Due to things being unusually busy in my non-football life (plus a mind-numbingly bad slate of Pac-10 games), this week's preview piece will be shorter than usual. Next week will be back to normal.
Oregon @ Cal (-3)
Preseason Pick: Cal
This is by far the best Pac-10 game of the week (actually it's probably the only decent Pac-10 game this week). Oregon comes in on the heels of a dominant win at Arizona St, and is looking to make a surprising late-season run at a Holiday Bowl berth and maybe even more than that if USC slips up somewhere. The Ducks may have been up and down, but right now they look way up. The offense is humming, the defense is solid, and overall this looks like a much better team than the one that headed into the bye off the heels of a thumping by USC and nailbiter win over UCLA. If they can keep up this level of play, they can beat anyone in the league, including their opponents this week.
On the Other Hand:
Cal is a much, much better team than the Sun Devils. Cal has quarterback issues, but their defense is solid, they're good at running the ball, and they can turn it up in a big hurry when they get hot, like they did last week against the Bruins. And while the Ducks looked great last week, given how inconsistent they've been all year, it's tough to believe they've suddenly turned the corner and can churn out good performances week after week. And don't forget, this game is in Berkeley, where the Bears have played very well all year. Both of these teams have been better at home than on the road, but it's really been true for Cal, and that'll be a big edge in this game.
There's no question Oregon is capable of winning this game, and that Cal is capable of losing it. However, the Bears are at home, they've been playing slightly better than the Ducks over the course of the season, and they've shown over the past couple seasons a real knack for beating the Ducks. Add it all up and Cal is the pick.
@ Cal 31, Oregon 27
Arizona St @ Oregon St (-15)
Preseason Pick: Oregon St
Oregon St is a significantly better team than the Sun Devils. ASU will be desperate, play hard, and give the Beavers a scare for a while, but in the end they just aren't good enough to win this game, especially in Corvallis.
@ Oregon St 35, Arizona St 21
Washington @ USC (-46.5)
Preseason Pick: USC
U-Dub is completely free-falling, and it's likely Willingham has completely lost control of his locker room. If USC really wants to roll them up, they can. However, with a much bigger game up next week, it's not likely that they'll be aggressive in trying to destroy them, and the Huskies should be just good enough to cover against a team that isn't going to bother bringing anything close to its "A" game.
@ USC 41, Washington 3
Washington St @ Stanford (-30)
Preseason Pick: Stanford
This is a mildly dangerous game for Stanford, because they have a tendency to turn the ball over, commit bad penalties, and play poor pass defense, all of which play into the Cougars' hands. Still, Wazzu is just so bad a close game seems unlikely. Since Stanford is built to run the ball, they won't score a huge amount of points, but it'll be enough to win fairly comfortably.
@ Stanford 35, Washington St 10
National Games of the Week:
Texas (-3) @ Texas Tech
This is an interesting game. On the one hand, Texas Tech has huge intangible advantages. They are at home, they haven't had to deal with three straight tough games like Texas has, and considering their recent history against the Longhorns, this has to be the game that they've had circled on their calendar all year long. That said, Texas is a much, much better team. Tech played well against Kansas (who hasn't beaten anyone good) and no one else of note. Compare that to wins over Arkansas, Colorado in Boulder, Oklahoma, Mizzou, and OK St, and there's just no comparison. Despite all the intangibles, the better team wins this game.
Texas 37, @ Texas Tech 24
Florida (-6.5) vs Georgia
Once again it's time for Beer-Fest! (if WLOCP isn't politically correct enough, then the hell w/ it). This is a tough game to pick. I really like what I'm seeing from Georgia, who has really been playing well. However, right now Florida is just too good to be denied. It'll be a game for a while, and then they'll turn on the gas, like they did against Miami, Tennessee, and LSU.
Florida 35, Georgia 21
West Virginia (-3.5) @ UConn
Pitt will have something to say about it, but this game could very well be for the Big East title. Until proven otherwise, I don't trust the Mountaineers at all on the road, and I still think UConn is very underrated. I think they're the better team, and I know they're at home.
@ UConn 24, West Virginia 14
This isn't a terrible line, but I do think Iowa is the better team, and I think they pull out a close one here.
Ole Miss -6.5
Ole Miss is pretty solid, they're at home, and Auburn just doesn't look good at all.
Kentucky is the better team, and even on the road they should win. Until proven otherwise, Miss St is the SEC's worst team, and they simply shouldn't be favorites against any other team in the league.
Florida St +2.5
I'm not sure why Georgia Tech is laying points, even at home, against the Seminoles. FSU has been playing really well, and the Yellow Jackets have been struggling too much to feel that they'll win this game.
UL-Monroe may have just beaten FAU, but they're still a bad team, and Troy is still a good team.
There's something to be said for being the hot team, and right now Vegas hasn't really caught up with the Cavs' huge streak. Miami is capable of winning, but UVA is the better team, and they're at home, which makes a line less than a field goal too low.
Oklahoma St -30
The Cowboys are a really good team at home against a really bad Iowa St team. 30 points seems like a lot, but the way this team can light up the scoreboard, it's probably five or six points too low.
This is a few points too high. Baylor has gotten spanked by Oklahoma and OK St (plus Wake way back in week one), but they've been very competitive against everyone else. Mizzou is good, but they're not going to repeat what they did against the Buffs this week.
Colorado St +14
There is a surprisingly good chance that BYU is wildly overrated, and the evidence (close win @ Washington, butt-kicking @ TCU, meaningless win against lousy Utah St) suggests these guys can't play well on the road. Meanwhile, CSU has very quietly been improving and showing they're tough to knock off at home (just ask TCU, who barely squeaked by this team). This could be one of the big upsets of the week.
Last Week's Record:
Pac-10: 3-1 SU, 3-1 ATS
National: 3-0 SU, 3-0 ATS
Bad Lines: 7-3
Pac-10: 39-13 SU, 23-25-2 ATS
National: 17-13 SU, 12-17-1 ATS
Bad Lines: 38-23-1
Mr Pac-10's 2008 Blog
Questions, comments or suggestions? Email me at email@example.com