We’re almost halfway through the season and I’m realizing my record picking winners straight up is about the best I’ve ever had — 41-7.
I’d brag about it except my record against the spread — a much tougher task — remains under .500 at 23-25.
I also realize that the straight up record indicates, in part, a real lack of upsets in the Pac-12 so far. An awful lot of games have simply gone according to plan. In trying to think about the biggest upset of the year so far, the only two that really stand out are Oregon State’s home loss to Sacramento State, and — in conference play — Washington’s win at Utah (recall that the Huskies were 10-point underdogs, a line that may seem hard to believe in retrospect).
This week is another that features three pretty wide spreads — UW, Oregon and Stanford all favored by two touchdowns or more — and three that have relatively close spreads
As always, the odds are from the Daily Line in today’s edition of the trusty Seattle Times. And also as always, I’ll make my official pick on the UW game on Friday.
USC AT CAL (Trojans by 3): Two hard teams to read, especially USC, whom many will tell you is as talented as any in the conference but rarely seems to play like it. Maybe the ESPN spotlight will bring it out of the Trojans tonight. USC 31, CAL 23.
STANFORD AT WASHINGTON STATE (Cardinal by 21): WSU’s hoped-for 5-0 start didn’t quite pan out — maybe if Jeff Tuel had stayed healthy — and now the schedule stiffens. Stanford’s been dominant so far but hasn’t really played anyone, and it could be argued this is as big as test as it has had to date. WSU should be able to make a few big plays in the passing game, but hard to figure they can really stay with the more physical Cardinal — or that Andrew Luck would led Stanford’s national title hopes slip away in this setting. STANFORD 37, WSU 17. (Changed final score after realizing I initially called for a push, which I didn’t intend).
UTAH AT PITT (Panthers by 7): Utah is getting a harsh dose of reality in its first year in the Pac-12, and now has to navigate its season without starting QB Jordan Wynn. Pitt isn’t great, and Utah’s defense should be able to keep this close. But hard to see that offense pulling out a win on the road. PITT 20, UTAH 14.
BYU AT OREGON STATE (Beavers by 2): An intriguing game of two teams have benched highly-hyped starting QBs after getting off to slow starts. OSU, however, seems to be getting healthy, its defense has been okay even in the losses, and the Beavers are at home. OSU 27, BYU 17.
ARIZONA STATE AT OREGON (Ducks by 15.5): I was asked in the chat Thursday — can ASU beat Oregon? Sure, it could. But I don’t think it will. ASU appears to be living up to the pre-season talk that it would be the best team in the South, and it has an aggressive ball-hawking defense and a continually improving QB in Brock Osweiler. But Oregon is Oregon, and Autzen is Autzen and the thought here is the Ducks will eventually wear out the Sun Devils — as they so often do to teams in the second half — and that ASU will make a fatal mistake or two along the way. OREGON 41, ASU 24.
Last week: Straight up, 4-1; against the spread, 3-2
Season to date: Straight up, 41-7; against the spread, 23-25.