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Picking the Pac: The Devil Made Me Do It the First Time

The second time, I did it on my own

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 08 Stanford at Arizona State Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

2021 Pac-12 Picks

0 1 0 1 0 48 43 0 63 28
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 4 2 3 3
9 2 4 3 3
10 3 2 3 2
11 2 3 5 0
12 5 1 4 2
13 2 5 6 1
14 2 0 2 0
15 0 0 0 0

All Betting Lines provided by DraftKings Sportsbook

Utah (-24) @ Arizona

Holy hell that’s a lot of points. The Utes have put themselves in the driver’s seat for the Pac-12 South with a game plus a tie-breaker over ASU. Arizona stumbled into its first win of the year last week against a Cal team that was missing pretty much everyone due to Berkeley’s strict Covid protocols. You don’t need me to tell you that Utah is better than Arizona at every phase of the game. What might surprise you is that Arizona’s defense has rounded into an average form- slightly better than average yards per play allowed without a big weakness against the run or pass. Also, 24 points is a lot go lay in a road game.

Utah 37 – Arizona 14

Stanford (+13) @ Oregon State

Oregon State v Colorado Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The wheels have come off for Stanford with four straight losses, culminating in last Friday’s 52-7 bludgeoning at the hands of Utah. Tanner McKee sat out that game and was described as “questionable/doubtful” by David Shaw for this week. Without McKee, Stanford has been utterly bereft. With him, the offense is respectable. The Beavers have receded from a hot start by losing three of four. Last week’s OT loss to Colorado was a low point. OSU has been notably better at home. If McKee plays, the 13 point is a lot, but it sounds like he’s unlikely to play.

Oregon State 28 – Stanford 14

Colorado (+17) @ UCLA

The Bruins will look to right the ship after losing two in a row before their bye week. On the plus side, those losses came against Oregon and Utah, the two best teams in the conference. After a promising start, UCLA has settled in as a slightly above-average team; capable of beating bad teams, but not quite good enough defensively to hang with legitimately good teams. Colorado’s offense, which was horrific early in the year, has scored at least 29 points three of the last four times out. Coupled with UCLA’s poor defense, they should score enough to keep this one within the wide margin, but the Bruins’ offense is too explosive to truly risk losing.

UCLA 35 – Colorado 20

Washington State (+13.5) @ Oregon

Washington State v ASU Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Cougars have a lot going for them in this match-up. They are coming off a bye on a good run of form. Their last two road-trips produced double-digit wins over Cal and Arizona State. Jayden de Laura has played better as the season has gone along, and Oregon’s pass defense is softer than their run defense. The Ducks do have one big advantage, which is the steady drumbeat of their run game against a sub-par rush defense for the Cougs. As it was against the Dawgs, that offensive approach should be enough to keep things rolling for Oregon, but WSU is very capable of keeping things close.

Oregon 31 – Washington State 28

Arizona State (-5.5) @ Washington

Has there ever been a Pac-12 game with fewer eligible coaches? Washington is down two with Jimmy Lake’s suspension on John Donovan’s dismissal. Arizona State is missing three due to suspensions for recruiting and Covid policy violations. ASU has been without their coaches for much longer, so we have a clearer idea of what impact it has on their game-planning and execution. The Dawgs are a bit harder to project because we don’t know what the play-calling will look like under Junior Adams or even who will take most of the snaps at QB.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 02 Southern Utah at Arizona State Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

One thing we know for certain is that the Dawgs struggle against the run. Every competent rushing offense has controlled the game against UW by sustaining long, back-breaking drives. Bob Gregory has been in charge of that defense and his elevation to interim head coach is unlikely to create dramatic changes in the scheme. The Sun Devils are one of the best rushing offenses in the country, led by the electric trio of RBs Rachaad White and DeaMonte Trayanum and QB Jayden Daniels. They can throw effectively when they need to, but Daniels has speed and mobility to escape the pocket if UW’s secondary holds up.

When the Sun Devils have lost, they have struggled with self-inflicted wounds, likely related to the scarcity of coaching leadership referenced above. They committed 16 penalties in their loss to BYU, blew a 21-7 lead against Utah (with another 13 penalties), and turned the ball over five times against Washington State. Is it possible for ASU to hand this game to an unwitting UW team? Of course, but the more likely outcome is that they control the game on the ground and UW’s offense continues to muddle beneath its potential.

Arizona State 30 – Washington 23