UW is a slight favorite at USC in the marquee matchup of the week
The Pac-12’s top team is near the bottom against the point spread, while a bottom feeder is one of the best when the betting line is considered.
Anyone who watched the Huskies struggle as huge favorites against Arizona State and Stanford should be unsurprised by their struggles against the spread.
Meanwhile, ASU’s success against the spread has been reflected in narrower-than-expected losses to Colorado and Washington, as well as last weekend’s upset of WSU.
With two months under their belts and one to go, it’s clear which Pac-12 teams are the best on the field and which are simply the best bets.
The following are the records against the spread, according to teamrankings.com:
Arizona: 7-1 Oregon: 6-1-1 Oregon State: 5-3 Arizona State: 4-3-1 Colorado: 4-3-1 Utah: 4-3-1 Stanford: 4-4 UCLA: 4-4 Washington State: 4-4 Washington: 3-4-1 Cal: 3-5 USC: 2-7
Will those patterns continue down the stretch? Maybe not.
Both the betting public and the oddsmakers will adjust to on-field trends, reducing the number of value plays available each week.
To the picks …
Last week: 4-2 Season: 29-26-1 Five-star special: 6-3
All picks against the spread Lines taken from BetMGM (via VegasInsider.com)
(All times Pacific)
Arizona State at Utah Kickoff: 11 a.m. on Pac-12 Networks Line: Utah -11 (total: 41.5) Comment: The Utes are coming off their worst loss in eons, a 35-6 thrashing of Oregon, but they are usually very good in this situation: Utah is 9-2 after regular-season losses since the start of the 2018 season, excluding the shortened 2020 season. Meanwhile, the Sun Devils are coming off their first conference victory and have played well recently in both wins and losses. Their defense is strong and matches up well against Utah’s injury-ravaged defense. But will ASU be able to move the ball against a Utah defense that should be spitting blood after being humiliated by Oregon? Pick: Utah
Cal at Oregon Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks Line: Oregon -24 (total: 57.5) Comment: Following the switch to freshman quarterback Fernando Mendoza, the Bears are better than expected on offense but worse than expected on defense. The Ducks are excellent on both sides of the ball and are our pick to win the conference championship. Cal coach Justin Wilcox usually does well against his alma mater, at least when it comes to the point spread: Although the Bears have covered three of the last four meetings, they haven’t won in Eugene since 2007. After the rousing victory at Utah and before the visit from USC, we see Oregon playing a trap game. Rain is expected with a 90% chance. Pick: Cal
Washington at USC Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. on ABC Line: Washington -3.5 (total: 76.5) Comment: The Week 10 opener pits two of the nation’s best offenses against two of the worst defenses. That’s not fair to the Huskies, who rank 46th in the country in yards-per-play allowed. (This is certainly fair to USC, which ranks 94th in the same category.) We expect Washington to play with more urgency after poor performances against ASU and Stanford, but we’re not convinced the Trojans have a higher gear. The College Football Playoff (Washington), the conference title (both teams), and the Heisman Trophy (USC’s Caleb Williams and UW’s Michael Penix Jr.) are all on the line. The total of 76.5 is astounding — and yet far too low. The first team to 45 victories. Pick: Washington
Stanford at Washington State Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks Line: WSU -13.5 (total: 59.5) Comment: This is a huge game for Washington State, which has lost four straight games and faces an increasingly difficult path to the postseason. Just as the Cougars appeared to be improving their offensive offense, they went silent on defense against Arizona State (38 points and 509 yards allowed). The Cardinal pushed Washington to the brink of defeat and has shown it can move the ball against the conference’s second-tier defenses. With an 80 percent chance of rain, this could be a challenge. Neither team has a strong running game. Pick: Stanford
Oregon State at Colorado Kickoff: 7 p.m. on ESPN Line: Oregon State -13.5 (total: 62.5) Comment: Despite OSU’s loss at Arizona and Colorado’s defeat in October, this matchup has the potential to be one of the most entertaining games of the week. The stakes are high for both teams: the Beavers must win to keep their Pac-12 title hopes alive, while CU must win to keep its bowl chances alive. We’re intrigued by the stylistic contrast between the run-heavy Beavers and the pass-happy Buffaloes. The advantage at the line of scrimmage favors OSU, but quarterback DJ Uiagalelei must make big plays from the pocket at some point during the evening. Pick: Colorado
UCLA at Arizona Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. on FS1 Line: UCLA -2.5 (total: 51.5) Comment: It’s difficult to believe that this Week 10 nightcap features two of the Pac-12’s best defenses, but both squads have stout front sevens that have repeatedly baffled opponents. UCLA’s success is dependent on developing a running game to relieve pressure on quarterback Ethan Garbers. The outcome for Arizona is dependent on the offensive line allowing quarterback Noah Fifita time to throw against a ferocious UCLA pass rush (31 sacks in eight games). For the majority of the season, the Hotline has profited from Arizona’s success against the spread. We disembark this week. Pick: UCLA
Straight-up winners: Utah, Oregon, Washington, Stanford, Oregon State and UCLA
UCLA is a five-star special. This week, the narrow road favorite is the best of mediocre options. We seriously considered taking the Over in the Washington-USC game.