Week 2: Pac-12 Previews & Predictions



Colorado (0-1) at Massachusetts (0-1) Sept. 5, 3:00, ESPN3 

Here’s The Deal: Colorado is making a rare trip to the East Coast, to Massachusetts of all places. It could be worth the trek for the Buffaloes who’ll travel anywhere to get a win these days. The team is still smarting after squandering a fourth-quarter lead to rival Colorado State in the Rocky Mountain Showdown. The Minutemen also opened with an in-state foe, earning a moral victory for not getting embarrassed by Boston College. 
Why Colorado Might Win: Since the Buffs are very young, they’re capable of making their biggest gains from the first to the second game. They have an up-and-comer at quarterback in sophomore Sefo Liufau, and just enough on defense to shut down a UMass offense that’s void of playmakers. 
Why Massachusetts Might Win: Hidden in the loss to BC was a defensive effort that made first-year coach Mark Whipple optimistic. The Minutemen only yielded two field goals in the first half before fading down the stretch. On offense, they should be able to establish the run against a Colorado team that was gashed on the ground by Colorado State. 
Who To Watch Out For: The Buffs need a few more stoppers like sophomore LB Addison Gillam. He consistently stands out, even when the rest of the D is struggling. In the opener, he had a team-high 10 stops, three for minus yards. 
What’s Going To Happen: The long flight back to Boulder won’t be so bad after Colorado evens its 2014 mark. The Buffs are a serious work-in-progress, but the Minutemen are a few rungs lower on the pecking order. Liufau will hook up with Nelson Spruce on a pair of scores to help propel Colorado to the win. 
Prediction: Colorado 36 … Massachusetts 17 
Line: Colorado -17; O/U: 50.5 
Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton … 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 1.5 

Eastern Washington (2-0) at Washington (1-0) Sept. 6, 3:00, Pac-12 Network 

Here’s The Deal: As FBS-FCS matchups go, this is one of the more intriguing ones on the 2014 slate. As anticipated, Chris Petersen won his first games as the U-Dub head coach, but the final score was anything but expected. The Huskies narrowly escaped woeful Hawaii, 17-16, and now here comes Eastern Washington, the top-ranked team in the FCS. The Eagles, which have already won two games, would love nothing more than to shock the state’s most prominent program. 
Why Eastern Washington Might Win: Washington had all kinds of problems sustaining drives, failing to score in the second half. If the Huskies are lethargic once again, the Eagles are going to zip right past them. Eastern Washington has one of the top offenses at the FCS level, spearheaded by the prolific pitch-and-catch combo of Vernon Adams to Cooper Kupp. The Eagles knocked off Oregon State in Corvallis last year, so this team won’t unravel at the sight of a Pac-12 team. 
Why Washington Might Win: Adams is an undersized dynamo operating in a passer-friendly system, but the Huskies have the best collection of defensive talent that the junior has ever faced. Washington will hit Adams with an All-Pac-12-caliber defender at each level, such as linemen Danny Shelton and Hau’oli Kikaha, linebackers Shaq Thompson and John Timu and CB Marcus Peters. Plus, Kupp, who’s so integral to the EWU passing game, has been hobbled with an ankle injury. 
Who To Watch Out For: About five minutes after his one-game suspension ended, Cyler Miles was named the Husky starting quarterback by Petersen. After Jeff Lindquist labored at Hawaii, Washington needs Miles to seize the job now more than ever. He has a handful of speedy receivers at his disposal, but unlike Adams, he’s yet to take a snap in 2014. 
What’s Going To Happen: Adams and his Eagles will be fired up and emotional for this game in Seattle. And they’re capable of knocking off Washington, which did not look good in Week 1. But the Huskies have a talented roster, even more so now that their best quarterback is available. They’ll survive Eastern Washington’s challenge, but not without some shaky moments along the way. 
Prediction: Washington 41 … Eastern Washington 31 
Line: No Line 
Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton … 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 2.5 

Memphis (1-0) at UCLA (1-0) Sept. 6, 10:00, Pac-12 Networks 

Here’s The Deal: No. 7 UCLA won a game, but lost a little bit of its swagger and national respect on Saturday. In escaping Virginia, 28-20, the Bruins failed to impress, at least by the measuring stick of a Pac-12 and playoff contender. Jim Mora’s team has this visit from Memphis to fix the offense before facing Texas in one of the pivotal games on the schedule. The Tigers had no problems with Austin Peay, running away with a 63-0, confidence-boosting blowout. 
Why Memphis Might Win: UCLA was completely ineffective on offense in Charlottesville. The line couldn’t block, and Brett Hundley’s supporting cast lacks flash. No, Memphis isn’t Virginia, but the D-line is experienced and not to be taken lightly. DE Martin Ifedi and NT Terry Redden are capable of forcing Hundley out of his comfort zone and into mistakes. 
Why UCLA Might Win: This is shaping up to be UCLA’s best defense in many years. The Bruins have playmakers at every level, as evidenced by last week’s three defensive touchdown in one quarter. Erratic Memphis QB Paxton Lynch is in for a long night as he attempts to dodge Eric Kendricks, Myles Jack and the slew of great athletes comprising the UCLA defense. 
Who To Watch Out For: If UCLA is going to fulfill its 2014 goals, the offensive line must improve at the point of attack. The Bruins averaged less than three yards a carry, while allowing four sacks to Virginia. It would help to get back C Jake Brendel, who missed the opener to a sprained knee. 
What’s Going To Happen: UCLA is back home to play a weaker opponent, so unlike last week, the outcome won’t be in doubt after halftime. But the Bruins still need to start clicking on offense, because the schedule is about to get nasty in a hurry. The defense will have no problems controlling Memphis, and could produce more points this week. 
Prediction: UCLA 42 … Memphis 13 

Washington State (0-1) at Nevada (1-0) Sept. 5, 10:30, ESPN 

Here’s The Deal: Reno will be the setting for a duel between two of the West Coast’s most prolific passers, Washington State Connor Halliday and Nevada’s Cody Fajardo. Halliday’s Cougars kicked off 2014 with a disappointing 41-38 to visiting Rutgers. If the team plans on returning to the postseason, avoiding an 0-2 start is a must. Fajardo’s Wolf Pack won its opener, but largely because Southern Utah was the opponent. Nevada failed to impress in the 28-19 victory. 
Why Washington State Might Win: In a game that’ll hinge on the play of the quarterbacks, the Cougars maintain the more dangerous passing attack. Halliday threw for 532 yards and five touchdowns in the opener, and his list of reliable receivers is long. If the Pack neutralizes one of the Washington State playmakers, three others are standing by to pick up the slack. 
Why Nevada Might Win: Fajardo is the ringleader of a balanced offense that won’t get much resistance from the Wazzu defense. The senior presents run-pass problems for the Cougars, and his supporting cast is improving. Don Jackson is a proven complement on the ground, and WR Jerico Richardson is fresh off a career-best 13-catch effort. The Cougars were shoved around at the point of attack last Thursday. 
Who To Watch Out For: The Cougars can live with Fajardo dropping back to throw. It’s when he leaves the pocket that he’s most dangerous. Wazzu linebackers Cyrus Coen, Tana Pritchard and Darryl Monroe will be busy spying Fajardo, while being careful not to leave the middle of the field open. 
What’s Going To Happen: When boiled down, it’s essentially Halliday vs. Fajardo. Advantage—slightly—to the visitors. In a shootout that could come down to the final few possessions, the Cougars will ride their triggerman’s right arm to a critical first win of the year. 
Prediction: Washington State 38 … Nevada 31 
Line: Washington State -3.5; O/U: 66 
Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton … 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 2 

Fresno State (0-1) at Utah (1-0) Sept. 6, 3:00, Pac-12 Network 

Here’s The Deal: Fresno State’s first attempt at a Pac-12 school? Yeah, that didn’t go too well. The Bulldogs were served a reminder from USC that it’s no longer 2013. The defending Mountain West champs were outclassed in every phase of a 52-13 drubbing that could reset expectations before the season ever gets off the ground. Fresno State now travels to Salt Lake City to play a Utah team that opened with a routine spanking of Idaho State. The Utes have one more week to get ready for next week’s pivot game in Ann Arbor. 
Why Fresno State Might Win: Just because nothing went right for the Bulldogs in the opener doesn’t mean they lack talent, especially on defense. Fresno State has playmakers at each level, DL Tyeler Davison, LB Ejiro Ederaine and S Derron Smith. Plus, Tim DeRuyter is too good of a defensive coach to allow a repeat performance of last week’s implosion. 
Why Utah Might Win: The Utes are a different team now that QB Travis Wilson’s career has resumed. The junior returned to the field last week after missing the second half of 2013. Occasionally erratic, yes. But he’s a playmaker, either as a runner or when hooking up downfield with Dres Anderson. Fresno State, on the contrary, is still unsure about its quarterback, rotating Brandon Connette and Brian Burrell at the Coliseum. 
Who To Watch Out For: Utah’s Kyle Whittingham is looking for more dominance from his defensive linemen, though the coach is not referring to senior DE Nate Orchard. Orchard has picked up where he left off in 2013, notching eight tackles and 2.5 sacks in Week 1. 
What’s Going To Happen: Fresno State wasn’t going to be the same without Derek Carr behind center, but the situation is worse than many expected. The Bulldogs got exposed as a possible rebuilding candidate in 2014. While DeRuyter tinkers, Utah will capitalize with a second straight win at Rice-Eccles Stadium. 
Prediction: Utah 31 … Fresno State 23 
Line: Utah -10.5; O/U: 64 
Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton … 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 2 

Arizona State (1-0) at New Mexico (0-1) Sept. 6, 7:00, CBS 

Here’s The Deal: Arizona State and New Mexico hook up for the first since 1977, with the Lobos enjoying a rare opportunity to host a ranked team. New Mexico is in danger of falling to 0-2 after coming up short against UTEP in Albuquerque. For the 18th-ranked Sun Devils, this is their final audition before Pac-12 play kicks off with a trip to Boulder to play Colorado.
Why Arizona State Might Win: The Lobo defense was no match for UTEP a week ago. That cannot bode well for this week’s pairing with the Sun Devils. ASU scored 45 points last Thursday in what could be its average this season. The Devils house explosive playmakers, such as RB D.J. Foster and WR Jaelen Strong, with senior QB Taylor Kelly serving as the steady orchestrator of the attack. 
Why New Mexico Might Win: The Lobos feature an offense just quirky enough to give ASU problems. The Sun Devils are rebuilding on the fly on defense. And now they must face Bob Davie’s version of an option, which also incorporates some passing. QB Cole Gautsche and backs Jhurell Pressley and Teriyon Gipson highlighted last week’s 410-yard output on the ground, the kind of production that can keep the ASU offense off the field. 
Who To Watch Out For: Gautsche will go up top occasionally, but his legs are his best tools. Since New Mexico hasn’t produced a 1,000-yard passer since 2011, Arizona State coach Todd Graham will feel confident pressing up linebackers Salamo Fiso and DJ Calhoun and safeties Damarious Randall and Marcus Ball to shut down running lanes. 
What’s Going To Happen: As matchups go, this is a rough one for New Mexico. The Lobos’ defense doesn’t have against the Sun Devils, and their offense is too one-dimensional for an athletic opponent. ASU will jump out fast and never look back in an unusually lopsided road win. 
Prediction: Arizona State 50 … New Mexico 21 
Line: Arizona State -25; O/U: 67 
Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton … 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 2 

Oregon State (1-0) at Hawaii (0-1) Sept. 6, 10:30, CBS Sports Network 

Here’s The Deal: On the opening weekend of the season, Oregon State missed its mark, while Hawaii exceeded expectations. The pair meets in Honolulu to get a better read on whose 2014 reality will be closer to its opening act. The Beavers were flat and sloppy in the Portland State game, turning just 1-of-9 red-zone trips into a touchdown. The Warriors, on the contrary, darn near spoiled Chris Petersen’s debut at Washington. They lost by a point in a heartbreaker that qualifies as a lost opportunity. 
Why Oregon State Might Win: Sure, the Beavers won by a mere 29-14 margin, but they thoroughly outplayed the Vikings in Week 1. Behind the passing of Sean Mannion and the running of Storm Woods, Oregon State outgained Portland State, 504-214. OSU’s problems are fixable, including cutting down on stupid mistakes and converting once they get deep into enemy territory. 
Why Hawaii Might Win: The Warriors played well enough on defense last week to be cautiously optimistic about a more competitive season. Hawaii outgained Washington in the loss, while really rising up against the pass. If the secondary, led by U-Dub transfer Taz Stevenson, can hound Beaver receivers into drops, Oregon State will be in danger of being upset for a second consecutive week. 
Who To Watch Out For: One of the primary strengths of this Oregon State team is a back seven flush with experience and productivity. With Hawaii’s penchant for running north-south with 245-pound Joey Iosefa, Beaver coaches will expect their well-sized safeties, Ryan Murphy and Tyrequek Zimmerman, to step up and support the run. 
What’s Going To Happen: Oregon State isn’t quite as erratic as it looked last week. And Hawaii was a little fortunate to have faced Washington’s backup quarterback in the opener. The Beavers, with a few less penalties and a couple more red-zone touchdowns, will pull away in the second half. 
Prediction: Oregon State 43 … Hawaii 21 
Line: Oregon State -10.5; O/U: 59 
Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton … 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 2 
Line: UCLA -24; O/U: 53 
Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton … 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 2