It’s becoming that time of year where it’s evident that I am who they thought I were — or something like that.
I had another okay week at least picking the teams straight up, but another losing week against the spread — yes, just do the opposite of what I pick against the spread and you might be richer than whoever it was who got the printing contract for all the political ads that show up in our mail every day this time every four years.
Regardless, as Ratt once sang so eloquently, I’m Back For More.
It’s a week that shapes up as one of the most interesting of the Pac-12 season, with five of six games ones in which you could make a good case for either team winning (the lone exception being Stanford’s visit to Colorado).
The headliner — Oregon at USC — isn’t quite as headliney as it looked like it would be a few weeks ago. But it’s still pretty darn intriguing, as is most of the rest of the slate. So for better or worse (usually worse) let’s get to the picks. …
And this week, the lines are from VegasInsider.com.
STANFORD AT COLORADO (Cardinal by 28): Cardinal a heavy favorite for good season, though if Stanford doesn’t get better QB play, that spread could be in real danger (and it looks like you might see Kevin Hogan play more). Still, as problematic as Stanford’s offense has looked at times this season — consider that it gained just a combined 399 yards this season against UW and WSU — the Cardinal should have enough to easily win this one. Figures its defense to maybe get in the scoring act, as well. STANFORD 38, COLORADO 7.
WASHINGTON STATE AT UTAH (Utes by 11.5): The Cougars are feeling buoyed after their close defeat to Stanford, having held the Cardinal to 256 yards, while Utah is also coming off maybe its best game of the season, a 49-27 thrashing of Cal. Utah ranks 11th in the conference in pass defense efficiency, and if the Cougars can get their air attack going against Utah to not only move the ball but score some points, this could be a game. But the safe money is on the team home team, especially when it can run and play defense a little bit better. UTAH 24, WSU 13.
OREGON AT USC (Ducks by 8): Throughout the off-season, this was pegged as the conference’s game of the year, if not the the nation. It’s lost some luster with USC’s two losses, and the spread against USC is the largest in a Trojans’ home game since 1997. Simply put, I don’t think USC’s offense can keep up — in a matchup of a good passing team and a dominant running team, the running team will usually win. Oregon also has been better on special teams, and that could be critical, as well. Oregon should get a win that will aid its national title hopes. OREGON 45, USC 31.
ARIZONA AT UCLA (Bruins by 3): Two teams coming off hugely emotional wins meet in Pasadena, and if Oregon does indeed beat USC, the winner will suddenly control its own destiny in the Pac-12 South. The stats for the two teams are pretty even — the spread, basically giving, UCLA three points for the home field, reflects that. Arizona lost in overtime in its last road game in California, at Stanford. I’ll call for them to win this one. ARIZONA 38, UCLA 33.
ARIZONA STATE AT OREGON STATE (Beavers by 4): And here’s a matchup of two teams coming off tough losses, ASU to UCLA on the last play and OSU at Washington, a game that went down to the last minute. OSU has gone back to Cody Vaz at quarterback and also will see its pass defense tested again. ASU QB Taylor Kelly has been a revelation this year (19 TDs, conference-high pass efficiency). But the road and in what might be less-than-ideal conditions may be too much for the Sun Devils. OREGON STATE 28, ASU 21.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: 2-4
AGAINST THE SPREAD: 22-38.