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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

June 22, 2011 at 2:32 PM

Guessing the lines for UW games in 2011

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The Golden Nugget sports book in Las Vegas recently posted some early lines for a few of the marquee college football games in 2011.

No UW games made the list, though I kind of thought the contest at Nebraska would, if nothing else.

So I figured I’d repeat something we’ve done here in past years and take a shot at guessing what the lines would be for UW’s games in 2011 (a Husky team that will be lead by RB Chris Polk, at right in a Dean Rutz photo).

To make clear, these are guesses on what the odds would be for UW’s games — which are set in an effort to get 50-50 wagering on each side — and are not my own predictions for those games. And obviously, they are based solely on what we know of both teams today — much will change during the season and the actual lines posted that week will reflect that.

But if we were at the Golden Nugget today and setting lines on UW’s 2011 games, here’s how it might look.

Sept. 3, Eastern Washington — Huskies minus-19. Most sports books typically don’t place lines on games involving FCS teams, but we’ll include this game since this whole thing is just an exercise in speculation. Eastern is the defending FCS champs, a veteran team with what could be a good passing attack. A spread of 19 might seem too low. But oddmakers also might have trouble figuring out how well the UW offense will play in this game, having to depend on a new starting QB, and the Eagles’ offense seems explosive enough to put some points on the board. This might be regarded by many as the prootypical “backdoor cover,” where a team tacks on some points late to beat the spread.

Sept. 10, Hawaii — Huskies minus-13. A similar-looking game to the first one. Hawaii won 10 games last season and returns a QB who threw for 5,040 yards in 2010 and should again have an explosive passing attack. Hawaii has lots of holes elsewhere, however, and historically has played poorly off the islands. But Hawaii’s ability to throw and score — remember the 36 points put on USC last year? — might again make this a game where UW would be regarded as a healthy favorite, but with the opponent having the ability to keep it relatively close.

Sept. 17, at Nebraska — Cornhuskers minus-12. Obviously, these two teams played two wildly contrasting games last season, Nebraska winning by 35 in Seattle and UW by 12 in the Holiday Bowl. The oddmakers may consider those two results, the fact that this game is in Lincoln, and kind of split it down the middle. Nebraska will have the revenge factor in its favor, as well as the aforementioned home crowd, and maybe the number I’m guessing here is too low. But given how UW played in the Holiday Bowl and some of Nebraska’s offensive questions, this seems like one where the oddsmakers would expect Nebraska to win but maybe in relatively low-scoring fashion.

Sept. 24, Cal — Huskies minus-5.5. The Pac-12 opener for both teams, this line might seem way too low given the last two games between these teams in Seattle — Husky routs by 14 and 32. But while most are picking UW ahead of Cal in season projections, I think the general feeling is there isn’t a huge difference between these two on paper. With each team featuring a new QB, the oddsmakers will likely count on a low-scoring game.

Oct. 1, at Utah — Utes minus-six. Oddsmakers love trends, and Utah’s success at home in recent years is an obvious one that would influence this line — Utah is 30-6 at home under Kyle Whittingham, and 17-1 the last three years. This will be Utah’s first Pac-12 home game, so the atmosphere figures to be festive and difficult — not to mention that the Utes have won 33 games the past three years. So oddsmakers at the moment would likely side with the home team here.

Oct. 15, Colorado — Huskies minus-seven. UW figures to be a solid favorite against a Colorado team that is generally being picked near the bottom of the Pac-12 South. This will also be the third road game in four weeks for the Buffs — at Ohio State on Sept. 24 and at Stanford on Oct. 8 — while the Huskies will be well-rested following the bye. UW has played well under Steve Sarkisian when given a little extra time to prepare, notably the Holiday Bowl and last year’s when at USC, which also came off a bye.

Oct. 22, at Stanford — Cardinal minus-11. This is a tough one to figure now since it’s hard to know whether Stanford will just pick up where it left off last season, or come down a bit while adjusting to a new coach and other significant losses on its offensive line. FWIW, Stanford was a 14-point favorite in its last home game of last season against Oregon State.

Oct. 29, Arizona — Huskies minus-three. These two teams look pretty even on paper, and I figure the oddsmakers would just give UW the usual three points for being the home team.

Nov. 5, Oregon — Ducks minus-6. UW was a seven-point underdog last year when it hosted Stanford, which can serve as something of a guide for how this year’s Oregon game might be perceived. UW may have some emotional edges in this one, specifically that this will be the last game in Husky Stadium before it undergoes renovation, which should mean a full house and an emotional crowd. But the oddsmakers would also surely note Oregon’s dominance of UW of late. (And fun fact from last year I’d forgotten — Oregon was a 37.5-point favorite over UW but the Huskies covered by half-a-point when the Ducks won 53-16).

Nov. 12, at USC — Trojans minus-six. USC was a 9.5-point against UW a year ago at the Coliseum. The two teams seem more even heading into this season then would have been perceived when they played a year ago, so the Trojans would still be favored, but likely by not as much.

Nov. 19, at Oregon State — Beavers minus-2.5. Nothing influences point spreads as much as location, and the Beavers will have the home edge here, which would likely be enough to make them the favorite. UW has won just once in Corvallis since 1999.

Nov. 26, Washington State at Qwes. … er.. CenturyLink Field — Huskies minus-9. Rivalry games often feature closer lines than might be expected otherwise for all the obvious reasons. I think UW would be regarded as a solid favorite in this one but with the Cougars having the ability to keep it close, especially with the atmosphere likely more netural than what it would be at Husky Stadium.
So that’s six games in which I figure UW would be favored, and six in which it would be the underdog. The only one, in terms of which team is the favorite, that I think would be real debatable is Oregon State. But I think the home edge would be enough, given what we know today, to make the Beavers a slight favorite in that one.

UW was also favored six times last year, and an underdog seven times, including the bowl game. UW lost twice as a favorite — BYU and Arizona State — and won three times as an underdog — USC, Cal and the Holiday Bowl. That gave UW a point spread record of 7-6 that was identical to its record on the field.

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