By Jeff Faraudo
Thursday, September 6th, 2012 at 5:33 pm in Football.
The schedule toughens for the Pac-12 in Week 2, although Cal certainly hopes its game against Southern Utah is not quite the challenge that visiting Nevada proved to be.
Conference teams will face the likes of LSU, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State and Illinois on Saturday, so duplicating the league’s 8-3 record of a week ago may be difficult.
I went 9-2 in Week 1, demonstrating too much faith in Cal and Colorado. I’m picking both to win again this week and if they don’t deliver the consequences may be more dire than me simply not picking either again all season.
LAST WEEK: 9-2
This week’s games:
– Utah at Utah State, 5 p.m. (ESPN2): The Utes have beaten their in-state rivals 12 straight times, including six in a row on the Aggies’ home field. Coming off a 41-0 rout of Northern Colorado, Utah may be hard-pressed to post back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 1981. Utah 31, Utah State 13.
– Eastern Washington at Washington State, noon (Pac-12 Networks): The Cougars, eager to get rolling under coach Mike Leach after losing 30-6 at BYU, have some (ancient) history on their side. They are 2-0 all-time vs. EWU, winning by a combined score of 119-0 in 1907 and ’08. And they haven’t lost to a Big Sky opponent in more than 60 years. Washington State 28, Eastern Washington 3.
– Sacramento State at Colorado, noon (Pac-12 Mountain): The Hornets had their moment in the sun last season, upsetting Oregon State 29-28 in overtime. Colorado is hardly a juggernaut, but this one figures to be more like Sac State’s 52-17 loss to Stanford in 2010 or its 41-3 defeat to Cal in 2005. Colorado 30, Sacramento State 7.
– Southern Utah at Cal, noon (Pac-12 Bay Area): The Thunderbirds, playing a Pac-12 opponent for the first time, feature quarterback Brad Sorensen, a 6-foot-5 one-time BYU signee, who attracted six NFL scouts to Southern Utah’s season opener. Of course, everyone looks pretty good to the Bears in the wake of their 31-24 loss to Nevada. Expect the Bears to run the ball with more conviction this week. Cal 41, Southern Utah 13.
– USC at Syracuse, 12:30 p.m. (ABC): Lost in all the hoopla surrounding Heisman Trophy frontrunner Matt Barkley is one of his favorite targets. Sophomore Marqise Lee has caught 31 passes for 608 yards — in just his past three games. The Orange, meanwhile, are coming off a loss to Northwestern. USC 45, Syracuse 14.
– Wisconsin at Oregon State, 1 p.m. (FX): The Beavers, making their season debut after the opener vs. Nicholls State was cancelled, will find this a bit tougher. Job 1 is stopping running back Montee Ball, who ran for 1,923 yards and 33 touchdowns last year, including 118 yards in the Badgers’ 35-0 win over the Beavers. Wisconsin 29, Oregon State 13.
– Fresno State at Oregon, 3:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks): Who was really paying attention a couple weeks ago when 49ers rookie and ex-Oregon star LaMichael James said redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota would be the Ducks’ greatest quarterback ever? He may be on the short list already after directing touchdown drives on his only seven possessions in Oregon’s 57-34 win over Arkansas State. Oregon 58, Fresno State 10.
– Washington at LSU, 4 p.m. (ESPN): The Huskies brought a 300-pound live Bengal tiger to practice this week. They better bring a running game to Baton Rouge. The Tigers’ defense is too good. LSU 33, Washington 17.
– Nebraska at UCLA, 4:30 p.m. (Fox): The Bruins ran up 646 yards against Rice. Hey, it was Rice. This is Nebraska, and UCLA need to figure out how to slow down quarterback Taylor Martinez, who passed for 354 yards and five touchdowns against Southern Miss last week. Nebraska 24, UCLA 21.
– Duke at Stanford, 7:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Bay Area): These two schools played a wonderful basketball game in Oakland a few years ago, prompting Stanford alum Tiger Woods to leap from his seat when Casey Jacobsen hit the game-winner at the finish. This won’t be as wonderful. Stanford 38, Duke 13.
– Illinois at Arizona State, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN): Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase of the Illini is questionable with an ankle sprain he sustained in a 24-7 win over Western Michigan. ASU, coming off a 63-6 rout of Northern Arizona in coach Todd Graham’s debut, is 7-0 all-time at Tempe against teams from the Big Ten. That combination is good enough for me. Arizona State 28, Illinois 20.
– Oklahoma State at Arizona, 7:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks): The Cowboys used 95 players, including 19 walk-ons, in their 84-0 win over Savannah State. This week, they actually have to play a game. Arizona rolled up 646 yards against Toledo, but still needed overtime to escape with a 24-17 win in Rich Rodriguez’s debut. Oklahoma State 38, Arizona 24.