After going 2-4 in Week 9, this scribe’s win percentage against the spread dropped to 44.6%. Hardly the result I was expecting when I began this column in September. If there is a silver lining however, I have been correct 77.7% (7-2 overall) of the time with my LOCK OF THE WEEK selections. With November here, four weeks remain in the regular season. Plenty of time to right the ship. Here are my Pac-12 picks for Week 10.
OVERALL RECORD: 25-30-1 (7-2 LOCK OF THE WEEK)
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2
Colorado (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12) vs. Arizona (4-5, 3-3 Pac-12)
8:30 PM MT, Fox Sports 1
Line: Arizona -3 (o/u 56 ½)
Khalil Tate torched the Buffaloes for a record-setting 327 rushing yards and four touchdowns on just 14 carries in a 45-42 victory in Boulder last season. Under new head coach Kevin Sumlin, Tate - plagued by an ankle injury most of the year – is using his arm more than his legs this season. In eight starts, the Wildcats junior has passed for 1,604 yards and rushed for only 138. Not only will Colorado have to shut down Arizona’s talented quarterback Friday night, but they’ll need to contain tailback J.J. Taylor, who is coming off a 212-yard, two touchdown performance in a 44-15 rout of Oregon. Colorado’s Laviska Shenault, who has missed the last two games, remains questionable for this one with a toe injury. With or without Shenault, Buffaloes quarterback Steven Montez has plenty of weapons to throw to, but it’s their running back that will be the difference. Travon McMillian has rushed for 100-or-more yards five times this season and I expect the Buffs to use a heavy dose of him and Montez on the ground to keep the Wildcats offense off the field. This one could come back to bite me, but I’m taking the Buffs to cover in a close one.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3
15 Utah (6-2, 4-2 Pac-12) vs. Arizona State (4-4, 2-3 Pac-12)
2:00 PM MT, Pac-12 Networks
Line: Utah -7 (o/u 56)
After a sluggish start, the Utes have won four-straight to put themselves in the driver’s seat in the Pac-12 South. Herm Edwards’ Sun Devils are coming off an impressive 38-35 win over USC at the Coliseum. I’m looking forward to watching Utah’s Zach Moss (964 rush yards, 10 TD this season) and Arizona State’s Eno Benjamin (938 rush yards, 9 TD), two of the best running backs in the Pac-12, go toe-to-toe in this contest. Utah’s defense however will be the difference. The Utes have been one of the hottest teams in the FBS the last four weeks, averaging 41 points per game while holding opponents to 17.25. Despite the game being played in Tempe, I’m taking the Utes to cover again for my LOCK OF THE WEEK.
UCLA (2-6, 2-3 Pac-12) vs. Oregon (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12)
5:30 PM MT, Fox
Line: Oregon -10 ½ (o/u 63)
Both the Bruins and Ducks were blown out in Week 9. UCLA fell to Utah 41-10 and Oregon got trampled by Arizona 44-15. The Bruins have struggled against the run this season, allowing 209.3 yards per game. Oregon freshman running back CJ Verdell was held to a combined 69 yards on 18 carries in road losses to Washington State and Arizona. Look for Verdell to get back on track Saturday against UCLA’s poor rush defense. With the game at Autzen Stadium, I’m taking the Ducks to cover.
Stanford (5-3, 3-2 Pac-12) vs. Washington (6-3, 4-2 Pac-12)
7:00 PM MT, Pac-12 Network
Line: Washington -10 (o/u 45 ½)
The Huskies are 1-3 against the spread at home this season. The Cardinal meanwhile are 2-1 ATS in road contests. Despite being held to 150-yards or less in his last two starts, look for Washington quarterback Jake Browning to take advantage of the Pac-12s worst secondary. The Cardinal are allowing 275.4 passing yards per game, which ranked 111th in the FBS. Preseason Heisman Trophy candidate Bryce Love has struggled this season. The Cardinal senior, who has been battling an ankle injury much of the year, has only eclipsed 100 yards in a game once. He had 12 such games last season. In 88 meetings between the two schools the all-time series is tied 42-42-4. I’m taking the Huskies to cover at home.
USC (4-4, 3-3 Pac-12) vs. Oregon State (2-6, 1-4 Pac-12)
8:00 PM MT, Fox Sports 1
Line: USC -16 ½ (o/u 61 ½)
Oregon State is coming off a come-from-behind overtime win over Colorado. USC has dropped two straight games. After sitting out last week with a concussion, Trojans freshman quarterback JT Daniels has cleared protocol and is expected to start against the Beavers. Also returning for the Trojans is starting middle linebacker Cameron Smith, who missed the past three games with hamstring and knee injuries. Oregon State might be riding a high after their big road victory, but they’ll be brought back to reality against USC. With Daniels and Smith returning, this one shouldn’t be close. Take the Trojans.
California (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12) vs. 8 Washington State (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12)
8:45 PM MT, ESPN
Line: Washington State -9 ½ (o/u 50)
After a hard-fought 12-10 win over a ranked Huskies team in Berkeley, the Golden Bears are back on the road to face the 8th ranked team in the nation Saturday night. Washington State is a perfect 8-0 against the spread this season, while California is 4-4. This one should be interesting. The Golden Bears defense ranks 8th in FBS allowing just 165.5 passing yards per game. Mike Leach’s air-raid attack on the other hand, leads the nation in passing offense averaging 405.4 yards per contest. The key to this one will be California running back Patrick Laird (873 total yards, 8 TD this season). If the senior can move the ball against a tough Cougars defense, the Golden Bears can control the clock and keep the ball away from Gardner Minshew III and company. California leads the all-time series against Washington State 47-27-5 and has won 11 of the last 13 games. Washington State however will be looking for revenge after suffering a 37-3 setback in Berkeley last year. I’m rolling with Washington State in this one, but the confidence level is a 4 out of 10.
*Lines as of Thursday, November 1 per the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook*