Unfortunately, these are going to be short write-ups this week. Had a bit too much on my plate elsewhere, both in my life outside of football and the other pieces I'd been writing up. Should be back to a longer length next week.
Arizona @ Stanford (-8)
Preseason Pick: Stanford
This is THE big game of the week in the Pac-10, with what looks like the two best teams after Oregon facing up. If Stanford can win out, they're very likely to end up in a BCS game (though not likely the Rose), while if Arizona can win out, they'd jump ahead of the Ducks and take the Rose Bowl bid for themselves. Loser is out of the BCS chase, while the winner moves one step closer to a truly special season.
On paper, Stanford just looks better. Their defense has been up and down, but when it's been up it's been ridiculous, forcing turnovers and flat-out shutting teams down. And their offense just seems to get better as the season goes on (hiccup against Washington St notwithstanding). Arizona is a good team, but they've never really played at quite the same level as Stanford has managed when they're at their best (35-0 and 41-0 were REALLY impressive performances). The Foles/Scott combo is very good, but Andrew Luck looks like the best QB in the league, with the best offensive line, a good defense, and simply more talent overall.
On the Other Hand:
If Arizona's passing game can get going, watch out. They can score boatloads of points really quickly, and there's no question that Stanford's secondary is still a weakness. When the D-line dominates it's not a big deal, but when they don't, other teams can have a lot of success. And Arizona's defense is a very good unit, capable of holding down Stanford for long stretches at a time.
Each of these teams has been a bit up and down. Arizona is capable of pulling out the upset, and Stanford is capable of winning by a couple of touchdowns. Most likely, the Wildcats make enough plays to keep it tight until the end, but Stanford at home should be able to pull it out.
@ Stanford 31, Arizona 24
Arizona St @ USC (-5)
Preseason Pick: USC
USC is the better team, and at home. However, horrific performance at Cal aside, ASU has been a solid football team. Much like they did at Wisconsin and Oregon St, they should be able to make a very good game of it, especially since they really to win this game, given a brutal finishing stretch and the possibility that they might need seven wins to reach a bowl (six could very well do it, since apparently there won't be enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all the slots… but then again, with Stanford and Arizona still to go, even six wins will be tough).
@ USC 24, Arizona St 21
Oregon St @ UCLA (-5)
Preseason Pick: Oregon St
This isn't quite a bowl elimination game… but it's close. Oregon St has a nasty closing stretch of USC, Stanford and Oregon, and if they lose this game they'll be in serious danger of missing the postseason. Meanwhile, the Bruins are through the toughest part of their schedule (and caught a huge break with Locker's injury for their game coming up against Washington), and if they lose this one they'll need to sweep the Washington-ASU-USC stretch… which doesn't seem likely. Between the two, UCLA should be more desperate, since the Beavers could certainly come back from a loss here, while the Bruins are basically done if they can't pull this game out.
On paper, Oregon St is better, but there is still that strange streak of UCLA doing really well against the Beavers, and while the Beavs have won a couple straight… I don't really fell like that trend is fully over. If they win this one, in a game that looks a bit more evenly matched than some recent ones, then it'd be… but they have to win it first. I think they do, but I think it goes right down to the wire.
Oregon St 28, @ UCLA 27
Cal (-14) @ Washington St
Preseason Pick: Cal
14 points looks just about right for this one. With Cal's road issues and injury to Riley, they could very well lose this game. And with Wazzu's occasional really bad showings, they could very well get blown out like they did last week. I lean slightly towards Cal covering… but it could absolutely go either way.
Cal 31, @ Washington St 14
Washington @ Oregon (-35)
Preseason Pick: Oregon
Without Jake Locker, the Huskies just aren't a good team. Even with Jake Locker, 35 points was a line the Ducks had a reasonable chance to cover. Without him, I think they cover it without too much trouble.
@ Oregon 50, Washington 7
National Games of the Week:
TCU (-4.5) @ Utah
This line is just too low. TCU has been a fantastic football team game in and game out, and while this will be a very tough road test, they just seem too good to lose, and may well not even be seriously tested here.
TCU 31, @ Utah 21
Alabama (-6.5) @ LSU
This line is a bit too high. It's not at night, but LSU still has a good home-field advantage, and they're entirely capable of pulling the upset. This should be a good, down to the wire game.
Bama 28, @ LSU 24
Arkansas @ South Carolina (-4.5)
Honestly, I think Arkansas is the better team. They're on the road, so it'll be a tough test, but I think they pull it out.
Arkansas 28, @ South Carolina 21
Akron +13.5 @ Ball St
Akron may have been a ridiculously awful team so far this year… but Ball St has been really bad too. Akron would have covered this line against Kent, and nearly covered it against Indiana; both of those are far better than Ball St. Other than one good game against Central Michigan, Ball St has been almost as big of a mess as Akron.
Illinois +3 @ Michigan
People are waiting on Michigan to suddenly be good… but I don't think it's going to happen this year. On a neutral site Illinois is the obvious pick. At Michigan it's more like a tossup… but there's still a full field goal of a line, which is simply too high in this game.
Iowa -17.5 @ Indiana
Indiana is just not a good football team. The two times they've had tough tests, against Ohio St and Illinois, they got totally crushed. There's little reason to think it won't happen here, unless Iowa comes up with an awful effort (which happens from time to time). But even in a letdown situation, this line is just too small.
Mizzou -4.5 @ Texas Tech
This line is weirdly small. Mizzou has been far better than Tech this year, and I honestly can't figure the line out. I could be missing something… but I think Vegas blew this one.
Kansas St +4 vs Texas
People are just assuming Texas is going to flip the switch and suddenly be good… but there's little evidence that's going to happen. The season is basically lost, and they're pretty much playing for pride… and this isn't the game that they're really going to be focusing on, especially with a bigger game next week against Oklahoma St (and the chance to keep the winning streak against the Cowboys alive).
Pac-10: 47-8 SU, 21-27 ATS
National: 18-12 SU, 13-16-1 ATS
Bad Lines: 10-25-3
Mr Pac-10's 2010 Blog
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