(13) OREGON -21 over Colorado, Friday, 10 PM EDT
Oregon hasn’t quite broken out yet against Pac-12 competition. Fortunately for them, Colorado is just the team for them to get a big win against. The Buffaloes, led by a high-powered passing attack, have played the Arizona schools to a win and a loss in a pair of games in the 30’s. Oregon’s offense is at least on the level of those schools, but their defense is on a higher one. Justin Herbert should have his first game that truly lives up to his first-round draft hype, as Colorado is 10th in the conference in passing defense. Colorado will struggle to score, and Oregon will run away with this one at home.
(18) ARIZONA STATE -1 over Washington State, 3:30 PM EDT
Aside from possibly the team from the other side of the state, Washington State has had the most disappointing season to date. They lost in wild game to lowly UCLA at home and were destroyed by Utah on the road last week. After that loss the Cougars defensive coordinator left the team. That might not mean too much because their defense has been nothing short of terrible this year, but it signifies inconsistency in the program. Arizona State has one of the strongest defenses in the conference and they should be able to stop Washington State enough to win. Arizona State’s offense has been somewhat inconsistent, but they did score more against Cal than Oregon did, and they put up over thirty on Colorado. Washington State’s porous defense will let the Sun Devils through enough to lose.
(9) NOTRE DAME -11 over USC, 7:30 PM EDT
USC’s last few games have been a roller coaster. Bad loss on the road to BYU, great win at home to Utah, bad loss on the road to Washington. The one consistency has been bad performances on the road. This isn’t particularly surprising given that the Trojans have been starting backup and third-string quarterbacks since week 2. Notre Dame is coming off two blowout wins and a close loss to a very strong Georgia team on the road. After the loss to Georgia, the Fighting Irish are essentially playing elimination games every week. Their playoff hopes would be done with a loss. While that loss may come later on, it won’t happen this week. Notre Dame should ride their home field advantage and superior execution to a multiple score win in South Bend.
(15) Utah -14.5 over OREGON STATE, 8 PM EDT
Oregon State had a big win over UCLA last week. It was the only conference game this season in which they were given much of a chance, and they did pull it out. They were able to move the ball on the ground and through the air. The Beavers will come back down to earth this week against a stout Utah team coming off a blowout against Washington State. The Utes have completely shut down opponents rushing offenses, holding teams to 53.8 ypg. They will turn Oregon State into a one-dimensional team, and their offense is not good enough to overcome that. The most significant matchup comes by way of the Utah running game versus Oregon State’s rush defense. Utah leads the league with over 220 ypg and the Beavers are last in the league allowing over 195 ypg. Utah will be blowing open holes all night, and it will lead to a big win on the road.
Washington -5.5 over ARIZONA, 11 PM EDT
Washington has been a disappointment this year. A team that regarded itself as having a shot at the College Football Playoff at the beginning of the year sees itself effectively eliminated by mid-October after losses against Cal and (more importantly) Stanford. The only bright side is that the Pac-12 has done such an outstanding job at eating itself alive that they still have an outside shot at winning the Pac-12 North division, making the conference championship game, and getting that coveted Rose Bowl spot. A loss to Arizona would mean that an almost unthinkable 8-4 (or worse) record would be likely. Arizona has done well for themselves so far, unbeaten in conference play after wins over UCLA and Colorado. I do still believe that the Huskies have the potential for performances reminiscent of their contending teams of the past few years. One positive byproduct of a loss like last week for gamblers is that the line comes down significantly. Arizona has had a weak pass defense this year and Jacob Eason should be able to move the ball well. I see Washington doing enough on defense to allow the offense the chance to win it for them. This might not end up the blowout that it looked like it should be a few weeks ago, but Washington will win by a touchdown or more.
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