Arizona St @ Arizona (-10.5)
Preseason Pick: Arizona St
Arizona comes into this game hoping to turn around a season rapidly turning rotten, while ASU comes into this game hoping to at least salvage a low-level bowl game and Territorial Cup win in a season that has long since gone bad. Not the intro to this game that either would have hoped for, but that'll only heighten the energy and intensity. At home, the Wildcats have been very good, dropping games to USC and Oregon St but blowing teams out otherwise, and they came very close to the Trojans and Beavers. They really do feed off of the home crowd, and they've developed a very legitimate home-field advantage this year.
And, just as importantly, they're the better team. Yes, ASU has won more games recently, but that has much more to do with the competition (Washington, Wazzu, UCLA) and luck (UCLA) than playing at a particularly high level. Meanwhile, the Wildcats may be on a losing streak, but they very nearly knocked off two legit teams in Oregon and Oregon St.
On the Other Hand:
Who exactly have the Wildcats beaten? Yeah, they knocked off Cal (an unmitigated disaster on the road), but otherwise the list of wins isn't close to impressive. Sure, they've competed against better teams like Oregon and Oregon St, but when push came to shove, they simply couldn't get it done. Meanwhile, the Sun Devils may not be pretty, but they've found a way. The awful September losses to UNLV and Georgia are well behind them, and they're really playing like it. And if there's a team that's used to winning in Tucson, it's ASU, who pulled it off four of the last six visits.
When rivalry streaks turn, they tend to do so in a big, "take out years of frustration" sort of way. That's what this game looks like to me.
@ Arizona 35, Arizona St 17
USC (-32) @ UCLA
Preseason Pick: USC
UCLA has very little chance of pulling this game off. That said, they're a decent team, they play better in the Rose Bowl, and last week's ugly final score wasn't close to indicative of how close the game really was. They'll be fired up, ready to play, and will make it a game for at least a full quarter, maybe even a half.
USC 35, @ UCLA 13
Washington @ Cal (-36)
Preseason Pick: Cal
Cal's fans would love to send Willingham packing with a fifty point blowout for all those Big Games he won while at Stanford, not to mention last year's upset win over the Bears. On the other hand, plenty of the current Bear players weren't even in high school when he was at Stanford, and if the Husky players have any pride at all (and I hate to say it, but I wonder) they'll show up and make it at least something of a game.
@ Cal 41, Washington 13
National Games of the Week:
Florida (-9.5) vs Alabama
Yes, Florida is a much better team, but Harvin is hurt. And more importantly, Alabama gets a huge mental edge from being the heavy underdog, and from being used to playing close game after close game. An upset wouldn't stun me, but I still think the better team wins.
Florida 31, Alabama 24
Oklahoma (-16.5) vs Missouri
That Kansas loss was at least in part the Tigers looking ahead to this game. That said, the Sooners really are at least 17 points better, and they'll prove it here.
Oklahoma 42, Missouri 13
Boston College (pick) vs Virginia Tech
Picking any ACC game is an exercise in dice-throwing these days, but I do think that the Eagles are a bit better.
Boston College 28, Virginia Tech 24
It's beyond me how this is under 17, much less under 14. Louisville keeps getting whipped week in and week out and Rutgers is red hot.
Pitt is the better team. On the road a pickem is reasonable, but not getting free points.
West Virginia -7
There may be a bit of a letdown after the loss at Pitt, but they're still much better than the Bulls.
Last Week's Record:
Pac-10: 3-1 SU, 1-3 ATS
National: 3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS
Bad Lines: 4-1
Pac-10: 58-15 SU, 36-33-2 ATS
National: 27-18 SU, 19-25-1 ATS
Bad Lines: 61-39-1
Mr Pac-10's 2008 Blog
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