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Picking the Pac, Week 5: One (through 10) for the Road

Top Pac-12 teams prepare for life away from home

USC v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Here’s a funny stat that teaches us almost nothing: in Week 3, home teams in Pac-12 games went 1-5 against the spread. In Week 4, home teams went 6-0 against the spread. I got halfway there with a 3-3 ATS record (5-1 SU, missing WSU’s narrow win over OSU). Interestingly, the three home dogs- WSU, Stanford, and ASU- all covered. I was especially impressed by the Cardinal and Sun Devils, who looked like the dregs of the conference in previous weeks but put up real fights against superior opposition. Nonetheless, the conference’s top teams all held serve and now we enter a week with four Pac-12 teams in the top 10 nationally, all of whom travel for away conference games this weekend.

All betting lines from DraftKings Sportsbook. Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details

Utah @ Oregon State, OSU -3 - Friday Game

UCLA v Utah Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

The Utes have a very interesting resume. They are 4-0 without their starting QB. The offense has taken a notable hit without Cam Rising and the running attack has not been able to fully compensate. Even so, the defense has been exceptional and they already have wins over UCLA, Florida, and Baylor (on the road). Corvallis will be their toughest test yet and it’s unlikely they will stifle Damien Martinez and DJU the same way they held Dante Moore in check last week in Salt Lake City. The WSU loss went against script for the Beavers; they gave up multiple big plays early in the game, fell behind 21-7, and had to lean too heavily on the passing game. Utah might be able to replicate some of that explosiveness if Rising is back, but with his status still in question, I like OSU’s ability to out-grind a team that is very good at grinding.

Oregon State 28 - Utah 24

USC @ Colorado, USC -21.5

As soon as the epic Colorado-Colorado St game ended, I thought to myself, “that was fun, but this team is getting smashed by Oregon.” Sure enough, the game was not competitive and was essentially over by the end of the first quarter. The part that surprised me was how much weaker the Colorado offense looked against an Oregon defense that has been more potential than performance so far. The same could be said about USC: they have the athletes on the defensive side, but the output hasn’t matched the skill and athleticism in recent years. Colorado has been a public favorite in the betting markets this year and the line has shifted 2.5 points in their favor since opening at USC -24. It’s rare for public money to go against a glitzy brand name from LA. Yes, USC had a letdown of their own against ASU last week, but they closed the game out nicely after some unforced errors in the first half. It would surprise me if they came out slightly unfocused for a second week in a row.

USC 49 - Colorado 21

Arizona State @ Cal, Cal -12

If Cal wants to stay in the mix for bowl eligibility, this is a game that they absolutely must win. The Bears have held serve so far- double-digit wins over North Texas and Idaho, a close loss to Auburn, and a blowout loss to UW. Arizona State had been absolutely dreadful before hanging with USC for three quarters last week. I’m more willing to look at the preceding 12 quarters that looked more like an FCS team. Jaydn Ott has significantly better stats against bad teams than good ones (no kidding!) so this might be a feast for Cal on the ground. I also don’t think the beatdown UW’s offense administered last week is representative of a pretty solid Cal defense. Whether it’s Jaden Rashada, Drew Pyne, or Trent Bourguet taking snaps for the Sun Devils, there hasn’t been enough of a consistent offensive threat to be favored in any conference games this year.

Cal 35 - ASU 21

Oregon @ Stanford, Oregon -27

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 23 Colorado at Oregon Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Stanford nearly pulled off a victory against Arizona last week in an ugly, slow game in which the Wildcats were able to run out the clock with a back-up QB to hang onto a one-point win. It was an improved performance by a Cardinal team that dropped a game to FCS Sacramento State the week before. The more meaningful result was Stanford’s 46-point capitulation to USC earlier in the year. The roster just does not have enough depth to hang with the top teams in the conference. Oregon definitely fits into that category after punching Colorado in the mouth last week. Bo Nix was efficient, Bucky Irving and the rest of the RB corps chewed up yardage, and the Duck defense made the kinds of havoc plays needed to maximize their effectiveness. The Ducks are definitely 4 TDs better than Stanford. The only question is whether they take their foot off the gas. After 35-points in the first half last week, they only scored seven in the second. With UW looming on the horizon, will Dan Lanning play it safe with a comfortable lead?

Oregon 49 - Stanford 17