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Pac-12 Week 7 game picks: USC-Utah will set tone in South

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Whittingham, Utah getting ready to face USC

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham breaks down his team's quarterback plan heading into a matchup against USC.

Before the season began, I was convinced Oregon State was a bowl team. The Beavers improved significantly in Gary Andersen's second season and needed only a few more bounces to work in their favor to reach the six-win mark last year. Surely this year, Year 3 for Andersen, would bring another step forward and a return to the postseason.

Not quite.

That Andersen didn't last past the halfway point of the season is surprising on its own, but that he's leaving more than $12 million on the table to walk is one of the strangest coaching changes on record -- especially among schools not named USC.

On to the picks! Visit our college football PickCenter page for additional information on these games and many more.

Friday

No. 8 Washington State (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) at California (3-3, 0-3)

Edward Aschoff: The Cougs are a legitimate Pac-12 contender and a legitimate contender in the College Football Playoff race. The offense is great, but so is that defense. This defense needs more attention, and it will just continue its exhausting ways this weekend. Wazzu 34, Cal 17

Kyle Bonagura: It’s a consecutive road game for Wazzu on a short week, which is always tough (see: USC in Pullman two weeks ago) and could be complicated further by poor air quality as a result of several fires in Northern California. Cal got off to a hot start, but its performance has dipped in the past few weeks, while the Cougars are on the rise. WSU 38, Cal 24

Saturday

Colorado (3-3, 0-3) at Oregon State (1-5, 0-3)

Aschoff: It was a very, very bad week for Oregon State, as Andersen stepped down after a 1-5 start. What didn't help was that Andersen ripped his assistants in a string of text messages to The Oregonian. The Beavers have hit rock bottom, while Colorado is looking for its first conference win of the season. I'll go with the team not in utter disarray. Colorado 31, Oregon State 10

Bonagura: The Buffs are a few plays away from being 5-1, while the Beavs haven’t lost by fewer than 28 points against any FBS team. Mike MacIntyre is the reigning national coach of the year, while Cory Hall -- the interim coach in place of Andersen -- hasn’t been a head coach since 2013, when he was at Clovis North High in California. Colorado 38, Oregon State 7

Utah (4-1, 1-1) at No. 13 USC (5-1, 3-1)

Aschoff: USC quarterback Sam Darnold is 14-2 as the Trojans' starter. One of those losses is to Utah, and it's a loss that USC players are still steaming about to this day. Utah is coming off of its first loss of the season, and its quarterback situation is again up in the air. USC isn't totally healthy, but the Trojans will take over in the fourth quarter. USC 31, Utah 17

Bonagura: USC coach Clay Helton said this week that USC-Utah is starting to develop into a rivalry game because both teams are regularly a factor in the Pac-12 South race. As things sit, they’re the two best teams in the division, but the Trojans should find a way to win. USC 31, Utah 21

UCLA (3-2, 1-1) at Arizona (3-3, 1-1)

Aschoff: I just want to see both of these teams get to 100 points. It almost feels like an over/under of 78 is too low at this point. The Wildcats are sneaky fun this year, while UCLA is coming off of a nice victory over Colorado and a bye week. Expect at least 10 lead changes as Arizona squeaks this one out after another superb performance from Khalil Tate. Arizona 51, UCLA 45

Bonagura: Tate was fantastic last week against Colorado, but I have a hard time believing he -- or some combination of him and Brandon Dawkins -- can get the best of Josh Rosen in a shootout. UCLA 42, Arizona 38

No. 8 Washington (6-0, 3-0) at Arizona State (2-3, 1-1)

Aschoff: A late-night game for the Sun Devils should bring the craziness level to a fever pitch when the Huskies come to town. Too bad it won't be enough for the Pac-12's most complete team. Washington 41, Arizona State 17

Bonagura: All three of ASU’s losses came against teams that are currently in the AP Top 25, so its 2-3 record might be a little deceptive. That won’t help against a Washington team that has hardly needed to break a sweat while getting to the halfway point unbeaten. Washington 38, Arizona State 13

Oregon (4-2, 1-1) at No. 23 Stanford (4-2, 3-1)

Aschoff: Two weeks ago, this would have been one of the most anticipated games of the season in the Pac-12. But with Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert going down, Oregon is a completely different team on offense. The Ducks could get Charles Nelson and Dillon Mitchell back at receiver, but then there's the whole thing about stopping Bryce Love. Stanford 31, Oregon 20

Bonagura: Stanford is appointment viewing right now just to watch Love. It’s almost expected, at this point, for him to go for 200-plus, and while Oregon is improved under new coordinator Jim Leavitt, it still has a long way to go. Stanford 28, Oregon 24