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Pac-12 Football Picks: Week One

An eleven game slate is in store for the teams of the Pac-12 in Week One.

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Media Day Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s finally time for some college football.

After last week’s kick-off games of Hawaii-California and North Dakota State-Charleston Southern teased us a bit of what was to come, the full schedule of games is finally on the horizon as Thursday night draws ever nearer. There’s nothing quite like this time of year.

As the national college football schedule gets going, as does the Pac-12 slate, that begins with two games on Thursday night, including Oregon State’s season debut. While we will have our eyes firmly set on the Beavers and how they fare against Minnesota, in this week’s edition of Pac-12 Football Picks, we also take a look around the conference and see how contributors here at Building the Dam view the upcoming Pac-12 games.

Recap: DavidMays was the only one who believed in the power of the Rainbow Warriors to knock off California down in Australia and unfortunately for his sake, the Golden Bears were the ones who wouldn’t be stopped. He’s now the lone contributor heading into the “real” Week One with a loss to his name but he’ll have his chance to cover ground with ten games on the Pac-12 slate over the next three days.

Thursday, September 1st

Utah v. Southern Utah (8:00 PM ET, PAC12)

Ingle Win Probability Calculator: Utah (64%)

Fresh off the heels of an impressive 10-3 campaign that ended with a Las Vegas Bowl win over BYU, Utah’s 2016 prognosis is fairly similar to last season’s expectations. The Utes are expected to be a force and a favorite in the Pac-12 South Division. Southern Utah will have to find ways to move the football against a daunted Utah defense if they want to capitalize on the upset bid in this one. The Thunderbirds will be taking the field for the first time under brand new head coach (and former defensive coordinator) Demario Warren and should be looking to build off of last season’s 8-4 mark heading into 2016.

Marcus Russell: Utah

The_Coach: Utah

DavidMays: Utah

Robert Ingle: Utah

Brian J. Moore: Utah

Thursday, September 1st

Minnesota v. Oregon State (9:00 PM ET, BTN)

Ingle Win Probability Calculator: Minnesota (61%)

It’s the game we’ve all been waiting for with the debut of the 2016 version of the Oregon State Beavers, set to hit the field on the road at Big Ten opponent Minnesota. We’ll be previewing this one endlessly here at Building the Dam, preparing you for everything there is to know leading up to this primetime showdown. There’s three of us who believe in Oregon State’s chances to knock off the Golden Gophers so make sure to give those other two guys some flack if the Beavers do pull one out in the North Star State.

Marcus Russell: Minnesota

The_Coach: Oregon State

DavidMays: Oregon State

Robert Ingle: Minnesota

Brian J. Moore: Oregon State

Friday, September 2nd

Colorado v. Colorado State (8:00 PM ET, ESPN)*

Ingle Win Probability Calculator: Colorado (51%)

The Rocky Mountain Showdown took an extra period and a blocked field goal to decide in 2015, with Colorado coming out on top, thanks to some quirky and well-timed heroics. Expect nothing short of pandemonium from this year’s match-up as well. The key word for the Buffaloes heading into 2016 is experience, as the program returns it’s most veteran roster in history, who combine for 412 starts. It’s hard to see how the Buffs will be phased by the moment. Colorado State was a hit-or-miss outfit a season ago, as they try to find more consistency under second year coach, Mike Bobo. Expect the Rams to bring their best game and turn this one into a dogfight from the start.

Marcus Russell: Colorado

The_Coach: Colorado

DavidMays: Colorado State

Robert Ingle: Colorado

Brian J. Moore: Colorado State

Friday, September 2nd

#8 Stanford v. Kansas State (9:00 PM ET, FS1)

Ingle Win Probability Calculator: Stanford (59%)

The second unanimous pick in Week One from the group of contributors is the all-around love for the Cardinal, who won twelve of their last thirteen games to finish the 2015 season after kicking off the campaign with a perplexing 16-6 road loss at Northwestern. That’s a loss that still hangs heavy in the minds of the Stanford faithful. The Cardinal have shown a tendency to get off to some slow starts and if Kansas State wants the upset in this one, they’ll have to put the pressure in Stanford’s corner. The Wildcats will need a big game from quarterback Jesse Ertz, who won the starting spot just two days ago, after suffering a season-ending injury on the first play of last season.

Marcus Russell: Stanford

The_Coach: Stanford

DavidMays: Stanford

Robert Ingle: Stanford

Brian J. Moore: Stanford

Saturday, September 3rd

#14 Washington v. Rutgers (2:00 PM ET, PAC12)

Ingle Win Probability Calculator: Washington (64%)

The hype around Washington has been brewing and brewing as the off-season lingered on and come Saturday afternoon, the reality of expectations will finally set in. Is this the new wave of Huskies football, who is trying to solidify their spot as one the best programs in the Pac-12? Or is this another classic letdown Washington team? We shall see. As for their opponents on opening day, Rutgers may not look like much on paper coming into this one but with a new head coach in former Ohio State defensive coordinator, Chris Ash, at the helm, expect the unexpected from the Scarlet Knights. The Jersey boys are vastly underrated at the skill positions and always have the lurking potential for some highlight-reel, game-changing moments.

Marcus Russell: Washington

The_Coach: Washington

DavidMays: Washington

Robert Ingle: Washington

Brian J. Moore: Washington

Saturday, September 3rd

Texas A&M v. #16 UCLA (3:30 PM ET, CBS)

Ingle Win Probability Calculator: UCLA (51%)

The prelude to the Pac-12 game of the day between top ranked Alabama and a reworked USC team, the Bruins are walking into one of college football’s most feared environments with their trip to College Station on Saturday. If they can leave the Lone Star State with a victory is now the next question. UCLA is confident with quarterback Josh Rosen leading the way but the high-octane style of Texas A&M is hard to simulate, especially away from Kyle Field. There’s probably no one game on the slate that's closer to a toss up than this one, considering the amount of unproven talent on both rosters.

Marcus Russell: UCLA

The_Coach: Texas A&M

DavidMays: UCLA

Robert Ingle: UCLA

Brian J. Moore: Texas A&M

Saturday, September 3rd

#24 Oregon v. UC-Davis (5:00 PM ET, PAC12)

Ingle Win Probability Calculator: Oregon (81%)

While Oregon likely won't struggle in their season opener against UC-Davis, the reality that this Oregon program is trending in the wrong direction just simply can’t be ignored (especially by a group of Oregon State faithful). The Ducks were one of the predecessors of the up-tempo and well-spaced offense that has now taken over college football. Can Oregon remain among the elites of college football with the rest of the country making up ground? If the Ducks want to hold their spot as one of the Pac-12’s toughest teams this season, it’ll start on the defensive side of things, where they must make vast improvements from a season ago.

Marcus Russell: Oregon

The_Coach: Oregon

DavidMays: Oregon

Robert Ingle: Oregon

Brian J. Moore: Oregon

Saturday, September 3rd

#1 Alabama v. #20 USC (8:00 PM ET, ABC)*

Ingle Win Probability Calculator: Alabama (56%)

Arguably the best game on the college football schedule during this opening week, this showdown between two college football powerhouse programs on Saturday night could be viewed as the official kick-off to the 2016 college football season. Man, should this be a good one. Alabama has some preseason questions (for once) to be answered, especially on the offensive side of things where offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin’s group must learn to gel quickly. The Crimson Tide defense will take on somewhat of a new look as well without defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, who left this offseason to become the head coach at Georgia. While nobody from our group of contributors gave USC a chance in this one, don’t be surprised if this one takes a full four quarters to decide. The Trojans have one of their best groups in recent memory, that could start the season with a stunning win against Alabama and end with a Pac-12 Championship.

Marcus Russell: Alabama

The_Coach: Alabama

DavidMays: Alabama

Robert Ingle: Alabama

Brian J. Moore: Alabama

Saturday, September 3rd

Washington State v. Eastern Washington (8:00 PM ET, PAC12)

Ingle Win Probability Calculator: Washington State (78%)

Washington State didn't start their 2015 in proper fashion, dropping a 24-17 game to Portland State and to avoid a similar fate in 2016, the Cougars will need to take Eastern Washington a bit more serious. Washington State was one of the surprises of the Pac-12 in the way they rebounded last season, after their stunning debut and outside a road trip to Washington, the Cougars only lost in single digit games. From the way it seems, Washington State may not be too far off. Eastern Washington is a largely unknown unit who could surprise the Cougars but it's hard to catch a program off guard two seasons in a row. The Cougars will be ready for this one.

Marcus Russell: Washington State

The_Coach: Washington State

DavidMays: Washington State

Robert Ingle: Washington State

Brian J. Moore: Washington State

Saturday, September 3rd

Arizona v. BYU (10:30 PM ET, FS1)*

Ingle Win Probability Calculator: BYU (52%)

Another near toss-up game, Arizona enters the fifth year of the Rich Rodriguez with a system now established in the Pac-12. The Wildcats are going to spread the ball around the field, stretch out opposing defenses with deep threats and take chances defensively. BYU is a bit more of a wildcard in this one. The Cougars may return more of proven on-field talent but with a whole new coaching staff, headlined by head coach Kalani Sitake, BYU is somehow an unknown commodity. Both offenses can really get the ball moving in this one so it may come down to which defense can make their stand. Our contributors are mostly unsure of how they think it’ll go, with the group split between the Wildcats and the Cougars.

Marcus Russell: BYU

The_Coach: Arizona

DavidMays: Arizona

Robert Ingle: BYU

Brian J. Moore: Arizona

Saturday, September 3rd

Arizona State v. Northern Arizona (10:45 PM ET, PAC12)

Ingle Win Probability Calculator: Arizona State (79%)

Arizona State might be the awkward customer of the Pac-12, as last season the Sun Devils had a knack for keeping things close to the wire, and then having it all fall apart at the end. Head coach Todd Graham and company will need to take a leap from last year’s 6-7 mark, despite the stars not exactly aligning for this group. Graham’s guys aren’t the most talented outfit in the league on either side of the ball so early season “guarantee” games against Northern Arizona and UT-San Antonio will be key when it comes to squaring up with Texas Tech and California, all by the end of the month of September. The Sun Devils also have a brutal October slate on board, with road trips to USC, Colorado and Oregon mixed around home match-ups with UCLA and Washington State.

Marcus Russell: Arizona State

The_Coach: Arizona State

DavidMays: Arizona State

Robert Ingle: Arizona State

Brian J. Moore: Arizona State