Husky fans still reeling from the audacity of the College Football Playoff Selection committee can take umbrage! We have picks.
Game of the Week
UCLA at #15 Colorado (-12) - Thursday Night!
So now we know. Josh Rosen’s lost sophomore season is over and the struggling Bruins have a clear vision on what it is going to take to get bowl eligible and to save what is left of their tattered pride. Three of their last four is the mission.
On the flip side, we have a Colorado team that was gifted a Utah loss by UW last weekend and now firmly controls its own destiny.
Task one? Beat the Bruins at home.
This might be a tougher task than the gaudy betting line might suggest. Teams that are stocked with talent but aren’t gelling for whatever reason can often rally in the face of setbacks such as this. Rosen’s injury will allow for new leadership to step in and create a new level of support and focus for backup QB Mike Fafaul. It is his team now, and we’ve already seen how Coach Jim Mora is willing to bend the playbook to play to his strengths.
The Buffs are coming off a bye week preceded by an awkward 10-5 win over Stanford the week before. Sefo Liufau is back in at QB, but it remains to be seen if he can bring the same kind of spark that we saw with Steve Montez.
Despite the obvious story lines with each team’s offensive units, I’m interested in the defenses. Was the effort that we saw out of Colorado against Stanford indicative of things to come? Or was it just Stanford? Was the porous rush defense we saw from UCLA against Utah two weeks ago more about UCLA, or more about Joe Williams?
I’m getting an upset vibe here, and I know how all you feel about my vibes.
You love them, right?
In truth, I kind of get the sense that the Bruins are lying in wait, not unlike the 2010 Huskies who had to rip off three straight wins to close out the season in order to punch their ticket to the Holiday Bowl and that rematch with Nebraska. I think there is much more to the Bruins than we’ve seen to date. Maybe this is the weekend it clicks?
I wouldn’t go rushing to Vegas based on my hunch. Just don’t be surprised when a cornered and humiliated UCLA buckles down and pulls off the upset in Boulder.
The Pick: UCLA 38, Colorado 27
The Rest of the PAC
Oregon State at Stanford (-14.5)
Stanford is the big favorite hosting an Oregon State team that has shown tremendous resolve since the insertion of third-string QB Marcus McMaryion into the starting lineup.
The thing about the Beavs is that McMaryion really has not been all that good. But he’s been aggressive. He’s been active. He’s been game...and that seems to have rubbed off on the rest of the team. Give coach Gary Andersen credit; whatever strings he is pulling, he is keeping this team together and believing that they can win a football game.
Nevertheless, Stanford is the better team. Even without stellar QB play, Christian McCaffrey running out of the Wildcat formation alone is probably enough to win this game. I fully expect that the Stanford defense will do their part. My only question is whether or not we’ll see any growth out of Keller Chryst at QB. I hope so.
The Pick: Stanford 27, OSU 13
Arizona at #25 Washington State (-17)
Sorry, Wildcats, I’m not feeling it. It isn’t that the Cougs are playing at such a high level that they can afford to take the Wildcats lightly. It is just that pound for pound, the Cougs are a better overall team. Luke Falk, as beaten up as he is, seems to be elevating his game as the season continues. He’s getting effective support from his defense, even adjusting for the gaffes in rush defense we saw a week ago against the Cougs.
Meanwhile, UA still doesn’t have a fully healthy QB. They are still running a wide receiver at tailback. They are still a hot mess on both sides of the line of scrimmage. And they still have a coach who can’t let a guy in the stands belch without losing his sh*t on the poor fella.
The Pick: Arizona 24, WSU 42
Oregon at USC (-17)
Oregon at USC intrigues me in much the same fashion as the UCLA/Colorado tilt. The Ducks are coming off a dominating offensive performance that saw their true freshman QB, in just his third start, tie the all-time Oregon record for passing yardage in a football game. At the same time, the offense seems to be reinventing itself on the fly as the Justin Herbert-led passing attack is creating new roles for the tight ends and engaging a wide variety of receivers. This is an offense that is quickly evolving from “zone read” to “multiple” which, for a team that still has backs like Tony Brooks-James and Royce Freeman, is a frightening proposition.
The USC resurgence continues in earnest under their own freshman QB, Sam Darnold. The Trojans have only lost once - his first game against Utah - since inserting Darnold into the lineup. His elusiveness is a difference-making attribute and his ability to create with his legs has breathed new life into the receiving corps. USC is averaging over 36 points and 7.7 yards per play per game since that time.
The Trojans are heavily favored in this one because the awful Duck defense doesn’t have too many options that can slow down the Trojans balanced attack. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see the Trojans put up over forty points and get big days out of RB Ronald Jones and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster. However, Darnold has been prone to turnovers, which I think is going to create an extra few possessions for that explosive Duck offense.
I like USC to win this one, but I do think the Ducks make it closer than 17 points.
The Pick: Oregon 44, USC 49