Now that your Thanksgiving Day feast is over, it’s time to get down to business. 13 might be an unlucky number for some, but this scribe is feeling fortuitous this black Friday. Seven games on the Pac-12 slate in this final week of the regular season. And despite my 41.7 percent success rate against the spread, I’m guaranteeing a winning week.
OVERALL RECORD: 30-41-1 (7-4 LOCK OF THE WEEK)
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23
Oregon (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12) vs. Oregon State (2-9, 1-7 Pac-12)
2:00 PM MT, Fox Sports 1
Line: Oregon -19 ½ (o/u 69 ½)
Oregon leads the all-time series with Oregon State – known as the Civil War – 64-47-10 and has won nine of the last ten games. However, the Ducks have struggled against the run their last four games. Arizona’s J.J. Taylor (212 rush yards), UCLA’s Joshua Kelley (161 yards), Stanford’s Armand Shyne (174 yards) and Arizona State’s Eno Benjamin (149 yards) each torched Jim Leavitt’s defense. Now Oregon gets to face the conference’s number two rusher, Oregon State freshman Jermar Jefferson (1,316 yards, 12 TD this season). The Ducks opened as 14 and a half point favorites, but the line has since jumped to 19 and a half. With the line as high as it is, I’m rolling with Jermar Jefferson and the Beavers to cover.
16 Washington (8-3, 6-2 Pac-12) vs. 8 Washington State (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12)
6:30 PM MT, Fox
Line: Washington State -2 ½ (o/u 49 ½)
The 111thedition of the Apple Cup promises to be a good one. Winner takes on Utah in the Pac-12 Championship game, while the loser will be watching from home. As good as Mike Leach’s air-raid attack has been this season, it’s the Cougars defense that has been impressing this scribe. The Cougars rank fourth in the conference in total defense, (333.8 yards per game allowed) and lead the league in sacks with 34. The Huskies defense has also excelled, surrendering an average of 16.6 points per game this season. Gardner Minshew II and the Washington State (10-1 ATS this season) offense however will put up points against Washington (2-9 ATS). I just don’t believe the Huskies offense will be able to hang with the Cougars. I’m taking Washington State in what is my LOCK OF THE WEEK.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 24
Stanford (6-4, 4-3 Pac-12) vs. UCLA (3-8, 3-5 Pac-12)
1:00 PM MT, Pac-12 Network
Line: Stanford -7 ½ (o/u 60 ½)
UCLA tailback Joshua Kelley exploded for 289 yards and 2 touchdowns in a seven-point win over rival USC last week. Stanford meanwhile had a week off as their game against California was postponed due to poor air quality in Northern California as a result of wildfires. With 2017 Heisman-trophy runner-up Bryce Love having a sub-par year because of nagging injuries, Stanford’s K.J. Costello has passed for 320-or-more yards in four of his last five games. As impressive as UCLA’s win over USC was, I don’t see a second straight upset win for the Bruins. Costello and company should have a big game in the Rose Bowl. Take Stanford to cover the seven and a half points, but my confidence level isn’t high on this pick.
Arizona State (6-5, 4-4 Pac-12) vs. Arizona (5-6, 4-4 Pac-12)
1:30 PM MT, Fox Sports 1
Line: Arizona State -2 (o/u 64 ½)
Herm Edwards’ boys are coming off a disappointing two-point loss at Oregon. Arizona on the other hand, felt the wrath of the stash. Gardner Minshew and the Cougars put up 55 points in the first half in a 69-28 win over the Wildcats. While two of the best running backs in the Pac-12 – Arizona State’s Eno Benjamin and Arizona’s J.J. Taylor – will be going head-to-head in this game, the player to keep an eye on is Sun Devils quarterback Manny Wilkins. Arizona’s secondary is allowing 269.9 passing yards per game, dead last in the Pac-12. Look for Wilkins to find his top target N’Keal Harry (69 rec, 1,033 yards, 9 TD this season) quite a few times Saturday afternoon. I like the Sun Devils to win and cover the two points.
Colorado (5-6, 2-6 Pac-12) vs. California (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12)
5:00 PM MT, Pac-12 Network
Line: California -12 ½ (o/u 43)
After six straight losses, Colorado parted ways with head coach Mike MacIntyre and Kurt Roper was named interim head coach. The Buffaloes will have trouble with a Golden Bears defense that is one of the best in the conference. California’s offense however, is only averaging 22.7 points per game, which ranks them 112thin the FBS. Justin Wilcox’s team is also turnover prone. With a potential bowl berth on the line, look for Colorado to take advantage of two or more turnovers and hang with California. Take the Buffaloes and the 12 and a half points in this contest.
3 Notre Dame (11-0) vs. USC (5-6, 4-5 Pac-12)
6:00 PM MT, ABC
Line: Notre Dame -11 (o/u 54 ½)
Am I missing something here? Sure, it’s a rivalry game, but the number three ranked team in the country is only a 11-point road favorite over a struggling Trojans team? The Irish are 3-0 ATS in road games this season, while the Trojans have dropped their last two in the Coliseum and are 1-4 ATS at home this year. The Irish will cover and the Trojans will fall to 5-7, which could mean the end of Clay Helton’s run in Southern California.
BYU (6-5) vs. 17 Utah (8-3, 6-3 Pac-12)
8:00 PM MT, Fox Sports 1
Line: Utah -11 ½ (o/u 44)
For the first time since 2010, the Holy War will be contested on the final weekend in November. Utah has won seven straight games against their rivals from Provo but six of those games have been decided by a touchdown or less. BYU has already played three Pac-12 teams, defeating Arizona 28-23 to open the season and losing to California (21-18) and Washington (35-7). Expect a low scoring, knock-down-drag-out affair in this one. The Utes and Cougars boast two of the top defenses in the country. Utah is allowing 312.1 yards per game, (tops in the Pac-12) while BYU surrenders 327.6. 11 and a half points is just too much for me in this rivalry game. I’m (hesitantly) taking the Cougars and the points.
*Lines as of Thursday, November 22 per the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook*