Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Roundup: August 29

There are two Pac-12 teams in action tonight to help kickoff the Pac-12 season. To help you be better prepared to watch these games and all Pac-12 games this season I'm going to be doing mini previews with something to watch for, a pick against the spread and the reason behind that pick. I pick games against the spread because I'm a real man but I will also be keeping track of my record straight up solely for the purpose of comparing the two at the end of the year. Without further ado, here is what to watch for tonight:

Utah State at Utah, 5:00 PM on Fox Sports 1. Line: Utah (-3)

I'm very interested to watch the function of Utah's offense. The Utes hired longtime former coach Dennis Erickson as a co-offensive coordinator to come in and help current offensive coordinator Brian Johnson. How are play calls going to be relayed? How will these two work together? what is the play book going to look like? How much work is Erickson doing to teach the Utah players? Who will be in the booth and who will be on the sidelines? Will they be together during the game? It's going to be fascinating to watch all season how Utah's offense comes together with two different coordinators who are polar opposites from each other.

Utah State is a very strong team with 15 returning starters including star QB Chuckie Keeton. However, the Aggies lost coach Gary Andersen to Wisconsin and face some uncertainty of their own despite a very good roster. In light of Utah losing to Utah State for the first time in nine years last season and the fact that Utah must win this game in order to get to six wins, I'll take the Utes to win a close and cover, 28-24.

USC at Hawai'i, 8:00 PM on CBS Sports Network. Line: USC (-24)

The thing to watch for is obvious and that is USC's quarterbacks. Between Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, who gets the start, who ends up playing the most snaps, and most importantly who plays the best is what matters for the Trojans tonight. Hawai'i head coach Norm Chow is a former USC assistant and it is well documented that he and USC coach Lane Kiffin detest each other from their time as assistants under Pete Carroll. I expect Kiffin to go all out and try to rub it in against Chow and run up the score. It shouldn't be too hard, as Hawai'i is coming off a 3-9 season and just fired its offensive coordinator on the first day of Fall Camp which is always a good sign. I'm taking USC in a big time blowout, 49-17.

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