Cross’ Big 12/Pac-12: Will Ducks survive?

Ken Cross

September 10, 2015 at 9:43 am.

Sep 5, 2015; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. (3) runs the ball past Eastern Washington Eagles linebacker Alek Kacmarcik (35) at Autzen Stadium. Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 5, 2015; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. (3) runs the ball past Eastern Washington Eagles linebacker Alek Kacmarcik (35) at Autzen Stadium. Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 GAMES

No. 7 Oregon at No. 5 Michigan State – Quarterback Vernon Adams says the Ducks are playing harder and faster. The team speed on this Oregon squad is as good as any in the last 10 years. Scoring a 61-42 win over FCS foe Eastern Washington is eye-raising to some, even though the Ducks set the pace at 27-7 and ran from there, with Adams netting 340 total yards. Connor Cook engineered a balanced attack with 256 yards through the air in a 37-24 win over Western Michigan. The Ducks are probably the better team, but I’ll go with Sparty at home as they led midway through the third quarter last year’s game.

SPARTANS (- 3 1/2) 31, DUCKS 27

Oregon State at Michigan – The Wolverines will challenge the Pac-12 again this week in Jim Harbaugh’s home-opener after a 24-17 loss at Utah. Michigan’s passing game struggled last week. But the return of Harbaugh to the Big House leads to picking Michigan by a razor’s edge.

WOLVERINES 27, BEAVERS (+15 1/2) 21

San Diego State at Cal – This is an opportunity for SDSU to open the season at 2-0 for the first time since 2011 and only the third time in the last 21 years. The Bears are on the rise with the gun-slinging Jared Goff inside of Sonny Dykes’ offense. The Aztecs must be able to control the clock to perfection with running back Donnel Pumphrey; if not, Goff goes over 400 yards and propels the Bears to the W.

BEARS (-12 1/2) 45, AZTECS 27

No.13 UCLA at UNLV – The Josh Rosen era kicked off in predictable fashion for UCLA as he connected on 28 of 35 passes for three touchdowns in the Bruins win over Virginia, 34-16. The win came at a cost though as UCLA lost Eddie Vanderdoes for the season to a torn ACL. There are plenty of weapons on offense for the Bruins, including tailback Paul Perkins and wideout Jordan Payton. UNLV lost Tony Sanchez’s debut at Northern Illinois. Blake Decker was the first Rebels quarterback in 12 seasons to start in back-to-back years.


Idaho at No. 8 USC – Another Sun Belt Conference foe enters the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum after the Trojans destroyed Arkansas State 55-6 last weekend. Cody Kessler was one of three quarterbacks to take snaps as he threw for 236 yards and four touchdowns. USC rolled up 228 yards on the ground, 106 by Tre Madden. The Red Wolves were picked third in the Sun Belt in the preseason; the Vandals last. This one gets ugly early quick.

TROJANS (-43 1/2) 59, VANDALS 10

Washington State at Rutgers – It’s already looking like another tough season for Mike Leach in Pullman after the Cougars were taken down by FCS foe Portland State. Wazzu outgunned the Vikings 411-294 in yardage, but Portland State nailed them for 258 on the ground. Rutgers running back Paul James and Josh Hicks could have a similar success. Hicks ran for 118 in the Scarlet Knights’ 63-13 pasting of Norfolk State. The Scarlet Knights won 41-38 in Seattle last season.



No. 19 Oklahoma at No. 23 Tennessee – Oklahoma debuted new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley and his wide open offense against Akron as transfer quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 388 yards in the Sooners’ 41-3 romp. Tennessee chose to use the run to blast Bowling Green as Alvin Kamara ran 15 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns and Jalen Hurd scored three times and ran for 123 yards. Butch Jones has brought Tennessee to the cusp and this could be a great opportunity to hit a peak going into SEC play. Tennessee played 15 freshmen and 22 newcomers vs. the Falcons.

VOLS (+1) 33, SOONERS 30

Iowa at Iowa State – The Cyclones showed a knifing defense in their 31-7 opening win over a Northern Iowa team that hovers around the FCS Top 10. The Panthers only had 302 yards and 87 of those on one drive. The Hawkeyes must deal with a stellar trio of Cyclone receivers in Quentin Bundrage, Allen Lazard, and D’Vario Montgomery. Iowa was five-for-five in the red zone in a 31-14 win over Illinois State last week. This will be quarterback C.J. Beathard’s third career start for the Hawkeyes.


Kansas State at UTSA – This could be a major trap game for Bill Snyder’s Wildcats as the Roadrunners once again gave Arizona a tough game in losing 42-32 in Tucson last week. Texas-San Antonio had 529 yards in the loss to the Wildcats as Blake Bogenschutz threw for 322 yards. Kansas State used quarterback Joe Hubener for much of their 34-0 win over South Dakota considering Jesse Hertz was injured. Strangely, if Hubener starts this game, it will be his first start at quarterback. He played multiple positions in high school. Defense may be the calling card in a tough game for K-State.


Memphis at Kansas – The Jayhawks were another team that was a victim of an FCS school as South Dakota State captured a 41-38 win last week. Ke’aun Kinner rushed for 157 yards for KU, while Montell Mozart threw for 291 yards, but the Jackrabbits virtually controlled the game from start to finish. Justin Fuente has turned the Tigers’ fortunes around as they won the AAC title a year ago, their first conference crown in 40 years. Paxton Lynch to Mose Frazier will be a passing combo that will give the Jayhawks trouble all afternoon.

TIGERS 38, JAYHAWKS (+13 1/2) 27

Last week: 9-2         Vs. Spread: 5-8