The Pac-12 begins 2021 with 5 ranked programs on the hunt for a spot in the College Football Playoff
Photo: Rick Scuteri/AP
Article by WestCoastCFB
UCLA vs Hawaii
Betting Line: UCLA -17
Hawaii travels to Pasadena to open the college football season against UCLA on Saturday, August 28th. The Warriors finished the 2020 season strong while winning 3 of their last 4 games, including wins over Nevada and Houston and will pose a nice test for a UCLA squad that's on the rise. Expect dynamic playmaker, Calvin Turner Jr, to keep the Bows in the game but the Bruin's offense led by Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Kyle Phillips will be too much for Hawaii.
Prediction: UCLA 34 vs Hawaii 24
#24 Utah vs Weber State
The Utes have their eyes set on another Pac-12 South Title but can't overlook their in state foe, Weber State. The Wildcats are one of the top FCS teams in the country and have won 4 straight Big Sky Titles.
Prediction: Utah 45 vs Weber State 13
#25 ASU vs Southern Utah
The Thunderbirds had a disastrous Spring season in the FCS while going just 1-5 . The lone bright spot for Southern Utah was the fact they lost all 5 by 8 points or fewer. Meanwhile, Arizona State looks to be one of the top programs in the country and have a realistic shot at winning the Pac-12 after returning nearly every impact player from 2020.
Prediction: ASU 63 vs Southern Utah 7
Colorado vs Northern Colorado
Colorado was one of the best surprise teams in the country last season while going 4-2 and reaching the Alamo Bowl. The Buff's return Mekhi Blackmon, Nate Landman and Carson Wells to lead a defense that will likely be the strength of the team in 2021 after QB JT Shrout recently suffered an injury. On the other side of the field, Northern Colorado sat out the 2020 season an went just 2-10 in 2019. Expect the Buffs to roll big.
Prediction: Colorado 59 vs N. Colorado 10
Stanford vs Kansas State (Arlington, TX)
Betting Line: Kansas State -2
The Cardinal finished the 2020 season with 4 straight wins but now must replace 5 NFL Draft picks, including 4 on offense. The Cardinal recruit well and have a star playmaker on defense in Thomas Booker but will face a stiff test in their opener while breaking in a new starting quarterback. The Wildcats had their struggles last season and lost their final 5 games, including 3 blowout losses to Texas, Iowa State and West Virginia. Stanford's talent advantage should help give them the edge in this one.
Prediction: Stanford 20 vs Kansas St 17
#11 Oregon vs Fresno State
Betting Line: Oregon -21
The Ducks return to Autzen where they will face one of the top offenses in the Mountain West. Led by Jake Haener, the Bulldogs scored 32.8 points per game in 2020 and should be even more lethal this Fall with a season of experience in Kalen DeBoer's offense. Oregon is projected to win the Pac-12 for the 3rd straight year and the talent advantage should be enough to put Fresno State away. Keep an eye on the loss of two Oregon starting cornerbacks who were suspended after being apprehended by the police.
Prediction: Oregon 44 vs Fresno St 28
#15 USC vs San Jose State
Betting Line: USC -15
The Trojans open the season against the 2020 Mountain West Champions and this game is one to watch for a potential upset. The Spartans are talented and have a great quarterback in Nick Starkel who has plenty of experience playing in big games from his time in the SEC. USC needs to win this game or Clay Helton's seat would be an inferno.
Prediction: USC 42 vs San Jose State 21
Oregon State at Purdue
Betting Line: Purdue -7
In one of the top Pac-12 games during the opening weekend, the Beavers travel to West Lafayette to take on Purdue. The Boilermakers finished 2-4 last Fall and this should be a very even matchup. Home field could play a factor here and expect Oregon State to struggle to replace Jermar Jefferson's production.
Prediction: Purdue 30 vs Oregon St 27
#20 UW vs Montana
Washington finished last season with a bad taste in their mouth when Covid issues prevented the Huskies from playing in the Pac-12 Championship. Most of Washington's star players decided to return to take care of unfinished business and will start their quest for a Pac-12 Title with a contest against one of the top programs in the Big Sky.
Prediction: UW 41 vs Montana 13
UCLA vs #16 LSU
Betting Line: LSU -4
UClA's game against LSU is a massive opportunity for the Pac-12 to make a statement. The Tigers won the National Title in 2019 and then followed that with a disappointing performance last season while going just 5-5. The Bruin's look to have a dangerous offense and scored 34.5 points per game last season while the LSU defense was 98th in the country while allowing 34.9 per game. Many aren't giving the Bruins a shot but this could be closer than most expect.
Prediction: LSU 30 vs UCLA 27
California vs Nevada
Betting Line: Cal -3.5
This should be a fun one. Nevada's Air Raid offense led by future 1st round pick, Carson Strong takes on Cal's dominant defense. The Golden Bears were seen by many as a top contender for the Pac-12 title last season but completely collapsed while going 1-3. Chase Garbers is back once again at Quarterback for Cal and if he can finally get their offense on track, Cal could have a special season.
Prediction: Cal 24 vs Nevada 21
Arizona vs BYU (Las Vegas, NV)
Betting Line: BYU -11
BYU has a ton of momentum right now after an 11 win season in 2020 and a lot of success in both the NFL Draft and the transfer portal. The Cougars are a physical football team and should be too much for the Wildcats to handle while they rebuild under Jedd Fisch.
Prediction: BYU 31 vs Arizona 17
WSU vs Utah State
Betting Line: WSU -16.5
The Cougs aren't getting much press this off-season but the offense has some fun pieces with Jayden de Laura, Max Borghi, Travell Harris and an elite offensive line. WSU will score points and the success of the season will come down to getting stops on defense. Utah State looks overmatched in this one after going 1-5 last season.
Prediction: WSU 45 vs Utah State 20