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Picking the Pac, Week 3

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Sooners, Spartans, Knights Highlight Loaded Non-Conference Schedule

South Dakota v Oklahoma Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

Whether you stuck around in the storm to watch another loss to Cal or gave up your ticket to the lightning, it was not a fun weekend to be a Husky fan. At least we’re not in Arizona, where the two teams struggled with mediocre FCS opponents. The Sun Devils scratched out a meager 19 points to a poor FCS Sacramento State team, while the Wildcats allowed 41 to Northern Arizona, which is also outside the FCS rankings.

On to the picks! As usual, odds from Vegas Insider.

Washington State @ Houston (Game at NRG Stadium), WSU -9

I’ve made the Cougars a “high confidence” pick in each of the first week and it has paid off as they’ve gleefully run up the score against hapless opposition. Houston, while still finding its footing under Dana Holgorsen, is not hapless. Houston will certainly hang more points on Wazzu than Northern Colorado or New Mexico State could. The defense is a work in progress, though, so it might be tough for them to keep it within single digits.

WSU 42 – Houston 31

Air Force @ Colorado, COL -3.5

This line opened at 1.5 and already moved two points in Colorado’s favor, which shows that the public are behind their 2-0 start. But don’t sleep on Air Force. Bill Connelly named them a turnaround team before the season and they obliterated Colgate in their one game so far. Most of the advanced metrics have these teams relatively even, and Air Force could even pull an upset. I won’t go that far, but they’ll put a scare in the Buffs after their big win over Nebraska.

NCAA FOOTBALL: DEC 27 Heart of Dallas Bowl - Army v North Texas Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Colorado 27 – Air Force 24

Stanford @ UCF, UCF -7.5

The Cardinal have played poorly through two games. Getting K.J. Costello back will help, but the loss of Walker Little for the season is very bad news. Pair that with the defensive issues that USC exposed last week and it might be getting late early in Palo Alto. Meanwhile, UCF rolls on. The line is probably in just about the right spot, but with Stanford traveling so far after a depressing loss, it’s hard to imagine them being the team to sidetrack UCF.

UCF 35 – Stanford 24

USC @ BYU, USC -4.5

I wondered if the Trojans might be better off with a ground-and-pound approach after the loss of J.T. Daniels. Instead, Kedon Slovis ripped apart the Stanford secondary to the tune of 377 yards. It was enough for the Trojans to return to the top 25. BYU became the latest team to shock Tennessee. I’m confident that USC is the better team in this matchup, but less confident that they will play to their potential in a tough road environment with things going their way. Consider this a pick against BYU’s offense.

USC 30 – BYU 23

Arizona State @ Michigan State, MSU -13.5

Like the Colorado game, this line has seen heavy movement toward the home team in early betting. Given ASU’s poor offensive output so far, it’s easy to see why. The question becomes whether the Sun Devils can score enough points to keep this one close. Last week’s trouncing of Western Michigan aside, the Spartans have had their own troubles scoring points in recent memory. Two touchdowns is a big margin for a team with an average offensive output, but the other side of the equation is one of the best defenses in the country against one of the worst offenses in ASU.

MSU 30 – ASU 14

Idaho State @ Utah, Utah -36.5

Idaho State isn’t typically one of the stronger teams in the Big Sky conference. They lost by 22 last year to a poor Cal team. The question is whether Utah has enough gas in the offensive tank to beat anybody by more than 5 TDs. Here’s guessing they do.

Utah 48 - Idaho State 7

Cal Poly @ Oregon State, OSU -17

Speaking of Idaho State, Cal Poly beat them handily last season, which helps give you some idea of how these teams compare. They are one of the chosen few still running a triple-option offense, so Oregon State will have to prepare for something as different as possible from the Hawaii offense that just beat them. It has been a rough start for the Beavers and it will be nice for them to put one in the win column, but this one won’t be the four-quarter beatdown they yearn for.

OSU 35 – Cal Poly 21

North Texas @ Cal, Cal -13.5

Cal gets one big win and they’re suddenly favored by two scores over a team coming off a nine-win season. Cal’s style of play—defend well and run the ball—doesn’t lend itself to blowouts. North Texas hasn’t played a lot of Power 5 teams, but they did beat Arkansas last season. Seth Littrell was a hot name in coaching searches last season and opted to keep building the Mean Green. I will pick Cal to win, but UNT will put up a fight.

Cal 28 – UNT 17

Hawaii @ Washington, UW -21.5

Perhaps Cal exposed a bit of a weak spot in UW’s run defense. If that’s the case, Hawaii is not well-equipped to take advantage of it. Every week makes it clearer that the Husky receiver corps can dominate less physical secondaries and struggles against more physical ones; this game should present the former. Hawaii deserves credit for putting two wins in the books against Pac-12 teams, but they were against the two weakest opponents, and they’ll be getting a motivated version of one of the better teams in the conference this week.

UW 45 – Hawaii 17

Oklahoma @ UCLA, OU -23

This line has moved an outrageous 6 points in OU’s favor since it opened at -17, although that opening number looked far too low from the start. The way UCLA has started the season, they could probably tack on another 6 points and I’d still take the Sooners.

OU 49 – UCLA 20

Texas Tech @ Arizona, TTU -2.5

It’s too bad that we won’t get to see what the Tech offenses of old could do against this Arizona defense. 1000 yards might be in play. Instead, we’ll get a more balanced Red Raider squad against an Arizona team that features explosive offense and horrible defense. It will probably be a case of “last one with the ball wins” and possibly “last one with the ball covers.”

TTU 42 – UA 38

Montana @ Oregon, Oregon -36.5

Have you ever noticed that the script on Oregon’s uniform is in all capital letters, except the “n?” It spells out OREGOn. Montana’s UNLV transfer QB Dalton Sneed is off to a red-hot start for the Grizzlies. The Ducks are playing like they have something to prove after letting their lead slip away against Auburn. They might not score 77 again this week. Then again, maybe they will.

OREGOn 56 – Montana 17

Picks

WSU -9

AF +3.5

UCF -7.5

USC -4.5

MSU -13.5

Utah -36.5

Cal Poly +17

UNT +13.5

UW -21.5

OU -23 (high confidence)

TTU -2.5

Oregon -36.5 (high confidence)

Last Week ATS: 6-4 (1-0 HC)

Season ATS: 16-5 (3-0 HC)

Last Week SU: 6-4

Season SU: 17-4