The Pac-12 is in a mess as far as the College Football Playoff is concerned. The league favorite, Washington, lost to Auburn, which then lost to LSU.
Washington is in a tough spot. USC has lost twice. Every team other than Colorado has lost in the Pac-12’s South Division, which looks very weak. The winner of this Saturday’s Stanford-Oregon game would have a chance to make a run, but that winner would then have to play Washington later in the season.
We will see how Week 4 changes the situation for various teams in the Pac-12, but so far, the start to the season has not been promising. Here’s what college football betting fans should look for:
The USC Trojans seem to have a pop-gun offense instead of A-grade firepower. That was highlighted when they were blown out by Texas last week. J.T. Daniels cannot make the creative plays Sam Darnold made in each of the last two seasons.
USC doesn’t have the offensive line or the other players who can compensate for the clear drop-off in quality at the quarterback position. USC took a 14-3 lead over Texas and then allowed 34 straight points. Good teams do not do that.
USC now faces a Washington State team which has not played very difficult opponents in the early part of the season, but has still looked good against the teams it has faced. This is not an easy game to pick, and it figures to be very close one way or the other.
If on the fence, Washington State – getting almost 3.5 points – seems like the smarter play. WSU winning the game outright would hardly be shocking at all, especially since the Texas game was emotionally taxing for USC.
Spread Pick: Washington State (+3.5) with SugarHouse.
Outright: Washington State (+135) with SugarHouse.
These are two of the worst teams in the Pac-12, but Arizona did not figure to be one of them through a few weeks. This was supposed to be a year in which quarterback Khalil Tate led a powerful Arizona offense, but that simply hasn’t happened.
One of the preseason Heisman Trophy favorites is now not even on the map. Nothing about the Wildcats looks convincing right now.
It is true that Oregon State does not look very good, either. The Beavers made lots of mistakes in a discouraging loss to Nevada, but they were supposed to be bad this season.
If comparing a bad team which was not expected to be bad, and a bad team which was supposed to be bad, one realization which emerges is that the unexpected bad team faces the deeper crisis. Arizona is in worse shape than Oregon State and is playing this game on the road.
Oregon State could be a live dog in this spot.
Spread Pick: Oregon State (+6) with SugarHouse.
Oregon didn’t play well last week against San Jose State. Were the Ducks looking ahead to this game against Stanford? Very probably so. Yet, teams need good habits to beat Stanford. The Cardinal rarely beat themselves and play with a level of discipline which normally forces opponents to play at a high level to win.
However, the Ducks probably don’t have that discipline. Moreover, the Cardinal actually play well on the road. They are 6-1 SU in their last seven as a road favorite. They’re also 10-5 SU and 9-5-1 ATS in their last 15 as a road dog of three points or less.
Spread Pick: Stanford (-2) with SugarHouse.
Arizona State was riding high after beating Michigan State, but San Diego State dominated the Sun Devils in the trenches during the fourth quarter this past Saturday night. It’s impressive that Arizona State only lost by seven points considering they allowed 341 rushing yards in that contest.
It seems like this could be a spot where they come back down to Earth – again – but the spread seems way too high. Washington’s offense was subpar against Utah.
Quarterback Jake Browning made several bad mistakes, going just 14-of-24 for 155 yards, a touchdown and an interception. It doesn’t help that his offensive line has been beset by injuries which should limit the Huskies’ effectiveness.
Washington should be able to smother Arizona State’s offense and win the game, but the Huskies won’t score enough to cover.
Spread Pick: Arizona State (+17) with SugarHouse.
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