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Canzano: Pac-12 football turns into sociology experiment
My Week 9 picks...
I’ve been on fire lately with my Pac-12 Conference football picks. But I don’t want you to worry. I’m not going to quit my job, move to Las Vegas, and handicap college football games full time.
Years ago, when I was covering the Big Ten as a beat reporter, I started a football season by going 12-0 against the spread in the first two weeks of the season. I couldn’t miss. I told anyone who would listen. Then, I settled in for the third week of the college football season, studied, made my picks, and promptly went 0-6.
Is this the week I faceplant?
I think Week 9 presents the most difficult week of the Pac-12 season to pick games against the spread. There are double-digit point spreads, a couple of interim head coaches, and some teams that are playing with new motivation.
Will Washington State show up big at home tonight vs. Utah? Will Oregon suffer a letdown vs. Cal after an emotional win last Saturday? Does playing USC amount to a bowl game for Arizona’s players? Will Colorado ever score more than 20 points again? And what should we make of Stanford’s resurgence in the last few weeks? What we have here is a sociological experiment disguised as a series of college football games.
My Week 8 record vs. the spread: 3-1
Week 8 record, straight-up: 3-1
Record vs. the spread this season: 32-26
Straight-up season record: 43-15
My Week 9 picks…
Utah at Washington State (Thursday at 7 p.m., FS1)
The temperature will be in the low 40s when this game kicks off tonight in Pullman. I think both coaches will prepare their teams well. Utah has more talent and Cam Rising at quarterback. Washington State has the home field and desperately needs a win. This game is compelling. I think Utah has a little more firepower and that’s the difference.
The spread: Utah is favored by 7.5 points.
The pick: Utah 31, WSU 27
Oregon at Cal (Saturday at 12:30 p.m., FS1)
Cal seems to play the Ducks tough. They’ve split the last two meetings. But Oregon is playing for a lot here and I just don’t think the Bears, even at home, can stay in this game. Sure, you can craft a narrative that makes this game close. (Maybe Oregon suffers a letdown after the big UCLA win?) But the first College Football Playoff ranking comes out next Tuesday. The Ducks have a lot to play for here.
The spread: Oregon favored by 17.
The pick: Oregon 38, Cal 17
USC at Arizona (Saturday at 4 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)
Arizona can — and should — score points against the USC defense. The Wildcats are also playing at home. I think this game is closer than the point spread for those reasons. The over/under for total points scored in the game is 76.5 points. While I’m picking USC to win, I think Arizona finds the end zone often enough to cover the point spread.
The spread: USC is favored by 15.5 points.
The pick: USC 42, Arizona 31
ASU at Colorado (Saturday at 4:30 p.m., ESPNU)
Colorado has a historically bad offense this season. Brian Howell, who covers the team as a beat reporter for the Boulder Daily Camera, should get an all-expenses paid trip to Tahiti at the end of the season. He’s seen enough punting for a lifetime. That said, I think the Buffaloes hang around a little vs. ASU on Saturday.
The spread: ASU is favored by 13.5 points.
The pick: Arizona State 31, Colorado 20
Stanford at UCLA (Saturday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN)
Stanford has looked a lot better in recent weeks. The Cardinal beat ASU and Notre Dame and lost narrowly to Oregon State in the last three outings. But this is a road game and home favorites are ridiculously good in the Pac-12.
Home favorites are now 24-10 against the spread this season and 33-1 outright. I think UCLA wins and covers the point spread.
The spread: UCLA is favored by 16.5 points.
The pick: UCLA 38, Stanford 21
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