A week after going 6-1, this scribe was brought back to reality in Week 6, finishing 2-3 against the spread. Once again, I did hit on my LOCK OF THE WEEK pick, which brings me to 5-1 in those contests this season. The overall goal however remains the same, get back to .500 on the year. In order to do that I’ll need to go 4-0 on the weekend with four EXTREMELY difficult matchups.
OVERALL RECORD: 18-21-1
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12
Arizona (3-3, 2-1 Pac-12) vs. Utah (3-2, 1-2 Pac-12)
8:00 PM MT, ESPN
Line: Utah -13 ½ (o/u 52)
Both Arizona (24-17 over California) and Utah (40-21 over Stanford) are coming off big wins. Next to Washington, Utah may have the best defense in the Pac-12. Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate and running back J.J. Taylor will have a tough time moving the ball against a Utes defense holding opponents under 300 yards per game. Utah’s offense meanwhile is clicking at the right time. Junior tailback Zack Moss (549 rush yads, 6 TD this season) exploded for 160 rushing yards and two touchdowns last week against a tough Stanford defense. 13 ½ points is a lot, but I’m still taking the Utes to cover.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 13
7 Washington (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12) vs. 17 Oregon (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12)
1:30 PM MT, ABC/ESPN2
Line: Washington -3 ½ (o/u 58 ½)
This is the 111thmeeting between the two schools, with Washington holding a 60-45-5 edge in an underrated rivalry which dates back to 1900. The Ducks won 12 straight against the Huskies from 2004 to 2015, but Washington dominated the last two contests, including a 38-3 victory in Seattle last season. I’m very tempted to take the home underdog here. Oregon is one of only 14 FBS teams averaging 500-or-more yards per game. Washington ranks third among FBS teams in scoring defense, only allowing 13.7 points per game. Unlike last season, Oregon is going to put points on the board. However, the difference in this one will be a Washington secondary led by safeties JoJo McIntosh and Taylor Rapp. As good as Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert is, Jimmy Lake’s (Washington’s Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach) unit has only allowed three passing touchdowns and two passing plays of 30 yards or more this season. I like Washington to cover the 3 ½ points.
UCLA (0-5, 0-2 Pac-12) vs. California (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12)
5:00 PM MT, TBD
Line: California -6 ½ (o/u 53)
UCLA holds 53-33-1 all-time edge and has won four of the last five against California. After starting 3-0, the Golden Bears have dropped two straight contests, including a 24-17 loss at Arizona last weekend plagued by turnovers. In five games this season, California has turned over the rock a total of 14 times, worst in the Pac-12. The key to this game however might just come down to red zone performance. Despite their 0-5 record, the Bruins have scored on all 11 trips inside an opponents red zone this season (9 TD, 2 FG). The Golden Bears on the other hand are dead last in the Pac-12, having scored on 75% (12-of-16) of their trips inside the red zone. Despite getting six and a half points, I actually think the Bruins will win this one outright. Chip Kelly and the Bruins will cover in what is my LOCK OF THE WEEK.
19 Colorado (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) vs. USC (3-2, 2-1 Pac-12)
8:30 PM MT, Fox Sports 1
Line: USC -7 (o/u 57)
The Buffaloes are 5-0 for the first time since 1998, but that record includes wins over teams that are a combined 5-22 this season. USC is a perfect 12-0 against Colorado all-time and 18-0 at the Coliseum under Clay Helton. History suggests the Trojans should be a lock. But this game could be crucial in determining who wins the Pac-12 South and I believe the Buffaloes are ready to rewrite history for two reasons. 1) Clancy Pendergast’s unit is susceptible to the big play. In their last three games, USC’s defense has surrendered 12 plays of 20-or-more yards to opposing offenses. Colorado’s Heisman Trophy contender Laviska Shenault Jr. (51 rec, 708 yards, 10 total touchdowns), has to be licking his chops entering this matchup. 2) USC is allowing 85.20 penalty yards per game which ranks 122ndin the FBS. Buffaloes Quarterback Steven Montez, who ranks 2ndin the FBS with a 75.2 completion percentage, should feast on these mistakes. Colorado is 4-1 against the spread this season, while USC is 1-4, their lone cover coming with last week’s 24-20 win at Arizona. The Buffaloes may not win Saturday night, but they’ll keep this contest close. Take Colorado and the seven points.
*Lines as of Thursday, October 11 per the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook*