Pac-12 Week 9 Picks
Season to date (35-18) Straight Up (31-18)* Against the Spread
Friday October, 25th
6:00pm PT, ESPN2
Line: USC -11.5
Beta_Rank Win Prob: USC 92%
Beta_Rank Line: USC -16.09 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: I really don't like this matchup for Colorado. In theory their offense should show up and bounce back from an attrocious showing last week, but I think field position and playing from behind could again doom the Buffs in this game. The Trojans grade out at #13 in Effective Pass in Beta_Rank and the Buffs are at #120 on defense. Everyone throws on Colorado and the matchup of USC's wide receivers against this Buff's secondary should give Mel Tucker nightmares. Last week they got into deep trouble with their offensive starting field position combined with the relentless pace of Cougar scoring. It doesn't figure to get better against the Trojans.
USC 41 Colorado 20
Saturday October, 26th
12:30pm PT, Pac-12 Network
Line: Stanford -1.5
Beta_Rank Win Prob: Arizona 63%
Beta_Rank Line: Arizona -1.48 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: This line has shifted to reflect the probability that Costello might play and that would give Stanford a clear advantage in this game. The Cardinal offense has struggled with Costello and Mills both out and currently grade out at #97 in Beta_Rank on offense with a #96/#68 run/pass split. The Cardinal do have some injuries on the offensive line, but even when fully healthy they have not been able to establish the run since 2017. So potentially getting one of their top two QB's back is a very big deal. They get an interesting Arizona defense that grade out at #50 with a #63/#42 run/pass split. Arizona's defensive strength is in the secondary so if they have a good game there then they could get pressure against Stanford's patchwork line. It might take awhile, but they could get there. On the other side of the ball Stanford's defense has not been great, grading out at #59 with a #57/#64 run/pass split. They get an Arizona offense that is absolutely reeling after getting a heavy dose of blitzes they could not handle the last two weeks. Arizona's offensive line is dealing with injuries themselves and they don't have great depth, but Khalil Tate also likes to hold the ball, he does not read a defense quickly, and those two things combined have let to awful play. Defenses just keep sending extra rushers, even as Arizona leaves backs into block, and Tate doesn't get the ball out to a hot route to punish them. At this point you feel like the only way you can force Tate to get the ball out quickly is to call a bubble screen. Arizona has a #94/#54 run/pass split, but they are a better running team when healthy. If they can get the run going in this game then they should win. It also might be worth noting that if Tate doesn't adjust to the blitz then Grant Gunnell will likely play meaningful snaps and be an upgrade in terms of reads. Stanford has a huge special teams advantage in terms of field position, but with Toner out they could struggle to make field goals.
Arizona 24 Stanford 20
4:30pm PT, Pac-12 Network
Line: ASU -3.0
Beta_Rank Win Prob: ASU 72%
Beta_Rank Line: ASU -4.09 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: ASU is getting a little bit of a weather aided knock for their game against Utah, but even if the weather were to stay the same, swapping out Utah's DL for UCLA's should clear the skies a little for the Sun Devils. The Sun Devils have struggled on the offensive line and establishing the run. They currently grad out at #57 with a #70/#41 run/pass split. They should be able to throw the ball effectively against the Bruins because they have a huge run/pas split; #27/#103. Daniels should have time to find his talented receivers against this secondary and that should be trouble for the Bruins. On the other side of the ball the Bruins sort of hit their stride against a hobbled Stanford last week. They cashed in on good field position all game and looked efficient, but ASU's improved defense will be more of a challenge. The Sun Devils grade out #28 with a #25/#41 run pass split and UCLA only comes in at #61 and #62/#52. ASU also has a sizable special teams advantage in the field position portions of special teams. This game might hang close at home for the Bruins, but I like the Devils to pull away.
ASU 27 UCLA 23
7:00pm PT, FS1
Line: Utah -21.0
Beta_Rank Win Prob: Utah 93%
Beta_Rank Line: Utah -22.41 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: The line has been climbing with the news that Huntley is going to play in this game. I do think the game next week with Washington matters a tad here as I don't think Whittingham keeps his starters in in the 4th quarter if he's up 3 scores. If you just look at the high level numbers this is a decent match up for Cal's defense vs. Utah's offense#15 vs. #24, but underneath things get troublesome. The Bears have a huge run/pass split, #59/#2, and the Utes are an explosive and diverse rushing team with a #23/#51 run/pass split. The Utes should be working off a short field too as the other side of the ball is a damn disaster for Cal. The Bears have the #108 offense with a #79/#106 run/pass split, but the Utes are #2 with a #1/#8 run/pass split. This defense may not be able to keep up the level we have seen since the USC game, but Cal isn't likely to test them.
Utah 34 Cal 9
7:30pm PT, ESPN
Line: Oregon -14.0
Beta_Rank Win Prob: Oregon 87%
Beta_Rank Line: Oregon -17.19 (DO NOT GAMBLE)
Rob: The Oregon defense did not have a great game in math world last week against the Huskies and they come in with a new ranking of #16 and with a #16/#21 run/pass split. They have a chance to rebound against a very good Washington State offense that is #10 in Beta_Rank with a very Mike Leach #125/#3 split. This is not last year's Cougar offense though that was built around high efficiency throws and judicious downfield shots. Gordon likes to air it out and they grade out at #5 in Explosive Drives. The big question here is can Oregon limit that through coverage and pressure? I think they can. The worm that this game may turn on is Oregon's offense against the WSU defense. The Cougs are #116 in defense and have a #68/#118 run/pass split. The Ducks offense was impressive last week and they bring in a #16 ranking and a #47/#12 split. You may look and this and say, so maybe both offenses put up points, but Oregon's offense is much better positioned to handle a long field after Washington State scores than the Cougs are when Oregon scores. I like the Ducks to win and cover.
Oregon 37 Washington State 20