Edward AschoffKyle Bonagura 325d

Pac-12 Week 1 picks: Bruins and Aggies set up the weekend's biggest showdown

A full slate of games is finally here, so it’s time to bust out our often-malfunctioning crystal balls and partake in the time-honored tradition of predicting outcomes. The legend of #Pac12AfterDark was so intriguing to Ed Ashoff that he managed a daring escape from SEC country and moved to Los Angeles just to join the fun. Pac-12 football is a new language for him, but the flashcards study sessions are really helping.

Visit our college football PickCenter page for additional information on these games and many more. To the picks …

Thursday, Aug. 31

North Dakota (0-0) at Utah (0-0)

Edward Aschoff: I'm new to this whole West Coast thing, but one thing I do know is that Utah always figures out to have pretty good line play. And even with 100 starters gone, Utah will still have pretty good line play. Utah 31, North Dakota 9

Kyle Bonagura: Last year, in Troy Taylor’s first game as the offensive coordinator at Eastern Washington, the Eagles scored 45 points in a win at Washington State. He’s on the opposite side of an FBS vs. FCS matchup this year. Can the Utes score even more? Utah 38, North Dakota 10

New Mexico State (0-0) at Arizona State (0-0)

Aschoff: This is a very important season for ASU coach Todd Graham. The good news is that there is young talent with a lot of potential, and we'll get a pretty good glimpse of that this weekend. Arizona state 45, NMSU 24

Bonagura: Graham says Manny Wilkins remains the starting quarterback, but it still feels like a matter of time before Alabama-transfer Blake Barnett supplants him. And against an opponent of New Mexico State’s caliber -- it went 2-6 in the worst conference in FBS last year -- both quarterbacks should get plenty of snaps. Arizona State 49, NMSU 21

Friday, Sept. 1

No. 8 Washington (0-0) at Rutgers (0-0)

Aschoff: I saw Washington up close and personal last year. That team was very talented and that defense was very stingy. Some of those pieces are gone, but you won't notice it Friday night. Washington 48, Rutgers 10

Bonagura: A challenge for Huskies fans: When your team is justifiably in the mix for a top-four spot in the College Football Playoff rankings later this year, don’t sell this as a “win against a Big Ten team.” Be better than that. Washington 52, Rutgers 13

Colorado State (1-0) vs Colorado (0-0)

Aschoff: It's already rivalry week out here? Man, that was fast. The Buffs probably had to do a couple of double-takes after watching Colorado State trounce Oregon State by 31 last week. Mike Bobo has this team clicking early, but the Buffs slip by late. Colorado 31, Colorado State 30

Bonagura: CU coach Mike MacIntyre wasn’t thrilled Colorado State played a Week 0 game while the Buffs sat home idle. The good news: There is some game film to learn from. The bad: CSU was really impressive in a 58-27 win against Oregon State. Colorado 38, Colorado State 35

Saturday, Sept. 2

California (0-0) at North Carolina (0-0)

Aschoff: All the odds are stacked against Cal, here. It's a trip to the East Coast and that's a heck of an early start time for them. But here's the thing: UNC is starting from scratch on offense. This one will get ugly, and UNC's new-look defense gets this one done. North Carolina 27, Cal 13

Bonagura: New coach (Justin Wilcox), new quarterback (Ross Bowers) and a trip across the country for a game that kicks off at 9:20 a.m., on the West Coast. What could go wrong? North Carolina 42, Cal 24

Portland State (0-1) at Oregon State (0-1)

Aschoff: A week ago, this was an easy pick. However, after seeing Oregon State get creamed by Colorado State, I think this one is uncomfortably close for the Beavers. Oregon State 28, Portland State 21

Bonagura: A quick recap of last week: Portland State was more competitive with BYU than Oregon State was with Colorado State. Oregon State 27, Portland State 14

Western Michigan (0-0) at No. 4 USC (0-0)

Aschoff: The hype train has officially pulled into Los Angeles, and it doesn't figure to be leaving anytime soon. USC is still trying to figure out its offensive identity, but it should have no problem scoring on Western Michigan. USC 51, WMU 13

Bonagura: The way Clay Helton talked about Western Michigan this week, the Broncos might as well be called the Crimson Tide. But as complimentary as he was, this isn’t the WMU team shouldn’t be anywhere nearly as good as its version that went 13-1 and gave Wisconsin a run in the Cotton Bowl last year. USC 45, WMU 17

Southern Utah (0-0) at Oregon (0-0)

Aschoff: New Oregon coach Willie Taggart thinks this is the most immediate talent he has had at a new school, ever. Offensively, the Ducks could have the ability to score for days (if those young receivers step up), but that defense has a long way to go. This should be a good dress rehearsal for that new 3-4 scheme. Oregon 34, South Utah 17

Bonagura: This presents itself as a good opportunity for new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt’s young defense to build confidence. Oregon 38, Southern Utah 20

Montana State (0-0) at No. 24 Washington State (0-0)

Aschoff: Kyle warned me about warming up to Washington State because of those early season stumbles against FCS foes the past two years. Well, I'm not convinced this team will compete for a North title this year, but I am convinced they'll actually win their opener. Washington State 48, Montana State 20

Bonagura: Are all previews of this game obligated to include references into Washington State’s losses against FCS teams the last two years? Seriously, though, if the Cougars lose this one (they won’t) it’s worse than the previous two combined. WSU 38, Montana State 17

Northern Arizona (0-0) at Arizona (0-0)

Aschoff: Last year was a historically bad year for Arizona's defense, and it's offense wasn't much better. Saturday won't teach us anything about this set of Wildcats, but it will happen ... so there's that. Arizona 31, Northern Arizona 17

Bonagura: Thankfully, this is a game the Pac-12 will be testing its pilot program into how to make games shorter. Arizona 35, Northern Arizona 20

Sunday, Sept. 3

Texas A&M (0-0) at UCLA (0-0)

Aschoff: I'm sure everyone was waiting for this one. Who will the southern kid pick now that he's in Lala Land? Well, on paper, UCLA shouldn't lose this game, especially with a healthy Josh Rosen facing a relatively unproven A&M front. But that secondary is pretty talented in College Station and A&M can still score on just about anyone (new quarterback and all), especially with Christian Kirk flying around. Texas A&M 27, UCLA 23

Bonagura: A rematch of A&M’s win against the Bruins at Kyle Field last year, all eyes will be on Rosen as his audition for NFL scouts takes center stage. If we’re ranking games to watch this week, this one is far-and-away No. 1. UCLA 31, Texas A&M 28

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