It all comes down to this. After a terrible start to the season, I have clawed back to a .500 record against the spread. With a good performance in the final week of conference play (ever!) and in the bowls, I can finish the year with another winning record. It’s going to be difficult, because many of this week’s games depend on which teams are still invested in the season and which ones are anxiously waiting to be put out of their misery. It’s always hard to get in the collective minds of 85 college students, but let’s give it a try.
All betting lines from DraftKings Sportsbook. Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details
Oregon State @ Oregon, Oregon -13.5
The three most meaningful games of the week are three traditional in-state rivalries, just as it should be. The Beavers won this game last year in Corvallis.A repeat performance would clear the path for Arizona to overtake Oregon for the second spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Beaver defense had some success against UW in last week’s monsoon, but Oregon should be able to move the ball in better conditions. I like Damien Martinez and DJU as a one-two punch on the ground, though I worry about whether OSU has enough explosive plays to keep pace with Troy Franklin and Bucky Irving.
Oregon 42 - OSU 33
Colorado @ Utah, Utah -22
This game is one where it’s impossible not to wonder about the focus and motivation of the teams involved. The Buffs have lost five straight and seven out of the last eight. They were pounded by Wazzu last week even though the Cougs came in having lost six in a row. Shedeur Sanders is questionable after not being able to finish the game last week. Utah hasn’t played a meaningless game in ages, but last week’s blowout loss to Arizona strips the impact out of this one. Utah has also been so beat up all year that it’s almost easy to forget that they’re not playing anywhere near full strength. If Sanders doesn’t play, Colorado will not hang around. If he does, I think they score enough points to cover this huge spread. I’m going to guess that the coach’s kid doesn’t risk his health in a mostly meaningless game.
Utah 38 - Colorado 13
Arizona @ Arizona State, Arizona -10.5
ASU has improved through the year. Wins over WSU and UCLA showed that they have made real progress from the depths of failure they found themselves in at the end of last season. They’re still a year behind Arizona in the program rebuild cycle. The Wildcats are ahead of schedule by getting into contention for the final Pac-12 title behind the playmaking of Noah Fefita. ASU will not lay down for this game with the in-state rivalry keeping the stakes high. Still, Arizona has discovered an identity and has beaten better teams than the Devils by wide margins in the last six weeks.
Arizona 35- ASU 21
Notre Dame @ Stanford, Notre Dame -26
There are two versions of this Notre Dame team. There’s the version that loses to teams with similar or higher talent levels (Ohio State, Clemson) and the version that pulverizes teams with lower talent levels. The ideal game for the Irish is to dominate the lines and control both sides of the ball. With the relative lack of depth on the Stanford squad, they are set up to do those things according to plan. Audric Estime should have a big game and Notre Dame should be able to limit Elic Ayomanor the Stanford offense to a very minimal output. The main purpose of the preceding sentence was to feature both Audric and Elic, two names that aren’t quite Eric.
Notre Dame 41 - Stanford 10
Cal @ UCLA, UCLA -8.5
UCLA’s offense went in the tank for two weeks in losses to Arizona and Arizona State, but bounced back against USC, aided by the return of Ethan Garbers at QB. Cal has won their last two to stay within touching distance of bowl eligibility. Fernando Mendoza has shown quick growth and improvement since taking over as Cal’s QB and nearly topped 300 yards against Stanford last week. Here’s the problem: Cal’s five wins have come against North Texas, Idaho, ASU, Wazzu, and Stanford. They haven’t beat a team with a winning record and usually haven’t kept it close. UCLA’s defense is too good to led Jaydn Ott take over and its own running game will not have trouble with the Cal defense.
UCLA 28 - Cal 17