Publish date:

Pac-12 Week 3 Predictions

Jared Goff

Jared Goff

California is in the spotlight on Saturday, as the top three matchups from the Pac-12 all involve teams from the Golden State. USC-Stanford takes the top spot in the game power rankings, but there’s no shortage of intrigue between BYU-UCLA and California-Texas. The Cardinal opened the year with a loss to Northwestern, but coach David Shaw’s team looked better in Week 2 against UCF. Can the Bruins prevent BYU from another last-second win? And will California’s passing attack have success against Texas’ defense? There’s plenty of must-see games in the Pac-12 this Saturday.

Athlon Sports offers its Pac-12 Week 3 predictions from three editors: Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), David Fox (@DavidFox615), and Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

Pac-12 Week 3 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

1. Stanford at USC

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC

David Fox:

Stanford’s defense will need to corral the dynamic USC offense because the Cardinal’s offense won’t be able to survive an up-and-down game.

USC 31–14

Braden Gall:

Stanford's defense is pretty salty, and Kevin Hogan got back on track last weekend against UCF. USC has crushed two lower tiered opponents. The Trojans look like the better team but this game is always interesting, bizarre and closer than the experts think.

USC 24-21 

Steven Lassan:

Missed opportunities sums up last year’s meeting between these two teams. Will this season’s meeting go differently? Stanford struggled in its opener but looked better against UCF last Saturday. USC has crushed two Sun Belt opponents, so this will be a better barometer test of where the Trojans stand. The Cardinal defense has a tough task ahead in trying to slow quarterback Cody Kessler and a deep group of receivers for USC. I’m not sure Stanford’s offense will be able to score enough to win this one.

USC 31-20

2. BYU at UCLA

Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Fox Sports 1

David Fox:

The most dramatic team in the nation against the best freshman quarterback. You won’t believe what happens next.

UCLA 38–31

Braden Gall:

This is one of the best games of the weekend. Josh Rosen is the real deal but his supporting cast is much better than anyone thinks. BYU has been riding some late-game magic and it's hard to see them do it again.

UCLA 38-27

Steven Lassan:

Can BYU keep up the magic on Saturday night? The Bruins are the best team the Cougars have faced so far, but it’s a little surprising to see BYU as a 17-point underdog. The battle of freshmen quarterbacks – Josh Rosen (UCLA) and Tanner Mangum (BYU) should be entertaining, but UCLA is the better overall team and should make enough stops on defense to prevent this one from coming down to a Hail Mary.

UCLA 34-24

College Football Podcast: Week 3 Preview with Dari Nowkhah



Subscribe:iTunes | Stitcher

3. California at Texas

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

David Fox:

Between parting ways with the AD and reshuffling the offensive responsibilities and personnel, Texas is starting to pull itself together. All that won’t help the Longhorns slow down Cal’s passing game.

California 31­–21

Braden Gall:

This is a great battle between a great offensive coach and a great defensive coach. Jared Goff should be successful against a young secondary but Texas has some emotional momentum at home after firing their athletic director. This will go down to the final whistle.

California 31-30

Steven Lassan:

Things are looking up for Texas. The offense showed some signs of life against Rice (7.3 ypp), and Steve Patterson was dismissed as the athletic director on Tuesday. Can the Longhorns continue that momentum on Saturday? Stopping California’s high-powered offense will be a challenge for coach Charlie Strong, especially with a young secondary and a pass rush that’s been relatively quiet (three sacks so far). The Golden Bears are vulnerable on defense, but I’ll take Jared Goff and his deep group of receivers to win in Austin.

California 31-27

4. Utah State at Washington

Kickoff: 5 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

David Fox:

Washington freshman Jake Browning looked much better in Week 2 — against Sacramento State.

Washington 28–21

Braden Gall:

Washington is just a 5.5-point favorite over Utah State. That's all you need to know about the state of the Huskies. 

Washington 24-20

Steven Lassan:

Points could be at a premium in this one, as both defenses have been stingy through the first two weeks of the season. The quarterback battle between Chuckie Keeton (Utah State) and Jake Browning (Washington) also makes this one worth the viewing time. The Huskies’ young talent on offense does just enough to earn the victory.

Washington 24-20

5. Colorado at Colorado State

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS Sports Network

David Fox:

The Rams will get a big boost if Rashard Higgins returns.

Colorado 28–21

Braden Gall:

This is a sneaky good rivalry that has led to some dramatic moments. Who knows. Give me the Buffs.

Colorado 30-28

Steven Lassan:

Bragging rights are on the line in the Rocky Mountain Showdown between these two in-state rivals. Colorado State won last year’s matchup (31-17), but these two programs have alternated wins and losses over the last four seasons. The Rams should have star receiver Rashard Higgins back in the lineup after sitting out last week’s game against Minnesota. However, will Colorado State get consistent quarterback play from Nick Stevens or Coleman Key? Tough call here, but I’ll take the Buffaloes.

Colorado 31-30

6. New Mexico at Arizona State

Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

Recommended Articles

David Fox:

Arizona State gets a second shot at a team that runs a ton of option after having fits with Cal Poly last week.

Arizona State 34–13

Braden Gall:

Arizona State hasn't looked nearly as good as many thought in the preseason but this should be an easy warm-up for USC next weekend.

Arizona State 42-14

Steven Lassan:

Arizona State was picked by some to win the Pac-12 South this year, but the Sun Devils are off to a sluggish start. Is this the week coach Todd Graham’s team gets back on track? New Mexico’s offense can eat up the yards on the ground (281.5 per game), but the Sun Devils should be able to attack a defense that allowed 40 points against Tulsa last Saturday.

Arizona State 45-17

7. Utah at Fresno State

Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS Sports Network

David Fox:

Through two weeks of the season, we know Utah can win ugly and Fresno State can lose ugly.

Utah 35–14

Braden Gall:

This isn't a vintage Fresno State team so Utah starts the year 3-0 with some sneaky good wins over Michigan, Utah State and Fresno State.

Utah 30-10

Steven Lassan:

I mentioned this last week in the Ole Miss-Fresno State writeup, but it’s worth mentioning again: This is not a vintage Fresno State team. The Bulldogs defeated Abilene Christian in Week 1 and was soundly defeated 73-21 by Ole Miss in Week 2. Utah starting quarterback Travis Wilson is likely out due to injury, but it shouldn’t matter here.

Utah 38-10

8. Wyoming at Washington State

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

David Fox:

Mike Leach and Craig Bohl have done a lot of winning in their careers, but they’ve lost to Portland State, Eastern Michigan and North Dakota this season alone. Yuck.

Washington State 37–24

Braden Gall:

Wyoming was embarrassed last weekend and Wazzu pulled off a cross-country upset.

Washington State 42-28

Steven Lassan:

Wyoming is near the bottom of most 128 rankings this season, as the Cowboys opened the season with losses to North Dakota and Eastern Michigan. Washington State’s road win over Rutgers was huge after the opening week disappointment against Portland State. The Cougars won’t have much trouble here.

Washington State 45-17

9. San Jose State at Oregon State

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

David Fox:

San Jose State hasn’t defeated a Pac-12 team since 2006 (a 1–11 Stanford team).

Oregon State 28–14

Braden Gall:

Oregon State was atrocious against Michigan last weekend but Seth Collins gives them a glimmer of hope.

Oregon State 34-27

Steven Lassan:

With Oregon State in rebuild mode, wins are going to be tough to come by in 2015. The Beavers should be able to get win No. 2 on Saturday against San Jose State.

Oregon State 31-20

10. Georgia State at Oregon

Kickoff: 2 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

David Fox:

The Ducks should have a chance to rest Vernon Adams and his finger in the second half.

Oregon 49–13

Braden Gall:

Vernon Adams has the busted finger but won't be needed too much this week. If I'm Mark Helfrich, I'm getting other people involved in what should be an ugly game against GSU.

Oregon 55-10

Steven Lassan:

Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams is dealing with a broken finger and is questionable to play. It won’t matter if Adams or Jeff Lockie gets the call against Georgia State. The Panthers are improving under coach Trent Miles, but they just picked up their first win against a FBS opponent.

Oregon 55-13

11. Northern Arizona at Arizona

Kickoff: 11 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

David Fox:

Arizona’s beleaguered defense won’t get a break even against Northern Arizona.

Arizona 42–28

Braden Gall:

Arizona's defense isn't elite (especially without Scooby Wright) but won't be challenged here.

Arizona 50-20

Steven Lassan:

The Wildcats have won the last two meetings against Northern Arizona by a combined score of 76-10. This one won’t be close on Saturday.

Arizona 48-17