Please note: The picks have been made based on each game being played as scheduled. If the matchups are shuffled because of COVID-19, I will update the picks on Friday afternoon.
The Week 2 schedule might be the most interesting of the season because for four teams, it’s really Week 1.
COVID-19 issues kept Cal, Arizona, Utah and Washington off the field last week.
That’s not exactly an ideal location to work through on-the-field glitches.
All four open their seasons against opponents that had four quarters to shed 10 months of rust.
That strikes us as a significant competitive advantage.
One, Arizona, is a double-digit underdog.
Another, Washington, is a double-digit favorite.
One, Cal, is a slight underdog.
Another, Utah, is a slight favorite.
Will the Week 1 experience help offset a deficiency in talent? Will the talent offset the Week 1 shutdown?
There has never been a week like this.
But if things don’t go right for any of the four teams scheduled to make their season debut this week, it could be back in this situation next week.
Last week: 1-3
Five-star special: 0-1
All picks against the spreadLines taken from vegasininsider.com
Cal (plus-4) at Arizona State: As of this writing, the game has not been canceled. If it’s played as scheduled, Cal has two problems: Opening against an opponent that just played a high-level game and should be fairly sharp; and the fact that a full position group has been in quarantine for most of two weeks. Pick: Arizona State.
USC (minus-14) at Arizona: The Wildcats don’t have the defensive personnel to contain USC in the same fashion ASU did, and they will be prone to breakdowns on both sides of scrimmage in their season opener. If the Trojans are locked in and execute, this will be over by halftime. If USC short-circuits, it’s in doubt into the fourth quarter. Pick: USC.
Oregon (minus-10) at Washington State: One of two games in which both participants played last weekend. And both were impressive. The Ducks won’t make the same mistakes defensively as Oregon State. In fact, the Cougars might not get half their Week 1 point total (38). Pick: Oregon.
Oregon State (plus-13) at Washington: Toughest game of the weekend. The Beavers looked terrible but at least were on the field. The Huskies haven’t played and will trot out a new quarterback, new coordinator and new head coach. But they’re more talented at most positions. More than the line itself, we like UNDER the total of 53. (We’d probably like UNDER 43, to be honest.) Pick: Oregon State.
Colorado (plus-6.5) at Stanford: We expect Stanford quarterback Davis Mills to play — he was held out last weekend because of COVID issues — and his status is obviously a huge piece to this calculation. The Buffaloes looked better than we expected, but they were gifted four first-half turnovers by a team (UCLA) that has no defense and still only won by six points. Pick: Stanford.
Utah (minus-3.5) at UCLA: Difficult to imagine UCLA duplicating its four-turnover performance in the opener (or maybe not). But it’s also tough to envision the Utes operating efficiently, especially in the rebuilt secondary — a position group that, like the offensive line, requires a high level of cohesion. Pick: UCLA
Straight-up winners: ASU, USC, Oregon, Washington, Stanford and UCLA.
Five-star special: Arizona State. The Sun Devils have a colossal competitive advantage, especially given Cal’s defensive line has had next-to-zero practice.
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