Pac-12 picks: For Huskies, Rutgers is first step in long road back to playoffs

Huskies are a 27.5-point favorite vs. Rutgers.

NEW YORK — There isn’t much left to say at this point.

It’s been nearly five full weeks since the Huskies began fall camp on July 31 — a week longer than usual after the NCAA imposed stricter practice limitations this year — and by now the No. 8 Huskies are ready to stop talking and start playing.

The Huskies begin their Pac-12 title defense at Rutgers with a 5 p.m. kickoff Friday for an FS1 broadcast. The Scartlet Knight should be better than they were a year ago at Husky Stadium, when the Huskies used a succession of haymakers to build a 24-0 first-quarter lead and rolled to an easy opening victory.

The Huskies, a 27.5-point favorites this week, might be better too. They don’t need to boast it, but the Huskies’ goal is obvious coming off their 2016 breakthrough.

“When you get a taste of that College Football Playoff, you want to get back there,” senior receiver Dante Pettis said.

It starts Friday in Piscataway, N.J., marking just the third East Coast game for UW over the past decade. Jake Browning will get a chance to finally show he’s healthy again, and UW’s rebuilt secondary will debut on national television.

There are a few new faces for the Huskies, and there’ll surely be a few wrinkles to iron out, but the result should largely be the same as it was a year ago.

The pick: Huskies 49, Rutgers 16.

Friday

Colorado vs. Colorado State in Denver (CU minus-4.5): Defending Pac-12 South champs, with a revamped defense, not getting much love this offseason. The pick: Colorado 42, Colorado State 35.

Saturday

California at North Carolina (UNC minus-12): Not an idea place to start for Cal’s new QB, Bothell’s Ross Bowers, and its new coach, Justin Wilcox. The pick: UNC 34, Cal 20.

Portland State at Oregon State (OSU minus-22): Brutal start for the Beavers last week at Colorado State. One suggestion: Give the ball to Nall. The pick: Beavs 37, PSU 27.

Western Michigan at USC (USC minus-26.5): Sam Darnold lofts the Heisman Trophy in the Memorial Stadium end zone after accounting for five touchdowns in the season opener. The pick: USC 40, Western Michigan 10.

Southern Utah at Oregon (Oregon minus-29.5): The Willie Taggart era begins in Eugene, and the Ducks will try to Do Something (like, maybe, tackle) on defense. The pick: Oregon 49,…

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