By Fred Delkin
The long drought is over as college football once again comes on the scene, and piped into our homes via unprecedented television coverage. Now the Pac12 boasts its own network to ensure that we won’t miss any of the action. Here’s our forecast on games played this weekend on Friday night or Saturday:
ARKANSAS ST. at OREGON–the Ducks are prohibitive favorites to start their national title effort against this FCS division foe. New Quacker QB Marcus Mariota will amaze and delight the Autzen fans and will retire early as backup Bryan Bennett also gets to shine. This UO squad is loaded with talent on both sides of the scrimmage line. OREGON by 49.
NICHOLLS ST. at OREGON ST.–the Beavers also have an easy opener as they take on this lower division Alabama crew that recorded a 1-10 season a year ago. No conclusions can be drawn from this mismatch, and OSU’s next opponent, Wisconsin, must resist getting overconfident. OREGON ST. by 28.
HAWAII at USC–the host Trojans also have legitimate national title hopes and the visitors will suffer as SC QB Matt Barkley shows why he elected to skip a first round pick by the NFL to suit up again as an amateur. SOUTHERN CAL by 35.
NEVADA at CALIFORNIA–the Golden Bears inaugurate a remade Memorial Stadium and will do it in style with a veteran crew. Nevada is no pushover, but Cal coach Jeff Tedford knows his days are numbered if he doesn’t engineer a major bowl appearance this season to justify the increased investment in his program. CAL by 21.
NORTHERN COLORADO at UTAH–Pigskin predicts that Utah has both coaching and talent equal to the task of a major bowl qualification. The Utes have picked a Big Sky perennial patsy to begin their trek to greatness. UTAH by 35.
SAN DIEGO ST. at WASHINGTON–ol’ Husky Stadium is being refitted this year Quest field will stage UW home games. The Dawgs return a strong offense and seek to atone for their sorry defensive play in 2011 by bringing in new coaches. The visiting Aztecs have some horses, but not enough to spoil the opener for a Husky squad that next travels to LSU. HUSKIES by 14.
WASHINGTON ST. at BYU–Cougar fandom is looking forward to a new beginning under colorful new coach Mike Leach, who does have a veteran QB to execute his aerial circus. However, the Cougars boast far more depth on both sides of the ball. BYU by 14. [Editor: Cougars win no matter who loses]
SAN JOSE ST. at STANFORD–this traditional tussle between the rich and the cross-bay peons has caused some Cardinal embarrassments in the past, but even though Andrew Luck has moved on to the NFL, Stanford has a host of veterans from last year’s powerhouse. STANFORD by 21.
UCLA at RICE–the Bruins have traded coaching fantasy for the reality of NFL mentoring by Jim Mora. Now we’ll find out if a sizable stable of veteran players can absorb a new regimen from a boss unused to the rah-rah ranks. UCLA by 21.
COLORADO at COLORADO ST.–this is a Civil War-type battle that often results in an upset. The visiting Buffalos were the Pac12′s weakest squad a year ago, while the host Rams struggled after the retirement of a winner, coach Sonny Lubeck. We’ll give the Buffs a narrow nudge. COLORADO by 3.
TOLEDO at ARIZONA–the hosts present their new coach, Rich Rodriguez, with the challenge of building a new regime with a lack of proven star performers. We think sojourns as head man at West Virginia and Michigan have shown that Rich has the right stuff to stage a winning debut, though Toledo is no pushover. ARIZONA by 10.
NORTHERN ARIZONA at ARIZONA ST.–another new coaching debut, as Todd Graham replaces Dennis Erickson for the Sun Devils, and could scarcely wish for a surer ‘gimme’ to open his reign. The visitors have never been a power in the Big Sky and won’t threaten here. ASU by 28.
Here in River City, Portland State has gathered enough talent to be a national playoff threat in FCS ranks, though coach Nigel Burton must break in a rookie from a passel of QB aspirants. A home opener against Carroll College of Montana should be a good staging ground for the Vikings. We pick the Vikes in a somewhat sloppy debut, by 21 points.