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Pac-12 Football: Week three preview and predictions

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All the picks from this week in Pac-12 football.

NCAA Football: Boise State at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

After two weeks of Pac-12 football, we take you through previews and predictions of the final week of non conference play.

KEEPING IT CLOSE

Arizona (1-1) vs. UTEP (0-2) — Friday, Sept. 15, 7:15 p.m. MST — ESPN Matchup Predictor: Arizona 92.6%

The Arizona Wildcats are coming off a tough loss against the Houston Cougars last Saturday in a game the Wildcats were favored to win. Houston defeated Arizona 19-16, and Arizona was very capable of winning. The quarterback situation for Arizona has been uncertain as the Wildcats continue to go back and forth between quarterbacks Brandon Dawkins and Khalil Tate, which was one of the reasons the Wildcats struggled against the Cougars on Saturday. Although the Wildcats don’t have a solidified choice at quarterback, the Wildcats defense has improved since last year, as they only allowed 383 total yards, intercepted two passes off of Scottsdale native Kyle Allen and recovered a fumble. Arizona will have a chance to figure everything out this week as they take on UTEP and are favored to win by over three touchdowns (-23 odds).

Final Prediction: Arizona 24, UTEP 13

California (2-0) vs. Ole Miss (2-0) Sat., Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m. MST, ESPN — ESPN Matchup Predictor: Ole Miss 53.5%

In a poll by CBS, Cal is ranked No. 62 and Ole Miss is ranked No. 54 in the country out of 130 teams in the FBS. Cal got off to a sluggish start against Weber State after defeating North Carolina in Week one. However, one of the positive takeaways from that game is the fact that junior running back Patrick Laird was effective in not only the run game, but in the pass game as well. Although Ole Miss is not a home run, deep ball passing team, Cal will need to make big strides in their secondary from last week if they want to prevent sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson from torching them the whole game. This game should be close and might come down to the wire.

Final Prediction: Ole Miss 28, Cal 20

NOT CLOSE, BUT NOT A BLOWOUT

Arizona State (1-1) vs. Texas Tech (1-0) Sat. Sept. 16, 5 p.m. MST FSN — ESPN Matchup Predictor: Texas Tech 82.5%

If this game goes anything like it did last year, then people watching this game might witness 130 points or more scored between the two teams. Arizona State won this game 68-55 and it was the definition of a shootout. Kalen Ballage ran his way into the record books, as he scored eight total touchdowns which tied Howard Griffith of Illinois who set the record in 1990. ASU will rely on their offensive production in this game, but the Sun Devils will need to make tremendous strides with the offensive line and on defense if they are going to try and slow down Texas Tech senior quarterback Nic Shimonek.

Final Prediction: Texas Tech 56, ASU 41

BLOWOUTS

No. 4 USC (2-0) vs Texas (1-1) Sat. Sept. 16, 5:30 p.m. MST FOX — ESPN Matchup Predictor: USC 75.9%

It’s been more than 10 years since these two teams met in the National Championship, but they will meet once again on Saturday at the Coliseum. USC freshman running back Stephen Carr and junior running back Ronald Jones II each had over 115 yards rushing and Jones II chipped in two touchdowns against Stanford on Saturday. But this game will feature a quarterback showdown between sophomore quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Shane Buechele. USC has one of the best secondaries, and arguably one of the best defenses period in the Pac-12, which should give Sam Darnold and the Trojans the advantage over the Texas Longhorns.

Final Prediction: USC 45, Texas 24

Northern Colorado (1-0) vs. Colorado (2-0) Sat. Sept. 16, 11 a.m. MST PAC-12 — ESPN Matchup Predictor: Colorado 98.9%

The Colorado Buffaloes are 2-0 after an easy start to their schedule, despite the fact the Buffaloes only defeated Colorado State 17-3. Colorado will play its third home game of the season, as the Buffaloes take on the Northern Colorado Bears on Saturday. Sophomore quarterback Steven Montez and sophomore running back Phillip Lindsay are the clear leaders of this team and despite losing many starters on defense, the Buffaloes defense has held their own. The Buffaloes haven’t really been tested in terms of going against elite level FBS teams but will get a chance to show how they have improved this week against Northern Colorado and will get their first true test next week against No. 6 Washington.

Final Prediction: Colorado 49, Northern Colorado 10

Oregon State (1-2) vs. Washington State (2-0) Sat., Sept. 16, 2:30 p.m. MST — ESPN Matchup Predictor: Washington State 93.5%

Washington State will take on Oregon State after an incredible triple-overtime win against Boise State last week. Wazzu senior quarterback Luke Falk broke the record for the program’s all-time leading passer and was ironically benched in the third quarter. After sophomore quarterback Tyler Hilinski threw an interception on his first drive, Falk came back and was later injured and didn’t return. Hilinski came back in to lead the Cougars to victory. Despite being a 21-point underdog, Oregon State might have a chance to make this a close game if they can take advantage of Washington State’s weak offensive line.

Final Prediction: Washington State 38, Oregon State 13

No. 25 UCLA (2-0) vs. Memphis (1-0) Sat. Sept. 16, 9 a.m. ABC — ESPN Matchup Predictor: UCLA 60.9%

After their phenomenal comeback in week one against Texas A&M and blowout win against Hawai’i, it’s safe to say that Josh Rosen and the UCLA Bruins are in full force as one of the most dangerous teams in the Pac-12. UCLA’s rushing defense; however, is one of the Bruins’ weak spots as they gave up 281 rushing yards to the Rainbow Warriors on Saturday. Although the Bruins were without five of their starters and linebacker Josh Woods will have to sit out the first half this week after being ejected from last week’s game, the Bruins shouldn’t have a problem getting the win against Memphis this week. But UCLA will need to make quick adjustments to its defense because the Bruins travel to No. 19 Stanford next week.

Final Prediction: UCLA 41, Memphis 17

No. 6 Washington (2-0) vs. Fresno State (1-1) Sat., Sept. 16, 6:30 p.m. MST — ESPN Matchup Predictor: Washington 96.7%

The Washington Huskies will take on the Fresno State Bulldogs in a game that the Huskies should have no problem getting the victory. The Huskies have one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12 in junior quarterback Jake Browning. After an underwhelming 30-14 victory against Rutgers in Week one, Washington bounced back with a 63-7 torching of Montana on Saturday. The Huskies should run away with this one.

Final Prediction: Washington 52, Fresno State 6

Oregon (2-0) vs. Wyoming (1-1) Sat. Sept. 16, 4 p.m. MST CBSSN — ESPN Matchup Predictor: Oregon 88.8%

Oregon outlasted Nebraska last week in a shootout. Oregon senior running back Royce Freeman, who rushed for 153 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns helped lead the Ducks to a 42-35 victory over the Cornhuskers. Freeman had his way the Huskers behind one of the most dominant offensive lines in the Pac-12. Oregon is one of the most dominant teams when it comes to running the football, as six different players carried the ball for the Ducks on Saturday. Although Wyoming has one of the best quarterbacks in college football in Josh Allen, who is also a potential first-round draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, they should be able to take care of business.

Final Prediction: Oregon 41, Wyoming 21

Utah (2-0) vs. San Jose State (1-2) Sat. Sept. 16, 7 p.m. MST — ESPN Matchup Predictor: Utah 93.6%

Utah sophomore quarterback Tyler Huntley had his way with the BYU Cougars defense on Saturday due to the protection he got from his offensive line. The Utes did not allow a single sack the whole game which allowed Huntley to throw for 300 yards. However, there is a little bit of concern for the Utes. Even though Huntley threw for 300 yards, the Utes only scored one touchdown which was a rushing touchdown by Huntley. Utah will need more offensive production other than field goals from Matt Gay further down the road. Utah shouldn’t make this a close game, but if the Utes struggle on defense, it might be closer than Utah fans would like.

Final Prediction: Utah 35, San Jose State 10

No. 19 Stanford (1-1) vs. San Diego State (2-0) Sat. Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m. MST — ESPN Matchup Predictor: Stanford 84.8%

Stanford lost to USC 42-24 last week and the Trojans beat Stanford at their own game — running the football. The running game then opened up the passing game for Sam Darnold who threw for 316 yards and four touchdowns against the Cardinal. Stanford has one of the best defenses in the Pac-12 and they will need to make big strides from last week to prepare against the heavy run-powered offense of San Diego State. The San Diego Aztecs bulldozed the Arizona State Sun Devils on the ground as Rashaad Penny ran for 216 yards and scored a rushing, receiving and returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Stanford should win this game, but if they don’t play well on defense then San Diego State could literally run away with this one.

Final Prediction: Stanford 52, San Diego State 9