Canzano: Oregon State needs a QB win in the transfer portal
Plus, my official Pac-12 bowl picks
I don’t know if the Dam Nation Collective is going to end up being worth a damn, but we’re going to find out soon enough.
Oregon State’s football program has everything a transfer-portal quarterback would want in a prospective school. It’s a turn-key operation. Plug-and-play. Complete with a talented running back, solid offensive line, good coaching staff and promising momentum.
OSU also has a booster NIL collective, launched a few months ago. And should a high-profile transfer land in Corvallis, the Dam Nation Collective would have undoubtedly played a role.
Jonathan Smith’s offense sure would be fun in the hands of Kedon Slovis, DJ Uiagalelei, Hank Bachmeier, Drew Pyne, Brennan Armstrong or a number of other interesting and experienced quarterbacks currently in the transfer portal.
Oregon State’s collective has, thus far, been focused on helping the Beavers retain its existing talent. OSU running back — Damien Martinez — is on the top of the list. Beyond that, though, we’ll soon find out if OSU’s pitch is appealing to transfer quarterbacks.
USC transfer QB Caleb Williams has endorsement deals worth estimated $2.1 million. Washington State’s Cam Ward got a $90,000 package from the Cougar Collective. No telling what Michael Penix Jr. got to stay at Washington or what Oregon QB Bo Nix received after moving to Eugene. But if OSU wants to compete for a conference championship, it needs to add an experienced playmaker at quarterback.
That will come at a cost.
Not to OSU, but the booster collective.
Remember, last spring, transfer quarterback JT Daniels was looking for a personal chef, a four-bedroom rental house, and some walking around money. Oregon State’s collective wasn’t prepared to engage. In fact, it didn’t exist. Daniels landed at West Virginia. He’s back in the portal again. No telling if the Beavers are interested.
Quarterback Ben Gulbranson was serviceable this season. He beat Oregon in the season finale, but completed only six passes and threw two interceptions. I’d like to see Gulbranson return and grow. But I’d also like to see OSU give him some experienced competition.
It’s time for Oregon State to get a QB win in the transfer-portal game.
Pac-12 Bowl Picks:
I had a decent performance this season picking the Pac-12 games vs. the spread. I aim to keep that going in the conference’s seven bowl games.
My regular-season record vs. the spread this season: 49-38 (.563)
Straight-up season record: 68-19 (.781)
Oregon State vs. Florida — Las Vegas Bowl (Saturday, 11:30a on ESPN)
Gators starting QB Anthony Richardson opted out of the bowl game. Florida’s back-up quarterback, Jalen Kitna, was dismissed from the team after being arrested on five counts of possession and distribution of child pornography. Third-string QB, Jack Miller III, will get his first college start against a defense that is disruptive and experienced.
Oregon State is on a three-game win streak and is hunting for its 10th win of the season. This game means a lot to the Beavers and for that reason they’re an easy pick.
The spread: Beavers are favored by 10 points.
The pick: Oregon State 31, Florida 17
Fresno State vs. Washington State — LA Bowl (Saturday, 12:30p on ABC)
Washington State’s coaching staff is wobbling. Offensive coordinator Eric Morris accepted the head coach job at North Texas. Defensive coordinator Brian Ward is headed to Arizona State in the same role.
Meanwhile, Fresno State views this bowl game like the Super Bowl. Coach Jeff Tedford will be salivating after watching the Apple Cup film of Washington carving up WSU’s defense. His quarterback Jake Haener has 11 TD passes and no interceptions his last five games. Keep an eye on Bulldogs receiver Nikko Remigio, too. He’s gifted and fun to watch. I like Fresno State, mostly because I know they badly want to be in Los Angeles for this game.
The spread: Fresno State is favored by 3.5 points.
The pick: Fresno State 31, Washington State 24.
Oregon vs. North Carolina — Holiday Bowl (Dec. 28, 2022)
The Ducks say Bo Nix is going to play. If that holds up, I like Oregon, but I don’t think it covers the point spread. North Carolina will be without 75 percent of its starting defensive backfield. The Ducks defense hasn’t been stingy itself. So lots of points in this one.
Neither team has its offensive coordinator. Ex-Oregon coordinator Kenny Dillingham departed for the head coaching job at Arizona State and UNC coordinator Phil Longo left for the same job at Wisconsin. But Nix is the best player on either team. If he plays, Oregon wins.
The spread: The Ducks are favored by 14.
The pick: Oregon 42, North Carolina 34
Washington vs. Texas — Alamo Bowl (Dec. 29, 2022)
I left the regular season thinking Washington could beat anyone in the conference and maybe anyone outside the Top 4 in the final College Football Playoff rankings. The Huskies were that impressive down the stretch. But can Kalen DeBoer’s team keep that momentum going with time off and bowl distractions?
The Huskies are playing for an 11-win season and have Michael Penix Jr. back. UW was locked in at the end of the season. Also, they get a date with an old friend — Longhorns’ coach Steve Sarkisian. Sark is shorthanded, though. He’ll be without running backs Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson. The two combined to rush for 23 touchdowns this season. I like Washington to win the game outright.
The spread: Texas is favored by 4.5 points.
The pick: Washington 41, Texas 35
UCLA vs. Pitt — Sun Bowl (Dec. 30, 2022)
This is a really difficult game to handicap. Pitt won’t have Kedon Slovis at quarterback. He’s in the transfer portal. And UCLA looked terribly distracted at the end of the season, losing two of the final three games. Even the Bruins’ regular-season finale win vs. Cal lacked polish.
Who wants to be in El Paso?
Answer that and you’ll know who wins the game. If these teams are at full strength, UCLA is more talented. But I have diminished confidence that the Bruins are going to have all their weapons available. I’d steer clear of betting this game for that reason. I lean toward taking Pitt and the points. The Panthers will steal this game if UCLA shows up without enthusiasm.
The spread: UCLA is favored by 6.5 points.
The pick: UCLA 30, Pitt 28
USC vs. Tulane — Cotton Bowl (Jan. 2, 2023)
I can’t imagine USC is thrilled to be in the Cotton Bowl vs. Tulane. The Trojans were thinking about playing No. 1 Georgia in the national semifinal before losing to Utah in the Pac-12 title game. Meanwhile, this is a huge game for the American Athletic Conference representative.
Tulane’s Tyjae Spears has seven-straight 100-yard rushing games. USC’s run defense is dismal. But the bigger factor in this game is how badly Tulane would love to beat a Power Five opponent and make a statement.
USC coach Lincon Riley has a 1-3 record in bowl games. But it looks like he may have Heisman winner Caleb Williams at his disposal. Said Williams on Thursday: “Hamstring is doing well. I’m confident that I will be out there.”
The spread: USC is favored by 2.5 points.
The pick: Tulane 42, USC 38
Utah vs. Penn State — Rose Bowl (Jan. 2, 2023)
Penn State lost only two games this season — Michigan and Ohio State. Good losses, right? Still, the Nittany Lions don’t have a win over a ranked opponent this season.
Utah is not only ranked in the Top 10, but playing with purpose. The Utes have the best run defense in the Pac-12. They wanted so badly to repeat in the Rose Bowl that they played out of their minds in the Pac-12 championship game vs. USC. There was unfinished business this season for quarterback Cam Rising’s team. It’s as simple as that. I think Utah closes the loop in Pasadena, wins, and covers the spread in a great game.
The spread: Utah is favored by 2.5 points.
The pick: Utah 34, Penn State 31
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My bowl Wish List:
PAC12 NW / 4-0
PAC12 SoCal / 0-2
Utah gets the Roses 🌹
NIL and the Portal are the new normal; hope Santa works through it all & drops the perfect QB for the Beavers down the chimney!
I agree with all of your picks except UW/UT. It is going to be a noisy road game for UW in an indoor stadium. I just keep thinking about what UT did to Utah in 2019.
Assuming Williams can play, I think they will win big.
Have a great Christmas season.