Pac-10 Predictions: Week 10
"Is there no one else!? Is there NO ONE else!?"
After pummeling the mighty Trojans last weekend, it seems as if the Ducks have finally quieted even the staunchest doubters.
Just like the epic warrior Achilles, Jeremiah Masoli was the main man responsible for burning the Trojans' season to the ground.
This weekend he must lead his Ducks on the road to try to knock off a Stanford team that is well rested and unbeaten at home this season. Let's examine that game, as well as the rest of the Pac-10 slate, on a Saturday that features all 10 teams pitted against one another in conference play.
Washington State @ No. 18 Arizona (-33)
The Washington State Cougars are the "Little Engine That Could" when it comes to covering spreads. It's never easy, and it's rarely pretty, but they get the job done.
The Cougars are a terrible team. This is empirical and not up for discussion.
That being said, Vegas has been constantly overvaluing their lack of ability by week after week throwing up incredible lines against them. This week is no different as the upstart Arizona Wildcats are getting a whopping 33 points at home against the lowly Cougars.
In their last three games—against Notre Dame, Cal, and Arizona State—the Cougars have been underdogs by 27.5, 35.5, and 21 points respectively.
They have proceeded to lose those games by 26, 32, and 13 points...covering each time.
The basic notion here is this: The public knows that the Cougars are terrible. Vegas knows the public knows this. For this reason, they set these spreads incredibly high because they know they are still going to get action on the other side.
Washington State has shown some small signs of life since freshman Jeff Tuel took over at quarterback. Last week he managed to throw two touchdowns against the Irish, and while he's not exactly lighting the world on fire, he's making defenses at least watch a little game film of him.
The Wildcats come into this game rested and rearing to go. Despite the fact that they will likely be missing two of their running backs, including starter Nic Grigsby, this offense should have no problem moving the ball.
The absence of depth on the ground is only going to focus the offensive gameplan more on the golden arm of Nick Foles, who should oblige the Arizona faithful by shredding the porous Cougar defense.
In classic fashion, however, I'm predicting the Cougars to get destroyed but cover the spread.
Pick: Arizona, 47-17
No. 8 Oregon @ Stanford (+7)
What can you say about Oregon this season? Chip Kelly should be in serious contention for Coach of the Year with the way he has handled everything this season. The Ducks have been not only winning games recently, but dominating them.
Much of this can be attributed to the play of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who, despite battling injuries all season, has put the Oregon offense on his back and carried them.
His performance last weekend against the Trojans was nothing short of spectacular. Masoli threw for 222 yards and a touchdown and rushed for a season-high 164 yards and another score.
He has not been without help, however, as freshman running back LaMichael James has also had a stellar season filling in for the suspended LeGarrette Blount. James had a career day against the USC defense, carrying the ball 24 times for 183 yards and a touchdown.
It would be remiss to sing Oregon's praises, though, without mentioning the play of their defense. The Ducks have been allowing just over 17 points and 300 yards of offense per game and stymied the Trojans on critical third downs last week (the Trojans were just 4-of-14 on third down conversions).
Stanford enters this game knowing they have a tough test ahead of them, but not lacking in confidence.
Offensively, the Cardinal boast the conference's top passer, freshman Andrew Luck, and leading rusher, senior Toby Gerhart.
Both are going to need to be at their absolute best if they want to stay in it with the Ducks, who haven't had a game decided by single digits since their seven-point win over Utah on Sept. 19.
Gerhart, in particular, is going to have to step up his game this weekend. Despite being one of the best running backs in the country the last two seasons, Gerhart has struggled mightily in his games against the Ducks. In his two career games against Oregon, Gerhart has been held to just 76 yards on 24 carries.
This game has lots of talent on both sidelines, but until a team steps up and shows they can hang with Oregon, I'm going to ride them the whole way out...especially against a meager seven-point spread. Quack...quack...quack...
Pick: Oregon, 37-21
Washington @ UCLA (-5.5)
The picks seem to be running a little long this week, so I'm going to try to keep this one concise.
The Bruins looked competitive on the road last week against a far superior Oregon State team. Quarterback Kevin Prince impressed me (finally) with his ability to move the ball, especially in the fourth quarter when it mattered. The freshman posted a career-best quarterback rating of 163.92, shattering his previous high of 110.63.
The Huskies had the weekend off last week and are looking to bounce back against their former coach in his new/old stomping ground.
Jake Locker, who is currently second in the Pac-10 in passing yards, has been hampered this week by a deep thigh bruise, and his status for Saturday's game remains unclear. He has been practicing but is clearly not 100 percent.
The safe bet is that he will play, however, his status drastically impacts the picking of this game. It is clear one reason the spread is so high in UCLA's favor is because of Locker's injury.
When push comes to shove, I have confidence that Locker will play and play well on Saturday. Even if he doesn't, however, it's hard for me to take the Bruins by practically a touchdown when they've lost five straight games by a touchdown or more.
Pick: Washington, 27-23
Oregon State @ No. 20 Cal (-7)
Cal quarterback Kevin Riley has turned his season around in his last three games after struggling heavily early on in Pac-10 play. Cal fans and players alike are hoping this trend continues for the junior quarterback, as he had his best game of the season last week—throwing for 351 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions in Cal's two-point, last-second victory over Arizona State.
Riley isn't the Golden Bears' only weapon, however, as running back Jahvid Best is one of the most explosive players in the country. Currently fourth in the Pac-10 in rushing yards, Best sat out Wednesday's practice due to a mild concussion, but he is expected to play on Saturday.
The Oregon State Beavers come into this game after barely escaping a bout with UCLA last weekend. As they have been so many times, the Rodgers brothers—James and Jacquizz—were the determining factors that got the Beavers the "W."
James is currently the leading receiver in the Pac-10, and little brother Jacquizz is, along with Best from Cal, one of the most dynamic running backs in all of college football. Jacquizz currently has 922 rushing yards this season and 14 touchdowns. Add to that his 49 receptions, 371 yards, and one touchdown receiving, and you've got one of the most complete backs in college football.
Saturday's game should be a lot of fun to watch. Both teams seem to be virtual mirror images of each other, and with all the offensive talent on the field, the game is likely to be very entertaining.
At the end of the day, though, I like Oregon State to hang on and win a close one. It wouldn't shock me at all, however, if Cal took care of business. Gamblers...stay away.
Pick: Oregon State, 30-27
No. 12 USC @ Arizona State (+10)
I really only see this game going one of two ways: The Trojans will come out flat and not meet the intensity that ASU is sure to bring to a home game against the hated Trojans; or USC will come out angry after a week of hearing how they got destroyed by Oregon and that their reign atop the Pac-10 is ending.
Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, I'm leaning towards the latter.
Pete Carroll has been a great coach during his time on the USC sideline, and one of the marks of a great coach is how you motivate your team after a devastating loss. If there was a time to showcase a different area of his coaching repertoire, this is it.
The Sun Devils, on the other hand, enter this game after a heartbreaking loss to Cal. Embattled quarterback Danny Sullivan had yet another mediocre game as he threw for 244 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.
Sullivan would also like to forget the horrible one-half performance he put up last year against the Trojans in relief of Rudy Carpenter. Sullivan completed just four of his 17 passes for 28 yards and two interceptions in last year's blowout loss.
I still believe the Trojans are a good team with far superior talent to the Sun Devils. They will be playing not just to win, but to regain their pride as well. I wouldn't want to be in their way this week...especially not with Danny Sullivan as my quarterback.
Pick: USC, 38-13
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