The identity of Utah is an enduring mystery of the 2021 Pac-12 football season.
We expected a title contender in Week One to deliver all the returning talent, but instead looked mediocre on both sides of the ball throughout September.
The quarterback change, from Charlie Brewer to Cam Rising, seemed to set Utes on track. They survived a challenge from Washington State, then produced a disastrous second half for control of the division away from Arizona State.
The team we envisioned finally revealed itself – but not for long.
What in the world happened in Corvallis?
Utes started fast, then crumble. It was an opposition to the ASU game, a rollover we haven’t seen from Utah in years.
And so after two months, we are back at the beginning with the Utes wondering if their potential can be reached and conquered the South.
With a win, Utah would remain at least one game ahead of ASU (via tiebreaker) and maintain a three-game lead over the Bruins.
In other words, the South, embroiled in weeks, will become a two-team race.
In the meantime, we know who these Bruins are:
They’re better than recent versions—and possibly enough to create job security for coach Chip Kelly—but they’re not quite as elite.
They weren’t good enough to beat the state of Oregon or Arizona at home, and they weren’t good enough to beat Utah on the road. if Utes are at their best.
Too many times, defense has failed them.
Given the dynamics of the division, this is UCLA’s last stand.
For the Utes, it’s time for big revelations: who are they?
Last week: 3-2-1
Five Star Special: 4-5
all picks against the spread
Lines taken from Vegasinsider.com
all the time pacific
Washington State in Arizona State (+15)
To start: FS1 at 12 noon
Comment: The deeper we get into the season, the more weeks matter – especially if a team with extra rest is also playing at home. This goes double when the visitor is coming off an emotional stretch and has played eight weeks in a row. The Cougars are the only team in the conference that hasn’t taken a break and could be gasped. The Sun Devils have more than enough playmakers to take advantage. Choose: Arizona State
Colorado in Oregon (+24)
To start: FOX. at 12:30 pm
Comment: The Ducks are 0-4 against the spread as favorites and it would be wise to start stocking up on style points before the first CFP ranking (next week). Then, even a half-hearted effort should be enough on Saturday against an opponent who lost 23 at Cal. Unless the Ducks score points through turnovers and special teams’ mistakes, they must find a way to cover. Choose: Oregon
Cal. in the state of Oregon (-1.5)
To start: 4 p.m. on the Pac-12 Network
Comment: Cal’s once strong defense has become porous, but the Bears are expected to load up the line of scrimmage to stop OSU’s ongoing play and force Chance Nolan to make plays downfield. Let’s go straight to the bottom line for the Beavers: legitimate division contenders find ways to win games like this: on the road, against lesser opponents who are good enough, if given a chance to win. The last two matchups have been decided by three points, with OSU on top both times. Sounds like a three-peat. Choose: Oregon State
USC. in Arizona (+15)
To start: 4 p.m. on ESPNU
Comment: Look for Arizona to use quarterback-turned-receiver-turned-quarterback Jemary Joiner as a double threat out of pocket. If USC pulls another no-show at the Coliseum, it could be closer than expected. Luckily for the Trojans, Drake is able to work out Arizona on his own down the London stretch. Please note: If quarterback Jackson Dart is available for USC, the count changes. Choose: Arizona
UCLA in Utah (+6.5)
To start: 7 p.m. on ESPN
Comment: What we explained above, plus this: Utah’s top defensive player, linebacker Devin Lloyd, will miss the first half last weekend due to a targeting penalty, giving the Bruins a chance to take charge early with their ongoing game. (Oregon State provided a blueprint for attacking the Utes.) It seemed likely that it would break one of two ways: a narrow win for the visitors or a decisive victory for the hosts. Choose: UCLA
Washington at Stanford (+2.5)
To start: FS1. but at 7:30 pm
Comment: Stanford can neither run the ball continuously nor stop the run. Of course, neither can Washington. (The 2016 editions of these teams will not recognize the current iterations.) Meanwhile, the Huskies are in the second leg of a back-to-back road game against a home team coming off a bye. Yes, they had an extra day of rest, but that’s a tough task for any team, much less for a team that struggles on either side. Also, they haven’t won at Stanford since 2007. Choose: Stanford
Five-Star Special: Oregon State. With a spread of 1.5 points, we are essentially picking the Beaver to win outright. They are the better team ever.
Outright Winner: Arizona State, Oregon, Oregon State, USC, UCLA and Stanford
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