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PAC-12 Football: Week 3 Preview and Predictions

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We take you through Week 3 of Pac-12 football with predictions for how the conference will fare.

Kansas State v Stanford
A football soaks up the sun in Stanford Stadium
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

UPSET OF THE WEEK

(2-0) #11 Texas vs (1-1) California 7:30 p.m. MT Sept. 17 ESPN —- ESPN Matchup Predictor: Texas 59.1%

Texas football is finally back to its winning ways after a historic 50-47 double overtime victory over Notre Dame and then an easy 41-7 win over UTEP, but the Longhorns haven’t played in Berkeley yet and surprisingly, neither have the Bears.

This home opener will be a chance for Cal fans to get a first look at explosive senior quarterback Davis Webb. Webb is currently second in the nation in passing yards at 963 and his true freshman wide receiver Chad Hansen leads the nation with 350 yards on 38 catches.

The Cal defense has been troublesome in both games this season, but will hold off the Longhorns at home under the lights of the California Memorial Stadium. Webb should have yet another tremendous night in this high scoring affair.

Final Prediction: California 41 Texas 38

University of California v University of Hawaii - College Football Sydney Cup
Quarterback #7 Davis Webb of the California Golden Bears in Sydney, AUS vs. Hawai’i
Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images

SATURDAY CLOSE-ONES

(2-0) #22 Oregon vs. (2-0) Nebraska 12:30 p.m. MT Sept. 17 ABC —- ESPN Matchup Predictor: Nebraska 74.2%

The Ducks have held onto a spot in the top 25 for a third week after scoring 97 points in their first two games, but its defense has allowed 54 combined points against UC Davis and Virginia. Oregon now faces a Power Five team in Nebraska who is out to prove they are legit in front of a national audience.

Cornhusker senior quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. is in his third starting season and sophomore running back Devine Ozigbo has arose with 147 yards and three TD’s. The Nebraska defense won’t be able to contain junior running back Royce Freeman of the Ducks, but all eyes will be on senior quarterback Dakota Prukop who’s in for his first real test against Nebraska.

Cornhusker head coach Mike Riley, former coach of Oregon State, was 4-10 in Civil War contests, but now he has the “Sea of Red” behind him in Lincoln and will avenge the 49-17 loss he had against Oregon in 2014 as a Beaver.

Final Prediction: Nebraska 41 Oregon 35

(1-1) UCLA vs. (1-1) Brigham Young 7:15 p.m. MT Sept. 17 ESPN2 — ESPN Matchup Predictor: UCLA 67.7%

It was a rude awakening the last time the Bruins visited Provo, Utah, when they got smashed 59-0 in 2008. Last year in the Rose Bowl, UCLA avenged that loss winning 28-27 and that just shows how close this next game could be. The Cougars should have the upper hand in this game, but because of lack of offensive production (37 points in two games), the Bruins should come away with a victory.

It won’t be easy for sophomore quarterback Josh Rosen and the Bruins to steal a win in front of a white-out BYU crowd, but UCLA’s offense will just be simply too much to handle for the Cougars. BYU faced off against offensively struggling Arizona and Utah and kept right with them. It doesn’t seem plausible for the Cougars to keep up with UCLA.

Final Prediction: UCLA 34 Brigham Young 24

(1-1) USC vs. (1-0) #7 Stanford 5 p.m. MT Sept. 17 ABC —- ESPN Matchup Predictor: Stanford 62.2%

Last season, the Cardinal ran over the Trojans twice beating them 41-31 in the regular season matchup and then 41-22 in Santa Clara in the Pac-12 Championship. USC beat the Cardinal in 2013 and 2014 and are looking for revenge in 2016.

Neither team has been particularly impressive this season. Stanford nipped past Kansas State late in their last game two weeks ago and USC is still working on developing redshirt junior quarterback Max Browne who has only thrown for 283 yards in his first two games.

As close as this series has been as of late, Stanford gets the upper hand because of their top-notch defense. The Cardinal defense gathered eight sacks with two interceptions and seven quarterback hurries against K-State. The defensive line will be all over Browne and it’ll be quite similar to what he faced two weeks ago against Alabama.

The contest will be close most of the way until the Cardinal pull ahead in the fourth quarter.

Final Prediction: Stanford 28 USC 17

Kansas State v Stanford
The Stanford Offense strategizes before a play in their home opener vs. Kansas State
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

(2-0) Utah vs. (1-1) San José State 7:30 p.m. MT Sept. 17 CBSSN —- ESPN Matchup Predictor: Utah 71.8%

This game will be a lot closer than expected. The Utes have struggled offensively all season with new junior quarterback Troy Williams in command. The offense was troublesome last week against BYU as it turned over the ball six times. Defensively, the Utes are impressive and will leave a mark against the Spartans this Saturday.

San Jose State has an established run game in freshman Zamore Zigler and Washington transfer senior Deontae Cooper. The Spartans took care of Portland State last week in a 66 point victory, but Utah’s defense will put SJSU in place.

Final Prediction: Utah 24 San Jose State 14

NOT EVEN CLOSE

(1-1) Idaho State vs. (0-1) Oregon State 2 p.m. MT Sept. 17 PAC-12 —- ESPN Matchup Predictor: Oregon State 98%

The Idaho State Bengals showed they can’t do much against FBS teams last weekend when they were handed a 55-7 loss in Boulder, Colo. Oregon State is coming off a bye week, but before that, they fell to Minnesota by just a touchdown. After a close game up in the Midwest, OSU is eager to get back to football and especially for the first time at home with a “new look” offense.

Redshirt junior quarterback Darell Garretson proved he could play in his first start with the Beavers. He threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. The Beavers fan base will finally get to see the team dominate at home.

Final Prediction: Oregon State 41 Idaho State 10

Colorado (2-0) vs #4 Michigan (2-0) 12:30 p.m. MT Sept. 17 BTN —- ESPN Matchup Predictor: Michigan 89.9%

Earlier this week, Colorado broke the internet as it released a fictional depth chart that quickly sparked a Twitter fight between the Buffaloes and the Wolverines. The Buffs put up a good fight much like they did in the 1994 Miracle in Michigan when they beat Michigan on a 70-yard Hail Mary pass in the Big House 27-26. Since then, Colorado has lost two straight to the Wolverines in 1996 and 1997.

The Buffs have been impressive this season with monstrous wins over Colorado State 44-7 and Idaho State 56-7. CU seems to have done everything right. Senior quarterback Sefo Liufau has yet to throw an interception, the running game for the Buffs has already eclipsed 500 yards and the defense has not allowed more than a touchdown in a game.

Howver, the Wolverines have an NFL-Caliber head coach, Jim Harbaugh, and talented offense that has put up 114 points this season. It’s junior quarterback Wilton Speight’s first season as a starter with the Wolverines, but his 457 passing yards with seven touchdowns and only one interception has made him well-respected in Ann Arbor, MI.

The stampede of Buffaloes will hit a wall called “The Big House” and will be lucky to make this one close. This should serve as a reality check to the Buffs before PAC-12 play.

Final Prediction: Michigan 35 Colorado 14

Hawaii v Michigan
Quarterback #3 Wilton Speight and head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines slap hands
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

(2-0) Arizona State vs. (1-1) UTSA 6:30 p.m. MT Sept. 16 ESPN2 —- ESPN Matchup Predictor: Arizona State 94%

If ASU’s junior running back Kalen Ballage has half of a productive performance as he did last week against Texas Tech, the Sun Devils should still win this game by a wide margin.

Though the Roadrunners play in Texas they have no Patrick Mahomes, and most notably have never beaten a Power Five conference team since becoming a football team in 2011.

Sophomore quarterback Manny Wilkins should finish strong with his first road victory as the starter before conference play begins. The Devils put up 68 points last week against Texas Tech, but allowed the Red Raiders to score 55 points on their home turf. The Sun Devil defense needs to make a statement in San Antonio to make ASU fans comfortable.

Final Prediction: Arizona State 44 UTSA 17

(1-2) Hawai’i vs. (1-1) Arizona 7:45 p.m. MT Sept. 17 PAC12 —- ESPN Matchup Predictor: Arizona 96.1%

The Arizona Wildcats were in trouble last week, going down 21-3 at the half to Grambling State. But in the second half, junior running back Nick Wilson and redshirt sophomore quarterback Brandon Dawkins put on a show scoring four combined unanswered touchdowns and escaped the Tigers with a 31-21 win. If Arizona performs the way they played in the first half against the Hawai’i Warriors or any other FBS team it could be a long and dreadful season.

Dawkins made his first start of his career last week and expects to start again this week as junior Anu Solomon is still questionable with a knee injury. A more comfortable Dawkins at quarterback and his go to RB Nick Wilson should be dominant against the Warriors at home this Saturday.

Final Prediction: Arizona 31 Hawai’i 14

(1-1) Portland State vs. (2-0) #8 Washington 5 p.m. MT Sept. 17 PAC12 — ESPN Matchup Predictor: Washington 99.5%

The ever so easy schedule continues for the Huskies as they take on the Portland State Vikings in their third home game in a row against their second straight FCS opponent.

The Vikings shocked Washington’s arch rival last season beating Washington State 24-17 in Pullman, Wash. This season though, the Vikings have beaten division two Central Washington, but got smacked last week by San Jose State 66-35.

Sophomore quarterback Jake Browning, junior wide receiver John Ross and sophomore running back Myles Gaskin will continue to lead this Husky offense to another 45 plus point weekend. The defense will improve on its performance from last week when it gave up 14 points to Idaho. Washington wins big and will allow little or no touchdowns.

Washington 54 Portland State 3

Idaho v Washington
Wide receiver #1 John Ross of the Washington Huskies celebrates a touchdown
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Idaho (1-1) vs Washington State (0-2) 11 a.m. MT Sept. 17 PAC12 —- ESPN Matchup Predictor: Washington State 94.5%

Disappointment has been the label of the 2016 football season for the Cougars. Luckily, there is still time for them to change that. Wazzu has lost both games this season by a combined six points in close contests that could definitely have gone either way. There is still one game left before PAC-12 play and WSU is a 25 point favorite over the Idaho Vandals.

Junior quarterback Luke Falk has done nothing short of his expectations. His 898 yards in the air is the third most in the nation and he’s thrown for eight touchdowns.

The Vandals did put 14 points on Washington’s top-tier defense, but Washington State will run up the numbers offensively.

Final Prediction: Washington State 45 Idaho 17