A pair of BIG matchups in the Evergreen State (Colorado at Washington and Oregon at Washington State) and USC at Utah highlight the Pac-12 action in Week 8. With UCLA’s dominating win over California last weekend, I improved to 6-1 with my LOCK OF THE WEEK selections. Overall, I’m still sporting a sub .500 record on the season, but with six games on the docket this week, anything can happen.
OVERALL RECORD: 20-23-1 (UPDATE)
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 18
Stanford (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12) vs. Arizona State (3-3, 1-2 Pac-12)
7:00 PM MT, ESPN
Line: Stanford -2 ½ (o/u 57 ½)
Both the Cardinal and Sun Devils are looking to get back on track after bye weeks. Last time out, Herm Edwards’ crew dropped a tough one at Colorado 28-21. Stanford has lost their last two games, a 38-17 defeat at Notre Dame and a 40-21 home loss to Utah. After being held out against Utah, Bryce Love (left ankle) remains questionable for Thursday night’s game. Last year, Love torched the Sun Devils for 301 rushing yards on 25 attempts in a 34-24 win. Should Love play, it’ll be fun to watch he and Eno Benjamin go toe to toe. After a slow start, Arizona State’s tailback has rushed for 536 yards in his last three games. Though six games, Arizona State leads the FBS with just two turnovers. I don’t expect the Sun Devils to just give this one away, but Stanford is just too talented. Whether Love plays or not, I like the Cardinal to cover on the road.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 13
Colorado (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) vs. 15 Washington (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12)
1:30 PM MT, Fox
Line: Washington -16 (o/u 51 ½)
Since the start of the 2017 season, the Huskies are 10-0 straight up at home. However, they are only 1-2 against the spread at home this season. Both teams are coming off tough losses. Colorado looked overmatched in a 31-20 loss at USC, while Washington fell to Oregon in overtime, 30-27. The Buffs could be without star wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. who suffered a toe injury in their 31-20 loss to USC. Whether Shenault plays or not, the Buffaloes will have a tough time moving the ball against one of the top defenses in the country. I like the Huskies to cover at home.
California (3-3, 0-3 Pac-12) vs. Oregon State (1-5, 0-3 Pac-12)
2:00 PM MT, Pac-12 Network
Line: California -7 (o/u 58 ½)
California will attempt to rebound from a 37-7 beatdown at the hands of UCLA. Oregon State has lost four straight games but had last week off. Both teams are 2-4 ATS this season. Golden Bears bell cow Patrick Laird has yet to eclipse 100 rushing yards in a game this season. He’ll be facing an Oregon State defense ranked 126th in the nation with 269.5 rush yards allowed per game. The Beavers offense on the other hand has been sneaky good this season. They’re averaging 453.7 yards per game, 3rd most in the Pac-12. Laird may break the 100-yard barrier, but I’m rolling with the Beavers getting seven points at home.
12 Oregon (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) vs. 25 Washington State (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12)
5:30 PM MT, Fox
Line: Washington State -3 (o/u 67 ½)
ESPN’s College Gameday visits Pullman, Wash. for the very first time and they’ll be in for a treat. The Ducks (19th in FBS) and Cougars (17th in FBS) have two of the most prolific offenses in the country. But it’s the Washington State pass defense that I’m focusing on. In his first season as the Cougars defensive coordinator, Tracy Claeys’ unit is allowing a measly 165.5 yards per game through the air, tops in the Pac-12. Oregon holds a 49-41-7 all-time record against Washington State, but the Cougars have won the last three by an average of 16 points per game. Pullman will be rocking Saturday night. It’ll be close, but I like Washington State at home to cover.
USC (4-2, 3-1 Pac-12) vs. Utah (4-2, 2-2 Pac-12)
6:00 PM MT, Pac-12 Network
Line: Utah -6 ½ (o/u 48)
Both teams are coming off wins, but Utah might just be the hottest team in the Pac-12 right now. The Utes offense combined for 82 points their last two games, a 40-21 victory at Stanford and a 42-10 home win versus Arizona. Meanwhile the Trojans have won their last three games (vs. WSU, at Ariz, vs. Colo) by a combined 18 points The Trojans will have trouble moving the ball against a tough Utes defense allowing just 300.0 yards per game – 225.2 pass YPG and 74.8 rush YPG (2nd in FBS). USC holds an 11-5 edge in the series with the home team winning the last five. Six and a half points is a lot, but I still like the Utes to cover.
Arizona (3-4, 2-2 Pac-12) vs. UCLA (1-5, 1-2 Pac-12)
8:30 PM MT, ESPN2
Line: UCLA -8 (o/u 56)
Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate will not play against the Bruins because of an ankle injury, head coach Kevin Sumlin announced earlier in the week. He’ll be replaced by Rhett Rodriguez, the son of the former Arizona head coach. The sophomore completed 20-of-38 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown in a 41-10 loss at Utah last week. UCLA’s offense got on track last week behind the running of Joshua Kelley. The junior rushed for 157 yards and three touchdowns on 30 attempts in a 37-7 win at California. It was his third consecutive game with 100-or-more rushing yards. Look for Kelley to have a big game against an Arizona defense allowing 202 rush yards per game. UCLA has won five of the last six games against Arizona straight up. Per winnersandwhiners.com, the home team is 11-4 ATS in the last 15 meetings between the two schools. For the second straight week I’m taking the Bruins to cover in what is my LOCK OF THE WEEK.
*Lines as of Wednesday, October 17 per the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook*