The little tease that was Week 0 is now behind us. College Football’s “real” opening weekend is finally here. And what would opening weekend – or each weekend for that matter - be without predictions. Over the next 15-plus weeks this scribe will be offering some sound - and probably some not so sound - betting advice on each Pac-12 contest. Buckle up, you could be in for a bumpy ride.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 30
San Diego State vs. No. 13 Stanford
7:00 PM MT, Fox Sports 1
Line: Stanford -14 ½ (o/u 49)
San Diego State has won three straight games against Pac-12 opponents including a 20-17 home victory over Stanford last September. Aztecs junior Juwan Washington (759 rush yards, 7 TD) takes over for 2017 FBS rushing leader Rashaad Penny. Stanford returns eight starters on offense including 2017 Heisman Trophy runner-up Bryce Love. The Cardinal have won all five of their home openers under David Shaw. That trend will continue Friday night, but 14 ½ points is just a little too much. Take the Aztecs and the points.
Colorado vs. Colorado State (Broncos Stadium at Mile High, Denver, CO)
7:30 PM MT, CBS Sports Network
Line: Colorado -7 ½ (o/u 65)
Colorado State opened their 2018 campaign with a disappointing 43-34 home loss to Hawaii and now have a short week before taking on their in-state rival in Denver Friday night. The Buffaloes leads the all-time series against the Rams 65-22-2 and have won the last three Rocky Mountain showdowns by a combined 54 points. Expect a high scoring affair with the Buffaloes covering the 7 ½ point spread.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1
Oregon State vs. No. 5 Ohio State
10:00 AM MT, ABC
Line: Ohio State -38 ½ (o/u 64)
After four years as the co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for the Washington Huskies, Jonathan Smith takes over the reins at his alma mater. Smith will certainly have his hands full in his head coaching debut against the No. 5 team in the country. Even without Urban Meyer on the sideline, the Buckeyes should win this one easily, but by 38 ½ points? Not for this scribe, I’m staying away from this one.
No. 6 Washington vs. No. 9 Auburn (Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA)
1:30 PM MT, ABC
Line: Auburn -2 (o/u 49)
Chris Petersen vs. Gus Mazahn? Jake Browning vs. Jarrett Stidham? The Huskies offensive line vs. the Tigers defensive front? There will be plenty of matchups to watch in arguably the most intriguing game of opening weekend. Auburn opened as three-point favorites but are now just favored by a point and a half. Historically, neither team has performed well in season openers against ranked opponents. Washington is 6-11-1 all-time in such contests, while Auburn holds a dismal 1-7 record. Despite the game being played in Atlanta, the difference in this one will be Taylor Rapp and Washington’s secondary. Take the Huskies in a close one.
Washington State vs. Wyoming
1:30 PM MT, CBS Sports Network
Line: Washington State -1 (o/u 45 ½)
Wyoming is coming off an impressive 29-7 win at New Mexico State on Saturday. As for Washington State, Mike Leach’s air-raid attack won’t be as strong as in years past. Luke Falk has departed, and it appears as if Gardner Minshew, a graduate transfer from East Carolina, will now be taking the snaps for the Cougars. Since taking over at Washington State in 2012, Leach is 4-3 against Mountain West teams, but only one of those victories came outside of Pullman, Wash. The Cougars opened as 3 ½ point favorites, but the line has since dropped to 1. I’m with the majority of those betting this game, take the Cowboys.
UNLV vs. No. 15 USC
2:00 PM MT, Pac-12 Networks
Line: USC -26 ½ (o/u 63 ½)
18-year old JT Daniels will get the nod at quarterback, becoming just the second true freshman in program history to start a season opener as USC’s signal caller. The Trojans have never lost a regular season contest to a Mountain West team. That trend will continue on Saturday. Trojans should win by 30 or more.
North Carolina vs. California
2:00 PM MT, Fox
Line: California -7 (o/u 60)
After leading California to a 5-7 record his first year in Berkeley, Justin Wilcox has a lot to work with in year two. 10 starters return on offense including 3,000-plus yard passer Ross Bowers and running back Patrick Laird, who rushed for over-1,100 yards in 2017. The Bears defeated the Tar Heels 35-30 last season in Chapel Hill. They’ll win again on Saturday and cover the seven points.
Cincinnati vs. UCLA
5:00 PM MT, ESPN
Line: -15 (o/u 64)
After a little hiatus roaming NFL sidelines, Chip Kelly is back in the Pac-12. Based on the two-deep depth chart UCLA released Monday, Kelly still hasn’t named a starting quarterback for the Cincinnati game. Whether its redshirt sophomore Devon Modster, freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson or Michigan graduate transfer Wilton Speight taking snaps, UCLA is just too talented for the Bearcats. Six UCLA players – including running back Soso Jamabo – were recently suspended for Saturday’s game, but I still like the Bruins to win and cover the 15 points.
Bowling Green vs. No. 24 Oregon
6:00 PM MT, Pac-12 Networks
Line: Oregon -33 (o/u 72)
The Ducks were 6-2 and averaged 49.1 points with Justin Herbert at quarterback last season. When Herbert was forced to miss five starts in October/early November due to a broken collarbone in his non-throwing shoulder, Oregon was 1-4 and averaged 15 points per game. The nuior Heisman Trophy contender is back and will decimate the Falcons, providing new head coach Mario Cristobal with his first win. In my LOCK OF THE WEEK, the Ducks cover the 33 points easily at home.
UTSA vs. Arizona State
8:30 PM MT, Fox Sports 1
Line: Arizona State -18 ½ (o/u 53 ½)
From the sideline, to the studio, and back to the sideline, Herm Edwards is back coaching football. Despite facing a Roadrunners defense that finished fifth in the nation last year in yards allowed, ASU senior quarterback Manny Wilkins and company should provide Edwards with his first collegiate victory. The Sun Devils win easily in Tempe and cover the 18 ½ points.
BYU vs. Arizona
8:45 PM MT, ESPN
Line: Arizona -11 ½ (o/u 60 ½)
Kevin Sumlin, one of five new head coaches in the Pac-12 this season takes over in Tucson. Tanner Mangum vs. Kahlil Tate? Mangum, who turns 25 on September 8th, will have to pull off another miracle to knock off the 11 ½ point favored Wildcats on the road. Kahlil Tate and company cover in Tucson.
NO LINE: Weber State vs. Utah, Thursday, 8:00 PM ET, Pac-12 Networks
*Lines as of Wednesday, August 29 per the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook*