Mr Pac-10's Picks

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Sep 4, 2008

Collegefootballnews' Matthew Smith Picks all the Winners for all Pac-10 Games, Week Two

This is a good weekend to get non-football related things done. Last weekend was a lot of fun, and next weekend has a bunch of exciting matchups, but this weekend looks to be a major dud. There isn't a single matchup anywhere in the country that is really compelling.

Stanford @ Arizona St (-14)
Preseason Pick: ASU
Of the two Pac-10 league games this weekend, Stanford @ Arizona St seems like the bigger deal. Stanford comes to Tempe 1-0 off of a win against Oregon St, and looked more than decent, while Arizona St looked pretty good for a half against NAU, and then put in the scrubs and struggled.
Can Stanford find a way to turn one game into a winning streak? They've shown they can effectively run the ball, and two things which were lost in all the yards they gave up against Oregon St were how well they generated pressure and confused Moevao into making hurried and bad passes, as well as how well they stopped the Beaver interior running game cold. If they can pressure Carpenter, and if they can get the running game going again, they could make this game interesting.
On the Other Hand:
That pass defense was bad. Yes, they forced a bunch of mistakes against Oregon St, but that was a relatively inexperienced quarterback playing on the road. Now the face the Pac-10's most experienced and consistent quarterback on his home turf. It's going to be a lot harder to generate any game-changing mistakes this time around, much less a whole bunch of them. And without the turnovers and missed passes that they got last time, their pass D looks like it's going to get thoroughly torched.
And on defense, Arizona St is a big step up from the Beavers. The Sun Devils have a bunch of playmakers throughout their D, which means that unless Stanford can discover how to effectively throw the ball, the ASU defense will clamp down on the one-dimensional Cardinal attack.
Bottom Line:
It's really hard to see this being a close game. Stanford has enough talent in its rosters to make some big plays on both sides of the ball, but such moments will be few and far between, while ASU will be making big plays all night long.
@ Arizona St 38, Stanford 13

Cal (-13) @ Washington St
Preseason Pick: Cal
At first glance, it's incredibly easy to see the Bears winning in a rout. Aside from Longshore's poor play and some late defensive struggles, Cal played significantly better than a good Michigan St team, while the Cougars got waxed in Seattle by a mediocre Oklahoma St team that NEVER plays well on the road. Cal has talent everywhere on the roster, while the Cougars just don't seem to have any playmakers other than Gibson. In other words, easiest pick of the week, right?
On the Other Hand:
You really don't want to read too much into week one performances. Yes, Cal played very well, and Wazzu very poorly, but there's no telling whether or not you'll see something similar this time around. With a bigger non-conference game next week at Maryland, how focused will Cal be on this game? No, they won't sleep on the Cougars, but this isn't exactly a circle game on their calendar either. Meanwhile, Wazzu is going to really try and turn things around after such a lousy start to the year, so this ought to be a very focused and energetic team. Just as importantly, this will be Cal's first road game, which isn't something that QB Kevin Riley is particularly used to. He may have played very well last week, but it's easy to see him struggling at times as he starts to develop road experience.
Also, Wazzu's main issues last week were that one receiver repeatedly torched them, and they were terrible on special teams. Cal certainly has good receivers, but do they have a Dez Bryant to make big plays over and over again? And do you really think that the Cougar coaching staff won't find a way to at least make the special teams passable? Good kick coverage is hard, but halfway decent kick coverage can be put together quicker than you think.
Bottom Line:
A Cougar upset seems like a major reach after what I saw of these two teams in week one. That said, I do expect Cal to have some issues on the road, and I do expect Wazzu to turn in a much better effort this time around. This one should be relatively close throughout.
Cal 28, @ Washington St 17

Oregon St (+16) @ Penn St
In a week light on interesting games, this one may actually be the "big" game of the week. Yes, Oregon St had some serious issues last week, but the things they did well they did very well. They had a lot of speed on the outside, and their receiver corps played great pretty much the whole game. Pass protection was adequate, and as long as Moevao can avoid making mistakes, this offense can be very dangerous.
Just as importantly, the Oregon St Beavers are at their most dangerous in games where no one thinks they have much of a chance. Last year they won as 14 point underdogs at Cal. In 2006 they won as 9.5 dogs at Washington, as 10 pt dogs against USC, and as 8 pt dogs at Hawaii. In 2005 they won as 15.5 pt dogs at Cal. In 2004 they nearly beat LSU as 17.5 pt dogs, and they gave USC a very tough game as 18 pt dogs. In other words, count this team out at your peril. Against a Penn St team that has had plenty of off-field issues, and that lost its two best defensive players by far in Dan Connor and Sean Lee, as well as their starting quarterback and running back, you have to think that the Beavers have a shot if they can make some big plays on offense and force some mistakes on defense.
On the Other Hand:
Happy Valley is one of the worst places in the country to try and work through quarterback consistency issues. Moevao threw picks and made mental errors last week against a very quiet Stanford crowd. Now he'll play in front of 100,000 people screaming their lungs out. That's not a good thing. And until proven otherwise, you have to assume that just about anyone can run on the Beavers. Sure, Penn St doesn't have experience at running back, but behind a great offensive line they don't need it.
Bottom Line:
On paper, there's little reason to think this will be much of a contest, but I have a feeling that it'll turn out to be much more exciting than people think.
@ Penn St 27, Oregon St 17

BYU @ Washington (+9.5)
This line just keeps moving up and up. It started at 6.5 and now it's just shy of 10 points. In a game where the Huskies desperately need to pick up a win, it's all too clear where public opinion is going.
And in many ways, it's easy to see why. The Cougars are ranked highly, have a potent offense, and are considered favorites to crash the BCS this year. Meanwhile, the Huskies got thoroughly embarrassed last week against the Ducks at Autzen.
On the Other Hand:
Two things stick out in my mind: BYU's defense and Washington's home-field advantage. First, it should be obvious that BYU's D is nowhere near the same class as Oregon's. The Cougars may turn out to be OK on that side of the ball, but Northern Iowa certainly isn't the right team to judge them on. Until proven otherwise, that looks like a pretty vulnerable unit, which means that the Huskies shouldn't struggle nearly as much moving the ball as last week.
The second point is just as important. Anyone remember Boise St last year? How about Fresno the year before? No, neither one was domination, but in each case, the Huskies found ways to win against supposedly more talented teams at home early in the year. This time around could most certainly be an exception as well, especially given BYU's tendency to play extremely poorly in their first road game of the year.
Bottom Line:
Despite what we saw last week in Autzen, an upset here is very possible. That said, until U-Dub gives me something to believe in, I have to believe that in a shootout BYU will find a way to come out on top.
BYU 48, @ Washington 41

Toledo @ Arizona (-23)
Toledo is appreciably better than Idaho, and you have to wonder if the Wildcats will keep up the production two weeks in a row. Moreover, this line feels like a trap; I honestly expected this to be more like 30 or so. All that said, it's obvious Arizona has a very potent offense, and while Toledo isn't terrible, there's little reason to think that they're anything but a below-average MAC team, and somehow I don't see that sort of team making a game of it, especially without having played the week before.
@ Arizona 48, Toledo 13

Utah St @ Oregon (-36)
The only question here is whether Oregon will cover such a heavy spread. Obviously they're capable of doing so if they're trying hard to do so, but I have to wonder why they would bother. They've got a potential landmine next week at Purdue, they got the satisfaction of bludgeoning Washington last week, and they've already been exposed to even more injury issues at quarterback. Add it all up and you have to think the second team will be seeing action early and often, and that the Ducks won't have much reason to press hard after building a 20-25 point margin.
@ Oregon 38, Utah St 10

National Games of the Week:

West Virginia (-8) @ East Carolina
It's all too easy to see an upset happening again, but I think that the Mountaineers are just too much better than Virginia Tech for it to happen again.
West Virginia 31, @ ECU 21

South Carolina (-10) @ Vanderbilt
Boy that's a lot of points. I like Carolina to win, but until I see less shaky QB play, it's hard to see it being a big margin.
South Carolina 21, @ Vandy 13

South Florida (-13.5) @ Central Florida
Well, I had to find a 3rd game somewhere, and even the first two were kind of pushing it as far as "games of the week". I like USF a lot until proven otherwise, so while UCF will acquit themselves reasonably well here, the Bulls will just have too much to make it a close game.
USF 31, @ UCF 13

Bad Lines

Central Michigan +24
That's a whole lot of points when the dog isn't terrible and the favorite is fighting injuries.

Ohio + 34.5
Something tells me the Buckeyes aren't going to try and run it up one week before USC and one week after Beanie Wells got hurt while doing just that.

Wisconsin -20.5
I don't see Marshall as being much better than Akron, and the Badgers would have beaten Akron by a lot more were it not for some fluky plays on offense in the red zone.

Wake Forest -7.5
I must have missed the memo that said Ole Miss was almost as good as Wake. Sure, the ACC has looked bad and the SEC good so far, but if you look at these two teams, it's really hard to see an upset, especially in Winston-Salem, which means that just a touchdown is too low of a line.

Last Week's Record:
Pac-10: 5-3 SU, 4-3 ATS
National: 4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS
Bad Picks: 2-0

Season Record:
Pac-10: 5-3 SU, 4-3 ATS
National: 4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS
Bad Picks: 2-0

Mr Pac-10's 2008 Blog

Questions, comments or suggestions? Email me at

Related Stories
Mr. Special Teams
 -by  Sep 4, 2008
Erickson Gives Positive Injury News
 -by  Sep 3, 2008
Clardy's Corner: Pac-10 Pride
 -by  Sep 3, 2008