What sophomore slump? After correctly picking just 30 of 72 regular season Pac-12 games ATS last season, yours truly is off to a torrid 6-0 start in 2019. But while this winning streak is nice, there’s no time to be complacent. There are four more tough matchups involving Pac-12 teams highlight Saturday’s slate of game. So if you’re looking to ride this scribe’s coattails, here are my Saturday selections.
Northwestern vs. 25 Stanford — 2:00 PM MT, FOX
Spread: Stanford -6 (o/u 47)
This one should be a battle of quarterbacks. The Cardinal only return four starters on offense from a team that finished 9-4 last season. Among those returning is junior signal caller K.J. Costello. The Wildcats will counter with former five-star quarterback Hunter Johnson, who left Clemson for Evanston rather than compete with Trevor Lawrence. The Cardinal have won their last 11 homes openers by an average of 25 points. The Wildcats were 9-5 last season, but 0-3 in non-conference games. Despite that, I’m hesitantly taking Northwestern getting six points on the road. Confidence level here is a 2 out of 10.
11 Oregon vs. 16 Auburn — 5:30 PM MT, ABC
Spread: Auburn - 3 1⁄2 (o/u 55 1⁄2 )
This is a rematch of the 2011 BCS National Championship game, which Cam Newton and Auburn won 22-19. Auburn is 6-0 all-time against current Pac-12 teams in neutral-site games, including a 21-16 physical win over Washington in Atlanta to open their 2018 campaign. But whereas Auburn will start talented freshman Bo Nix at quarterback, Oregon has a Heisman contender and potential first-round NFL draft pick in Justin Herbert. Give me experience over youth; Ducks cover in what should be a close, physical Pac-12/SEC contest.
New Mexico State vs. 23 Washington State — 8:00 PM MT, Pac-12 Networks
Spread: Washington State -31 1⁄2 (o/u 64 1⁄2 )
Whether it’s Anthony Gordon, Gage Gubrud or Trey Tinsley at quarterback, Washington State will put up a lot of points against New Mexico State. Cougars sophomore running back Max Borghi should also have a big game against an Aggies defense that allowed 268.4 rush yards per game (125th in FBS) last season. While I tend to stay away from big point spreads, I’m rolling with Mike Leach’s air-raid attack to cover in this contest.
Fresno State vs. USC — 8:30 PM MT, ESPN
Spread: USC -13 1⁄2 (o/u 51 1⁄2 )
This one should be interesting. Fresno State was 12-2 last season which included a 24-point win over UCLA and an 11-point win over Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl. However, Jeff Tedford’s Bulldogs only return three starters on an offense that averaged 421.5 yards per game last season. Meanwhile, after finishing 5-7 last season, there’s a lot on the line for Clay Helton in his 5th year leading the Men of Troy. Former Texas Tech gunslinger and new Trojans offensive coordinator Graham Harrell should reinvigorate the USC offense. Sophomore J.T. Daniels should have a field day throwing to one of the best receiving corps in the nation. I’m going with USC to cover the 13 1⁄2 points.
POINT SPREADS NOT AVAILABLE
Eastern Washington vs. 13 Washington — 1:00 PM MT, Pac-12 Networks
UC Davis vs. California — 4:30 PM MT, Pac-12 Networks
*Point spreads are as of Friday, August 30 per the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook*