Somewhat shorter commentary than usual this week, next week should be back to the standard length.
Arizona @ Cal (-3)
Preseason Pick: Cal
The weird thing about this game is that it’s really not THAT big of a deal for either team, especially Arizona. Yes, the Wildcats want to win, but this is the single least important game left on their schedule. As long as they beat both Oregon and USC, all they need to do is split Cal and ASU to make the Rose Bowl, and something tells me they’d rather beat ASU if they had to choose one. Yes, Cal wants to win, but it’s more to stop the bleeding before a more important game next week at Stanford. Ultimately, the Bears should have something of a mental edge because it’s their last home game, because they really need a win against someone good for the first time all year, and because they’re going to want to rally after what happened last week to Jahvid Best.
Arizona’s defense has had some good moments, but they can definitely be had. If Shane Vereen has a huge game, and if Kevin Riley has a good day instead of a bad one, they can definitely outscore the Cats and win this game.
On the Other Hand:
Just so we’re clear, Cal’s defense stinks. They couldn’t even stop UCLA and ASU, much less a team that can actually move the ball like Arizona. Without their Best player, it’s hard to have a whole lot of faith that the offense can be night and day better than they were last week against another mediocre defense .
This started around a pickem and is now up to Cal by 3, so clearly someone out there likes the Bears. At home and against a team that won’t really be focused, I see them gutting one out, but not by much.
@ Cal 35, Arizona 34
Stanford @ USC (-10.5)
Preseason Pick: USC
This is an interesting matchup between two teams that are way closer to each other in terms of talent and production than anyone would have thought back in September. It’s huge in terms of postseason positioning for each. And oh yeah, there’s a fair amount of drama floating around as well, for all of the people living under a rock the last two years.
On paper, it seems crazy to think USC is a double digit favorite. These two teams have been close to the same level this year, all things considered, and USC is the team that’s reeling a bit, while Stanford is high off of their huge win over Oregon. Stanford’s offense has yet to be stopped by anyone, and they’ve played some very good defenses, so it seems like a good bet that they’ll have another big game here. If they can get some key stops against a Trojan offense that hasn’t always been on, they have a real shot at pulling the upset for the second straight time in the Coliseum.
On the Other Hand:
Stanford’s defense is nothing short of terrible. USC should move the ball more or less at will throughout the game, and the Trojans have enough talent and athleticism on defense to at least have a chance of making a bit dent in the Cardinal offense.
At first glance, a double-digit line seems high, but USC is still the better team, at home, and Stanford could have a bit of a letdown after the Oregon win (plus all the bye week time they spent prepping for the Ducks’ option attack could bite them here). USC should win, and the cover is about a tossup.
@ USC 38, Stanford 28
Washington @ Oregon St (-13.5)
Preseason Pick: Oregon St
Oregon St is better, they’re at home, and they should definitely win. Washington is desperate, and will find a way to once again make it a game (they’ve come very close a number of times this year), and once again won’t quite be able to get it done.
@ Oregon St 31, Washington 21
Arizona St @ Oregon (-17.5)
Preseason Pick: Oregon
I really don’t have much to say on this game. ASU will be desperate for a win, but at Autzen it’s simply not going to happen. That said, they still do have a very good defense, and I don’t think the Ducks are going to be going full-throttle with a huge game next week in Tucson coming up.
@ Oregon 28, Arizona St 13
UCLA (-17) @ Washington St
Preseason Pick: UCLA
I’ve got to be honest: I don’t believe in UCLA nearly enough to be particularly confident they win this game, much less actually cover a line as high as this. The Cougars are bad enough to potentially get blown out, but I think they make the Bruins sweat right until the bitter end.
UCLA 24, @ Washington St 17
National Games of the Week:
Utah @ TCU (-20)
This line is enormous, but TCU is simply a monster this year, and there have been no signs that Utah is all that good. TCU blasts yet another team.
@ TCU 42, Utah 13
West Virginia @ Cincinnati (-9.5)
This could be a good game, but the Bearcats are simply the better team, and it will show.
@ Cincy 28, WV 17
Iowa @ Ohio St (-16.5)
The best of the early games. Losing Stanzi is a huge blow to Iowa, but they still have a great defense, and Ohio St will struggle to score much more than 17, much less actually cover.
@ Ohio St 24, Iowa 10
Virginia +4 vs BC
The Eagles have consistently been a disaster on the road, and there’s little reason to believe that this is where it turns around.
Marshall +3 vs USM
I really don’t know why the Eagles are favored in this game. They’re 0-4 on the road, and that includes a loss to UAB. Blasting two lousy teams and giving Houston a game doesn’t mean USM is suddenly good
Kentucky -3 @ Vandy
Vandy has beaten a AA team and Rice. Whoopee. It’s not good news for them to be up against a Kentucky team that’s better than them and that desperately needs this win, since the next two games will be way harder.
ECU +5 @ Tulsa
ECU is better. They’ve beaten teams that aren’t completely awful, while Tulsa’s wins were over Tulane, New Mexico, Rice and a AA school, which means that anything over a pickem just seems too high.
Pac-10: 44-15 SU, 22-31-2 ATS
National: 15-15 SU, 14-15-1 ATS
Bad Lines: 30-24-1
Mr Pac-10's 2009 Blog
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