No one is happier to see Week 12 arrive than yours truly, who was as bad picking games last Saturday as David Stern negotiating a labor deal.
I at least got half right straight-up, which by itself was the worst week of the season. But I was a downright Tebowesque 1-5 against the spread (or should that be Sanchezian — boy did that game change fast?)
But thankfully there is now another intriguing slate of games this weekend, one of just two left in the regular season, with lots still on the line — if you consider winning the Pac-12 South as “lots.”
Enough rambling. …
UTAH AT WASHINGTON STATE (Utes by 3.5): There was no better story in college football last weekend than Connor Halliday, seemingly coming from out of nowhere to throw for more yards than any QB in the Pac-12 had all season. The task is tougher this weekend, though, since 1, Utah is better defensively than Arizona State; and 2, they’ve seen some film of him now. But Utah is also nowhere near as explosive offensively as ASU so Halliday doesn’t have to go for almost five bills this time around. Three might be enough. That’s assuming he doesn’t get killed by a Utah defense that is third in the conference in sacks. For football fans in the state, it’d be nice to see the Cougars win it and pump that much more life into the Apple Cup. But we’ve got a feeling Utah RB John White and that defense won’t let it happen. UTAH 27, WSU 17.
COLORADO AT UCLA (Bruins by 11): Oh the subplots here as Rick Neuheisel faces the school that gave him his first head coaching job in a game he needs to win to keep his current one. A loss here and UCLA’s season is toast, and so probably would be Neuheisel. And while CU hasn’t been much this season, the Buffs played their best game last week against Arizona, giving them the most momentum they’ve had all season (if you’re a believer in all of that). The whole game likely comes down to whether UCLA can run on a Colorado defense allowing the most yards per carry of any team in the Pac-12 — 5.2. The guess here is UCLA and Neuheisel will live to fight another week. UCLA 34, COLORADO 21.
USC AT OREGON (Ducks by 14.5): The game of the week in the conference, and if this one were in Los Angeles I’d give the Trojans a puncher’s chance. But it’s not, so I see the Ducks doing what they always do — starting out a little slow, then getting progressively more on points as the game rolls on and eventually pulling away to a sizeable win. That’s especially true if Robert Woods is really hurt and the Trojans don’t have their best offensive weapon. The one caveat is if Matt Barkley plays to the No. 1 draft pick level that Steve Sarkisian touted last week — he was nowhere near that against UW. And while USC has the second-best run defense in the Pac-12, but that never seems to matter much when it comes to playing Oregon. OREGON 41, USC 24.
CAL AT STANFORD (Cardinal by 18): The Cardinal has to show it can bounce back after a bitter loss last week to Oregon. Playing the arch-rival, and at home, should help. Cal actually beat Stanford here in 2009, the last time the Bears really looked like a good team. I’m sure Andrew Luck remembers that, and will also make sure that his team’s Oregon hangover has passed by Saturday night, as well. Expect Stanford to roll in keeping its BCS hopes alive. STANFORD 45, CAL 21.
ARIZONA AT ARIZONA STATE (Devils by 10.5): Dennis Erickson went from coach of the year candidate to on the hot seat in two rough weeks —- surprising road losses at UCLA and WSU. Missed clutch field goals hurt in each game as did a defense surprisingly bad overall and especially against the pass. The long, weird season, though, seems to have really caught up to Arizona the last two weeks, decisive losses to Utah and Colorado. So while nothing that happens in a rivalry game should ever surprise, ASU should be able to bounce back and get it win it needs to keep its Pac-12 South title hopes alive. ASU 34, ARIZONA 21.
Given, though, how my picks went last week, you’d be best advised to take the other side, then reserve the yacht.
Last week: Straight up, 3-3; against the spread, 1-5
Season to date: Straight up, 60-18; against the spread, 32-45.