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College Football Picks: Big week for No. 12 Oregon, Pac-12

Oregon running back CJ Verdell (7) celebrates his touchdown in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Fresno State, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Andy Nelson)

By RALPH D. RUSSO AP College Football Writer

UCLA won’t be around to bail out the Pac-12 this weekend.

The Bruins’ victory against LSU was the highlight of an otherwise unimpressive Week 1 for the West Coast’s Power Five conference. The Pac-12 North was especially bad, going 1-5 with losses to two teams from the Mountain West teams and one from the Big Sky.

That’s an FCS conference. A good one, but still.

No. 16 UCLA gets a well-deserved week off, but the rest of the conference is in action, including nine nonconference games.

At the top of the menu is No. 12 Oregon at No. 3 Ohio State. The Ducks are the Pac-12 defending champion and favorite. Ohio State is the same in the Big Ten.

That would seem to be a fair fight, but not according to the odds makers. FanDuel Sportsbook lists the Buckeyes as more than a two-touchdown favorite.

That says a lot about where the Pac-12 is right now, trying to break a four-season College Football Playoff drought. The Pac-12 has not beaten a top-five team in a nonconference game since 2015, when Stanford knocked off No. 4 Notre Dame.

The other marquee Midwest-Northwest game of the weekend was supposed to be taking place at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Washington visits the Wolverines from a primetime national TV game coming off 13-7 loss to Montana from the Big Sky. Way to kill the mood, Huskies.

No. 5 Texas A&M faces Colorado in Denver at the home of the Denver Broncos. No. 21 Utah is at rival BYU and California, coming off a loss to Nevada, is at TCU.

Among that group, Utah is the only one favored. This is not setting up well for a bounce-back weekend for the Pac-12, but as was the case last week with UCLA, one big victory can overshadow a several ugly losses.

If the Ducks can upset the Buckeyes in Columbus, it hardly matters what the rest of the conference does Saturday.

The picks with point spreads from FanDuel Sportsbook.

FRIDAY

Kansas (plus 25 1/2) at No. 17 Coastal Carolina

Chanticleers try to make it three straight seasons with a victory against Kansas … COASTAL CAROLINA 42-14.

SATURDAY

UAB (plus 24 1/2) at No. 2 Georgia

Bulldogs get at least one offensive touchdown this week. Probably several … GEORGIA 38-10.

No. 12 Oregon (plus 14 1/2) at No. 3 Ohio State

Last victory for the Ducks against a top-five nonconference opponent was 2003 against Michigan … OHIO STATE 35-24.

No. 5 Texas A&M (minus 16 1/2) vs. Colorado in Denver

Buffs went 6-3 against the Aggies when they were Big 12 rivals, but they haven’t played since parting ways … TEXAS A&M 34-13, BET BET.

Toledo (plus 16 1/2) at No. 8 Notre Dame

Lots of Fighting Irish fans will be asking: What’s Peacock? Answer: The streaming service you need to watch this game … NOTRE DAME 28-13.

No. 10 Iowa (plus 4 1/2) at No. 9 Iowa State

Hawkeyes have not committed a turnover in their five-game winning streak against the Cyclones … IOWA STATE 24-23.

Ball State (plus 22 1/2) at No. 11 Penn State

Nittany Lions WR Jahan Dotson has three straight 100-yard receiving games … PENN STATE 35-10.

No. 13 Florida (minus 28 1/2) at South Florida

High of 90 degrees in the forecast for the 1 p.m. ET kickoff; Mostly cloudy, though … FLORIDA 45-14.

Stanford (plus 17 1/2) at No. 14 Southern California

Starting quarterback switch for the Cardinal with Tanner McKee taking the job from Jack West … USC 34-14.

No. 15 Texas (minus 6 1/2) at Arkansas

First regular-season matchup between the once and future conference rivals since 2008 … TEXAS 30-20.

Eastern Michigan (plus 26 1/2) at No. 18 Wisconsin

Good time for Wisconsin to rebuild QB Graham Mertz’s confidence after a rough outing vs. Penn State … WISCONSIN 42-13.

Middle Tennessee (plus 19 1/2) at No. 19 Virginia Tech

First meeting between the Hokies and Blue Raiders … VIRGINIA TECH 31-14.

No. 21 Utah (minus 7 1/2) at BYU

Utes have won nine straight in the Holy War rivalry, matching the longest winning streak for either side; only two were more than one-possession games … UTAH 27-21.

Appalachian State (plus 8 1/2) at No. 22 Miami

App State knocked off two Power Five teams in 2019, but last meeting with the ‘Canes was a 45-10 loss at home in 2016 … MIAMI 28-21.

UNLV (plus 33 1/2) at No. 23 Arizona State

Sun Devils won only meeting in 2008 … ARIZONA STATE 38-10.

Georgia State (plus 25 1/2) at No. 24 North Carolina

Tar Heels look to get QB Sam Howell back on track and give him some protection … NORTH CAROLINA 45-17.

TWITTER REQUESTS

North Carolina State (minus 2 1/2) at Mississippi State — @brianhadad

Wolfpack try to give the ACC a win against the SEC after it went 0-3 in Week 1 … MISSISSIPPI STATE 27-24.

San Diego State (plus 1/2) at Arizona — @CohensCornerAZ

Wildcats looked competent in their opener under coach Jedd Fisch … ARIZONA 20-17.

Pittsburgh (minus 3 1/2) at Tennessee — @sethc33

Johnny Majors Classic matches the late Hall of Famer’s alma mater (Tennessee) against the school he coached to a national championship (Pitt) … TENNESSEE 23-21, UPSET SPECIAL.

Washington (plus 6 1/2) at Michigan — @eriggs

Huskies and Wolverines have played 12 times, including four Rose Bowls, but not since 2002 … MICHIGAN 28-23.

Memphis (minus 4 1/2) at Arkansas State — @Kam2024

Tigers and Red Wolves have split six meetings since 2006 … MEMPHIS 31-23.

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Record

Last week: 14-8 straight; 12-10 against the spread.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://APpodcast.com

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