Cal (+18) at Stanford: Stanford has been one of the best covering teams who have been in the top 25 this season. Like most west coast teams, Stanford typically feels slighted because their games are latter, and the east coast doesn’t watch them, so the need to run it up. They lost their perfect season last week to Oregon, and usually when a team looses goal for the year, they have let down game, but I don’t see one here.
First of all, Andrew Luck is a good quarterback after a loss (kudos to ESPN blogger Ted Miller for his article). Second, the Cardinal will have to win out if it hopes for a BCS at-large bid (even at 11-1 they may be a long shot, given their poor traveling and that Jim Harbaugh is no longer their to whine them in.) Third, they are not playing the opponent who can challenge them on the road. Over the last two years, the Golden Bears have two wins on the road, by a touchdown at abysmal Washington State last year, and at even more abysmal Colorado in overtime this year. In all their other road games this year, Cal has lost by 8 (Washington), 28 (Oregon), and by 17 at mediocre UCLA. USC also crushed them at their temporary home at Pac Bell park, in what looked like a neutral site game.
Other than the typical rivalry motivation, I don’t see Cal having major motivation this year. Cal missed the postseason last year, so coming into this one their main goal was to get bowl eligible. Now that they have that, I don’t expect them to play that hard. Yes, they may throw caution to the wind and give a good half like they did in the first against Oregon, but ultimately, Stanford has too much physicality. Lay the points.
Washington (-2.5) at Oregon State: I attended the Washington-Nebraska game on September 17th, and walked out feeling very impressed with the Huskies. Other than a terrible turnover at the goal line on special teams and a fourth and two inside the Nebraska twenty Washington didn’t convert, the game easily could have been decided by three points. I walked out of that stadium thinking that they could win nine or ten games this year, and that Keith Price was a special quarterback waiting to happen. He didn’t get rattled when he was pressured and kept his eyes downfield.
Now, Washington is 6-4, but those four loses were all to currently ranked teams (Nebraska, USC, Oregon, Stanford), and all but one was on the road. The Huskies have also a good road win at Utah and have dominated most of the bad teams they’ve played. Keith Price might not play due to injury, but the Huskies will rely mostly on running back Chris Polk against the second worst run defense in the Pac 12, who just lost one of their starting defensive ends who quit the team. Oregon State, while playing at home on Senior Day, is 2-8, might have a coach on the way out. The public doesn’t know how good Washington is because they haven’t played as well against major opponents this year. Take the -2.5 all day.
Arizona at Arizona State (-10.5): There’s a murky middle in the Pac 12; sometimes I just bet against the team that had a bad week the week before. Arizona had the worse week in getting shelled at Colorado, but really, I’d just be throwing money away here. Pass.
Colorado at UCLA (-10.5): Colin Cowherd picked Colorado to cover as his value pick of the week, based on Rodney Stewart finally being healthy for the Buffs and UCLA just being not all that good. Bruins are unbeaten in the Rose Bowl this season in conference play and need a win to become bowl eligible and possibly save Neuheisel’s job. Remember when he was supposedly the best young coach in college football and got the keys to the Colorado program from Bill McCartney? Me neither. Agree with Colin; take Colorado, even though their one of the most reliable dogs to roll over and allow the favorite to cover.
USC at Oregon (-14.5): Pregame.com’s Bryan Leonard picked USC to cover in this one. I mainly agree, even if Robert Woods doesn’t play. USC won at Notre Dame and won’t be intimidated on the road. This is their last chance to make a statement this year. USC covers, although I’m not as firm on that one.
Utah at Washington State (+4): Cougars a huge day from freshmen quarterback Connor Halliday off the bench last week in their upset of Arizona State. Washington State is 4-6 and needs to win this week and next week at Qwest Field against Washington. Such urgency would suggest a good effort from the Cougars in what would already be characterized as an overachieving season for Paul Wulff. Utah is 6-4 and riding a three game winning streak. WSU might get some momentum from the freshmen quarterback; I think this is a dog or pass situation.