12

Football: Pac-12 picks, Week 5

Winning on the road in college football is tough, but Oregon and Stanford will show their merit this week when they venture away from home for the first time this season.

For Cal, which comes off back-to-back road defeats to Top-25 opponents, a return to Memorial Stadium comes just in time. Five of the Bears’ remaining eight games will be played at home, starting Saturday against Arizona State.

Hard right now to envision Cal beating Stanford or Oregon, so the ASU game isĀ  about as close to a must-win as there is in September.

LAST WEEK: 3-2
SEASON: 27-11

Thursday

— No. 8 Stanford at Washington, 6 p.m. (ESPN): The Cardinal’s strengths — running the ball and stopping the run — will cause the Huskies significant grief. Then there’s recent history to consider: Stanford won 65-21 a year ago and Andrew Luck, as good as he is, wasn’t worth 44 points all by himself. Stanford 28, Washington 17.

Saturday

— Arizona State at Cal, 1 p.m. (FX): The Sun Devils are substantially improved, but none of their first four opponents has finished the game with its starting quarterback on the field. That’s just weird. For the Bears, this game means everything. A loss would drop them to 1-4 and pretty much kill even modest dreams. Cal 30, Arizona State 24.

— UCLA at Colorado, 3 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks): Could the Buffaloes actually be overconfident after rallying to win at Washington State while UCLA was upended at home by Oregon State? Yeah, right. A return to reality is on store. We’re still talking about a team that lost to Fresno State by 55 points vs. a team that beat Nebraska. UCLA 40, Colorado 14.

— No. 18 Oregon State at Arizona, 7 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks): Perhaps the best game of the week in the Pac-12. The Beavers seem for real after winning at home over Wisconsin and on the road vs. UCLA. The defense is tough and their passing game is productive. Of course, the Wildcats looked legit, too, until their 49-0 loss at Oregon. Still, Vegas favors UA, and those guys are smart. Arizona 24, Oregon State 21.

— No. 2 Oregon at Washington State, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2): The Ducks are averaging 52.8 points but haven’t played outside Autzen Stadium yet this season. How much difference will that make in this matchup? Oregon 51.8, Washington State 10.

Jeff Faraudo