PICKENS GAME OF THE WEEK – Friday Night Pick – Pac 12 FocusI know what you’re thinking. The Pac 12 is the conference that has given me the most trouble this season. It’s time for that to change once and for all. My inaugural Pickens Game of the Week series kicked off with an impressive win by Oregon two weeks ago. My record in high confidence picks is 1-0 in 2012 and I’m counting on the Ducks to rise to the occasion once again. I’ve been hyping up Oregon to everyone I know on the East Coast because most people haven’t seen how explosive Chip Kelly’s team is this season. I will be posting my remaining picks on Saturday morning, but here’s a sneak preview. Collin Klein didn’t kiss before marriage and that discipline will help him dominate OKST. No one walks into Baton Rouge at night and wins by double digits. Miami’s convincing win over Virginia Tech has me wanting to stay in a hotel more often. Go Canes.
Washington +4 at California FRIDAY – ESPN2 – 9pm
UW has been a tough team to predict this season. The Huskies have knocked off undefeated teams at home (Stanford and Oregon State), but have struggled on the road in the Pac 12. Both teams desperately need a win to keep bowl hopes alive. Cal has been a disappointment this season and after a blowout loss at Utah last week, Jeff Tedford seems to be losing this team. Cal will be without star WR Keenan Allen who will miss the game with a knee injury. Allen is far and away Cal’s most talented and dynamic player and the Bears will suffer as a result. Allen has 60 catches on the year, more than double the second most productive WR on the team. This game should be close throughout and will likely be decided on the final possession. Look for UW to build on the win against the Beavers and finally exorcise some road demons. Huskies’ QB Keith Price outplays the always mistake prone Cal QB Zach Maynard.
PICKENS GAME OF THE WEEK
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Oregon -8 at USC SATURDAY – FOX – 7pm
Lane Kiffin hasn’t proven anything at the college level. His Trojans have stumbled under pressure this season and I expect him to be outcoached on Saturday night by Chip Kelly. Oregon has been dominant this season, usually putting teams away in the first half. The Ducks have outscored opponents 290-56 before halftime, and while they haven’t played a tough schedule, they did blowout Arizona. USC lost on the road to Zona and gave up over 550 yards on defense. Zona QB Matt Scott moved his team down the field with ease and I expect Oregon’s offense to have a field day against USC. The Ducks have speed everywhere on offense and RB De’Anthony Thomas should have a few big plays. Kenjon Barner will take the pressure off Oregon’s young QB and the up-tempo pace will cause issues for USC. In order for USC to win, Matt Barkley has to play a perfect game. WR Marqise Lee is coming off a career performance and is a future NFL star, but Oregon’s defense is one of the best in the nation. The Ducks’ clear improvement on defense is why I’m so confident in Kelly’s team in 2012. Oregon starts fast as usual and pulls away in the second half. The Ducks make their claim to rise in the BCS standings and win by 20.
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