MoQ Picks for Week 5// @jdamis & @JonathanAdams
Welcome to MoQ’s first ever picks column. Josh Damis and Jonathan Adams are here to guide you through this week’s Pac-12 games, as well as a few other key match-ups. ((Note: All picks are against the spread and our Oregon-Wazzu picks will be in a separate game preview post on Friday.))
JA: Josh, people might be wondering what qualifies us to make picks. I can’t speak for you, but A) I’ve got a Twitter account, so that makes me an expert on everything and B) if ESPN lets David Lombardi and Chantel Jennings make picks every week then there’s no reason why we can’t too.
Our first game is the Pac-12 GAME OF THE CENTURY, Stanford (+3) at Washington on Friday night. Neither team looked very top 10-ish last week, but I suspect UW was looking ahead a bit. As for Stanford, counting them out because they won ugly is a fool’s errand.
I’m picking UW here for three reasons: 1. They’re at home; 2. Christian McCaffrey literally never scores on the road; 3. Stanford will be without two starting corners, a fullback, and a receiver due to injury. Washington 23-19.
JD: This is a tough one because I’m still not ready to buy either of these teams as top 10 teams. Stanford’s injuries are concerning, especially considering they’re allowing 7.1 yards/attempt through the air this season, and now they’re without both their starting corners. That said, I still feel like Stanford is more battle tested and has a better run defense than Washington. I’ll take Stanford and the points.
Heading over to Boulder, Colorado, #OurTuffBuffs are an 18-point favorite when they host Oregon State this Saturday. This line opened at Colorado -16.5. I believe Colorado is much improved, but I think this line is slightly overinflated due to Colorado’s performance against Michigan and win at Oregon. I like the Beavers and the points here this week.
JA: I’m going to take Colorado only because I think Folsom Field is going to be rocking for the first time in years and the Beavs might be walking into a buzz-saw. The CU fans finally have a reason to believe and I think the atmosphere in Boulder will help keep the Buffs from a letdown. As the song says, OSU will fight to the end but a late defensive score gives Colorado the cover. Prince is dead, Idiocracy has become reality, and Colorado is good. 2016 is a trip, man.
Down in Berkeley, Cal, a team that gave up 31 4th quarter points to Arizona State last week, is *giving* two points to unbeaten Utah. Utah is the better team and they’re getting points — easy, right? As a wise man once said, “It’s a trap!” I’m taking Cal because their offense will be the best unit on the field. Utah’s defense is good, but it’s not lights out, and if Cal jumps on them early the Utes definitely don’t have the offensive firepower to win a shootout. Bears by a TD or more.
JD: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I like Cal here too. I’m a big believer in taking the unranked home favorite over the ranked road dog. I think Utah is a bit overrated, and Cal already has a win at home over a team I believe to be more talented in Texas.
Arizona State +10 at USC just seems weird based on what we’ve seen, but okay. I’m not sure either of these teams are two scores better than any of the other teams in the Pac-12 (except maybe OSU). This line opened at USC -8 and at one point moved to USC -10.5. I’ll take ASU and the points.
JA: Man, I really don’t want to trust Todd Graham with my hard-earned money. On the other hand, I definitely don’t trust Clay Helton in this spot: The Trojans are 1-3 and I’m guessing the Coliseum will be half empty. How motivated is this team going to be? If USC comes out flat, ASU has the firepower to jump on them early. I’m with you on this one, Josh – give me ASU and the points.
From downtown Los Angeles we take a short trip to Pasadena for the Pac-12 nightcap, Arizona (+13.5) at UCLA. The Wildcats might have caught UW looking ahead last week, and I think they’re going to catch the Bruins looking back this week. That loss to Stanford was painful, and I’m betting it’s going to linger. Eventually UCLA snaps out of it and wins this game, but for gambling purposes I like Arizona and the points.
JD: Both of these teams are coming off crushing losses, and I could see a bit of hangover. This line feels strangely high, and it’s moved three points in favor of UCLA since it opened. That almost feels like too much to me, even though Arizona’s defense scares me, so I’ll take Arizona +13.5.
In non-Pac-12 action, Saturday’s two biggest games are in Ann Arbor and Clemson.
Michigan is a double-digit home favorite vs. Wisconsin. I think Wisconsin is getting a little too much credit for beating LSU (who has since fired its coach) and Michigan State (who got a little too much credit for beating a now 1-3 Notre Dame). Michigan has the better offense and defense, and I think we see the Badgers get exposed a little bit this Saturday. I’ll take Michigan -10.5 at home.
In Death Valley, Louisville is a 2-point favorite over Clemson. Louisville is 4-0 ATS to start this season, and after watching most of their games, it’s hard not to just take Louisville minus anything. I blindly took Louisville as an underdog earlier in the week, and that’s a pick I regret. Looking a little deeper, Louisville has played the #112, #120, #121, and #124 defenses from a YPP perspective so far. Those are four BAD defenses, and now they’re on the road, in a hostile environment, going against the #2 defense. Clemson has been pretty uninspiring, but I’m going to take Clemson +2 here.
JA: I like the Wolverines by 10, so I’m going to take that extra half-point and bet that the Badgers will pull a Mike McDermott and hang around long enough to cover the spread.
As for Clemson, I think they might be one of those teams that will be up and down all season depending on the competition, so I expect they’ll play well on Saturday night. Getting points with Clemson when they are playing at home at night? No way am I betting against THIS.
Agree: Cal (-2) vs. Utah; ASU (+10) at USC; Arizona (+13.5) at UCLA; Clemson (+2) vs. Louisville.
Disagree: Damis takes Stanford (+3) at UW; Adams likes Colorado (-18) vs. OSU, and Wisconsin (+10.5) at Michigan.
((Editors Note: Matter of Quack does not recommend gambling on college football or any other sport. Go use your money wisely, like on a boat. Or a sandwich.))