After a strong start to Week 9, the late games brought me back to .500 for the week. Specifically, the two Arizona schools pulled off wins I did not expect. I wrote that OSU-Arizona would be a tough game, but I would “trust Jonathan Smith.” Instead, the Beavers’ coach called a bizarre fake field goal that had almost no chance of success in a three-point loss. Perhaps I can scratch out another winning week with some more rational behavior by the coaches.
All betting lines from DraftKings Sportsbook. Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details
Arizona State @ Utah, Utah -11
I’m always wary of a betting line that has been heavily influenced by the most recent games for each team. A week ago, this line would’ve easily favored Utah by two TDs, likely upwards of 17 points. The Sun Devils continued their upward trend and actually notched a shock victory against Washington State, while Utah played its worst game of the year against Oregon. Taking those results a layer deeper, WSU has lost four in a row and might be teetering on the edge of playing out the string, while Oregon has made almost everyone in the conference look bad (with one notable and glorious exception). We saw first-hand that ASU’s defensive line can get enough pressure to muddle the pass game. Will they be able to stand up against Utah’s run-first approach? The bigger trouble for the Sun Devils is that they remain an inefficient offense and Utah’s outstanding defense may sit on them for four quarters.
Utah 28 - ASU 14
Oregon @ Cal, Oregon -24
The Bears haven’t been very good this year, but at least they’ve been weird. Last week’s 50-49 home loss to the Trojans was their second conference loss in which they put up 40+ points. It’s fair to expect inconsistency from an offense that is on its third starting QB of the season. Why Justin Wilcox’s defense has surrendered 50+ in three of the last five games is more vexing. Oregon is a more complete team that won’t let Jaydn Ott keep Cal in the game. Giving 24 on the road opens up a wide range of possibilities that could lead to a cheap cover, but I still think the smart money is on the Ducks continuing to roll, at least until the Civil War comes along. Not for nothing- I also like the over 59.5 in this one quite a bit.
Oregon 48 - Cal 21
Stanford @ Washington State, WSU -13
I wrote earlier that I don’t like being a prisoner of the previous week’s result when making a pick. What about the last four weeks’ results? I’m confident that WSU is a significantly more talented and deeper team than Stanford, but the recent results for the Cougs have been bad. They have lost four in a row and two of the last three have been very disappointing- the home drubbing against Arizona and the loss at ASU last week. On the other hand, it’s not too late to salvage the season. A home win against a conference bottom-feeder here and the Cougs are a win away from bowl eligibility. While Ashton Daniels’s crazy effectiveness under pressure feels like a bit of a mirage, we have at least seen that Stanford’s offense has the ability to play well. WSU’s defense has slipped below Jake Dickert’s standard, so Stanford might just be able to hang around the fringes of this one.
WSU 38 - Stan 27
Oregon St @ Colorado, OSU -13.5
I was very much a Beaver Believer going into last week. I even picked OSU to reach the conference title game against UW. Another poor performance away from Corvallis likely put those hopes to bed when OSU lost in Tucson. Colorado has seemingly rebounded from the depths of their drubbing against Oregon to become a garden variety below-average team. They lost close against USC, beat ASU, lost in 2OTs to Stanford, and fell to UCLA by two scores last week. The loss to UCLA could have been much worse, since they lost by 12 despite winning the turnover battle by 4. Are the cumulative hits on Shedeur Sanders catching up? The OSU defense has not reached the elite levels of recent seasons, but if Sanders isn’t 100%, it’s going to be hard to keep up. And yet, with another road game, I’m not quite ready to get back on the Jonathan Smith bandwagon quite yet, at least not to the tune of 2 TDs.
OSU 30 - Colorado 21
UCLA @ Arizona, UCLA -3
I tip my cap to the odds-makers on this one, the line is right where it should be. These are two teams playing pretty well who are not without their faults. UCLA has a higher overall talent level, but Arizona has the home field advantage. The Bruins struggled away from the Rose Bowl until they thumped Stanford on The Farm two weeks ago. Arizona might have a slight hangover from last week’s emotional win over Oregon State. I don’t have a strong analytical reason to take one team or the other, so I’m going to side with the squad that I think is more talented.
UCLA 28 - Arizona 21