Stanford faces a tough test in South Bend. Washington hosts a dangerous BYU team. And there will be a ‘Blackout in Boulder’ when Colorado opens Pac-12 play against UCLA. Seven games on slate in Week 5 and after going 1-3 last week, this scribe needs to win all SEVEN just to crawl back to .500 on the season. Hey, at least I’m 3-1 with my LOCK OF THE WEEK picks.
OVERALL RECORD: 10-17-1
WEEK 5 (CHECK ODDS)
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28
UCLA (0-3, 0-0 Pac-12) vs. Colorado (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12)
7:00 PM MT, Fox Sports 1
Line: Colorado -9 (o/u 58)
After opening as 11 ½ point favorites, Colorado is now only favored by nine over UCLA. Is there something I’m missing here? The Chip Kelly era hasn’t exactly gotten off to a good start. Now the Bruins open Pac-12 play against the unbeaten Colorado Buffaloes. Whether its grad-transfer Wilton Speight or true-freshman Dorian Thompson Robinson under center for UCLA, it shouldn’t make much of a difference in this contest. UCLA’s offense is averaging just 17.3 points per game, dead last in the Pac-12. Meanwhile, behind the play of quarterback Steven Montez, the Buffaloes are averaging 41 points per game. UCLA’s defense will have a tough time keeping Montez and company off the scoreboard. Nine points is a lot, but I like the Buffs to cover Friday night.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
Utah (2-1, 0-1 Pac-12) vs. Washington State (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12)
4:00 PM MT, Pac-12 Networks
Line: Utah -1 ½ (o/u 50 ½)
Utah had a week off after suffering a 21-7 loss to Washington on September 15th. Washington State is coming off a tough 39-36 loss at USC. This is one of the more intriguing matchups in Week 5. The Utes lead the nation in total defense, allowing 204.7 yards per game. Mike Leach’s squad is putting up 484.5 yards per game, 401.8 of which have been through the air. Something must give? I’m tempted to pick Utah, but Washington State is 4-0 against the spread this season (Utah is 1-2 ATS) and their defense is vastly improved. The Cougars offense won’t put up the numbers they’ve seen through the first four games, but they should do enough to get the win. I’m taking Washington State.
7 Stanford (4-0) vs. 8 Notre Dame (4-0)
5:30 PM MT, NBC
Line: Notre Dame -5 ½ (o/u 52 ½)
After winning their first three contests by single digits, the Irish offense, behind junior quarterback Ian Book (25-34, 325 yds, 5 total TD vs. Wake Forest), finally opened up last week in a 56-27 win at Wake Forest. The Cardinal are still waiting for Bryce Love to open up. In the three games he’s played in, Stanford’s Heisman trophy contender has only managed 254 rushing yards and two touchdowns. A far cry from the 2,118 rushing yards he had last year. The good news for Love? Notre Dame’s defense allowed 259 rushing yards to Wake Forest last week. With 13 sacks in four games, Stanford’s defense has also been able to get to opposing quarterbacks. The Cardinal have won the last three against the Irish, but will that trend continue this weekend in South Bend? Give me Stanford and the points.
20 BYU (3-1) vs. 11 Washington (3-1)
6:30 PM MT, Fox
Line: Washington -17 (o/u 45 ½)
BYU and Washington have two of the better defenses in the country, so this one should be a low scoring affair. Despite an offense that ranks 117thin the nation (320.3 YPG), the Cougars have a pair of big road wins this season at Arizona and Wisconsin. BYU is 3-1 ATS, while Washington is 1-3. Jake Browning, Myles Gaskin and company haven’t really been throttling opponents this season. In games against Auburn, Utah and Arizona State, the Huskies have averaged a shade over 21 points per contest. With all that said, BYU getting 17 points seems like the obvious pick. Instead, I like the Huskies offense to finally break free this weekend. I’m siding with the dawgs.
Oregon State (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12) vs. Arizona State (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12)
8:00 PM MT, Pac-12 Networks
Line: Arizona State -21 ½ (o/u 65)
Oregon State is coming off a 35-14 loss to Arizona. Arizona State on the other hand nearly rallied to take down Washington. The Beavers have one of the worst defenses in the country (540 YPG allowed), which won’t bode well against Manny Wilkins and the Sun Devils offense. Expect Wilkins to throw for 300-plus yards and sophomore tailback Eno Benjamin to rush for over 100 Saturday night. I’m taking the Sun Devils to cover at home in my LOCK OF THE WEEK.
19 Oregon (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) vs. 24 California (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12)
8:30 PM MT, Fox Sports 1
Line: Oregon -1 ½ (o/u 58)
The Ducks lost a 38-31 heartbreaker to the Cardinal in overtime last weekend, while the Bears enjoyed the week off. Despite knocking off BYU on the road in Week 2, I’m still not sure what to make of Justin Wilcox’s squad. Defeating his alma mater would be a huge step for California’s defensive-minded head coach. They’ll have to shut down Justin Herbert and an Oregon offense averaging over 508 yards per game however. The Ducks opened as three and a half point favorites, but the line has already shifted to one and a half. California’s secondary is solid this year, but they haven’t faced an offense like Oregon’s. Wilcox, a defensive back at Oregon from 1996-’99, will have to wait another year to defeat his former school.
USC (2-2, 1-1 Pac-12) vs. Arizona (2-2, 1-0 Pac-12)
8:30PM MT, ESPN2
Line: USC -3 ½ (o/u 59 ½)
After escaping with a three-point win over Washington State last Saturday, USC is 0-4 against this spread this season. Arizona, behind a breakout performance from redshirt-sophomore J.J. Taylor (284 rush yards, 2 TD), defeated Oregon State by 21 and has covered the spread in their last two contests. Both teams have been inconsistent this season, but I like JT Daniels to outduel Kahlil Tate in a slugfest. USC will get back in the Pac-12 South race with a win by four-or-more in Tucson.
*Lines as of Thursday, September 27 per the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook*