I’m back baby! After going 6-1 last week, this scribe sits just two games below .500 on the season, and 4-1 overall with my LOCK OF THE WEEK picks. Five extremely tough matchups highlight week six, including a Colorado Buffaloes team seeking to remain the Pac-12s lone unbeaten.
OVERALL RECORD: 16-18-1
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 6
Arizona State (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) vs. 21 Colorado (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12)
2:00 PM MT, Pac-12 Network
Line: Colorado -2 (o/u 64 ½)
One of 14 undefeated teams remaining in FBS, the Colorado Buffaloes put their 4-0 record on the line against Herm Edwards and the Arizona State Sun Devils Saturday afternoon. This Pac-12 South matchup features two of the best wide receivers in college football, Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry (31 rec, 419 yards, 5 TD this season) and Colorado’s Laviska Shenault (38 rec, 581 yards, 4 TD). Aside from those talented wideouts, keep an eye on ASU Sophomore tailback Eno Benjamin (98 car, 595 yards, 5 TD this season), who rushed for a school-record 312 yards in a 58-24 win over Oregon State last weekend. Behind Benjamin, the Sun Devils ground attack is much improved and could mean the difference in this game. Colorado’s previous four opponents are a combined 1-16 this season, so it goes without saying, Arizona State will be their toughest test to date. Against the better judgement of my Ralphie Report colleagues, I’m reluctantly siding with the Sun Devils to cover. This is one instance I hope I’m wrong.
10 Washington (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12) vs. UCLA (0-4, 0-1 Pac-12)
5:30 PM MT, Fox
Line: Washington -21 (o/u 52 ½)
After falling to Colorado 38-16 last Friday, UCLA (0-4) is off to its worst start since 1971. Things don’t get any easier for Chip Kelly’s Bruins as they face the 10th ranked Washington Huskies this weekend. Washington has won four straight and is coming off a 35-7 rout of BYU. In five games, the Huskies have surrendered just six touchdowns and are allowing just 11.6 points per game, which leads the FBS. UCLA on the other hand ranks 124th in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 17.o points per game. Playing in the Rose Bowl, UCLA might be able to hang with Washington for a quarter or so, but the Huskies will eventually pull away and cover the 21 points.
Washington State (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) vs. Oregon State (1-4, 0-2 Pac-12)
7:00 PM MT, Pac-12 Network
Line: Washington State -17 (o/u 64 ½)
Following an impressive 28-24 win over Utah, Washington State is 5-0 against the spread this season. Mike Leach’s air-raid attack is only of only two teams (Texas Tech the other) in the FBS averaging 400-plus passing yards per contest. The Cougars should have no problem moving the ball against a Beavers team allowing 543.6 yards per game. Not only is Washington State’s offense impressive, but their defense is much improved as well. Alex Grinch’s unit is only allowing 277.0 yards per contest, which leads the Pac-12. Despite the game being played in Corvallis, I like the Cougars to easily cover the 17 points in what is my LOCK OF THE WEEK.
California (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) vs. Arizona (2-3, 1-1 Pac-12)
8:00 PM MT, Fox Sports 1
Line: California -2 (o/u 57 ½)
The Wildcats needed a second overtime to defeat the Golden Bears 45-44 in one of the more entertaining Pac-12 contests last season. Arizona’s Khalil Tate rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown in that victory. Through five games this season, the junior quarterback, playing through injury, has rushed for only 69 yards. Yet the Wildcats, behind sophomore tailback J.J. Taylor (89 car, 527 yards, 3 TD) lead the conference with 217.4 rushing yards per game. California’s offense is led by redshirt-freshman quarterback Chase Garbers (493 pass yards, 150 rush yards) and senior tailback Patrick Laird, who is only averaging 3.5 yards per carry on 67 attempts this season. Don’t expect Saturday night’s game to be as high scoring as last years. Both the Golden Bears and the Wildcats played BYU this season. Arizona opened their 2018 campaign with a five-point loss to the Cougars in Tucson, while California defeated them the following week by three in Provo, Utah. I’m leaning slightly with the Golden Bears in this one, but the confidence level isn’t too high.
Utah (2-2, 0-2 Pac-12) vs. 14 Stanford (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12)
8:30 PM MT, ESPN
Line: Stanford -3 ½ (o/u 45 ½)
Both Utah and Stanford are coming off losses last week. Stanford’s Bryce Love (76 car, 327 rush yards in 3 games this season), last year’s Heisman runner-up, is day-to-day after reinjuring his left ankle which plagued him over the last half of 2017. Whether he plays or not, the Cardinal will have a tough time running the ball against a Utes defense allowing just 83.8 rush yards per game. The all-time series is tied 4-4, but Utah has taken 2-of-3 from Stanford since joining the Pac-12. Despite playing on the road, I like the Utah to avenge a 23-20 loss to Stanford last season. Give me the Utes and the 3 ½ points.
*Lines as of Friday, October 5 per the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook*