2012 Fearless Predictions
Week 1 - Part 3
Pac-12 Fearless Predictions &
@CFBNews | E-mail Us
- FREE EXPERT COLLEGE FOOTBALL SELECTIONS
Pac-12 Fearless Predictions
- Part 1 - Nevada at Cal & More
- Part 2 - Washington State at BYU, & More
- Part 4 - Arkansas State at Oregon & More
Nicholls State (0-0) at Oregon State (0-0) Sept. 1, 3:00
Here’s The Deal: POSTPONED BECAUSE OF HURRICANE ISAAC
Colorado State (0-0) vs. Colorado (0-0) Sept. 1, 4:00, FX
Here’s The Deal: The Rocky Mountain Showdown at Mile High in Denver is set to add a new chapter to a rivalry that has traditionally been owned by Colorado. Since the series was resurrected in 1983, the Buffs have gone 18-6, winning the last two meetings. In the broader scope of things, the program is more concerned about becoming a competitive member of the Pac-12. It predictably struggled last fall for then-rookie head coach Jon Embree, going 3-10. The long climb to respectability resumes in earnest on Saturday. It could be worse for the folks in Boulder. They could be in Fort Collins. Colorado State went 3-9 in 2011, the third straight year that happened, precipitating the hiring of former ‘Bama assistant Jim McElwain as head coach. Unfortunately, the Rams’ rebuilding plan has taken a treacherous detour with the loss of pivotal personnel to transfers and dismissals since January.
Why Colorado State Might Win: The Rams’ fate rests squarely on the shoulders of junior RB Chris Nwoke, the new face of the program. As the team sunk last fall, No. 6 was busy building a head of steam with a couple of 200-yard efforts on the ground over the final five games. He’s the kind of back who’s capable of carrying an offense, especially versus a Colorado D that has problems against the run. McElwain inherited the key pieces of a very solid line; C Weston Richburg, G Jordan Gragert and T Joe Caprioglio will each be bucking for All-Mountain West honors.
Why Colorado Might Win: Hope on offense for the Buffaloes comes from a front wall that has a noticeably high ceiling. The Buffs ought to win the battles at the point of attack with a beatable Colorado State defense switching to a 3-4 alignment. Colorado returns three starters along the line, including all-league LT David Bakhtiari and fast rising LG Alexander Lewis. This could be the area where the program begins to turn the corner as it opens holes for quick-hitting RB Tony Jones. Nwoke is talented, but he’ll be facing a corps of linebackers, comprising Jon Major, Douglas Rippy and Derrick Webb, that’s finally healthy enough to play to its sizable potential.
What To Watch Out For: Embree has decided between sophomore quarterbacks Connor Wood and Nick Hirschman—he’s going with neither, opting instead to tab Kansas transfer Jordan Webb as his starter. The smallest and least heralded of the trio, he’s even caught the coaching staff a little off guard this summer with his grasp of the offense and ability to make things happen. He played a lot of football in Lawrence over the last two seasons, and brings the kind of moxie and determination that the Buffaloes offense has been lacking for years.
What Will Happen: This opener is a critical game for Embree and Colorado, which are looking for a fast start to match last season’s improved finish. A loss to rival Colorado State, which is undergoing so many changes, would be completely unacceptable. The Buffs actually feel pretty good about the direction of the program; the lines are gelling, the linebackers are anchors and the quarterback is a maverick steeped in intangibles. Even if snapping a six-year streak of losing seasons doesn’t happen in 2012, Colorado is ready to making tangible strides forward in its quest for stability and respectability.
CFN Prediction: Colorado 28 … Colorado State 17
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Colorado -6; O/U: 46
Must Watch Rating (5 – Boss, 1 - Married To Jonas): 2
Hawaii (0-0) at USC (0-0) Sept. 1, 7:30, Fox
Here’s The Deal: For the first time in three years, USC begins a season with hopes of winning the Pac-12 and competing for a national championship; legitimate dreams of winning the Pac-12 and competing for a national championship. Having deftly navigated a two-year postseason ban, Troy emerges from the penalty box among the small handful of programs in the HOV lane to Miami. Top-ranked in the preseason AP Top 25, the Trojans will be lopsided favorites the first two games before a crucial trip to Stanford really gets the party started on Sept. 15. Leading Hawaii into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will be a familiar face, former USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow. Chow’s first season as a head coach promises to bring a mess of hurdles, from a change in personnel and new systems to a move into the more competitive Mountain West. Winning the six games that’ll be needed to bowl will require ingenuity, perseverance and a lot of heavy lifting from the players and coaches.
Why Hawaii Might Win: If the Warriors are going to be competitive with the Trojans beyond the first 15 minutes, it’ll have to come from the offense. Chow is scrapping the recognizable run-and-shoot in favor of a pro-style offense that utilizes a fullback and a tight end. Hawaii is unsettled at quarterback, so it makes sense that the team will put a lot of its weight on 240-pound FB Joey Iosefa, who averaged five yards a carry and scored seven touchdowns in 2011. He’s the kind of back capable of extending drives, controlling the clock and keeping the ball out USC’s hands. When it’s time to throw, WR Billy Ray Stutzmann is a sure-handed receiver and a primary target on third downs.
Why USC Might Win: Very few teams in America are capable of slowing down the pro-caliber Trojans attack. Hawaii is not one of them. USC is home to arguably the most talented overall offense in college football, with the exclamation point coming when RB Silas Redd opted to transfer over from Penn State. Matt Barkley is basically an NFL-caliber quarterback throwing to a pantheon of elite receivers and tight ends that’s headed by Marqise Lee and Robert Woods on the outside. Depth may be a concern on the Troy D, but talent is not. FS T.J. McDonald, CB Nickell Robey and linebackers Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard will prevent the Warriors from producing any plays of more than 20 yards.
What To Watch Out For: No position worries USC fans more this season than left tackle, which used to be the domain of current Minnesota Viking Matt Kalil. Hawaii LB Art Laurel and DE Paipai Falemalu can be disruptive, but the Trojans are more concerned about the big picture that crystalizes long after this one is in the win column. Protecting Barkley’s blindside will now be the responsibility of one of two rookies, true freshman Max Tuerk or redshirt freshman Aundrey Walker. Walker appeared to have locked up the job in the spring, but has been slowed in August by a wrist injury. USC needs to have this position resolved before facing a very good Stanford defense in two weeks.
What Will Happen: More than just picking up the anticipated W, USC wants to start faster than it did in 2011, barely escaping Minnesota and Utah. Head coach Lane Kiffin would also like to build the kind of cushion that allows him to insert his second and third-stringers early on in the third quarter. A lack of proven depth could haunt the Trojans as the season grinds on. Troy will roll early and often on offense, confounding overmatched Hawaii with a blend of the run and the pass.
CFN Prediction: USC 51 … Hawaii 10
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) USC -40; O/U: 63
Must Watch Rating (5 – Boss, 1 - Married To Jonas): 2.5