Pac-12 Football: Week 10's Game-by-Game Picks and Predictions
Last week was a Pac-12 upset fest—I missed on the USC, UCLA and Oregon State games, but covered on Stanford, Oregon and Utah.
It's pedal-to-the-metal from here on out because except for Cal, all Pac-12 teams have taken their bye weeks—Cal will take its strangely-timed bye week during the week of Thanksgiving.
This week has some real dillies so let's get right to this week's previews and predictions.
Enjoy the carnage.
Oregon at USC
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USC is coming off of a loss to Arizona that was riddled with 13 penalties and five turnovers committed by the Trojans. Oregon has played, for the most part, perfect football. On paper, this looks like a Ducks blowout.
Both teams have a dizzying array of talent but the Ducks' depth at skill positions is much deeper than USC's depth, especially at running back. Oregon will run the ball all over USC but they'll do so against the toughest Pac-12 rush defense they've faced thus far—USC is ranked among FBS' top 30 rush defenses.
While USC won't be able to completely shut down the Ducks' offense, it should slow it down quite a bit. That translates to a closer game than pundits think.
I still have Oregon beating USC (I said that last year as well) because while USC did upset Oregon last year at Autzen, the Trojans were playing much better football at that time.
If USC's sloppy play and lack of discipline continue, this game will be over by halftime. Conversely, if USC can minimize penalties and turnovers, the Trojans have a shot at winning this game.
Oregon should win this by double-digits but I'm not completely ruling out an upset special.
Stanford at Colorado
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The Stanford Cardinal are favored by 28 points and that concerns me because they may just come into this game looking ahead to Oregon State.
Technically, this is a trap game for Stanford (6-2), but I'm also fairly sure Colorado (1-7) is going to end up 1-11 this season. The Buffaloes are yielding an average of 204 rushing yards per game while Stanford is only averaging 161 rushing yards per game.
The Cardinal should rush for well over 200 yards and come away feeling a lot better about their running game, because Colorado is just one of those "giving" teams.
Stanford covers that 28 point spread.
Washington at Cal
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The Washington Huskies travel down to Cal to play the Golden Bears in a Friday night game. Right away, alarm bells should be going off because mid-week games have been a boon for upsets in the Pac-12.
On Friday, September 7, Utah State upset Utah. On Thursday, September 27, Washington upset Stanford.
Cal is favored by 4.5 points and this is one of those spreads that makes you think Vegas knows something. Four Cal players have a questionable status and the Bears' linebacker corps is very dinged up. Meanwhile, Washington is very healthy.
Why is a 4-6 Cal team favored?
The two reasons I came up with: Cal has to win its next—and final— three games just to become bowl eligible, and Washington is 0-3 on the road
I'm still taking Washington to win in a mild upset.
Washington State at Utah
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The Washington State Cougars are improving on the road. In the last four weeks, the Cougars lost 19-6 to Oregon State and 24-17 to Stanford—their scoring defense is keeping them in the game.
The Cougars are ranked No. 41 in opponents' red zone conversions which is very respectable. Utah, in the same category, is ranked No. 97. What this means is that the Cougars limit opponents' scoring in their red zone more often than Utah does.
Utah is favored by 11.5 points, and while I think the Utes win this contest due their defense's front four pressuring the quarterback, I also think Washington State covers that spread.
Arizona at UCLA
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The Arizona Wildcats are coming off of a big upset over USC, while UCLA is coming off of a big upset over Arizona State. Translation: Both teams could come out a little flat at the Rose Bowl.
UCLA has been a little inconsistent on offense throughout the year while Arizona has been fairly prolific with its offense. The difference between these two teams lies with their defenses.
The Bruins' defense is averaging 461.1 yards per game while the Wildcats are averaging 483.9. The Wildcats are also giving up six more points per game on average than the Bruins.
UCLA is favored by 3.5 and that sounds about right. Bruins win by three points.
Arizona State at Oregon State
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I like the Sun Devils' offense a lot but the team's discipline has impressed me the most—it won't shoot itself in the foot with silly penalties.
Oregon State is the tenth-most penalized team in the league and this could spell some problems for the Beavers. Still, the Beavers have a stingy defense and they have stepped up against prolific offenses like those from UCLA and Arizona.
The Beavers did suffer a stunning loss to Washington, but part of that may be due to quarterback Sean Mannion being a tad rusty after rehabbing from knee surgery. Stud receiver Markus Wheaton still has to pass some concussion tests before being cleared for this game after he was knocked out of the Washington game.
The Sun Devils will be playing as a 4.5 underdog in the chilly night of Corvallis. I've got the Beavers winning but not covering that point spread.