2012 Fearless Predictions
Week 1 - Part 2
Pac-12 Fearless Predictions &
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Pac-12 Fearless Predictions
- Part 1 - Nevada at Cal & More
- Part 3 - Hawaii at USC & More
- Part 4 - Arkansas State at Oregon & More
Washington State (0-0) at BYU (0-0) Aug. 30, 10:15, ESPN
Here’s The Deal: In poetic fashion, Mike Leach’s return to the sidelines following a two-year hiatus will be staged in Provo, where he first got the itch for pass-happy offenses. The BYU graduate and former Texas Tech leader will begin the next stage of his coaching career on the Palouse as the long-awaited architect of a floundering Wazzu program. The Cougars, who last finished a season above .500 in 2003, are holding up Leach as a savior, a coach who can finally help put the program back on the map. It hasn’t gotten a lot of national attention, because it hasn’t been accompanied by BCS bowl invitations, but BYU has quietly won at least 10 games in five of the past six seasons. While Bronco Mendenhall will bring another quality team into the season, will it be strong enough to compete for a spot in the Top 25 and possibly that coveted at-large BCS bowl berth? The Cougars will have more than their share of chances to prove they belong with a schedule that includes games with Utah, Boise State, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech.
Why Washington State Might Win: Of course Leach is going to air it out. That’s a given with his Air Raid system. However, he’s also inheriting a mix of personnel that’s going to mesh with his playbook right out of the box. QB Jeff Tuel has been sharp throughout the offseason, throwing the ball well, and looking comfortable running the passer-friendly attack. He’ll get no shortage of support at wide receiver from All-American candidate Marquess Wilson and a deep ensemble of pass-catchers that includes emerging rookie Gabe Marks. This passing game will cause problems for a BYU defense that boasts talent, but not a preponderance of speed.
Why BYU Might Win: Leach and his staff in Pullman have taken over a team that sports some fancy parts in the passing game, but not a whole lot else at this stage. The O-line is a mess, and the defense continues to be a major concern. The Cougars are a grown-up football team that can move a pile in the trenches and play some defense. BYU is a physical team that should shove around an opponent like Washington State that lacks girth at the point of attack. On offense, savvy QB Riley Nelson will be afforded the time he needs to spot talented receivers Cody Hoffman and Ross Apo. Defensively, the Cougs are going to pack wallop in the middle of the field with linebackers Kyle Van Noy, Brandon Ogletree and Uona Kaveinga.
What To Watch Out For: Van Noy is a unique player worth monitoring Thursday night and throughout the season. The junior only started to get attention toward the end of 2011, but is capable of blooming into a force for the Cougars in 2012. He has good size for the weakside position, but it’s his explosive athleticism that really puts him in a spot to be a difference-maker on defense. Van Noy is going to play in the NFL before too long. For the time being, he’ll be an under-the-radar linebacker who’ll make his presence felt against the run and the pass.
What Will Happen: Better days are surely ahead for Washington State now that Leach is in charge. The actual benefits from his presence, though, may not be as immediate as fans would like. A visit to Provo is actually a very tough spot for the Cougars. BYU is a veteran team, with the physicality to consistently move Wazzu off the ball. Leach’s kids will have some success in the passing game, enough to put on a respectable showing, but the D will also spend far too much time on the field. BYU will own time of possession, easily wear down the visiting defense and pull away for a double-digit win.
CFN Prediction: BYU 42 … Washington State 24
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) BYU -13.5; O/U: 62
Must Watch Rating (5 – Boss, 1 - Married To Jonas): 4
Northern Arizona (0-0) at Arizona State (0-0) Aug. 30, 10:30, Pac-12 Network
Here’s The Deal: Arizona State fans get their first good look at what new head coach Todd Graham has been developing since arriving from Pitt last winter. The Sun Devils will begin the year with a reshuffled two-deep, new looks on offense and defense and muted expectations until the staff and the personnel can achieve a level of synchronicity. A visit from Northern Arizona out of the Big Sky will be an ideal way to kick off the season. The Lumberjacks are the Texas Tech of the FCS—loads of points, but not enough victories.
Why Northern Arizona Might Win: A Sun Devils D in transition is going to get pushed to the limits by the balanced, high-powered Lumberjacks offense. Northern Arizona has a multi-dimensional attack led by Zach Bauman, a Pac-12 caliber runner who rushed for 100 yards in seven of last year’s final eight games. If ASU stacks the box, veteran QB Cary Grossart can make it pay through the air.
Why Arizona State Might Win: The Lumberjacks will wallow near the bottom of the Big Sky because the defense is abysmal. The Devils will take full advantage, with plenty of help from powerful running back Cameron Marshall and versatile WR Jamal Miles. The O-line is iffy, but it won’t show on Thursday, as Marshall rumbles for a career day on the ground.
What To Watch Out For: Arizona State’s protracted race to replace Brock Osweiler under center is finally over. And Graham likes his hurlers so much that he plans to employ more than one. Mobile sophomore Taylor Kelly, a longshot when spring drills opened, has been the steadiest passer, but redshirt freshman Michael Eubank is just too doggone explosive to not be used in certain packages. Both will play Thursday.
What Will Happen: Graham will have a successful debut in Tempe, rolling through an inferior opponent. The backs will take center stage, with Marshall and Bauman duking it out for three quarters. While both will rack up 100 yards, Arizona State’s superiority on defense and along both lines will be the difference in a game that’ll feature little intrigue after halftime.
CFN Prediction: Arizona State 42 … Northern Arizona 19
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) No Line; O/U: No Line
Must Watch Rating (5 – Boss, 1 - Married To Jonas): 1.5
San Jose State (0-0) at Stanford (0-0) Aug. 31, 10:00, Pac-12 Network
Here’s The Deal: It’s the dawn of a new era on the Farm, as Stanford gradually begins life after Andrew Luck. If this wasn’t fully head coach David Shaw’s program a year ago, it certainly is now. The Cardinal remains a very talented squad that’ll continue to threaten in the Pac-12 North, but is it still a slam-dunk to remain in the Top 25? The first response comes with Friday’s visit from nearby San Jose State. The Spartans are on the uptick for second-year head coach Mike MacIntyre, improving by four games to go 5-7 in 2011. However, they’ve lost the last four in this series by an average of 32 points, creating a lot of scars for the team’s juniors and seniors.
Why San Jose State Might Win: The Spartans have a handful of playmakers on both sides of the ball, but are more likely to have success on offense. The key will be the play of the new quarterback who’ll need to make the most of a burgeoning support cast that includes RB De’Leon Eskridge, WR Noel Grigsby and all-league TE Ryan Otten. Stanford is especially thin in the secondary entering the season.
Why Stanford Might Win: In the battles at the point of attack, the Cardinal will dominate from start to finish. Even without two of last year’s premier blockers, Stanford will blow open gaping holes for RB Stepfan Taylor, who’ll respond with more than 100 yards on the ground before halftime. On defense, Stanford is loaded along the front seven, featuring a corps of linebackers that’ll hunt down the Spartans from sideline to sideline.
What To Watch Out For: Eventually Shaw will decide on his successor to Luck, either junior Josh Nunes or sophomore Brett Nottingham. The pair has battled it out since the spring, neither being able to build much separation. Someone is going to get two critical games of reps before Pac-12 play begins with a visit from USC on Sept. 15.
What Will Happen: San Jose State promises to be scrappier than it was in last season’s blowout loss, but not so much that Stanford breaks a sweat past halftime. The Cardinal will run all over the undersized Spartans D, collect a bunch of sacks and break down the play of its own quarterbacks on a granular level once the victory is in the bank.
CFN Prediction: Stanford 41 … San Jose State 13
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Stanford -25.5; O/U: 52
Must Watch Rating (5 – Boss, 1 - Married To Jonas): 1.5