After selecting seven of nine favorites last week, (which my editor warned me against doing) this scribe narrowly finished on the plus side once again at 5-4. That marks three straight winning weeks to start my 2019 campaign with an overall record of 17-9 ATS.
Four in-conference matchups highlight week four, which got off to a rocky start for yours truly as USC shook up the Pac-12 South with a win over #10 Utah.
The Utes opened 2019 with a 30-12 win in Provo, while the Trojans were humbled there last week, losing 30-27 in OT. USC has talent on both sides of the ball, but Utah might be the most complete team in the conf. I'm taking the Utes to cover the 3 1/2 points.— Ralphie Report (@RalphieReport) September 20, 2019
Already 0-1, here are my Saturday selections. As always, tread lightly.
Overall Record (ATS): 17-10
#23 California (3-0) vs. Ole Miss (2-1)
Time, Network: 10:00am MT, ESPNU
Spread: Ole Miss -2 1⁄2 (o/u 41 1⁄2 )
California is coming off a 23-17 win against North Texas, while Ole Miss held off Southeastern Louisiana last week 40-29. Second-year Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke has never faced California, but two of his coordinators are VERY familiar with the Golden Bears. Rebels offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez (Arizona) and defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre (Colorado) are a combined 5-1 against the Golden Bears. Expect a low-scoring affair Saturday in Oxford, Miss. The Golden Bears offense flows through running backs Christopher Brown Jr. and Marcel Dancy, while the Rebels defense is only allowing 106.3 yards per game on the ground. On the flip side, Ole Miss’ offense will have a tough time scoring against a California team that has held each of its last 10 opponents below 24 points. While the early start time (9am PT) may effect the Golden Bears, I still like them to get out to an early lead and hold on with the strength of their defense. Give me California and the two and a half points on the road.
#22 Washington (2-1) vs. BYU (2-1)
Time, Network: 1:30pm MT, ABC/ESPN2
Spread: Washington -6 1⁄2 (o/u 51)
BYU will be facing their third Pac-12 squad in the last four weeks when they host Washington. Despite taking down the then 24th ranked USC Trojans in thrilling fashion last week, the Huskies will provide a much tougher test. Washington running backs Salvon Ahmed and Richard Newton should run freely against a BYU defense allowing 225 rush yards per game. Meanwhile, the Cougars will have a tough time throwing the ball against a Huskies defense that has only allowed two passing touchdowns this season. Huskies cover easily.
#16 Oregon (2-1) vs. Stanford (1-2, 0-1 Pac-12)
Time, Network: 5:00pm MT, ESPN
Spread: Oregon -10 1⁄2 (o/u 57 1⁄2 )
Justin Herbert and the Ducks will be looking for revenge after last season’s 37-31 overtime loss to the Cardinal. They’ll find it. Stanford’s secondary was torched last week by UCF’s Dillon Gabriel for 347 yards and four touchdowns through the air. Herbert has to be licking his chops. Oregon, my pick to win the Pac-12, will have no problem covering the 10.5 points against David Shaw’s struggling squad.
Colorado (2-1) vs. #24 Arizona State (3-0)
Time, Network: 8:00pm MT, Pac-12 Network
Spread: Arizona State -8 1⁄2 (o/u 48 1⁄2 )
Arizona State is coming off a hard-fought 10-7 victory at Michigan State and Colorado dropped a heartbreaker to Air Force last week. While the Sun Devils defense has only allowed 21 points through three games, their young offense has yet to really click. The Buffaloes offense is averaging 36.3 points per game, however their defense has surrendered 30 or more points in each contest so far. One matchup to watch Saturday night in Tempe, Ariz. will be found in the trenches. Will Mustafa Johnson and Colorado’s front seven exploit the two freshmen on Arizona State’s offensive line? This game also features two of the Pac-12’s big play receivers: Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk (23.2 yards per reception) and Colorado’s Laviska Shenault (16 receptions, 203 yards, 2 TD). This contest is a close one to call, but I’m siding with the Buffaloes and the eight and a half points.
UCLA (0-3) vs. #19 Washington State (3-0)
Time, Network: 8:30pm MT, ESPN
Spread: Washington State -18 (o/u 58)
While former Washington State signal callers Gardner Minshew II (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Luke Falk (New York Jets) are making names for themselves in the NFL, current Cougars quarterback Anthony Gordon is turning heads in Pullman, Wash. Through three games, Gordan leads the FBS with 1,324 passing yards, is tied with Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa for the FBS lead with 12 touchdown passes and ranks third with a 78.7 completion percentage. UCLA’s secondary has allowed 279 passing yards per game in losses to Cincinnati, San Diego State and Oklahoma. Taking that into account and the fact this game is in Pullman, Wash., I’m rolling with the Cougars to cover.
*Point spreads are as of Friday, September 20 per the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook*