Oregon @ Oregon St (-2.5)
Preseason Pick: Oregon St
Of all of the big Pac-10 games this year, the Civil War is probably the biggest. Barring a USC choke-job to UCLA next week, this game determines who goes to the Rose Bowl. If Oregon St wins, they're off to Pasadena, and if they lose, they're staring at the Sun Bowl. And on the flip side, the Oregon Ducks don't have as much directly to play for, but they would dearly love to win at Reser for the first time in more than a decade, would love to get payback for last year's Beaver win at Autzen, and would love to spoil their rivals' Rose Bowl dreams.
And they are very capable of doing it. In fact, on paper they look like the better team after Oregon St's crippling injuries to quarterback Lyle Moevao and star running back Jacquizz Rodgers. The Ducks have a great offense that can put big points in the board in a major hurry, and will push the Beaver defense hard. Meanwhile their own defense is strong as well, and will have had an extra week off to scout the opposition, which should come in handy. If they can get up early, pressure whoever is behind center for the Beavers, and catch some errant passes (unlike USC and Cal's secondaries, the Ducks have done a good job of taking advantage of these opportunities), they are capable of winning big.
On the Other Hand:
If this game was at Autzen, I'd take the Ducks without thinking twice. But this game is at Reser, where the Beavers have been extremely tough to beat. Week in and week out, they take their game to another level at home, and this should be especially true against the hated Ducks. Yes, there are key injuries, but there's a tremendous amount of talent still healthy. Quizz may be hurt, but James is still a great talent, the receiving corps is still good, McCants can run the ball, and whoever is under center has improved leaps and bounds from the issues seen last year and early this year.
And while the Duck defense is sometimes very good, they're sometimes far from it, like in the second half against Arizona. And don't forget, the Beaver defense has played very well too. They largely shut down the potent Wildcat offense in their own backyard, they controlled Cal, they controlled USC, in fact since the beating at Penn St and the choke job at Utah they've put down almost everyone they've faced. They may not get great press, but this has become a very strong unit, and there's no guarantee whatsoever that the Ducks will be able to come close to replicating their usual strong offensive production in this game.
This is a really tough game to call. The Beaver injuries make the upset a very real possibility, but Oregon St keeps on finding ways to get it done, and in this game, they'll do it again.
@ Oregon St 31, Oregon 30
UCLA @ Arizona St (-10)
Preseason Pick: ASU
This certainly won't be a headline game, but it still looks interesting. Both teams are technically still in the bowl hunt, but both need huge end-year runs to do it. Arizona St looks to have the easier potential road, as they host this matchup and only have to beat a vulnerable Arizona team, while the Bruins need to win at Tempe and then somehow channel the ghosts of 2006 and pull off another huge shocker over the mighty Trojans.
Moreover, the Sun Devils look like the better football team. There isn't a huge difference, but they still have a good quarterback in Rudy Carpenter, they still have a good defense, and they still have weapons on offense. UCLA can be really good at times, but when they're off they're really off. It happened against Arizona, it happened against BYU, it happened against Oregon St, and it happened in big spurts against Cal, Stanford, and Oregon. If ASU can get going, they're capable of blowing it open.
On the Other Hand:
UCLA has a habit of keeping themselves in games against teams that aren't much better than them, and they've got a habit of sometimes turning those close games into wins (see: Tennessee, Stanford). Yes, this is a road game, and they've struggled on the road, but they have legitimately improved; despite the final score, they put together a very respectable effort a few weeks ago at Cal for instance. They can put pressure on Carpenter, Kevin Craft can make some big plays, and whether or not you believe it, they can win this football game.
ASU is the better team, they're at home, and they've got more to play for. UCLA gives them all they can handle, but they pull it out in the end.
@ Arizona St 31, UCLA 28
Notre Dame @ USC (-31.5)
This won't be close, but more than 30 points seems a bit of an overreaction to Notre Dame's bad loss to Syracuse last week. They're not terrible, merely mediocre. They won't be competitive, but it won't be THAT much of a beating.
@ USC 42, Notre Dame 14
Washington St @ Hawaii (-29)
In the aftermath of the Apple Cup win, the Cougars will be feeling great about themselves. However, a long trip to the Islands and a Warrior team that's much better than the Cougs will bring them back down to earth.
@ Hawaii 42, Washington St 10
National Games of the Week:
Oklahoma (-7) @ Oklahoma St
The upset seems tempting, but the Sooners are still the better team. They'll be severely tested, though.
Oklahoma 38, @ Oklahoma St 35
West Virginia (-3) @ Pitt
I don't buy that West Virginia is a better team than Pitt, let alone better enough to overcome home field and three points.
@ Pitt 31, West Virginia 24
Florida (-16.5) @ Florida St
This would be higher on the list if I thought the Noles had a shot of keeping the game close.
Florida 41, @ Florida St 14
NC St +2
From what I've seen of the Wolfpack the past few weeks, they're suddenly a really tough team to beat. I'm a bit surprised they're getting points at home, even to a good team like the Canes.
This is just a bit too high. The Orange won't be competitive, but something like 17-19 points makes more sense here. They won't get slaughtered.
Even after the win at Vandy, I still don't believe in the Vols. Kentucky looks like the better team.
A couple of points too low. Vandy looks sickly while the Deacons seem like the better team. And since they're at home I'm a bit surprised to see a line lower than six or seven.
It's Tulsa on the road. An embrassasingly close win to SMU, a loss to Arkansas, and a humiliation by Houston apparently weren't enough to convince Vegas that this team is mediocre at best on the road. Marshall obviously isn't good, but they're not terrible either, and this line seems to say that they are.
Last Week's Record:
Pac-10: 2-1 SU, 3-0 ATS
National: 4-0 SU, 2-2 ATS
Bad Lines: 2-6
Pac-10: 55-14 SU, 35-30-2 ATS
National: 24-18 SU, 17-24-1 ATS
Bad Lines: 57-38-1
Mr Pac-10's 2008 Blog
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