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Picking the Pac: Dawgs Soldier on vs Buffaloes

Fighting on Arrival, Fighting for Survival

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 13 Arizona State at Washington Photo by Jacob Snow/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

Friday Game

Arizona (+15) @ Washington State

The Cougs stayed within shouting distance of Oregon last week, but ended up half a point shy of the spread (UW-ASU also ended a half-point off the spread, and I whiffed on those two picks). Arizona has improved through the season and kept their last four games within single-digits, even winning the Protocol Bowl against Cal. The Cougs have won a single game by more than 15 points this year and that was against Portland State. The Wildcats will be able to run a little and their defense has been respectable for the last month, enough to keep the game from getting out of hand.

WSU 30 – Arizona 17

Saturday Games

UCLA (+3) @ USC

USC v UCLA Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Fox moved the most glorious uniform match-up of the year out of LA’s golden hour, but it will still be a sight to behold. If this spread is giving USC three points as the home team, it implies that the two teams are equal, which I’m not seeing. UCLA certainly has defensive warts, especially against the run, and those weaknesses have manifested as big point totals against the better teams on the schedule. On the other hand, UCLA’s rush offense is easily the most impressive part of this match-up and USC’s rush defense has been miserable. In short, it’s two bad defenses going against an average offense and a really good offense. I’ll take the good offense.

UCLA 35 – USC 30

Cal (+1.5) @ Stanford

The Stanford team that beat Oregon and USC seems to be a mirage. They’ve lost five straight and haven’t been competitive against Utah or Oregon State the last two times out. Getting Tanner McKee back will help cover the gaping wound at QB. On the other side, Cal will be near full strength after Covid absences and a bye. The Bears looked good in wins over Colorado and Oregon State before losing most of their team to health and safety protocols against Arizona. With a week to prepare an a full roster, I like Damien Moore’s chances to gash a porous Cardinal defensive front.

Cal 24 – Stanford 17

Oregon (+3) @ Utah

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 05 Utah at Stanford Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It looks strange to see the #3 team in the country getting points against a three-loss opponent, but that reality reflects the betting public’s skepticism of Oregon’s ranking. This should be a good game, and we might get to see a rematch in the Pac-12 title game. Travis Dye has carried Oregon’s offense lately and will have a chance to do it again against an uncharacteristically mediocre Utah run defense. What the Utes offer that recent Oregon opponents haven’t is real offensive dynamism. Cam Rising and Tavion Thomas are a one-two punch that will give the Ducks more trouble than they have had against teams like Wazzu, UW, or Colorado. I’m expecting to see some points on the board, and Oregon has pulled out enough tough games that I wouldn’t be surprised to see them do it again. The Utah momentum and home field are enough to put them over the line in this pick, though.

Utah 38 – Oregon 34

Arizona State (-3) @ Oregon State

It was nice to see the Beavers get back on track against Stanford last week when it looked like they were at risk of squandering their strong start to the season. Zooming out, that dip in performance looks more like a scheduling quirk- the Beavers are 6-0 at home and 0-4 on the road. Their ATS record is identical. The difference this week is that ASU is probably the best team to come to Corvallis this year. Both teams like to run the ball frequently, but can get yards through the air when they need it. ASU has the advantage on defense, which is an area that has been a problem for OSU, even in some of their home wins. ASU isn’t an elite rush defense, but they have been better than the Beavers in that department. This is another game that could easily break either way. I’m going to side with the better defense even though it goes against the OSU trend.

ASU 31 – OSU 30

Washington (-6.5) @ Colorado

As tumultuous as UW’s season has been, it’s easy to forget that he games have followed a predictable script. The Husky pass defense has been very good, even great at times. But the run defense has generally worn down and the Dawgs have lost the games where opposing teams are able to sustain long drives on the ground throughout the second half. Colorado will be an interesting test case because they strongly prefer to run the ball, but their offense has only been effective in the games where they have shown some ability to pass. They’ve shown signs of life in four of their last five conference games, scoring 30 ppg with a passable 6.1 Y/A passing. Contrast that with their other five games against FBS teams, where they scored a total of 37 points on a very poor 4.6 Y/A. That split is reassuring for UW because the pass defense shouldn’t be a problem. Colorado will run the ball a lot and might get some yardage, but they haven’t scored much when they haven’t been able to pass.

Oregon State v Colorado Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

There are more questions on the Husky offensive side of the ball because we don’t even know how the QB snaps will break down. It appears that Dylan Morris will continue to get most of the workload, but Patrick O’Brien might see action with Sam Huard preserving his redshirt eligibility. Morris’s confidence seems to be shot because his passes get more and more errant as he gets off script or must move around in the pocket. UW’s saving grace might be that Colorado’s rush defense is bad on the level of Stanford’s, which was the conference opponent who made UW’s offense look most functional. If Cam Davis can take pressure off Morris to get close to 30 points, that should be enough to take care of business. Still, that’s a lot to ask of a player who has been in and out of favor through the year. It would be nice to have a healthy Sean McGrew or Richard Newton for this game. Without them, I think it will come down to the final possession.

Washington 24 – Colorado 20