Oregon (-16.5) @ Oregon St
Preseason Pick: Oregon
The Oregon Ducks have one final potential stumbling block before they make their way to the national title game, and the Oregon St Beavers have one final chance to reach six wins, a bowl game, and torpedo their rivals’ championship hopes. The spotlight isn’t quite as bright this time as it was the last two years (each of which swung the Rose Bowl race), but if the Beavers can make a game of it that’ll change.
Unfortunately for the home team, they’re simply outmatched. The Ducks are better than them on both sides of the ball, with a better passing game, running game, and defense. In almost every game this year, the Ducks have eventually caught fire and roasted the other teams. There’s every reason to think it’ll eventually happen in this one too.
On the Other Hand:
It’s a rivalry game, and you just never know what can happen, especially when the underdog is at home. Moreover, the Ducks have struggled on the road; they were tied at halftime at Tennessee, they would have lost at ASU if the Sun Devils hadn’t beaten themselves, they had a pretty mediocre effort at Wazzu, and they barely held off Cal a couple weeks ago. If that holds to form, they could really struggle in this game.
The national title game is within reach, and the Ducks won’t let go of this chance. They’ll struggle for a while, and this game will be more interesting than most expect, but eventually they’ll go on their usual run and that will be that.
Oregon 35, @ Oregon St 24
Arizona St @ Arizona (-5)
Preseason Pick: Arizona
Just a few weeks ago, this game was an absolute no-brainer. The Wildcats were rolling, ASU was iffy for a bowl game, and it just didn’t seem like this was going to be much of a game. Now, Arizona is struggling, and ASU just came off a dominating win over UCLA and, if they score the upset here, have a pretty good shot of coming away with a bowl bid through the appeal process.
Right now, ASU is the team playing better football. Osweiller had a great game against UCLA, and the defense continues to be strong; they could have easily have already reached six wins if they got another break or two against either USC or Stanford. Meanwhile, Arizona is reeling, losing three straight against USC, Stanford and Oregon, with only the USC game being close.
On the Other Hand:
Arizona really ought to have the better team here. They certainly have the better quarterback, and while they are reeling, there’s nothing like a rivalry game to focus a team’s attention and get things back on track. Just as importantly, ASU has had a strong tendency to beat themselves in games where they aren’t the better team by far, and that seems likely to rear its head again in this one.
I’m tempted to pick the upset, but Arizona St just isn’t reliable enough for me to believe that they can make the key plays to win this tough game instead of making the key screwups to lose it. This’ll be close thoughout, but the Wildcats end their losing streak and pull out a hard-fought win, keeping ASU home for the holidays.
@ Arizona 28, Arizona St 24
Washington (-6) @ Washington St
Preseason Pick: Washington
In the 2010 edition of the Apple Cup, the Washington Huskies come in off key wins against UCLA and Cal, needing one more win to send one of their best quarterbacks ever to the postseason. All they need to do is avoid getting upset on the road in a rivalry game. They’re the better team here, and they really should score the win. Jake Locker has been inconsistent, but he’s still a pretty good quarterback, and the Huskies have more talent at the majority of positions.
On the Other Hand:
It’s a rivalry game, and you just never know. The Cougars got a stunning win at Corvallis a few weeks ago, and have had a couple weeks off to build on that performance. If they can revive that magic, or if that truly was evidence of a major turnaround, this could very well turn into a huge win for Paul Wulff and the Cougs.
This will be a good, back and forth game. With almost no time remaining, Locker will drive his team down the field, score the go-ahead touchdown, the Huskies will squib-kick, the Cougars will start running it back, lateral it, lateral it again… and get tackled. No miracle kick return in this one, as the Huskies just barely pull off the win.
Washington 31, @ Washington St 28
USC (-6) @ UCLA
Preseason Pick: USC
This is just a weird edition of the Victory Bell game, where neither team really has much of anything to play for except pride; I can’t remember the last time where both teams were out of the postseason race when they faced off. Certainly, USC has been the better team, a solid 7-5 vs UCLA’s 4-7. Both teams are reeling, with USC losing their last two, and UCLA five of their last six. Ultimately, this could very well come down to which team really wants it. My suspicion is that UCLA will have an emotional edge, especially since they’re off a bye game while USC just suffered a draining loss to Notre Dame. It won’t be quite enough to overcome USC’s superior talent… but it should be a very close game and could easily turn into an upset.
USC 24, @ UCLA 21
National Games of the Week:
Auburn (-5.5) vs South Carolina
It feels almost like a foregone conclusion that Auburn will cruise to the national title game… but South Carolina is a good, tough football team that will give the Tigers everything they can handle. Auburn wins but it goes down to the wire.
Auburn 31, South Carolina 28
Oklahoma (-6.5) vs Nebraska
Oklahoma may be a better team, but nearly a touchdown is just too much. Presuming Martinez can play, this is basically a tossup. If he’s out then nevermind, but the Sooners will get everything they can handle in this one.
Oklahoma 28, Nebraska 27
Virginia Tech (-3.5) vs Florida St
Unfortunately for Jimbo Fisher and the ‘Noles, Virginia Tech is simply a better football team. They win this one, perhaps even in a walk.
Virginia Tech 31, Florida St 21
Boise St -37.5 vs Utah St
Utah St is terrible, Boise is fantastic, and this one has “ridiculous blowout” written all over it. Boise may not have an incentive to really run it up, but they also don’t have one not to. Against Toledo, Hawaii, Idaho (on the road) and Fresno, all of whom are probably better than Utah St, they scored margins about equal or much greater than this. I’m thinking the margin here ends up in the mid-40’s or so, maybe even in the 50’s.
Pitt +2 @ Cincy
I remain a Cincy skeptic; Pitt is the better team and should win, especially since the Panthers are potentially playing for a Big East title (they won’t know the UConn score until later, though it’s unlikely West Virginia blows the Rutgers game).
Fresno +5 vs Illinois
The Illini should be motivated to avenge last year’s loss, but this is a tough cross-country trip, and I’m not sure that the Illini are much better than Fresno. They probably win, but they could easily lose and it ought to be a field goal or closer.
FIU -4.5 vs Midd Tenn St
FIU is the best team in the Sun Belt… and MTSU is not. The same team that got rolled by Troy, Arkansas St, and Georgia Tech, not to mention failing to cover this line against Minnesota, Memphis, and North Texas, probably won’t cover it here either. I’m surprised this line isn’t low double-digits.
Pac-10: 58-14 SU, 29-34-2 ATS
National: 27-17 SU, 23-19-2 ATS
Bad Lines: 19-32-3
Mr Pac-10's 2010 Blog
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