Pac-12 Week 10 Picks
Season to date (39-19) Straight Up (33-21)* Against the Spread
Saturday November, 2nd
1:00pm PT, Fox
Line: Utah -3.5
Beta_Rank Win Prob: Utah 89%
Beta_Rank Line: Utah -13.59 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: Well this is sure a big difference between Vegas and Beta_Rank. I do think people are overrating the Oregon game and how the teams played against USC. The Huskies offense played well against the Ducks, but the defense didn't have a great game and the recurring problem of stopping the run absolutely gutted the Huskies in the second half. While the Utes had a horrendous game against USC, it also seemed to have woken them up from their early season torpor. The USC games felt like a bit of a high point for the Huskies, but the box score held some troubling numbers; lots of surrendered rushing yards and needing 3 turnovers to cover. Meanwhile the Utes defense has been manhandling some of the better offenses in the Pac-12; holding WSU's #7 offense to 10 and just 313 total yards and OSU's #15 offense to 7 points and 217 total yards. The Utes also made Cal and ASU look silly. The Utes are up to #4 on defense in Beta_Rank and that is almost all built on their recent play. The Utes have a #2/#8 run/pass effectiveness split that shows how good their DL and DB's are playing. Anae Fotu and the green dog blitzes Scalley likes to use if the back stays into block are likely going to be a problem for Washington's #32 offense. The Huskies have a #43/#33 run/pass effectiveness split themselves. The Huskies are going to need to find a way to run the ball in this game and avoid getting into pure pass situations where Utah can pin back it's ears on the pass rush. If Nacua can't go for UW then it does limit the Huskies a bit as he's been coming on strong lately. I expect the Huskies to put up more points that the last 4 teams to face the Utes, all talented teams on one side of the ball and limited on another. The Huskies should have good enough field position a few times to cash in.
On the other side of the ball the up and down Huskies have a consistent problem; stopping the run. The Huskies defense grades out at #36 with a #41/#51 run/pass split. They get the wildly interesting Utes #14 offense that has a #13/#50 run/pass split. The Utes have been excellent and explosive running the football and Ludwig gets the ball to many playmakers for outside runs and relies on Moss to hammer up the middle. Lake and Kwiatoski likely have put the off week to good use, but Ludwig is an experienced playcaller and will be able to make adjustments. The Huskies might have to adjust off their press coverage high safety look and bring the safeties down in run support. If they stay with press in that case they leave themselves vulnerable to big outside run plays and passes. Huntley's ankle is a concern here, he's been hyper efficient in the passing game, but if the Utes rotate Shelley in then it adds another wrinkle of whether Shelley keeps the ball himself on runs. I like the Utes to grind the Huskies in this game behind their DL and and rushing attack.
Utah 31 Washington 17
1:30pm PT, Pac-12 Network
Line: Arizona -6.0
Beta_Rank Win Prob: Arizona/OSU Pick 'em
Beta_Rank Line: Arizona -2.3 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: Do you like shootouts? This game is interesting in that it matches Arizona's semi-bad defense, #73, against Oregon State's very good offense, #15, and Arizona's middling offense, #56, against a horrendous Beaver defense; #117. Both offenses have sizable advantages in this game. The model gives Arizona a -2.3 bump for home field, but thinks this is a very even matchup. Arizona comes in with a #38/#69 run/pass split on offense, but they put together a better rushing attack last week with some better play from the offensive line and a big run from Tate. If Arizona can run the ball effectively in this game then it should simplify things for Tate/Gunnell. There is a shot to see more Gunnell in this game since OSU's only really effective defense has been getting TFL's. Gunnell has a big advantage in getting the ball out of his hands here, though it could also work out that Tate gets big rushing yards instead of taking sacks. The Beavs are giving up over 3 points per drive in raw metrics. The Wildcats should be able to put up points even more effectively than they did against Stanford last week. OSU is hyper efficient in Drive Efficiency, ranking #3, and Smith's playcalling makes a big difference. They have a #39/#16 run/pass split and Luton seems to have lost some of his gambler from last season. They face an Arizona defense with a #97/#49 run/pass split that is mostly on the terrible Wildcat's DL. The new DC, Chuck Cecil, is going to have leverage his extensive NFL experience to gameplan around the DL deficiency. I like the Wildcats at home, but not by much.
Arizona 41 Oregon State 38
5:00pm PT, Fox
Line: Oregon -4.5
Beta_Rank Win Prob: Oregon 72%
Beta_Rank Line: Oregon -4.14 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: Tough line here where the model and Vegas line right up. I think Oregon profits from their awful defensive showing last week against the Cougs. Oregon simply did not have the DL talent to execute the Utah gameplan against WSU and I don't expect Avalos to be crazy enough to try dropping 7-8 all the time against USC. He's going to have to get some pressure on Slovis. The USC offense comes in at #28 with an #83/#10 run/pass split. They are banged up at RB, but given the way their offense works it's not the end of the world. They are going to depend on the WR's to make big plays with Slovis playing distributor. Oregon's #20 defense has a small #28/#32 run/pass split, so this game is going to depend on the Oregon gameplan putting their DB's and rushers in a better position than the last two games. Oregon's #20 offense has an advantage against the #38 USC defense. The Ducks love to run the ball even though they are not great at it when you control for their opponents; #42/#21 run/pass split. The trouble for the Trojans is that they have a #58/#36 run/pass split. The Ducks should be able to run the ball and set up passes. The Ducks also have a sizable special teams advantage #15 versus #59.
Oregon 30 USC 24
6:00pm PT, Pac-12 Network
Line: UCLA -6.5
Beta_Rank Win Prob: UCLA 76%
Beta_Rank Line: UCLA -9.52 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: I think the model likes UCLA a little too much in this game. The Bruins are getting credit for rolling Stanford with their 3rd string QB and catching an ASU team that looks to be in free fall defensively. The Bruins shhould have an advatage on offense #41 versus #96, but the run/pass splits could work towards the Buffs here. The Bruins have #45/#53 versus #47/#122. If the Bruins can't run do we really trust them to throw? I think that even against the Buffs they could struggle. Meanwhile the Colorado offense comes in at #59, but seems to have found a little stride again and has a #76/#37 run/pass split that matches up favorably with UCLA's #56 defense with a #19/#95 split. I don't like the matchup for UCLA against these CU WR's and Montez.
Colorado 27 UCLA 21