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Picking the Pac: On the Rebound

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Picks from the ONLY UWDP picker with an above .500 record in ATS picks!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 25 Cal at Washington Photo by Jesse Beals/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now featuring betting lines from Draft Kings!

2021 Pac-12 Picks

Week ATS W ATS L ATS P SU W SU L Season to date ATS W ATS L ATS P SU W SU L
Week ATS W ATS L ATS P SU W SU L Season to date ATS W ATS L ATS P SU W SU L
0 1 0 1 0 28 26 0 37 17
1 4 8 8 4
2 4 6 6 4
3 7 4 7 4
4 3 3 5 1
5 3 2 3 2
6 3 1 3 1
7 3 2 4 1
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
Bowls

Cal (+13.5) @ Oregon

Oregon v Ohio State Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images

It surprised me to learn that Cal and Oregon are within .5 yards per play of each other in yards per rush, yards per pass, yards per offensive play, yards allowed per rush, yards allowed per pass, and yards allowed per defensive play. The biggest difference has been that Cal is neutral in turnover differential while Oregon is an outstanding +11 through five games. Cal is also a bizarrely bad 3/13 on fourth down attempts. Cal is coming off a horrific performance in Pullman, but their full resume is more mediocre than putrid. I like Oregon to win, but given their non-elite offense and mounting injury issues, the spread is too big.

Oregon 31 – Cal 20

Arizona (+6.5) @ Colorado

The Wildcats must have this game circled on the calendar as the best chance to avoid the ignominy of a winless season. On the bright side, they competed with both Oregon and UCLA the last two times out before folding late. While far from elite, the pass offense has at least shown signs of life. Colorado has played very poorly since the bizarre 10-7 loss to Texas A&M. The total inability to throw the ball has allowed opponents to load up to stop a talented run game. To be fair, these are both bad teams. Neither defends well. Colorado can’t pass and Arizona can’t run. What to make of that? I’ll split the difference and take Colorado to win a close one. (By the way, the last time either of these teams beat an FBS opponent was eight games ago when Colorado beat… Arizona).

Colorado 27 – Arizona 24

Stanford (-2) @ Washington State

It has been so long since Washington State’s defense has been anything but embarrassing that it has taken me a few weeks to accept that the unit might be decently. Seriously, when was the last time these teams played and WSU had the defensive advantage? The Cougars have attained this lofty status of “average” by holding up reasonably against the run and pass, but forcing loads of turnovers. Here’s the problem- the only good passing team WSU has played was USC, which was a one-sided loss. Tanner McKee has the Cardinal throwing like they haven’t since Andrew Luck was in town. Of course, Stanford doesn’t have the defense been accustomed to, so even if WSU’s defense slips a bit, the offense might be able to bail them out this week.

WSU 33 – Stanford 28

Arizona State (-1) @ Utah

Utah v USC Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

This true Pac-12 After Dark game will be a good test for ASU as it settles in as the team to beat in the Pac-12 South. Utah has put its losses to BYU and San Diego State in the rear-view with sins against WSU and USC. Meanwhile, ASU has opened conference play with three straight wins by 18+ points. ASU hasn’t thrown the ball 30 times in a game this year and has attempted under 20 passes twice. Kyle Whittingham coaches defense too well to allow a team to dominate them with a one-dimensional offense. Conversely, I still believe that Jayden Daniels can take over the game if necessary- it just hasn’t been necessary very often. Cam Rising showed last week that he can take advantage of a struggling secondary. The Sun Devils will be an entirely different level of challenge. I think Utah can keep it close and be within a break or two of stealing the win, but I’ll pick ASU.

ASU 26 – Utah 23

UCLA (+1.5) @ Washington

On paper, without knowledge of how the season has gone for each team, you can make a pretty good case for the Huskies as the favorites in this game. The Dawgs are coming off a bye while UCLA has its second straight road night game. The most explosive part of UCLA’s offense has been its deep passing game, which plays into the primary strength of UW’s defense. For the trouble UW has had sustaining a productive offense, UCLA’s defense has been consistently below-average. While UCLA has four wins, they haven’t beaten a team with a winning record (and the big win over LSU at the start of the year looks a lot less impressive now).

UCLA v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Unfortunately, the full context of the match-up tells a very different story. The bye week should help UW prepare, but I’m not entirely confident that the coaching staff will have used that time to make the improvements needed to turn the season around. I simply haven’t seen enough evidence that the coaches can diagnose what’s wrong and make the necessary adjustments, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Additionally, despite UCLA’s impressive 8.83 yards per pass attempt, the team prefers to run the ball with Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Zach Charbonnet. In fact, it’s the dedication to the internal run game that has opened up the outside for deeper passes, which is a strategy that could pose problems for UW. Lastly, UCLA’s run defense has been good against everyone except Arizona State, and UW’s passing has one game in which it was good from start to finish.

Adding it all up, this game feels like another one where UW will have trouble getting the opposing offense off the field. Between Charbonnet and UCLA’s excellent offensive line, the attack will feel a lot like Oregon State with a more competent passing option. Just to shake things up, it would be nice to see UW put enough defenders in the box to force DTR to throw more consistently- I have a lot more faith in Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon in one-on-ones than I do in most of the defensive front. Is it possible for Dylan Morris to lock in with a healthy Cade Otton, Terrell Bynum, Rome Odunze, and Jalen McMillan for a full game against a questionable secondary? Sure. But I’m not going to predict it until we see it work for a full game against a decent opponent.

UCLA 30 – UW 21