Unlike a lot of the other football teams in this state, I’m actually coming off a winning week. Though one that was excruciatingly close to being downright successful.
I went 8-2 straight-up, missing on Cal and UCLA, and 5-4 against the spread — and one of my losses against the number came when Minnesota threw a TD pass with 11 seconds to close within 11 points of USC (the Trojans were favored by 11-and-a-half).
But now that the non-conference gimmes are pretty much over, it gets a little more challenging. On with the picks. …
OREGON STATE AT BOISE STATE (Broncos by 17.5): The marquee game of the week in the Pac-10, and critical for Boise State to prove anew to pollsters that it deserves its lofoty ranking, especially with the perceived value of its win over Virginia Tech taking a big hit with Tech’s loss to James Madison. That seems like a pretty lofty point spread in favor of the Broncos, especially considering OSU gave TCU a decent run two weeks ago. The Beavers, however, looked pretty shaky on defense last week against Louisville and hard to imagine them stopping BSU in this one. BOISE STATE 38, OSU 20.
USC AT WASHINGTON STATE (Trojans by 22): The line on this one has come down a few points, bettors noticing that the Trojans are 0-3 against the spread and that WSU showed a little life last week against SMU. This is a key game for WSU coach Paul Wulff to show some progress — no reason for this to be a 50-point blowout. That said, the numbers favor an easy USC win, such as a 5.6 YPC average to 2.8 for the Cougars. WSU does have one matchup in its favor — a decent pass-and-catch game against a weak Trojan secondary. But that doesn’t figure to be enough. USC 38, WSU 14.
STANFORD AT NOTRE DAME (Cardinal by 4.5): Cardinal getting a lot of respect by the gamblers in this one, heading into South Bend favored. And Stanford has undoubtedly looked like world-beaters so far, albeit mostly against subpar competition. Winning on the road is obviously not a real issue for the Cardinal, witness its recent shutout at UCLA, or its big win last season at USC. Count this another big win for Stanford. STANFORD 31, NOTRE DAME 21.
UCLA AT TEXAS (Longhorns by 15): The line on this one has gone down a bit after UCLA’s win over Houston coupled with a Texas team that isn’t playing as well as its lofty ranking. While key here could be the running game — UCLA suddenly seems to be showing one while Texas remains surprisingly bad rushing the ball given its ranking. If UCLA can really win that edge, and not make a bunch of dumb mistakes, it could stay in this one for a while. But hard to see the Bruins really winning. TEXAS 31, UCLA 13.
OREGON AT ARIZONA STATE (Ducks by 11): Oregon leads the nation in just about everything after two games that were essentially one-inch putts, and a win against rebuilding Tennessee. This game actually looms as Oregon’s toughest-to-date as ASU showed some spunk in almost winning at Wisconsin last week (and proving that those of us who thought the Devils might have a pretty salty defense this year could be right). The Devils appeared to have pretty good speed on defense against Wisconsin, but that will be put to the test against Oregon (as will be its defensive discipline as the Devils only have one senior starting on defense — in fact, only two seniors starting on offense or defense). Figure ASU to keep it close for a little while but hard to figure Oregon doesn’t pull away. OREGON 34, ASU 17.
CAL AT ARIZONA (Wildcats by 6.5): The whole key here is which Cal team shows up — the one that blasted Colorado, or the one that got blasted at Nevada. This already seems like a key game for a Cal team with a fragile pysche. Arizona, meanwhile, has to avoid a letdown after the big win over Iowa last week. Both teams could have key players out — LB Mike Mohamed for Cal, WR Juron Criner for Arizona, each struggling with toe injuries. Ultimately, the guess here is that Cal QB Kevin Riley makes a fatal mistake that will doom the Bears. ARIZONA 27, CAL 14.
LAST WEEK: Straight up — 8-2; against the spread — 5-4.
SEASON TO DATE: Straight up — 23-5; against the spread — 11-10.
September 23, 2010 at 10:57 AM
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