Arizona St @ Cal (-9.5)
Preseason Pick: ASU
This is a really interesting game. On the one hand, you have Cal, who has played really well in every game except for Maryland and looks like a very legitimate challenger to USC in this year’s Pac-10 race, and they’re playing homecoming weekend no less. And on the other, there’s Arizona St, who is looking like a big disappointment, with a bad loss to UNLV and then a surprisingly uncompetitive loss to Georgia. And now they have to go on the road for the first time all year.
Cal’s defense and special teams are really looking special right now. ASU can pass the ball when Carpenter is playing well, but Georgia showed that if you can shut down the run game and pressure Carpenter, you can shut down the offense. ASU doesn’t have a blueprint for shutting down the Bears, which is a big problem.
On the Other Hand:
Rudy Carptenter is still a great quarterback, and neither of the Cal guys have been all that good throwing the ball. That could turn into a big advantage, compounded by the apparent loss of Cal’s biggest weapon in running back Jahvid Best and the return of ASU’s best running back in Keegan Herring.
Cal is just too good, and Arizona St too mediocre, to expect this game to be close. Unless Carpenter comes up with a truly great performance, Cal shouldn’t have much trouble here.
@ Cal 31, ASU 14
Oregon @ USC (-16.5)
Preseason Pick: Oregon
Was USC’s loss last week in Corvallis an aberration or a sign of weaknesses that will haunt them all year? Will other teams have the same kind of success running the ball as the Beavers? Will other teams be able to win the turnover battle against the Trojans? And will other teams be able to make the key plays at the end of close games to pull out the wins? If so, then Oregon is certainly capable of winning this game. For all the issues the Ducks have had, they have a great running game, a physical offensive line, and a talented defense. They’re very much capable of taking advantage of other teams’ weaknesses, which means they might have a chance.
On the Other Hand:
This is still USC. They still have a massive amount of talent, they’re still physical, and they’re still able to blow the doors off of other teams. The same Oregon team that barely beat Purdue and lost to Boise can’t beat this team; they’ll have to play on a much higher level to have a chance here, and that’s no guarantee. And the Ducks certainly won’t catch USC napping, which I thought they might at the start of the season. USC is going to be mad and fired up after this loss, and if history is any guide, they’re going to take out their frustrations on this team and blow the doors off of the Ducks, just like they usually do after one of their rare losses.
USC’s loss to Oregon St came because they chose not to respect the Beavers and chose not to be ready to play. They won’t make the same mistake in this game. It won’t be close.
@ USC 38, Oregon 13
Washington St @ UCLA (-17)
Preseason Pick: UCLA
Just how bad is Washington St? They’ve gotten clobbered by Oklahoma St, Cal, Baylor and Oregon in turn, and have looked pretty much helpless against each. Now they have to visit the Rose Bowl against a talented UCLA team that really needs a win. That’s a tough task for the seemingly hapless Cougars.
On the Other Hand:
UCLA hasn’t exactly been very good either. Other than Portland St, this is the worst team that Wazzu has seen this year (yes, that does include Baylor). The Bruins haven’t had consistent success doing anything, whether it be running the ball, passing the ball, or stopping anything the other guys do. And given the recent history of Cougar dominance in this series, would it really be that shocking if this game turned into an upset?
The Cougars may be bad, but they’re not bad enough to expect UCLA to blow them out. Yes, it might happen, but it’s far from guaranteed. The Bruins will win, but it’ll be close enough that they won’t be at all happy about it.
@ UCLA 31, Washington St 21
Washington @ Arizona (-22)
For an Arizona team that is far from a model of consistency, 22 points is a LOT. The Husky defense has been terrible, but the offense can move the ball a bit. This team hasn’t given up yet, and they’ll at least make it a little respectable.
@ Arizona 28, Washington 10
Oregon St (+11) @ Utah
It’s worth asking: why is Utah favored in this game? The Beavers have been really hot lately, beating USC and crushing Hawaii. Utah, meanwhile, hasn’t been nearly as dominant as I originally expected, winning close against Air Force and only playing Ok against Weber St. We’ve seen what the Rodgers brothers can do, and if they can come up with another big game, the Beavers could knock off another big name opponent.
On the Other Hand:
Utah is still a very good team. They’ve had some consistency issues, but they’ve also beaten some very decent teams. The biggest thing is that they’ve played very good defense, week in and week out. The success they’ve had stopping Air Force, UNLV and Michigan shows that they can shut teams down. If the offense stops making mistakes, look out, because they’ll blow you out of the water.
And Oregon St still has issues. Moevao still makes bad passes, Sammie Stroughter is out, and this team hasn’t played remotely well on the road. Against a good, rested team that is not a good recipe for success.
Oregon St has a shot at this game. That said, Utah is at home, they essentially had last week off, and they’re not going to make the mistake of taking the Beavers lightly. Unless they cough up multiple turnovers, or Jaquizz Rodgers plays out of his mind, this probably won’t even be all that close.
@ Utah 34, Oregon St 13
Stanford (+7) @ Notre Dame
This line seems a touch high. Yes, Notre Dame is 3-1, but they barely beat a terrible San Diego St team, Michigan literally handed them a win, and Purdue isn’t exactly a world-beater. The one talented, physical team that didn’t lay an egg against them scored a dominant win. Stanford isn’t as talented as Michigan St, but they’re also very physical, they also have a great running game, and they’re also very good in the defensive front. If the Cardinal can run the ball well and pressure Clausen into throwing some picks, they’ll win this game.
On the Other Hand:
Stanford’s secondary is still really bad, and against a QB with a live arm and a good receiving corps, that’s a bad combination. Stanford has had a real tendency to let things get away from them against teams that can throw the ball, and Notre Dame certainly qualifies. It’s easy to see the Irish getting a quick lead, forcing Stanford to throw the ball and turning it into a big rout.
I’m really not a big believer in Notre Dame right now. They should still be good enough to win this game, but it should be close, and Stanford definitely has a shot.
@ Notre Dame 31, Stanford 27
National Games of the Week:
Ohio St (-1) @ Wisconsin
The Buckeyes have been much improved since Beanie Wells’ return, but at Wisconsin is a heck of a lot tougher than a home game against Minnesota. The Badgers bounce back with a win here.
@ Wisconsin 21, Ohio St 13
UConn @ UNC (-7)
This is an interesting game between an undefeated team in UConn and a UNC team that has played very well and comes off a big win at Miami, and may be looking a bit ahead to Notre Dame. The Huskies have found ways to win, but the Tar Heels are a whole class above the teams they’ve gotten close wins against. They’ll make it a contest, but UNC wins.
@ UNC 24, UConn 21
Auburn (-4) @ Vandy
Vandy is undefeated, at home off a bye, and is an underdog against an Auburn team that barely beat Miss St and Tennessee and lost to LSU. The upset looks tempting, but ultimately Auburn’s defense is just too good.
Auburn 17, Vandy 10
Pitt certainly hasn’t been good, but they haven’t been lousy either. And USF has been far from dominant, which makes this line seem a bit high. An upset would be surprising, but not shocking.
NC St +9
How in the world is NC St nearly a double-digit underdog against a mediocre BC team? I could see a minor line, but this is way too high. BC has a couple of nice wins, but has not played well enough to merit such a big lines, especially on the road.
Texas Tech -7.5
Tech is off a bye week and K-State has played really poorly lately. The Raiders may be vulnerable, but not in this game.
I’m not totally sold on the Illini, but Michigan has simply not been playing well. A nice second half against Wisconsin isn’t nearly enough to make me think that they ought to win this game, even at home.
This line just seems really weird. Yeah, FSU had a nice win against Colorado last week, but they played ugly against Wake the week before and have basically done nothing. Meanwhile Miami has played pretty well, losing to UNC on a play that could just have easily gone the other way and given them the win. They look like the better team, and they’re at home.
I’m not quite sold on Air Force right now, and Navy is getting hot and has had a lot of success in this series.
Baylor is actually pretty decent, they’re at home off a bye, and you just know that Oklahoma will be looking ahead to the big game against Texas next week.
Kent St has just been really bad so far this year, while Akron has shown some life. They shouldn’t have much trouble in this game.
The Gophers are actually pretty good. The Hoosiers are pretty bad. It looks like Vegas hasn’t caught on to Minnesota yet, so keep riding them until things change.
Last Week’s Record:
Pac-10: 3-2 SU, 2-3 ATS
National: 2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS
Bad Picks: 4-2-1
Pac-10: 24-10 SU, 15-17 ATS
National: 11-6 SU, 8-8-1 ATS
Bad Picks: 13-10-1
Mr Pac-10's 2008 Blog
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