Pac-12 Week 5 Picks
Season to date (21-12) Straight Up (21-10)* Against the Spread
Friday September, 27th
7:30pm PT, ESPN
Line: Cal -4.5
Beta_Rank Win Prob: Cal 63%
Beta_Rank Line: Cal -6.08 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: Arizona State's offensive line had a pretty good performance against the Buffaloes last week and that is a positive to take out of the loss, but Cal's defense is not Colorado's by a long shot. The Bears have the best secondary in the country IMO, and they grade out at #6 in Effective Pass. If Daniels has to sit tight waiting for his talented WR's to break open he is going to get hit a lot in this game. All of this is extra trouble because the Sun Devils just haven't been able to run the football behind this line; grading out at #96 in Effective Rush. Meanwhile I have been a little impressed with Cal's offense which has already faced two pretty good defenses in Washington and Ole Miss. If the Bears limit ASU's explosive drives and don't turn the ball over then they should win by one possession.
Cal 23 ASU 17
Saturday September, 28th
12:30pm PT, Fox
Line: Washington -10.5
Beta_Rank Win Prob: Washington 66%
Beta_Rank Line: Washington -7.02 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: The Trojans have played 4 games against FBS competition and I still feel like I don't have a good handle on them. Naturally some of that is the QB turnover, but Beta_Rank had them beating the Utes last week and I thought that was mostly projection weight; turns out the Utes haven't made the step forward yet this season (yet). So I am going to believe the model this week and say this game is a little closer than Vegas currently has it. I like the Washington offense against the Trojan defense and I think they have the talent and the playcalling this season to exploit the Trojans when Pendergast sends pressure. USC's offense is no slouch though. Sure we can point out that Daniels/Slovis/Fink all get away with throwing up some 50/50 balls, but with USC's WR's they are not 50/50. If it is Fink then his mobility is another problem for the Huskies to have to contend with behind a pretty bad USC offensive line. Fink can extend plays and then his WR's make big plays. I like the Huskies to win, but for the Trojans to make it interesting.
Washington 37 USC 28
4:00pm PT, Pac-12 Network
Line: Stanford -4.0
Beta_Rank Win Prob: Stanford 81%
Beta_Rank Line: Stanford -6.64 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: In a totally in-season model run Stanford is the worst team in the Pac-12 and they have played 4 games against FBS competition so I feel like we have a decent handle on where they are, but Oregon State only has two games in the model right now so we don't have a great handle on them in Beta_Rank. The Stanford offense is struggling, but the defense had a genuinely decent game against Oregon last week and that gives you some faith in the Cardinal in this game. Oregon State's defense is still the cure for an anemic offense and Stanford's defense and special teams will do just enough to get them over the hump on the road.
Stanford 41 Oregon State 35
7:00pm PT, FS1
Line: Utah -6.0
Beta_Rank Win Prob: WSU 56%
Beta_Rank Line: WSU -0.7 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: This line has come way down from the opening which had Utah as a double digit favorite at home. While Washington State is hovering right around where they were projected entering the season the Utes have been under-performing their projections all season. It's tough for me to say that Wazzu goes into SLC and wins, but you have to like what the Cougars offense does against the Utah defense. Gordon gets the ball out quickly and that can negate some of the pass rush and Borghi is just electric and also the checkdown. While I think USC has the best collection of athletes at WR in the conference; the Cougars present a different challenge with crisp route running and experienced WR's and QB in the system. It's not going to be easy for a secondary that has looked shaky against every FBS opponent so far. The other side of the ball will be telling. Utah's offensive line has just flat out stunk. The best runs so far in Ludwig's system are coming from flanker end arounds that are reminiscent of a modern option offense. The Utes downfield blocking from their WR's has been really good. Huntley hasn't been bad and the WR's are not doing him a ton of favors, but the Utes could be in a bind if Moss is out with his shoulder in this game. Moss's tough running has made the Utes inside running work, but without him the Utes are easier to contain and plan for. The Cougars are not going to be quite as adept as USC at slicing through the Utes offensive line, but they also are not likely to give up endless explosive plays and have terrible field position like they did in the second half against UCLA.
Utah 27 WSU 24
7:30pm PT, ESPN
Line: Arizona -6.5
Beta_Rank Win Prob: UCLA 55%
Beta_Rank Line: UCLA -0.26 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: Speaking of a line that has come down since opening... this line opened at -9. The model doesn't love what it has seen from either of these teams so far this season, but it's hard to see where Arizona's huge advantage comes from in this game. Beta_Rank has this as a true tossup. UCLA's defense has been bad, but much worse against the pass than the run and Arizona's offense has been pretty good, but much better running the ball. UCLA's offense has shown some signs of life, but they have been hitting an unsustainable number of big pass plays. I do like Arizona to win the game and one possession seems more realistic.
Arizona 36 UCLA 30