Week three of Pac-12 brings a fascinating conference duel in Pullman, where a coachless team meets a coachless vax, two clashes against opponents from the Power Five, and the first look at UCLA since its triumph over LSU fifteen ago. days.
But the most interesting game of all features the team we know the least about.
This mysterious factor is exactly why Arizona State’s trip to Brigham Young on Saturday Night (ESPN) is so compelling.
For months, the Sun Devils have been a trending choice to win the South (guilty!) And the subject of harsh criticism for potentially deplorable recruiting violations (guilty too!).
But with two weekends in succession in the 2021 season, we don’t know if they are worthy of the division title or if they are likely to be derailed by the ongoing NCAA investigation.
Two unbalanced wins over creamy opponents don’t make a contender.
Then again, three suspended assistant coaches don’t make a contender.
But this week, finally, ASU, ranked 19th, will meet some degree of resistance.
The Cougars are coming off their first victory over Utah in a decade and appear perfectly capable of competing with the Pac-12 teams in the upper echelon.
The betting line provides a benchmark against which to judge the outcome: the Sun Devils are favored by just 3.5 points.
It’s the key season for ASU fourth-year coach Herm Edwards. List reloading that took place over multiple recruiting cycles always marked 2021 as a tipping point.
Quarterback Jayden Daniels is a third-year starter. The lines of scrimmage have been reconstructed. Skill positions are stocked with playmakers. There are veterans through high school.
The Sun Devils haven’t won the division title for eight years or the conference championship for 25 years.
When the office closes on Saturday evening, we’ll have a better idea of their ceiling… or their floor.
Last week: 6-3
Five-star special: 2-0
All Choices Against Spread
Lines taken from vegasinsider.com
No line (FCS opponents): State of Oregon, California, Oregon and Arizona
Colorado -2 vs. Minnesota
To start up: 10am on the Pac-12 networks
Comment: Minnesota’s defense isn’t as strong as Texas A&M’s, but the offense will be much more powerful. Can CU afford to score over 20 points against an unnamed opponent Northern Colorado? Only if the passing game awakens. The task would be much easier with an advantageous position on the field, which means that Nate Landman and Co. has to force a few turnovers. Choice: Colorado
USC -8.5 in Washington State
To start up: 12:30 p.m. on FOX
Comment: How will the Trojans react to the sacking of Clay Helton and the elevation of assistant Donte Williams to interim coach? A spirited performance is expected, at least initially, but the flaws are likely to persist, notably the random racing game and lack of discipline. Cougars have a bevy of playmakers and could win the game if they protect the ball. Their plan for victory: Stay within range until the fourth quarter, then jump on a USC error. Choice: Washington State
Washington -16.5 vs. Arkansas State
To start up: 1:15 p.m. on the Pac-12 networks
Comment: The key number here is 55. No, it’s not the Over / Under (it’s 57.5, by the way). Instead, 55 is the number of runs Arkansas State scored last week by Memphis. In other words: there is hope for the dismal offense of the Huskies, who found a piece of rhythm in the second half of the loss to Michigan. Look for an escape game for UW air attack, with a resounding victory in tow. Choice: Washington
Utah -7.5 to San Diego State
To start up: 4 p.m. on CBS Sports Network
Comment: The Utes were wobbly against BYU in worrying places – namely, quarterback efficiency and run defense – and they now face an opponent built to take advantage of that. (SDSU hooker Greg Bell is one of the best in the western half of the FBS.) The match placement for Utah, after the Holy War and before the conference opens, also gives us pause. And that extra half point? It’s too tempting. Choice: State of San Diego.
Stanford -11 at Vanderbilt
To start up: 5 p.m. on ESPNU
Comment: Another long trip to Stanford, but not another 9 a.m. (Pacific) kickoff. We’re not sure what to make of the Cardinal after two extreme performances, but we do know: Vanderbilt is bad. (We’re talking about losing to East-Tennessee-State by 20 bad points.) And we know rookie quarterback Tanner McKee is giving the Cardinal offense a fighting chance. Pick: Stanford
Arizona State -3.5 to Brigham Young
To start up: 7:15 p.m. on ESPN
Comment: To everything noted above, we’ll add this: The Sun Devils should be physically fresh after easy wins over Southern Utah and UNLV, while the Cougars need to emotionally recalibrate after the long-awaited victory in holy war. The Sun Devils might falter early, but they should take control late. Choice: Arizona State
UCLA -11 v Fresno State
To start up: 7:45 p.m. on the Pac-12 networks
Comment: The Bruins are two weeks away from the decisive performance against LSU. Have they lost momentum? Or has the break done more good than harm by providing a window to celebrate and then refocus? We should find out early in this one, as everything that happens after 10:30 p.m. EST is early. Picks: UCLA
Five Star Special: Washington. Of course, it’s normal to expect a team averaging 8.5 points per game to cover a 16.5 point gap. And that’s exactly why we love Huskies.
Direct winners: Colorado, Washington State, Washington, Utah, Stanford, ASU and UCLA
Support the Hotline: Receive three months of unlimited access for just 99 cents. Yes, it’s 99 cents for 90 days, with the option to cancel at any time. Details are here, and thanks for your support.
*** Send your suggestions, comments and tips (confidentiality guaranteed) to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 408-920-5716
*** Follow me on Twitter: @WilnerHotline
*** The Pac-12 hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.