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Football: Pac-12 picks — Week 11

The Eugene Register-Guard has determined that Oregon, at its current pace, could become the first BCS team to ever to score 100 touchdowns in a season.

It only seems like the Ducks scored that many just last Saturday against USC.

Which brings us to Oregon’s visit to Berkeley on Saturday night. Cal actually has played the Ducks about as well as any Pac-12 team in recent years.

Consider:

2011: Oregon won 43-15 in Eugene, but Cal led 15-14 at the half.

2010: The Ducks scored just one offensive touchdown in a 15-13 victory at Berkeley.

2009: Well, let’s ignore this one (a 42-3 Oregon win).

2008: Cal won 26-16 at Memorial Stadium.

So, over the past eight halves of football between the two teams, Cal has either played better or virtually even with the Ducks in five of them.

The difference this year isn’t Oregon’s improved speed, better defense or theĀ  refinement of coach Chip Kelly’s offensive system.

The difference is Cal. While Oregon boasts the nation’s most prolific offense (54.3 ppg), the Bears rank 63rd in scoring defense (27.6 ppg allowed).

That defense has improved some in recent weeks, allowing 21 points or fewer in four of the past five games. At the same time, the offense has regressed, totaling just 22 points over the past three games, if you don’t count 21 garbage-time points in the lopsided loss at Utah.

And now the Bears will go at Oregon with their second-string quarterback.

There’s just no way this game adds up to anything other than an Oregon victory. And by a fairly sizable margin.

LAST WEEK: 6-0
SEASON: 52-20

Saturday

— Colorado at Arizona, 10:30 a.m. (FX): A strange starting time, but if the Pac-12 really didn’t want anyone to see the Buffaloes (1-8, 1-5) they should have made it 4:30 a.m. The Wildcats (5-4, 2-4), led by banged up quarterback Matt Scott, really need a bye. Well, they got one and the chance to get bowl eligible at the expense of the nation’s worst scoring defense. Arizona 42, Colorado 7.

— No. 13 Oregon State at No. 16 Stanford, noon (Fox): An intriguing matchup of two teams doing a two-step at the quarterback position. When the season start, it was Sean Mannion for the Beavers (7-1, 5-1) and Josh Nunes for the Cardinal (7-2, 5-1). Now we’ll see Cody Vaz vs. Kevin Hogan. Oh well, both teams are about defense and running the ball, anyway. With both still awaiting Oregon, this amounts to a Pac-12 North elimination game. Stanford 24, Oregon State 20.

— Arizona State at No. 21 USC, noon (Pac-12 Networks): Hard to believe the Trojans (6-3, 4-3) will give up 62 points again this weekend after doing so against Oregon. The Sun Devils (5-4, 3-3) have lost three in a row after a dynamite start. We think it will be four in a row because if the Trojans lose for the third straight game, AD Pat Haden might start his campaign to hire Chris Peterson. USC 38, Arizona State 28.

— No. 2 Oregon at Cal, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN): It’s good news/bad news for Cal (3-7, 2-5). The bad: This is not a match the Bears need to show the entire country. The good: By the time it starts to get out of hand, it’ll be way past everyone’s bedtime on the East Coast. Cal has fared better defensively against the Ducks (9-0, 6-0) than most conference opponents in recent years. That was then. Oregon 49, Cal 20.

— Utah at Washington, 7:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks): Winless on the road this season, the Utes (4-5, 2-4) are actually slightly favored over the Huskies (5-4, 3-3), which tells you the oddsmakers weren’t bowled over by UW’s win at Cal. This is a tough game to figure. The Huskies can become bowl eligible with a win, but that would come a week later, anyway, when they face Colorado. Utah had lost four in a row before scoring 98 points the past two weeks. Vegas doesn’t get rich by being stupid. Utah 24, Washington 21.

— No. 17 UCLA at Washington State, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2): This game ought to draw about 14,000 in Pullman, with the Spokane fan base unwilling to drive 80 miles to sit in projected 19-degree weather for a night game against the red-hot Bruins (7-2, 4-2). UCLA has scored 111 points the past two weeks. The Cougars (2-7, 0-6) have scored 106 in six conference games. UCLA 49, Washington State 10.

Jeff Faraudo