Week 3 Pac-12 - Washington at Illinois & More

Posted Sep 12, 2013

Week 3 Pac-12 Fearless Predictions - Washington at Illinois & More, Part 1

- Ohio State at California | UCLA at Nebraska
- Tennessee at Oregon | Wisconsin at Arizona State 
- Washington at Illinois & More, Part 1 
- Oregon State at Utah & More, Part 2

Stanford (1-0) at Army (1-1) Sept. 14, 12:00, CBS Sports Network

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Stanford is taking its No. 4 AP ranking on a rare journey to the East Coast to face Army. The Cardinal opened its season last Saturday with a methodical victory over rival San Jose State, 34-13. This is the program's last chance to work out the kinks and smooth over some wrinkles before the Pac-12 season begins with a key showdown versus Arizona State a week from now. The Black Knights return to Michie Stadium looking to bounce back from a 40-14 thrashing at the hands of Ball State in Indiana. The Academy hasn't defeated a ranked team since 1972, so there'll be a chance to make history on the Hudson this weekend.
Why Stanford Might Win: The Black Knights simply don't have the defensive troops to slow down what the Cardinal wants to do on offense. Stanford is massive in the trenches and physical in all phases, which will present insurmountable challenges for Army. If the Cardinal simply chooses to ground-and-pound with Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson, the host will be powerless to stop it. On play-action, QB Kevin Hogan should have his pick of open targets.
Why Army Might Win: The triple-option can vex opponents that rarely see it. Stanford, for instance. The Black Knights want to control the clock and the tempo of the game by feeding the Cardinal a steady diet of fullback dives from Larry Dixon and timely pitches from QB Angel Santiago. Army will try to wear down the Cardinal, keeping this game close until deep into the second half.
Who To Watch Out For: The Cardinal might want to use this week to fine-tune the passing game. Hogan was so-so in the opener, and he needs time to develop better timing with his new receivers and tight ends.

- Stanford boasts one of the premier front sevens in the country. It'll be interesting to see how well the defenders maintain patience and gap-integrity, as opposed to simply pinning their ears back.

- Cardinal head coach David Shaw and his staff recruit nationally, so it's always nice getting a chance to spread the brand to a different region of the country. The program has a handful of kids from the New York metropolitan area who'll be playing in front of a larger than usual number of friends and family.
What Will Happen: Playing across the country in a game that'll feel like 9 a.m. to the Cardinal can be a little tricky. It's a good thing that Army doesn't have the size or the talent to effectively match up on Saturday. Stanford will bully its opponent at the point of attack, essentially imposing its will on the Black Knights. Although it's hard to imagine the Cardinal maintaining their emotion for very long, it'll only need about 20 points to salt this one away.
Prediction: Stanford 45 … Army 13
Line: Stanford -28.5 o/u: 50
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) … 2.5

Fresno State (2-0) at Colorado (2-0) Sept. 14, 2:00, Pac-12 Network

Why You Should Give A Hoot: With both teams unbeaten, Fresno State travelling East to Boulder suddenly just got rather interesting. The Bulldogs are carrying the BCS-buster banner these days, courtesy of their wins over Rutgers and Cal Poly. They're just on the perimeter of the Top 25, and a road win over a Pac-12 opponent, any Pac-12 opponent, can only serve to polish up the resume. While it's certainly too early to celebrate, how ‘bout them Buffs? Colorado has already surpassed last year's win total for first-year head coach Mike MacIntyre, defeating rival Colorado State and Central Arkansas. It was trampled, 69-14, in last September's meeting with Fresno State.
Why Fresno State Might Win: An iffy Colorado D has yet to face an attack as potent as the one visiting Folsom Field this weekend. The Buffs ought to be particularly concerned about how their leaky secondary matches up with QB Derek Carr and his cadre of receivers. Colorado got off easy in its first two games, but wideouts Davante Adams, Isaiah Burse and Josh Harper will stretch the defense in all different directions.
Why Colorado Might Win: For a change, the Buffs feel as if they can match opposing offenses now that WR Paul Richardson is at full strength. The game-breaker has already turned 21 receptions into 417 yards and four touchdowns. He's also helping turn erratic Connor Wood into a more consistent quarterback. Colorado's defensive strength so far, third-down stops, matches well with a Fresno State team having major problems converting on offense.
Who To Watch Out For: If Fresno State is going to reach its goals in 2013, it has to start running the ball more consistently. The Bulldogs don't have a 100-yard, and they're averaging less than four yards a carry.

- Wood figures to go right after a Fresno State secondary that was torched for five touchdown passes by Rutgers in the opener. When Richardson draws double-teams, WR Nelson Spruce better be ready for his number to be called.

- Note to veteran Buff P Darragh O'Neill: Punt the ball away from No. 1. Fresno's Burse scored three times last week, two on special teams.

- LB Addison Gillam has been a difference-maker for the Colorado defense so far. The rookie from California has anchored the middle with a team-high 20 stops.

What Will Happen: Drilling down on that 2-0 Fresno State start reveals a team with some glaring holes on both sides of the ball. The D has struggled in pass defense, while the offense has had efficiency problems. Plus, Colorado is not the pushover it was just a year ago. The Buffs are ready to compete this Saturday. The duel between the passing games will be an interesting one, with both sides landing blows. The Bulldogs will escape on the strength of a better defensive front seven and a deeper corps of receivers, but it'll be a lot closer than anticipated, and certainly a lot more competitive than a year ago.
Prediction: Fresno State 34 … Colorado 27
Line: Fresno State -9.5 o/u: 68
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) … 2.5

Washington (1-0) at Illinois (2-0) Sept. 14, 6:00, Big Ten Network

Why You Should Give A Hoot: It may not be UCLA-Nebraska, but Washington travelling to Soldier Field in Chicago sets the stage for a pretty darn good Week 3 matchup between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten. The Huskies were one of the stars of the opening weekend, spanking then-ranked Boise State, 38-6, in a game dubbed by many as a toss-up. U-Dub is now ranked, but if it doesn't deliver an appropriate encore, that rout of the Broncos will quickly be forgotten. Illinois has been a mild surprise through two weeks. After slogging through an excuse-me win over Southern Illinois, the Illini shockingly lit up Cincinnati, 45-17. With a similar effort this week, head coach Tim Beckman is off the hot seat, and Illinois becomes a threat to play in the postseason.
Why Washington Might Win: The Huskies looked all grown up in Week 1, from the execution of the offense to the toughness of the D. They weren't flawless, but they were close. The offense will have an edge on a sketchy Illinois defense, especially now that All-American TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins has served his suspension. If QB Keith Price can continue to channel his sophomore self, it'll not only spark the passing game, but it'll also create more space for All-Pac-12 RB Bishop Sankey. A very young Illini secondary has given up 649 yards through the air in two weeks.
Why Illinois Might Win: Senior QB Nathan Scheelhaase suddenly looks very comfortable running the offense, a credit to the work being done by new coordinator Bill Cubit. And a comfortable Scheelhaase means the backs and receivers instantly become more dangerous. The running game showed life against the Bearcats, and four receivers already have at least 100 yards in receptions. This unit is liable to keep getting better with more snaps that it gets in the new offense.
Who To Watch Out For: It won't take long for Sankey to get formally introduced to linebackers Jonathan Brown and Mason Monheim, Illinois' top tacklers and two best defenders.

-U-Dub defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox is determined to pressure Scheelhaase, forcing him to throw on the move. If unsuccessful, the Illini will throw for more than 300 yards for a third consecutive game.

- Price should have success against the Illini defensive backfield. Not only does he have Seferian-Jenkins and WR Kasen Williams back, but Illinois has not mounted much of a pass rush this month.

- This is a huge game for the Illinois O-line. Washington presents all kinds of challenges, like NT Danny Shelton and LB Shaq Thompson, which will need to be neutralized.
What Will Happen: Who's the real deal, and who's living a lie? It's early, but this is a pivotal game for both Illinois and Washington. The Illini is proving it can score, but can it stop a potent offense, such as the one heading to the Windy City this weekend? The Huskies have the better defense and a few more offensive weapons, the difference in a game that promises to entertain with big plays from wire-to-wire.
Prediction: Washington 38 … Illinois 31
Line: Washington -10 o/u: 64
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) … 3

- Ohio State at California | UCLA at Nebraska
- Tennessee at Oregon | Wisconsin at Arizona State 
- Washington at Illinois & More, Part 1 
- Oregon State at Utah & More, Part 2