The Devil’s Best Interest
In part one, we reviewed the three early Pac-12 games this week (USC, Arizona and Utah). Here we will cover the conference’s seven games of the weekend.
On Saturday (and Sunday), there are five games in particular where the Pac-12 can make strong statements against competing conferences. At this juncture before conference play, we consider victories across the Pac-12 to be in the best interest of the Sun Devils. It not only impacts the respect of the conference as a whole, but it affects ASU’s strength of schedule since the Devils will go to battle against most of this week’s teams.
Wazzu at Auburn
First, we have Washington State under second year coach Mike Leach traveling to the SEC to take on Auburn. Auburn is down now and has a new coach so we are not sure what to expect. However, it is an SEC team so we know they will be big, fast and physical; let’s just hope that the Cougars can make a game of it in year two under the Leach system.
Nevada at UCLA
Next we have the Nevada Wolf Pack traveling to the Rose Bowl to take on #21 UCLA. The Bruins have been picked by most to win the Pac-12 South and are ranked to start the season. However, Nevada runs the unconventional pistol offense which causes problems to teams not familiar with to it. Nevada has some credibility and a win for the Bruins would be a good one for the conference.
Northwestern at Cal
Saturday evening we have #22 Northwestern from the Big-10 heading west to Berkeley to take on the Cal Bears. This one’s interesting because Cal is playing their first game under their new coach, offensive guru Sonny Dykes. This should be a good game because the Big-10 usually plays a slower pace with the running game than the Pac-12. If Cal get some breaks at home, the Bears could upset the Wildcats.
Boise State at Washington
Rounding out Saturday night’s games is a promising match up between #19 Boise State and the Washington Huskies. This game will be played in the newly revamped Husky Stadium in Seattle and could be a huge win for an improving Husky team. So far, coach Steve Sarkisian has somewhat underachieved in Seattle but now with some experienced offensive weapons, Boise State could be in for some trouble.
Colorado at Colorado State
On an unusual Sunday college kick off, Colorado will travel to Fort Collins to play their in-state rival, Colorado State. The Buffaloes also debut a new coach, and the Rams are usually tough when they play at home. We will see if the new recruits that Colorado has attracted since joining the Pac-12 will make a difference against the Rams, who have dominated this rivalry in recent years.
Eastern Washington at Oregon State and Nicholls State at Oregon
In reality, the Pac-12 only has two “gimme’s” in week one. The first is when Eastern Washington travels to Corvallis to play #25 Oregon State. The second game has Nicholls State visiting Eugene to open the season against #3 Oregon.
My take on the best five match-ups
UCLA should win while Washington State and Washington are long shots. The Colorado game could go either way since it is an in-state rivalry game. Finally, I will be surprised if Cal defeats Northwestern even though I firmly believe that the Pac-12 is a better conference than the Big-10.
No matter what happens, we should have a better idea about the bottom half of the Pac after the games this weekend and at least some sense of what to expect as we head towards conference games.
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