Picking the Pac: Week Twelve

While Stanford will be able to run the ball on a depleted Oregon defense, sensational quarterback Marcus Mariota will lift the Ducks to a win, clinching their place in the Pac-12 title game.

Last week: 5-1 straight up, 4-2 against the spread
Season to date: 56-21 straight up, 40-31 against the spread

Saturday
Washington (-20.5) 38, Colorado 17 –
The Huskies continue their march to eight wins, which seems inexplicable considering they rank no better than 85th nationally in any of the four major offensive categories (points per game, total offense, rushing offense, and passing offense). Then again, that won't be an issue against the worst scoring defense in the FBS.

Arizona State 31, Washington State (+22) 20 – After riding high at 5-1, reality has set in for first-year coach Todd Graham and the Sun Devils. They aren't all that much better than last year's talented but self-immolating installment, especially with sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly throwing seven interceptions during their four-game losing streak. Credit to the Cougars, who showed a lot of fight against UCLA, and should be able to keep this one competitive.

USC (-3.5) 38, UCLA 34 – The city championship, Pac-12 South title, and momentum are on the line in the most important game between the two Los Angeles rivals since 2001, when Pete Carroll thumped Bob Toledo and set the stage for his coming dynasty. Now Jim Mora is trying to seize the throne back from embattled Lane Kiffin, but will need a transcendent performance from his secondary. The Bruins gave up 325 yards and two touchdowns on 15 receptions to Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton of Oregon State, the only duo in the conference comparable to Marqise Lee – if he doesn't win the Biletnikoff next month, stop presenting the award – and Robert Woods. That pair, along with their quarterback Matt Barkley, will secure USC's place as the final obstacle to the BCS title game for Notre Dame and Oregon.

Oregon 42, Stanford (+20.5) 31 – That California was able to rush for 200 yards on 32 carries in three quarters against a depleted Oregon front seven is really troubling, considering how much better running back Stepfan Taylor and the Cardinal offensive line have performed this season. But the Ducks should get some reinforcements back on the defensive line, while quarterback Marcus Mariota continues to attack the seams with precision, having completed 47-of-57 passes for 681 yards and 10 touchdowns the last two weeks. His efficiency will eventually force Stanford to get away from their comfort zone, where redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan will succumb to the aggressive Oregon defense and overwhelming Autzen Stadium environment.

Arizona (+1) 24, Utah 21 – The home-road splits for the Wildcats are pretty ridiculous, averaging 45.8 points per game in Tucson, while scoring 58 points total away from the desert. Utah is similarly erratic, so the difference in the game will be sophomore running back Ka'Deem Carey, emerging as the top runner on the West Coast. Carey is coming off a Pac-12 single-game record 366 yards rushing, and will force the Utes to load the box, where quarterback Matt Scott (probable/concussion) can exploit single coverage for standout redshirt sophomore receiver Austin Hill.

Oregon State (-14.5) 34, California 17 – Is this the end of the Jeff Tedford era? That question has rendered the Bears' season finale all but meaningless, with the focus instead on the expected meeting Sunday between the coach that made the Bears relevant again and athletic director Sandy Barbour that will decide Tedford's fate. That has to have seeped down into the Cal locker room, allowing the Beavers to overcome any emotional hangover from last week's crushing loss at Stanford.

Dan Greenspan is the publisher of Cal Sports Digest and writes about the Pac-12 for Fox Sports Next. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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