Rob Bowron @Beta_Rank_FB
Pac-12 Week 7 Picks
Season to date (26-16) Straight Up (26-14)* Against the Spread
Friday October, 11th
#64 Colorado (3-2) at #11 Oregon (4-1)
7:00pm PT, FS1
Line: Oregon -21.0
Beta_Rank Win Prob: Oregon 92%
Beta_Rank Line: Oregon -21.74 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: I come into this game with the quite serious question of how stubborn Cristobal and Arroyo are because on paper this a truly horrible matchup for Colorado, but it could go under if Oregon commits to "establishing the run." Arizona, a team that has led the league in rushing across a few years and coaching staffs threw the ball all over Colorado last week en route to a road win. Oregon currently grades out at #50 on offense in Beta_Rank, but #28 in Effective Pass and #73 in Effective Rush. Colorado's defense grades out at #108, but their run/pass split is #45/#126; that is #126 out of #130. The other side of the ball should be a wildly compelling matchup of the #21 offense in Beta_Rank against the #2 defense. Colorado isn't a great rushing team at #77, but they can light it up through the air at #8. Oregon is #4 against the pass. While Arizona made Montez move off his spot last week Oregon is likely going to get to him, so he'll need to get the ball out quicker. I hate this line., but I am a little excited about a game with a three possession line because Montez and Herbert on the field should be fun.
Oregon 45 Colorado 20
Saturday October, 12th
#58 Washington State (3-2) at #27 Arizona State (4-1)
1:30pm PT, Pac-12 Network
Line: WSU/ASU Pick 'Em
Beta_Rank Win Prob: ASU 74%
Beta_Rank Line: ASU -9.02 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: Beta_Rank disagrees with Vegas pretty strongly on this game and I am struggling to see why beyond ASU still having questions, but Wazzu certainly has more; not the least of which has to do with a new playcaller on defense. The Cougs defense has turned out to be just awful as more data has come in. They grade out at #100 overall and #120 against the pass. ASU hasn't been conistent running the football this season, but they have settled into is a little bit over the last two games. They currently rank #62 overall and have a run pass split of #78/#36. The WR corp is very good and makes Daniels life easier out there. They should be able to throw the ball against the Cougs and that could open up the running game even more. The flip side of the ball is a really interesting matchup of a significantly improved Sun Devil defense at #15 against a very good Coug offense at #18. ASU grades out at #22 against the pass so it's going to be a little bit of containing WSU rather then expecting to stonewall them. I like the Sun Devils at home in this game.
ASU 34 WSU 24
#31 USC (3-2) at #18 Notre Dame (4-1)
4:30pm PT, NBC
Line: Notre Dame -10.5
Beta_Rank Win Prob: Notre Dame 66%
Beta_Rank Line: Notre Dame -7.58 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: USC is getting some significant reinforcements back from injury for this game and did have an extra week to prepare so the volatile Trojans might actually keep this game under. The Notre Dame offense isn't anything special at #37 and they will matchup with an equally underwhelming #40 Trojan defense. The Irish are better throwing the ball, at #26, than running it; at #62 and the Trojans are pretty balanced with a #39/#45 run pass split. It'll likely come down to USC making turnovers happen on this side of the ball. The other side of the ball is interesting because a pretty good Irish defense, #18, gets the #31 ranked USC offense with Slovis back. Slovis is a better option than Fink and has a decent command of the offense; which was better against Washington than the -3 turnovers made it look. If Slovis can avoid turning the ball over then the Trojans have a chance, but they have a pretty large run pass split, even after they ran the ball effectively against Washington; #83/#11. Notre Dame is #24/#12 so the Trojans are going to have to be on their game throwing the ball in this one. Keep and eye out for hidden special teams yards where the Irish are #32 vs. #71 for the Trojans.
Notre Dame 31 USC 27
#26 Utah (4-1) at #56 Oregon State (2-3)
5:00pm PT, Pac-12 Network
Line: Utah -14.0
Beta_Rank Win Prob: Utah 72%
Beta_Rank Line: Utah -4.03 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: Beta_Rank disagrees with this line too and the reason is the Beavers offense which currently ranks at #5 in Beta_Rank (#12 in SP+ in case you think Beta_Rank caught some crazy data or something). The Utes #38 defense had their best performance of the season in their last game against WSU, and that may have been a post-USC wake up call, but the defense on the season has been a bit of a disappointment outside of the DL. The Utes have a big run pass split too at #19/#68. The Utes have been good at limiting big plays, grading out at #13 in Explosive Drives, but you can put together long drives on them; #99 in Drive Efficiency. The Beavers are pretty balanced, with a #17/#9 split and feature a pair of ace backs to go with a very effective passing game. Utah can't just recycle their WSU game plan against an offense as diverse as the Beavers run and the Beavs are #2 in Drive Efficiency. The Beavs don't grade out higher because their defense is terrible; #123 in Beta_Rank. The Utes offense is going pretty well with Andy Ludwig, who has diversified the Utes playcalling and has them ranked at #17. They are typical Ludwig in that they are explosive and not terribly efficient, #29 in Explosive Drives and #59 in Drive Efficiency. The Utes have an #18/#45 run pass split, but that underestimates how good Huntley has been this season; though he hasn't been asked to carry the team. My guess is they take advantage of the opportunity to get him some more passing reps against this D.
Utah 34 OSU 30
#19 Washington (4-2) at #48 Arizona (4-1)
8:00pm PT, FS1
Line: Washington -6.0
Beta_Rank Win Prob: Washington 74%
Beta_Rank Line: Wasahington -4.42 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: This game cam down pretty quickly from it's -9.5 opening and the model tends to agree that it should be a closer game for the Wildcats at home. Arizona's defense may have finally made a leap forward under Marcel Yates at #42, but the Wildcats are still not a conventional defense. They rely on solid coverage and speedy experienced linebackers to make up for what is not a terribly effective defensive line. It's almost an experiment at this point on how high a defense can rank that struggles to get sacks like Arizona does. The solve comes from the coverage and scheme on the backend keeping the QB holding the ball long enough to let the pass rush move the QB off his spot. Washington's offense comes in at #28, but smarting from their last performance where they could not run or throw the ball very well against Stanford. Both these units are balanced in run pass splits so nothing obvious there. Arizona has been pretty good at containing Explosive Drives, #34, and Washington does rely on them, #41, more than they do Drive Efficiency #72. The Huskies could have really used Richard Newton in this game as Arizona isn't as good at run defense up the middle as they are outside the tackles. The Huskies will be smart if they stick with the inside run game and let Eason pass as needed. You don't really want to find yourself in a position where you are airing it out against this Arizona secondary, and I can't believe I am typing that after the Hawai'i and NAU games, but they have been significantly better and Yates coverage schemes can be confusing. The Wildcats don't force a lot of three and outs, but they do force a lot of interceptions. On the other side of the ball the Arizona offense should be able to take advantage of Washington breaking in guys this season. The Huskies have really missed Gaines and Burr-Kirven in Pac-12 play where they are struggling to get off blocks and make tackles in the run game. Letting USC and Stanford, two teams that have struggled to run the ball the last two seasons, pile up rushing yards on you is not what you would expect from a Washington defense and they do have a little run pass split at #37/#25. Arizona mostly took advantage of UCLA and Colorado through the air so their run pass split looks a little off for a team that has led the Pac-12 in rushing for a few years; #51/#35. Arizona has been more of an outside run team the last two years and they run a zone scheme with some man-power mixed in; pretty common these days. Arizona's offense is almost all big plays though and they grade out at #108 in Drive Efficiency vs. #22 for Washington. Arizona is #7 at Play Efficiency vs. #34 for Washington and #14 in Negative Drives vs. #49 for Washington. This is a Washington defense that uses the length of the field to force you into a mistake and get you on the sideline rather then one that stops you at square one. Arizona by contrast doesn't try to put together long drives with lots of plays, big plays, big yards, points. Should be an interesting matchup. Keep and eye on Arizona's young receiver corp against Washington's secondary. The Huskies are going to be a big step up in talent from Arizona's opponents to date and the press coverage could be trouble. Tate's legs, as always are a wildcard. Washington's scheme got gouged by Brandon Dawkins the last time they played in Tucson and Tate has the ability to make the Huskies focus on him. He might need to for Arizona to pull off the upset.
Washington 31 Arizona 27