By Fred Delkin
Now it seems there’s but one team a favorite to take home the Pac12 title and a possible national championship contender. Here we are, four games into the 2012 season and only Oregon has lived up to expectations and Pigskin is lobbying for a new crystal ball after only breaking even on predicting last week’s contests as Oregon State continued to surprise, Colorado finally found someone to beat and what was a promising Portland State squad remains a failure.
The high-flying Ducks found a new way to win, exhibiting an awesome defense in throttling an unbeaten Arizona bunch that was billed as UO’s first real test this season. Cover boy DeAnthony Thomas failed to live up to his Sports Illustrated appointment, superfrosh QB Marcus Mariota proved only human, but 49-0 convinced the pollsters who moved the Lemon & Green into #2 in all national rankings. Battered but unbowed, we give you this week’s expected outcomes:
OREGON vs. WASHINGTON STATE–the Cougars scheduled this one in Seattle, but are not expected to impress their westside fandom. New WSU mentor Mike Leach has installed a good passing offense, but rushing and defense are still missing, as woeful to date Colorado proved.
OREGON by 35.
OREGON STATE at ARIZONA–speaking of defense, Mike Riley has crafted one of his finest efforts on that side of the ball. Now we’ll find out if the Beavers can stymie a maddened pack of Wildcats seething from their humiliation in Eugene. This looks like an even match, but Arizona is at home. ARIZONA by 3.
STANFORD at WASHINGTON–the Cardinal rested last week after their derailing of Southern Cal’s aspirations. They will awaken to edge the Huskies, who lack the upfront manpower to stop Stanford’s bruisersand the Dawgs have yet to find a rushing attack to complement QB Vince Price’s aerial magic. STANFORD by 14.
ARIZONA STATE at CALIFORNIA–the Golden Bears couldn’t frighten USC, but returning to friendlier confines, have enough strong offense to outscore the Sun Devils, who showed a lot of attack themselves in whipping Utah. This one should keep the scoreboard blinking. CAL by 7.
UCLA at COLORADO–the visiting Bruins couldn’t handle OSU’s defensive prowess, but they will find little challenge here, as their hosts return to the futility they exhibited until taking their deserved frustration out on hapless Washington State. UCLA by 28.
PORTLAND STATE at NORTHERN ARIZONA–the host Lumberjacks boast what may be their school’s best ball club ever. They dismantled perennial Big Sky champion Montana last week in the Grizzlies’ den. It looks like another long day for the Vikings, who have yet to match their coach’s expectations, particularly on defense. NORTHERN ARIZONA by 7.
ROSES & RASPBERRIES–a towering tumbler of blooms to UO’s offensive creativity, with Hillsboro’s Colt Lyerla launching the powerback personality previously missing in the current Duck attack…no awards can be found for the officiating drought in the NFL and let’s pay those veteran whistletooters what they deserve to go back on duty…roses have been richly earned. (Update: looks like they’re back–a settlement was reached to avoid any more embarrassments.)
Pete’s previous picks: