Week 3 PAC-12 Preview And Predictions – Can Oregon State Take Down Mountain West Contender San Diego State?

Bobby Albrant, Oregon Sports News

The PAC-12 doesn’t have any games scheduled this week that are likely to draw much national interest, so if you need a break from PAC-12 football, this would be the week to take it.

Several Conference teams moved up this week in my Savvy Index mathematical ranking system. Among the most notable were USC to #4 and Oregon State to #12. Oregon remained at #8 despite a win at Texas Tech. Utah was re-ranked today down to #16 after earlier rankings had the Utes at #9. (Re-rankings are rare.)

Savvy Index was 70-15 in predicting winners last week and now stands at 152-27 for the season. The Index is also one game better in over/under point spreads and nine games better in total game points.

There are 11 Conference games this week, and my system has predictions for all of those. (There are 74 games predicted across the country, which can be seen here.)

Predictions for PAC-12 Northwest games …

San Diego State 2-1 at #12 Oregon State 2-0

This is the headliner for the PAC-12 this week.

I think that ardent college football fans will find it interesting to learn that San Diego State quarterback Jalen Mayden ranks 8th in the nation for most passing attempts per game.

I don’t blame you if that flies in the face of your thoughts of San Diego State as a traditional ground-it-out program. But that ain’t where these incongruities end. You see, Mayden is throwing the ball all over the place despite completing less than 60% of his passes, for only 5.3 yards per attempt, and with an interception rate twice the national average.

It’s important to note that Mayden is a converted safety.

SDSU is potent on the ground, but that effort is also led by Jalen Mayden, who leads the team in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.

Oregon State’s defense is too talented, and the Beavers are too disciplined to let Mayden beat them as a one-man show. The Aztecs need someone else to step up, but that will not likely happen this week.

SDSU also has some defensive incongruities. Yes, Aztec defenders rank in the top 35 for stopping pass completions and fifth for intercepting passes, but they rank 103rd for yielding touchdown passes.

In short, the Aztec secondary is a big-play carnival that gives away as much as it takes away.

Enter OSU quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei.

DJU is currently in the top 25 for most touchdown passes, high passing efficiency, and yards per attempt (adjusted).

Mix in one of the nation’s best rushing attacks behind what many analysts believe may be the top offensive line in college football, and you have an offense that SDSU will not stop.

I’m not out to short-sell San Diego State. Not at all. My son is a season ticket holder, and I envy the SDSU stadium’s environment. I’m very close to making the Aztecs “my team” since I am feeling more and more that my other team sort of left me.

Savvy Index is calling this one 34-21 for Oregon State, acknowledging that my system is more conservative early in the season than later.

#10 Washington 2-0 at Michigan State 2-0.

Michael Penix Jr. is fourth in the nation for most passing yards. But when you see that two of those in front of him have played more games, it’s fair to suggest that Penix will pass for more yards this year than anyone.

However, that might not happen this week as much as many fans might hope after they watched him put up 397 and four touchdowns against MSU last year.

But this year, the Spartans are playing terrific pass defense that ranks fifth in the nation for the fewest yards allowed and only permits opposing quarterbacks an average rating of 107.

That’s not really the elephant in the room, though, is it? That “elephant” isn’t even on campus these days after head coach Mel Tucker was suspended under suspicion of inappropriate behavior.

Who is taking his place as interim head coach?

That would be Harlon Bennett, the secondary coach, and commander of that fabulous pass defense I just bragged about.

Also, expect the Michigan State team to play above past performances, which is common when teams suffer coaching changes early in the season.

Washington will win the game, but it will be interesting to see just how far the MSU kids can rise under the leadership of Bennett, who is respected and greatly admired.

My system is projecting a 33-17 Washington win on the road.

Hawai’i 1-2 at #8 Oregon 2-0

The Rainbows come to town with some difficult coaching changes in their history. But that was last year, and the cloud of Todd Graham has been dissipating under the energy and passion of all-time Hawai’i-passing legend Timmy Chang.

Building his program will take time, and a game against Oregon this weekend won’t look like the Chang train is on track. But if fans are patient, he will bring the ‘Bows back. Right now, those dreams are over the rainbow, but with patience, Chang will prove to be a wizard.

Right now, Hawai’i can’t run the ball and can’t defend the pass. Match that to Oregon as fourth in the nation in yards per rush attempt and seventh in passing yards per game, and you can see why the Ducks are so highly favored.

Oregon will likely have more points on the board in the first quarter than Hawai’i puts up all game. Oregon is favored 53-14.

Northern Colorado 0-2 at Washington State 2-0

Washington State is in the national rankings on most of the elite services. The Cougars have some distance to go in my rating system, but WSU trend lines are beginning to turn upward in ways that point to reaching the next level.

Northern Colorado is recovering from roster deficits left by departed head coach Ed McCaffrey. New coach Ed Lamb has head coaching experience in FCS (Southern Utah) and was given high praise by coach Kilani Sitake of BYU when Lamp resigned to take the NCU position.

My Savvy projections suggest Lamb will bring NCU back to competitiveness relatively quickly. However, there aren’t a lot of trend lines to suggest he will bring this program to national prominence.

My system is projecting a 47-7 this weekend for the fast-rising Cougars.

Speaking of the state of Colorado, I have to get this off my chest.

Why did it take Colorado football so long to put up its website?

Then, I figured it out:

Because it took years before they could come up with three “W”‘s.

@750TheGame | @OregonSportNews