USC @ Arizona (-4)
Preseason Pick: Arizona
The weird thing about this game is that it's kind of a big deal for each, but really not THAT big of a deal for either. Arizona is done for Rose Bowl contention with a loss here… but honestly, they're probably done anyway. It's a tough sell to think that they're going to go into Autzen, win, and have the Ducks win out. Meanwhile, USC is looking to tally up another win, but of all the games left, this is one of the least important. They close up with Notre Dame and UCLA, and both are the big rivalry games of the year. They lost their really big game against Oregon not long ago. This is a chance to make a statement… but ultimately, it's important because they want to win a game, not as much because this specific game is vital to them.
As a consequence of all that, it's pretty tough to try to speculate as to which team will or will not show up. This may be an edge for USC, because they've shown up pretty much every time they've played, while the Wildcats have already had a couple especially poor performances (the home loss to Oregon St and the beating Stanford gave them last week stand out, though the way too close Cal win was also troubling). If Arizona doesn't really come to play, USC has a great chance of pulling the upset.
On the Other Hand:
This is weird to say, but honestly, Arizona is the better team than USC. Throw in home-field advantage, and a presumed desire to come back and play better after last week's disaster at Stanford, and it's easy to see them winning by a reasonably comfortable amount. They certainly have an abundance of weapons on offense, and while the defense was exposed a bit last week, it's still a quality unit and should give USC trouble.
Arizona is the better team and at home. However, I think this is a bit of a good spot for USC, so they've got a solid shot at the upset. Ultimately, it should be a close game, with the Wildcats pulling it out late.
@ Arizona 31, USC 28
Stanford (-4) @ Arizona St
Preseason Pick: Stanford
It's interesting to see this line only at 4 points with Stanford off of back to back bludgeonings of Washington (in Seattle) and Arizona. They've got a great offense and their defense has really been starting to step up. If they can win 35-0 in LA and 41-0 in Seattle, can they beat up the Sun Devils? It's certainly possible, despite the close line. If ASU can't get it going on offense, and if Stanford's D-line controls the game, things could get very hairy for the home team.
On the Other Hand:
Arizona St has been playing teams tough all year; other than their faceplant at Cal and their game against Oregon, they'd have covered +4 in every game they've played, including trips to Wisconsin, Oregon St and USC. Is Stanford really so much better than those three that the Devils will fail to cover +4 at home? If ASU can get a relatively mistake-free game from their team, they have a legitimate chance at pulling the upset.
When push comes to shove, ASU will make a key mistake or two, and Stanford will make a key play or two. This will be a good game for a while, but eventually Stanford pulls away.
Stanford 28, @ Arizona St 20
Oregon (-19.5) @ Cal
Preseason Pick: Cal
In the pre-season, this looked like a pretty interesting game. After Oregon has blown away just about everyone, and Cal has played .500 football, it no longer looks so interesting. It's no surprise that Oregon is a heavy favorite in this game; they've got by far the best talent even when Cal is fully healthy; with Kevin Riley sidelined things get even hairier for the Bears. If Oregon plays like they've done most of the year, this will get ugly.
On the Other Hand:
There's good reason to think that Oregon won't be playing as well as usual. First of all, this game simply isn't very important for them; as long as they win, it really doesn't matter whether it's close or not, which means that if they build a lead, there's every reason to think they'll be putting in the backups as soon as they can to give them experience and avoid injuries to their starters. That's an important consideration given that the Ducks already haven't been especially great on the road, and are basically laying 20.
Another consideration is the extreme home-field advantage that Cal has enjoyed this year. Certainly some of it is noise, but the fact remains that they have consistently played far better at home than they have on the road. If they can somehow continue to play at a high level at home without Kevin Riley, this could actually turn into a ballgame.
Oregon is the better team, and they'll win by what they want to win by. However, I just don't think they're going to care enough to really put the pedal to the metal here. At some point they'll be up by 20+, but Cal will win the fourth quarter and make the final score reasonably respectable.
Oregon 38, @ Cal 24
Washington St @ Oregon St (-24.5)
Preseason Pick: Oregon St
It's hard to see this game as being very close. However, I do think that the Cougars will make a better effort of it than they did a couple weeks ago in Tempe.
@ Oregon St 31, Washington St 13
National Games of the Week:
Mississippi St @ Alabama (-13)
This is a pretty fair line. Bama is the better team, and an upset would be a substantial surprise. However, Miss St is a quality opponent, and should give them a fairly tough challenge.
@ Alabama 28, Miss St 17
South Carolina @ Florida (-6.5)
It's always tough to win in the Swamp, but Spurrier's Gamecocks are capable of doing it. The Gators probably win this, but it should be close and could easily go the other way.
@ Florida 28, South Carolina 24
Kansas St @ Missouri (-13)
This line is just way too high. Missouri is better than Kansas St, but not THAT much better. This should be a close game.
@ Missouri 31, Kansas St 27
Purdue +12.5 vs Michigan
If the Wolverines couldn't cover this line against Indiana, UMass, Notre Dame, or Illinois, why should we think they can cover it at Purdue? The answer is we shouldn't.
FIU +8 @ Troy
Troy has covered this line precisely once, against MTSU a few weeks ago. FIU is no worse than Bowling Green, ULL or North Texas, and Troy couldn't cover this against any of those teams. They shouldn't cover it here either.
North Texas +10.5 @ Mid Tenn St
MTSU has been a gigantic mess this season; other than two wins against the UL schools, they've gotten tagged in every 1-A game they've played, including to a bad Memphis team, and some of those margins have been huge. I'm not quite calling the upset… but North Texas has a legitimate shot at this game.
NC St -18.5 vs Wake
Wake has failed to cover even this large line in exactly half of their 1-A games to date, and NC St is one of the better teams on their schedule. ‘Nuff said.
Pac-10: 51-9 SU, 24-29 ATS
National: 20-13 SU, 16-16-1 ATS
Bad Lines: 13-27-3
Mr Pac-10's 2010 Blog
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