-14 in Palo Alto, was an upset – sure (I had USC, 38-27, in my preseason picks). But, No. 16 beating No. 3 in an ugly, error-filled early season game sure didn’t seem like a rush-the-field moment. My other Week 3 loss featured, unsurprisingly at this point, Colorado. What was surprising was the score: a lower-divisionesque 69-14 loss to Fresno State. The Buffs will have to pull off one heck of an upset during conference play to avoid an 0-12 season.

Record through three weeks: 24-9

Enjoy this weekend’s games!

Sep 07

Week 1 Review: Pac-12 Picking the Winners Recap

As we close in on week 2 of the college football season, here’s a quick look back on Week 1 of Pac-12 action, centered around my 12th Annual Picking the Winners Pac-12 preview, which appeared last week on

Click here for wisdom.

I kicked off the season with a 9-2 weekend (plus an abstention from Nicholls State, which was unable to avoid Hurricane Isaac and travel to face the Mighty Beav in Corvallis). Who was up? Who was down? And who was an ultimate disappointment?

Marqise Lee took Matt Barkley’s first 2012 toss 75 yards for a score.

USC over Hawaii, 49-10 (picked at 49-13) and Utah over Northern Colorado, 41-0 (picked at 38-0): Obviously my two best picks of the week, though I was helped by some dropped USC passes to keep the Trojans under 50.Other decent calls included Oregon over Arky State, 57-34 (in a game that I picked 52-10 Ducks, but UO led 50-3 in the second quarter before pumping the brakes). Oregon wowed a lot of people with their early outburst. Was the second half defensive lapse indicative of some depth issues? You’d have to be reading an awful lot into it to reach that conclusion. I also had UCLA topping Rice by 21, but in a much lower scoring game than the Bruins’ eventual 49-24 win. Even if it was against a horrific Owl program, Bruin fans had to be heartened by QB Brett Hundley’s first performance.

Surprises and disappointments that still worked out ok? How about Wazzu’s ugly performance in a 30-6 loss at BYU. In picking a narrow BYU win, I definitely expected more from Mike Leach in his first game. Obviously, he and the Cougs have a ways to go. In opposition, Todd Graham’s debut in Tempe went far better than expected as the Sun Devils put the hammer to FCS foe Northern Arizona, 63-6. At the same time, Stanford narrowly avoided catastrophe (to channel chronic overstater and Olympic gymnastics “commentator” Tim Daggett) in a 20-17 Friday night fright against San Jose State. Think

DeAnthony Thomas was up to his old tricks in Oregon’s whipping of Arkansas State.

Andrew Luck meant much to the Cardinal?

Also too close for comfort was UW’s 21-12 decision in Seattle over San Diego State. The Huskies’ high-powered attack more closely resembled a late-90s Paul Hackett USC offense. At the same time, the statistics showed an absolute blowout in favor of Arizona over Toledo, but some missed opportunities (and field goals) forced the Wildcats into overtime before they notched a 24-17 win.

Oski wasn’t the only one to leave the new Memorial Stadium deflated.

Finally, my two losses: Colorado dropping a 22-17 decision to in-state rival Colorado State in their annual Denver showdown; and California bellyflopping in the debut of the newly refurbished Memorial Stadium, losing to Nevada 31-24. While CU’s loss isn’t overly shocking – this wasn’t a good football team last year and it won’t be this year – Cal’s Jeff Tedford absolutely must be on the firing line after the Bears’ embarrassing performance. As time goes on, it seems like Tedford loses more and more touch with his players. While Cal should recover easily this weekend, the same can’t be said for most of the rest of 2012.

Enjoy this weekend’s games!