Week 8 is upon us, which means the season is officially halfway done. Josh Damis and JonathanAdams 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-Cal picks will be in a separate game preview post on Friday.
JA: After three weeks of doing this we’re both 12-9-1. I’m still bitter about USC winning but not covering vs. Colorado two weeks ago, but at least we’re both on the right side of .500. This week we start on The Farm with the Buffaloes (+2) trying to hang on to their South division lead. If Stanford wins this, they’ve got a pretty smooth path to another 10 win season, even though they apparently decided to play without a quarterback this year. CU is 7-0 against the spread in 2016, but I’m betting that the Cardinal defense uglies this one up, and Stanford wins another game where neither team scores more than 20 points.
JD: Colorado is only a win away from being bowl eligible, but I don’t think they get that win this week. Statistically, Colorado has a top 15 offense and defense from a YPP perspective, while Stanford doesn’t field an offense or defense that’s even in the top 50. Still, I think this game plays out much like Colorado’s game with USC, and Colorado struggles to overcome Stanford’s talent advantage in the trenches. Like Jon said, I think Stanford eeks out an ugly win here. Something like 19 – 14, so I’m taking Stanford -2.
Down in Southern California, Utah (+7) visits UCLA. I am SHOCKED by this line. UCLA does not appear to be a particularly motivated team at this point, and their lack of dependable running backs and wide receivers makes me think this game favors Utah, Rosen or no Rosen. I know Utah is banged up as well, but this line is just too weird. Feels like Vegas knows something here, so I’m taking UCLA -7.
JA: Josh Rosen reportedly practiced on Wednesday, so I assume he’s going to play. Utah is literally bringing dudes in from off the street to play running back but somehow they’re 6-1. I’m picking the Utes here because I think they’re too well-coached and motivated to lose to this underachieving UCLA squad.|
Injury ravaged OSU heads north to Seattle to take on Washington. According to VegasInsider.com, this line opened at UW -29 and is now up to -37. The Beavs won’t have their top two QBs, and their best running back is banged up. The Huskies, on the other hand, are coming off a bye week. Yikes. At this point I’m “UW minus everything” until proven otherwise. I remember when people used to say that about Oregon. Sigh.
JD: I’m right there with you, Jon. This feels like a game the Huskies will win something like 49-10, so I’ll take UW.
Next, the Cougs head to Tempe as a 7-point favorite. Arizona State’s passing defense is already ranked dead last out of 128 teams, and now they face the seventh best passing offense in the country. That said, this line feels low, and ASU already has wins at home against two statistically better passing teams in Texas Tech and Cal. I’m taking ASU +7 here.
JA: Wazzu hasn’t won at ASU since 2001 and hasn’t had a 5-game winning streak since 2003. As you noted, ASU has been a vastly different team at home, where they are unbeaten in 2016. The Cougs will almost certainly pile up the points against ASU’s crap defense, and I trust that the WSU defense is salty enough to cover the spread.
Now for our non-Pac-12 games. Top ranked Alabama plays host to Texas A&M, and the Aggies are 16.5 point underdogs. Bama’s last home loss while ranked number one was four years ago to TAMU. Like with Washington, I’m on the Bama train until I have a reason to jump off, no matter the spread. I like the Crimson Tide in the neighborhood of 41-21.
JD: Hard to believe it’s been four years since Johnny Football captured America’s hearts that afternoon in Tuscaloosa. This A&M team kinda has the feel of that sneaky good 2012 team, but I still expect Bama to blow their doors off this week. I’m nervous since A&M has had two weeks to prepare for this game, but I think the Tide win convincingly here and cover the -16.5.
Staying in the SEC, this next line was a bit of shock to see. Arkansas heads to Auburn as a 9.5-point dog. When you start digging into the numbers, Arkansas’s defense is secretly pretty bad for a “smash mouth” team, giving up 6.5 YPP. So far this season, they gave up 38 and 45 points on the road to similarly high-powered spread offenses TCU and Texas A&M. Auburn’s offense isn’t quite the caliber of those two teams, but they’ve put up some points since their win over LSU. With Auburn having two weeks to prepare for this game, I’m taking the Tigers to cover the -9.5.
JA: I, too, was stunned by this line. I guess I’ve been sleeping on Auburn this season, because at first glance this feels like a one score game to me. But Auburn only allowed 19 points vs. Clemson and 29 vs. Texas A&M, and both of those offenses are better than Arkansas. Plus, Gus Malzahn is 5-0 at Auburn after a bye week so give me the Tigers 33-23.
Finally, we head down to the Bayou for a night game at LSU, as Ole Miss comes to town to battle Ed Orgeron’s Tigers. LSU is a 6-point favorite here, but this is Orgeron’s first real test since taking over for Les Miles. Granted the opponents (Missouri & Southern Miss) aren’t that good, but LSU’s offense looks reinvigorated under the new coach. And their defense, as usual, is stout — they’ve allowed 20 or fewer points in all six games. Ole Miss, on the other hand, gives up a ton of points. I think the Tigers keep it rolling, and win this one by two scores.
JD: Ed Orgeron’s time at Ole Miss is probably the number one thing going against him getting a head coaching job, so I’m sure he’ll have LSU extra fired up this week. Chad Kelly struggled passing the ball against Arkansas, and now they face an even tougher defense here. I think LSU wins an ugly game here something like 22 – 14.
Agree: Stanford (-2) vs. Colorado; UW (-34.5) vs. OSU; Alabama (-16.5) vs. Texas A&M; Auburn (-9.5) vs. Arkansas; LSU (-6) vs. Ole Miss.
Disagree: Damis likes UCLA (-7) vs. Utah and ASU (+7) vs. WSU.