The Pac-12 can make a massive splash right out of the gate, but it won’t be easy. Who’ll win the Week 1 games? Check out the way-too-early picks for each Pac-12 game.
Friday, August 26
Hawai’i vs. California
10:00 PM TBS ANZ Stadium, Sydney, NSW
Where do you go if you’re Hawai’i and you want to play a game somewhere more exotic? How about kicking off the 2016 college football season in Australia? The Nick Rolovich era will start out with a bump, but Cal is rebuilding on both sides of the ball. This will be a strange game with a weird feel for both teams, but unfortunately it’s not going to be the wild shootout from both sides. The Hawai’i secondary needs way too much help.
Line: No Line
June Prediction: California 45, Hawai’i 23
Thursday, September 1
Southern Utah at Utah
8 PM Pac-12 Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT
Southern Utah was really, really close to having a phenomenal 2015 season. The Thunderbirds got pasted by South Dakota State, but their three other losses came by a combined seven points. The defense that was so fantastic at times will take a step back, but this should still be a decent team as the year progresses. That’ll all come after getting crushed by a Utah team that won’t be caught looking ahead to the Holy War against BYU.
Line: No Line
June Prediction: Utah 34, Southern Utah 10
Oregon State at Minnesota
9:00 PM BTN TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Minnesota struggled way too much in the first part of last season, and it might have to do some retooling on both lines. However, quarterback Mitch Leidner and the rest of the offense should crank up just enough production at home to pull this off if – and it’s a big if – the Oregon State spread offense doesn’t get into a groove. Gary Andersen had a rough first season in Corvallis, but his defenses are usually way too good to have two bad years in a row. The Beavers will play well, but they’ll stall just enough and fall short.
Line: Minnesota -10
June Prediction: Minnesota 27, Oregon State 24
Friday, September 2
Kansas State at Stanford
8:00 PM FS1 Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA
Kansas State’s defense is going to be a killer. If not the best in the Big 12, it’ll be in the top three. Expect a unit that will control games and keep the scores low. Stanford will rebuild and reload, but it has a lot of retooling to do in order to get anywhere near the level it was at the end of last season. There’s not enough of a scoring punch for Kansas State to come up with an upset, but it’ll keep the game close enough to make this interesting.
Line: Stanford -15.5
June Prediction: Stanford 24, Kansas State 20
Colorado State vs. Colorado
8:00 PM ESPN Sports Authority Field, Denver, CO
Why is Colorado getting so much love here? The Buffaloes might be stronger than they’ve been in years, but this is always a heated rivalry game. Moreover, Colorado State just isn’t that bad. The Buffs whacked the Rams, 41-27, in the 2013 opener, but this should be relatively tight. The CSU ground game will control the clock enough to make this an entertaining 60-minute battle, with Colorado pulling it out on a late, clutch drive.
Line: Colorado -8.5
June Prediction: Colorado 31, Colorado State 27
Saturday, September 3
Eastern Washington at Washington State
8:00 PM Pac-12 Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA
Eastern Washington wasn’t up to snuff last season, but the offense was still fantastic at times. The system and fundamentals are still strong, but just five starters are back on offense. The big plus? The defense returns loaded with experience getting back nine starters with the potential to at least hold serve once in a while against the high-powered Wazzu offense. Will the Cougars both the opener against a top FCS program like they did last season against Portland State – losing 24-17? No, but unlike last year’s lid-lifter, this is going to be a fun and wild shootout.
Line: No Line
June Prediction: Washington State 44, Eastern Washington 34
Northern Arizona at Arizona State
10:45 PM Pac-12 Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ
The Lumberjacks might have been crushed by Arizona, 77-13, last season, but they rebounded to come up with a solid winning-season. This year, NAU needs to come out hot against an Arizona State team in desperate need of a tune-up. The pressure is on the Sun Devils with Texas Tech coming up next. If the Sun Devil offense isn’t working early, it’ll be time to worry.
Line: No Line
June Prediction: Arizona State 52, Northern Arizona 17
UC Davis at Oregon
5:00 PM Pac-12 Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR
Uh oh. UC Davis lost several tight battles last season, and finished an ugly 2-9 with no run defense whatsoever. This year, the offense should be good enough to crank up the passing game, but the defense will have a hard time against the teams that can come up with yards in chunks. Royce Freeman should have 100 yards by halftime, but all that matters for the Ducks is getting the offense fine-tuned before facing Virginia and traveling to Nebraska.
Line: No Line
June Prediction: Oregon 65, UC Davis 13
UCLA at Texas A&M
3:30 PM CBS Kyle Field, College Station, TX
This will be among the most intense Week 1 games. UCLA must show right away that this isn’t the usual Jim Mora team with all potential and no substance – a win in a jacked up Kyle Field atmosphere would be a tone-setter for a team not known for its toughness. But the pressure is on Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies to come up with something special after a rocky offseason. A win over the Bruins wouldn’t make everything okay, but it would quiet the storm.
Line: Texas A&M -1
June Prediction: Texas A&M 36, UCLA 31
Alabama vs. USC
8:00 PM ABC AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
It’s just naturally assumed that Alabama will run out, steamroll the Trojans, and come away with yet another muscle-flexing win. But USC has both the athletes and the talent to potentially shock the reloading Crimson Tide. Can the Trojan defensive front handle the power of the Bama ground attack? No, and that’ll be the undoing. Even in a loss this will be a positive for Clay Helton and USC.
Line: Alabama -10
June Prediction: Alabama 27, USC 24
Arizona vs. BYU
10:30 PM FS1 University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
This will fly a bit under the radar on a big first Saturday of massive games, but it should be among the weekend’s most entertaining shootouts. Arizona won’t have any semblance of a defense, and BYU will enter staring down the nation’s most brutal schedule over the next eight games. It’s Kalani Sitake’s first game as the Cougar head coach, and he’ll have to get ready for an up-and-down, last-team-with-the-ball-wins thrill ride. Take the over – whatever that ends up being.
Line: Arizona -1
June Prediction: Arizona 48, BYU 45
Rutgers at Washington
2:00 PM Pac-12 Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA
Are you a believer in Washington? Will the Huskies really be good enough to pull off the Pac-12 North title in Year 3 of the Chris Petersen experience? If they are, they need to pile drive a reworked Rutgers team under new head coach Chris Ash. The Scarlet Knights won’t be embarrassing, and will make it look close late, but they’re not going to stop Washington early on.
Line: Washington -22.5
June Prediction: Washington 41, Rutgers 20