Arizona (-3) @ UCLA
The “Desperation Bowl” seems like a good description of this game. Both teams desperately need a win, and both teams would be in big, big trouble with a loss. If history is a guide, UCLA has an advantage. Year after year, Arizona has followed bad losses with more bad losses. They aren’t the sort of team to bounce back after a disappointing performance, but instead are the sort of team to continue the downward spiral until all of a sudden things get better weeks later. UCLA, on the other hand, has a long and rich history of following up big wins with bad losses, and bad losses with big wins. Since few losses have ever been as bad as the one last week, that may actually be a good sign. Throw in Arizona’s consistently poor performance on the road, and UCLA’s proven ability to take advantage of chances that are given to them, and you have to believe they have a chance.
On the Other Hand:
All that said, the talent difference here is significant. Yes, we saw very clearly how the Wildcats simply can’t be counted on to perform up to their capability, and how susceptible they are to making big, game-changing mistakes. All that said, you look at Arizona’s receiver corps stacked up against UCLA’s secondary, and it’s a total mismatch. Tuitama will have open targets all day long, and even if the Bruins can generate some pressure, he should still be able to light up the scoreboard with big play after big play. And while the Wildcat defense is certainly not good, it’s hard to believe that UCLA’s offense can suddenly come alive and match Arizona point for point, which is what they’ll probably have to do.
The only ways UCLA can win this game are if Tuitama gets hurt, the offense improves leaps and bounds from what we’ve seen so far, or Arizona coughs it up another five times or so. At this point, I can’t rule out the first or third possibility, but they both seem unlikely. And that means this probably won’t be close.
Arizona 38, @ UCLA 21
Georgia @ Arizona St (+7)
In one of the biggest games of the weekend, Georgia comes into Tempe with a top 5 ranking, and ASU comes in with a loss to UNLV and no ranking. Georgia has talent just about everywhere, while ASU is hurting from a few too many injuries. Could this pick really be this easy?
On the Other Hand:
Home-field is always a big deal for the Sun Devils, and this will be especially true in a big game like this. But the real key for ASU is the same as always: Rudy Carpenter. On paper, Georgia should win this game without too much trouble, but Carpenter is, as always, the big wild card. He’s improved dramatically in handling an aggressive pass rush, he rarely makes mistakes, and he has an incredible knack for making big plays. If ASU is to pull the upset, it’s going to be on his back, and he’s certainly capable of it.
This should be a much better game than you’d think after watching this team blow it against UNLV. The Sun Devil defense won’t be nearly good enough to keep the lid on Georgia, but they will do just enough to keep themselves in the game until late. And that’s when the heat, the crowd, and the best player on the field will find a way to pull off the win.
@ Arizona St 28, Georgia 27
Boise St @ Oregon (-10)
This line just looks too low. Boise has some talent, but Oregon is a very good team, with a fantastic secondary, an explosive offense, and a dominant home-field advantage. The Broncos won’t be embarrassed, but it won’t be a very close game either, and a late Duck touchdown will pad the total.
@ Oregon 38, Boise St 17
San Jose St @ Stanford (-8)
San Jose St has shown itself capable of competing, given a loss at Nebraska that was closer than it looked, and a big win over San Diego St. That said, they’ve shown themselves capable of losing big turnovers, and Stanford’s special teams are an advantage that they simply can’t counter. They’ll get some big plays, and make it respectable, but it’ll be over by early in the fourth quarter. Gerhart will make a big run or two, there’ll be a big special teams play, and the aggressive Cardinal defense will force a couple turnovers, all of which will just be too much to overcome.
@ Stanford 31, San Jose St 17
Portland St @ Washington St
All I can say is, the Cougars had better win this game, because everything else on the schedule is light-years ahead of this opponent.
@ Washington St 35, Portland St 17
National Games of the Week:
LSU (-2.5) @ Auburn
It seems crazy to take Auburn here after a poor performance at Mississippi St, but between a dominant defense and a huge home-field advantage against a quarterback who’s making his first 1-A road start, and an opponent who has yet to be tested against anyone with a pulse, I’ll take my chances.
@ Auburn 17, LSU 14
Florida (-7.5) @ Tennessee
The Vols will be a lot more competitive in this game than you’d expect from a school which lost at UCLA (which just looks awful after the BYU beatdown), but Florida is just too good to lose this game.
Florida 24, @ Tennessee 14
Wake Forest @ Florida St (-5)
It was between this and VT-UNC for the third game on the list, but right now these two look like the better teams. For some reason, Florida St seems like a hot team, but Wake has been tested against living, breathing opponents, had a bye week to prepare, and that Baylor win is actually starting to look a bit impressive. The Noles feasted on a few cupcakes, and it’s impossible to say whether or not they’re good. I’ll take the team that’s proven something over the team which has proven nothing.
Wake Forest 28, @ Florida St 20
Arizona @ UCLA Over 52
Considering how bad UCLA’s secondary is, how susceptible Arizona’s whole defense is, and how each side has shown itself to be fully capable of making bad turnovers that turn into easy points, the over/under looks about a touchdown too low.
Forget 10 points, I’m not even sure the Knights should be underdogs in this game. Yeah, it’s at BC so a small line makes sense, but I don’t see how BC is considered to be the better team here.
Reality-check time. Temple is NOT a terrible team. Penn St can put up points in bunches, but the Owls are good enough to push them much more than people will expect. The line is overreacting to Penn St’s last two big-margin wins. This one will be much closer.
I just don’t see how A&M is good enough to compete in this game. Home-field helps, but not that much.
Tulsa is hot, talented, at home, off a bye, and playing a team that is getting a bit too much credit for a win against a team that basically imploded.
Last Week’s Record:
Pac-10: 7-3 SU, 4-6 ATS
National: 2-1 SU, 0-2-1 ATS
Bad Picks: 3-3
Pac-10: 18-6 SU, 11-12 ATS
National: 7-4 SU, 4-6-1 ATS
Bad Picks: 7-5
Mr Pac-10's 2008 Blog
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