Every week, the Star’s Michael Lev, Justin Spears and Alec White will pick the winner of the UA game and select others throughout the Pac-12. For in-depth breakdowns of each game, check out the latest episode of the Wildcast Podcast.
This week, the guys give their takes on Arizona-SDSU, Stanford-USC and Oregon-Ohio State.
San Diego State at Arizona (-2), 7 p.m. on Pac-12 Arizona
Winner: Arizona (-130)
All three Star reporters believe Arizona will end its 13-game losing streak with a win over San Diego State. The guys see it being a close game for much of the night, with the Wildcats pulling away late in the second half to come out victorious in the home opener.
Spears says: “You get that first game jitters out of you. Now you’re at home playing in front of a packed stadium that’s favoring you. Everyone’s excited about the first game being at home. I think Gunner Cruz plays more comfortably and I think you’re going to see, from the first to fourth quarter, a much-improved Arizona team. So, I’ve got the Wildcats winning.”
Who will cover? Arizona (-2)
The Wildcats opened the season with a 24-16 loss to BYU in Vegas, but managed to cover a 12.5-point spread. The Aztecs, a 31.5-point favorite last week against New Mexico State, won 28-10 but did not cover.
All three Star reporters believe the Wildcats will win by more than two points.
Lev says: “I just think it’s time… I threw out there that this is a must-win game. It’s sort of a ridiculous thing to say on some level when it’s the second game. But this gives them an opportunity if they win to go 2-1 in the preseason/non-conference. You just want to get that one, you don’t want people talking about that losing streak anymore.”
Lev’s pick: Arizona 26-20
White’s pick: Arizona 28-20
Spears’ pick: Arizona 30-20
Over or under? Over (46.5 points)
Spears and White think the final point total will eclipse 46.5 points, while Lev thinks it'll finish right under the total.
White on why it goes over: “I think we’re going to see Arizona run the ball a lot better than it did against BYU which I think is going to help Gunner Cruz and the offense. Cruz looked a lot better in the second half against BYU, just in terms of moving the ball. He had some mistakes obviously, but I think you’re going to Arizona look a little bit more comfortable offensively from start to finish.”
Lev on why it goes under: “It’ll be a low-scoring, hard-hitting type of game. Redemptive evening for Lucas Havrisik, I’ve got him making four field goals to get to the 26 number. Two touchdowns, four field goals. I think we’ll see more sacks than last week, too.”
No. 12 Oregon at No. 3 Ohio State (-14.5), 9 a.m. on Ch. 11
After escaping with a 31-24 home win over Fresno State, the Ducks now head to Columbus to face the Buckeyes in a heavy-weight non-conference clash. Oregon did not cover the 20.5-point spread last week, while Ohio State (-14) pushed with a 45-31 road victory over Minnesota.
Who will cover? Ohio State (-14.5)
White and Spears are taking the Buckeyes to cover the two-touchdown spread, predicting a high-scoring game at the Horseshoe. Lev thinks that while Ohio State will win, a 14.5-point spread is too much to ask for against the Ducks’ offense and is picking Oregon to cover.
Stanford at No. 14 USC (-17), 7:30 p.m. on Ch. 11
Coming off a 24-7 defeat at Kansas State, Stanford heads to Los Angeles to battle the Trojans. USC was a 14-point favorite last week against San Jose State and covered comfortably, 30-7.
Who will cover? USC (-17)
White and Spears believe the Trojans will have a runaway home victory over the Cardinal, covering the 17 points. Lev is taking the other side. He is predicting USC to win, but feels the 17-point spread in favor of the Trojans is way too high for an early-season Pac-12 matchup.
Lev: 1-0 straight up, 1-0 against the spread, 1-0 picking the over/under.
White: 1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS, 1-0 O/U
Spears: 0-1 SU, 1-0 ATS, 1-0 O/U