Ken’s Big 12/Pac-12 Picks: Zona, Ducks get key Ws

Ken Cross

September 23, 2015 at 2:58 pm.

Sep 19, 2015; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats running back Nick Wilson (28) runs the ball during the second quarter against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 19, 2015; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats running back Nick Wilson (28) runs the ball during the second quarter against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports


No. 9 UCLA at No. 16 Arizona – The Bruins’ character check last week against BYU was successful as Nate Starks scored on a 3-yard run with 3:21 left to push them past the Cougars, 24-23. The UCLA defense would not allow another Cougars miracle for the third week in a row as it stopped BYU on the Bruins’ 42-yard line with 58 seconds remaining. Paul Perkins has been stellar for Jim Mora in the UCLA rushing attack. He tallied 219 yards on 29 carries in the win over the Cougars. The Wildcats have been a scoring juggernaut against oppositions that they should handle. They destroyed Northern Arizona, 77-13 with 499 yards on the ground as backup quarterback Jerrard Randall scooted for 149 and running back Nick Wilson had 144. Obviously this game comes down to stopping the run, although ‘Zona quarterback Anu Solomon has been a solid passer all season.


No. 17 Utah at No. 13 Oregon – The Utes’ last win in Eugene was in 1994, and Utah is 1-6 vs. Oregon since then. Oregon’s defense is worrisome for Mark Helfrich and defensive coordinator Don Pellum. The Ducks are last in the Pac-12, giving up 456.3 total and 316 yards through the air. It’s going to be interesting to see if Utah quarterback Travis Wilson or Kendal Thompson can get anything going through the air. The Utes rely on Devontae Booker on offense as he is fourth in the league in rushing yards at 115 per game. Both teams have been besieged with early quarterback injuries as Vernon Adams had a broken right index finger and Jeff Lockie came in last week and led the Ducks to a 61-28 win over Georgia State. Wilson has a sprained left shoulder. Both QBs are questionable.


No. 19 USC @ Arizona State – The Trojans coming out party was put on hold last week as Stanford controlled the football for 39:29. Arizona State has a pair of wins over Cal Poly and New Mexico since their Week One loss to Texas A&M. The Trojans should be able to control the clock with Tre Madden and Justin Davis on the ground. On the flip side, D.J. Foster and Demario Richard could be in line for big night against the Trojans’ defense. The key for USC is that the Sun Devils aren’t as physical as Stanford. ASU has also won three of the last four in the series.


Cal @ Washington – Record setting quarterback Jared Goff continues to push the Golden Bears’ pass offense into the upper echelon in the nation. He has completed 73 percent of his passes so far and enjoyed his fourth straight game of throwing at least three touchdown passes in a 45-44 win at Texas. Watch Khalfani Muhammad, who had 164 yards last week, against a Washington run defense that allows only 93 yards per game. Washington has played 10 true freshman this season on a roster that includes 52 freshmen overall.


Stanford @ Oregon State – The Cardinal got its swagger back after the embarrassing Week One loss at Northwestern. In the 41-31 win over USC, the Cardinal used Christian McCaffrey in the running game to hold on for the win. McCaffrey is fourth in the nation in all-purpose yards with 195.3. Senior Remound Wright had three touchdowns in the win over USC and has 12 over his last six games. The Beavers stand at 2-1 but they are last in the league in pass offense and total offense. Defense against the run has been Oregon States early forte (giving up 129 per game).


BIG 12

No. 4 TCU at Texas Tech – Some are calling for a Red Raiders upset, but it is a team that has given up 491 total yards per game. TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin has already helped to orchestrate 1,508 total yards in TCU’s two wins and he leads the Big 12 with 17 pass plays of 20 or more yards. Tech should remember last year’s 82-27 beat down at the hands of the Horned Frogs. Running back Aaron Green could have a big day vs. a Red Raiders run defense that gives up 257 yards per game.


No. 22 Oklahoma State at Texas – The Longhorns’ defense has been in a quandary so far as Notre Dame and Cal both gashed it at will. Texas gives up 512 yards per game and against another speedy and efficient OSU offense, so the outlook looks bleak for the home team. Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph ranks in the top 10 nationally in passing yards, yards per completion and yards per attempt. He is also 12th nationally in pass efficiency and has a 68.9 completion percentage with five touchdowns and one pick. Jerrod Heard will start again for Texas after passing for 364 yards against Cal.


Maryland at West Virginia – The Mountaineers will finally get a test as Maryland comes into Morgantown fresh off a 35-17 win over the South Florida Bulls. With wins over Georgia Southern and Liberty, the Mountaineers’ statistics are skewed to the point where it’s hard to judge how well they will do in this matchup. WVU is up to its pass-happy ways under fifth-year coach Dana Holgorsen. The Mountaineers have spread the ball to 10 different receivers as four of those players have five or more catches in the two games. Jevon Duarte looks like the go-to guy for quarterback Styler Howard. The Terps were bashed by Bowling Green, 48-27, in Week Two.


Rice at No. 5 Baylor – The Bears are the only FBS school in the top five in pass offense, 398 yards per game, and rushing offense at 356 yards per game. That said, SMU and Lamar are at the behest of the Bears’ offensive explosions. Baylor wideout Corey Coleman is off to a sensational 2015 campaign. He had six catches for 182 yards and a school-record four touchdowns last week against the Cardinals. Baylor’s defense never gets as much love as it should considering the offense is such an anomaly, but defensive linemen Shawn Oakman, Andrew Billings, Beau Blackshear, and Jamal Palmer and K.J. Smith account for 137 career games, 371 tackles, 100.5 tackles-for-loss, and 35.5 sacks form a good D-line.


Last week: 9-2

Overall: 24-8