Arizona (-3) @ Arizona St
Preseason Pick: ASU
At first glance, it seems weird that the line is so low. ASU is on a five-game losing streak, hasn’t beaten anyone particularly good this year (their best victim: Washington), and Arizona is 4-3 in the Pac-10, and has been fantastic at times this year. Arizona doesn’t have a great defense, but it’s not bad, and they’ve got a very good offense; meanwhile, ASU is terrible at moving the ball, which means that if the Wildcats can build a lead, it’s going to be brutal to try and make it back. ASU has also shown a powerful tendency to beat themselves, both by turnovers and penalties; turnovers were the difference in last week’s loss at UCLA, and penalties have hurt them all year long. On paper, this is a blowout waiting to happen.
On the Other Hand:
Arizona is BAD on the road. They’re 1-3 on the road; yes, winning at Oregon St was very good, but other than that there has been little to be happy about. They find ways to put themselves in position to lose, and in a rivalry game against a disrespected opponent, right after they suffered a crushing loss in double overtime to Oregon (and lost at Cal before that), they could easily find themselves blowing another winnable road game. Right now, this is ASU’s bowl game, while the Wildcats still have USC and an actual bowl game left, which means that in terms of intangibles they’re at a huge disadvantage. Also, despite the way last week went, the Sun Devils are actually starting to do some things on offense; if they hadn’t had six turnovers, two of which turned into defensive touchdowns, they’d have won the game. If they can cut down on the mistakes, they’re absolutely capable of winning this one.
Arizona is a substantially better team, but ASU is at home and has huge intangible advantages. What’s most telling to me is that nobody but Vegas is giving the Sun Devils any shot at this game. That’s a mistake. Arizona St holds on to the edge in this rivalry just a little while longer.
@ Arizona St 24, Arizona 23
UCLA @ USC (-13)
Preseason Pick: USC
Under the radar, UCLA has started to improve enough to make games like this a contest again. After watching the bottom fall out of the team during a brutal five-game losing streak, they’ve bounced back to win three straight and reach the magic number of six games and bowl eligibility. Their defense is starting to carry the team again (though playing mediocre offenses certainly helps), and their offense has a pulse again (though playing mediocre defenses [ASU aside] certainly helps). Meanwhile, USC is reeling after squeaking by Oregon St, getting blasted by Oregon, squeaking by ASU, and then getting blasted by Stanford. If the Trojans don’t seriously up their game, they’re in severe danger of not just getting pushed, but getting pushed off the cliff by UCLA.
On the Other Hand:
That bye week came at a fantastic time for the Trojans. Yes, they’re not nearly as good as people thought they’d be this year, but with a week off to prepare, they should be back to a high level of play again. And while UCLA has been playing better and has built more confidence, remember that they barely beat Washington, beat an awful Wazzu team, and then only beat Arizona St because of six defensive turnovers. If they’re not getting turnovers, can they win this game? And do you really think that Pete Carroll will come out with a game plan that’ll risk that sort of result?
USC has a boatload of talent… but they’re still 4-3 in the Pac-10, playing a 3-5 Pac-10 team. Yes, they should bounce back and win, but they don’t get benefit of the doubt until they earn it, so nearly two touchdowns is just too high of a line. They’ll get pushed hard by a Bruin team that’s brimming with confidence, and there’s at least a chance of an upset.
@ USC 28, UCLA 21
Washington St @ Washington (-25)
Preseason Pick: Washington
The Cougars simply aren’t in the same class as the Huskies, and this game is going to be big-time payback after their recent successes in this series.
@ Washington 42, @ Washington St 10
Notre Dame @ Stanford (-10.5)
Both teams should be fired up for this game: Stanford after gacking at home to Cal, Notre Dame to give Charlie Weis at least something positive before he gets fired at the end of the year. Matchup-wise, both offenses should dominate, as Notre Dame can’t really defend the run, and Stanford can’t really defend the pass. Stanford is the better team, and at home, but they’ll be tested in this one.
@ Stanford 38, Notre Dame 34
National Games of the Week:
Utah @ BYU (-7.5)
This should be a great game. BYU is better, and at home, but Utah will push them hard, and the game will go down to the wire before BYU wins it with a late touchdown.
@ BYU 31, Utah 24
Pitt (-1) @ West Virginia
This is a tough game to call. Pitt is a bit better, but WV is home. I lean slightly towards Pitt, but this is basically a tossup.
Pitt 28, @ West Virginia 24
Oklahoma St @ Oklahoma (-8)
Oklahoma St is ranked far higher than the Sooners, but are over a touchdown dog in Norman. Here’s a hint: Vegas knows what they’re doing. However, Zac Robinson should play, and that’ll be enough for the Cowboys to make it a game.
@ Oklahoma 31, Oklahoma St 27
Boise St -13.5 vs Nevada
Nevada is starting to look like a fun story and a cute upset pick, at 7-0 in the WAC. The problem is that they simply aren’t as good as Boise, and they’re on the road. This is the toughest game they’ve had to deal with all year… and they’ve already lost three times. Boise is going to win big in their last showcase game before the BCS selection process gets started (and don’t be at all surprised if they get a few friendly calls from the WAC refs in the process).
Memphis +16.5 @ Tulsa
Tulsa is on a six game losing streak, and has lost seven of eight (the win: Rice). And they’re getting more than 2 TD’s. Yes, Memphis sucks, but not that much. This is an over-reaction to the beating Houston laid on them last week.
Rutgers -3 @ Lousiville
The Cards’ best win was USM. Rutgers does well at blasting away bad teams (though obviously last week’s awful loss was a big exception). They bounce back and win big.
Duke +4.5 vs Wake
Duke is free-falling a bit right now, but this is their last chance to reach bowl eligibility and will be fired up to make the most of it, while Wake’s season is already lost.
Georgia Tech -7.5 vs Georgia
This is a trap line. Everyone likes Tech, the line’s not moving, and that means Vegas likes Georgia. However, I just can’t buy it. Georgia is simply NOT a good team, and Tech is an excellent one. Yes, it’s a rivalry game, and you never know… but I simply don’t see how this is any kind of a contest.
Marshall +1.5 @ UTEP
Other than a stunning 17 point win over Houston (that only looks even more stunning in retrospect), UTEP has shown absolutely nothing to make me think they have a good chance at this game, much less actually deserve to be the favorites. Marshall is better than people think and will pull the “upset”.
San Diego St +6.5 @ UNLV
These teams are about even, and UNLV has an injury to star receiver Ryan Wolfe. This could easily be an upset.
UAB +3 vs UCF
These teams are about even in the C-USA standings, UAB has won three of their last four, UCF has been eliminated from the division hunt, and UCF has been lousy on the road. That’s a recipe for an upset.
Pac-10: 50-18 SU, 24-38-2 ATS
National: 21-15 SU, 17-18-1 ATS
Bad Lines: 35-26-2
Mr Pac-10's 2009 Blog
Questions, comments or suggestions? Email me at email@example.com