Hard to believe, but some teams are reaching the halfway point of their seasons this week. Time flies when you’re playing at 7:30 every Saturday night . . .
UCLA (minus 5.5) at Utah — This has gone up a couple of points this week, no doubt on the basis of UCLA’s scoring punch, Utah’s defense being on the leaky side, and Brett Hundley’s quarterbacking ability, which is even better than Travis Wilson’s. It should be a frenzied night in Salt Lake City. I’m going to buck the particulars and say Utah’s desperation (it’s already 0-1 in Pac-12 play and has a lot of big tests left) will be the difference. Utah 34, UCLA 33.
Washington State (minus 1.5 ) at Cal — I’m pretty sure Cal is still athletically better than WSU, but I’m going to side with the Cougars on the basis that the break-in process is still ongoing in Berkeley to a new system, while WSU has settled into Mike Leach’s way of doing things. In what is likely to be a high-scoring game, this is predicated on two things: Connor Halliday being physically OK and able to compete (I don’t think WSU can win with Austin Apodaca yet) and WSU coming with a good effort, which it has done throughout the first month. WSU 34, Cal 31.
Oregon (minus 39) at Colorado — Normally, I take the tack that no number is high enough for the Ducks, but I’m going to make an exception here. De’Anthony Thomas is out, and no matter how much the Duck coaches talk about focusing on the next opponent, you have to think they’ve got one eye out for the Washington game in a week. That means we could see an earlier-than-usual hook for some key players, like QB Marcus Mariota. Besides, the Buffs are anxious to prove that the 44-17 rout they suffered at OSU last week wasn’t really indicative of them. Oregon 52, Colorado 21.
Arizona State (minus 5.5)-Notre Dame at Arlington, Texas — This Notre Dame team is clearly only a shadow of the 2012 edition, and it needs this one, and a bunch more, to stay in contention for a BCS bowl. It’s been only average running the ball and QB Tommy Rees hasn’t been great, either. Nonetheless, I don’t trust fully trust ASU, especially on the tail end of a crunching four-game stretch, and coming off an emotional win over USC. Arizona State 28, Notre Dame 24.
Washington (plus 7) at Stanford — I’m a little surprised the line hasn’t climbed higher for this one. The Huskies are hopeful of proving they’re elite in the Pac-12, while Stanford has the motivational edge of having lost a close one in Seattle in 2012. Meanwhile, recent Washington teams have performed poorly on the road, and I’m of a mind that the Huskies are going to have to prove otherwise before I take the bait. Stanford 31, Washington 20.
Last week — 4-1 (4-1 versus the spread). Season — 33-8 (18-13 versus the spread).