NCAA Football: Madwed picks the Pac-12 — USC vs Colorado, Arizona vs Stanford, Arizona State vs UCLA, Washington State vs Oregon, and more
USC -13.5 over COLORADO, Friday 9 PM EDT
Like the Pac-12 as a whole, USC has been tough to figure out this season. They have had their share of bad losses paired with dominant victories. Last week was in the latter category, with the Trojans putting a beat down on Arizona. Colorado has been trending down following their early season excitement. I was proven wrong last week in thinking that the Buffs would be able to keep pace with Washington State. They have now suffered back-to-back embarrassing losses against Oregon and the aforementioned Cougars. They are all but eliminated from contention in the Pac-12 South. USC currently sits in first place and has the inside track to reach the conference championship game and play for the chance to represent the Pac in the Rose Bowl. With two teams going in completely divergent directions, I see USC winning big. Colorado’s defense has given up 30 or more points in every game this season. Expect a big day for the Trojans on offense, and for Colorado to wilt in yet another disappointing loss.
Arizona over STANFORD (EVEN), 3:30 PM EDT
Add Stanford to the long list of maddeningly inconsistent teams. One week after beating Washington by two scores, they get crunched by UCLA. At least the Cardinal have an easy scapegoat to help explain things. After entering the season thinking they were set with a steady KJ Costello, injuries have led them past Davis Mills to their third stringer Jack West. The sophomore was ineffective to say the least. Costello and Mills are questionable for this week. This pick is almost entirely contingent on who gets the ball and how healthy that person is. If West gets the call, Arizona should be licking their lips. I am making the pick for Arizona here because I have a feeling that it will be either West or one of the other two playing below full strength.
(24) Arizona State -3.5 over UCLA, 7:30 PM EDT
This line is a bit perplexing to me. Sure, Arizona State couldn’t move the ball to save their life against Utah last week. Welcome to the club. Only USC has shown any ability to rack up yards against this Utes defense. UCLA’s performance on the road against Stanford surely influenced the line as well. As highlighted in the game explanation above, some of that was due to inexperience at the quarterback position for the Cardinal. It should not be forgotten that Sun Devils freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels had been performing well going into the Utah game. He lit up weak Washington State and Colorado defenses in past weeks and he will do so again this week against the Bruins. Arizona State still has an outside shot at the conference championship, and they will come out fighting in this one. I see the Sun Devils putting up a lot of points and winning convincingly.
California +21.5 over (12) UTAH, 10 PM EDT
This would have been a much better game with Chase Garbers still at quarterback for Cal. Its difficult to see Devon Modster leading the Golden Bears to too many points in this one. It’s easy to look at this game and think that Utah should win by 30 in a game where Cal cannot move the ball and the Utes continually wear down a Cal defense that will be on the field a lot. I look at Cal’s game against Oregon for a little guidance here. While never looking they actually had a chance to win, they were able to keep the Ducks offense at bay for the majority of the game. Similarly, I think that the defense will be able to hold Utah enough to cover the spread. Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley showed some inconsistency last week and Saturday won’t be any easier. I see Utah winning, but not by more than three touchdowns.
(11) OREGON -14 over Washington State, 10:30 PM EDT
Oregon ripped the hearts out of every Washington fan last week, including this writer. Their win in Seattle has given them some cushion in the Pac-12 North race. Washington State’s defense showed some signs of life against Colorado, but that might not mean much heading into this one. Oregon is a much more complete team. Their secondary should be able to stifle the prolific Mike Leach Air Raid Offense as much as it can be, and their offense won’t have much trouble putting up points at home. The Ducks will continue to roll on their way to the conference championship game in December, and the Cougars are not going to be the team that spoils it for them. I see Oregon winning this one big.
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