Column: MoQ PICK$ for Week 11

MoQ PICK$ for Week 11 // @jdamis and @JonathanAdams

The election is over and week 11 of college football is here to help take the pain away. Wow, I actually typed that without wanting to punch my keyboard. Hello, stage three of the grieving process! Anyway, 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-Stanford picks will be in a separate game preview post on Friday.

JA: First of all, congratulations on a terrific 5-1 week 10. I was 3-3 and the two games we disagreed on (OSU-Stanford and UCLA-Colorado) were clunkers made exciting because backdoor covers were in play down to the wire. Gambling makes things better! Anyway, we begin in the desert with Utah (-5.5) visiting Arizona State. I don’t understand how a team that lost by 19 to Oregon is only getting five-and-a-half vs. a ranked opponent. Two weeks ago we talked about Utah being undervalued a bit, and I think that trend is continuing here. Utah’s defense is by far the best unit on the field, and even though their offense can struggle at times, I just can’t see how they win this one by less than a touchdown. I’ll lay the points and take the Utes.

JD: This is a really weird line to me. 5.5 is a weird number. 5.5 also feels low. Given Arizona State’s injuries, I would think Utah would be more like a 9.5-point favorite. Since joining the Pac-12, Utah is only 1-4 against Arizona State, getting their first win against ASU last year. Taking Utah here feels way too easy. ASU is 4-1 at home this season, and 4-0 ATS, so I think I’ll take the home dog in this match-up.

On to the Pac-12 game of the week, USC (+10) visits Washington this Saturday, looking to avenge its loss from last year. At first glance, I’m tempted to take UW, because I envision Chris Petersen coaching circles around Clay Helton in this game. However, looking at Yards/Play stats for USC on both offense and defense since USC made a QB switch, USC looks to be the most complete team Washington has faced yet. But then I looked at who USC has played since that switch, and I realize they were just a bunch of empty wins. I’ll take the Pac-12 favorite here. I think Washington wins big, and Clay Helton finds himself back on the hot seat by Saturday evening.

JA: USC just switched the difficulty setting on Madden from “All-Pro” to “All-Madden”. After feasting on Arizona, Cal, and Oregon (sad face) the Trojans will be facing a team that is by far the best all-around squad in the Pac-12. On the road. At night. Yikes. I think the Huskies jump on them early and cruise to a 17+ point victory.

The worst game of the week is at the Rose Bowl, where 3-6 UCLA (-10) hosts 2-7 Oregon State. Both teams are riding four game losing streaks, but Oregon State has covered the spread in all four losses. I’m taking the Beavs here because they are 6-2-1 against the spread, while the Bruins are 1-7-1. Also, I don’t see any signs that OSU has stopped competing. They might be bad, but the effort is there, and I suspect UCLA will be severely lacking in motivation on Saturday night.

JD: This game is a tricky one, because it’s hard to imagine UCLA being two scores better than anyone in the conference right now. In its last home game against Utah, UCLA was able to score 45 points. Going further back, UCLA also put up 45 against Arizona. Oregon State’s defense is very similar to Utah’s, both giving up 5.8 Yards/Play, so I think UCLA will be able to score if they’re motivated to do so. Meanwhile, Oregon State will be playing a pretty solid defense that has held teams to 4.8 Yards/Play. Seeing how much Oregon State has struggled to score against even mediocre defenses like Stanford’s and Utah’s, I think UCLA might win this one something like 38-14, so I’m taking UCLA to cover the -10 at home.

Moving on to this week’s match-up in Tuscon, the Buffaloes visit the Wildcats as 16.5-point favorites. Arizona got shellacked last week by 62 points, so it’s hard to imagine there not being some kind of hangover from that. However, Colorado has also really struggled offensively in three of its last four games. I think Colorado escapes Tuscon with a win, but it wouldn’t shock me if Rich Rod’s team plays spoiler here this week as they’ve tended to do every season since he’s taken the Arizona job. This and my last pick make me think I should probably be admitted, but I’m going to take Arizona +16.5 here.

JA: Colorado is 7-0-2 against the spread this season, while Arizona is 1-8. Over the last five games the Buffs have given up just 63 total points, while Arizona has scored 20+ points only twice during that span, and given up 30+ in all five games. Colorado’s offense has struggled a bit against good defenses, but Arizona is most definitely not a good defense. I think the Buffs get back on track offensively and score enough points to get the cover in this one, something like 34-16.

The late night show in the Pac-12 is up in Pullman, where WSU (-16.5) hosts fellow Air Raid practitioner Cal. The Cougs have a pretty solid defense, and they face the best version of Cal’s offense every day in practice. The Bears, meanwhile, continue to be terrible on defense, while Wazzu’s offense is humming right along. Cal is winless on the road, including losses to San Diego State, Oregon State, and Arizona State. In fact, they’ve allowed 40+ points in all four of their road games. With a win vs. Cal, WSU would be 7-0 in conference play for the first time ever and would have a single-season eight game winning streak for the first time since 1930 — in other words, the perfect time to Coug it. But 2016 is a bizarro year, so I’m taking WSU and I expect this one to be a blowout.

JD: I actually think the Cougs have a secretly bad passing defense (tied with Cal at 7.6 Yards/Attempt), and Cal will be able to put up some points. This should be a fun game, and I’m predicting a WSU win, but something more like the Cal/ASU game around 51-41. Taking the Golden Bears on the road here +16.5.

On the national scene, not a whole lot going on this weekend. Baylor at Oklahoma is the only ranked match-up, and the Bears visit the Sooners as 15.5-point underdogs. I have to admit watching TCU trample Baylor by 40-points last weekend was the feel good story of the year for me. I’m expecting another loss this weekend, but not by more than two touchdowns, so I’m taking the road team here +15.5.

JA: Josh, thank you for reminding me that Baylor got curb stomped. It really is diamond amidst the turd that is this past week. Oklahoma gives up 31 points per game and almost 300 yards passing per game, so Baylor should be able to score enough to cover the spread. I’ll join you in taking OU to win but not cover.

Agree: Washington (-10) vs. USC; Baylor (+15.5) at Oklahoma; A dumpster full of old tires, used diapers, and roadkill skunks that is also on fire (-1) vs. Donald Trump.

Disagree: Damis takes ASU (+5.5) vs. Utah; UCLA (-10) vs. OSU; Arizona (+16.5) vs. Colorado; Cal (+16.5) at WSU.

Records: Damis 25-15-1; Adams 22-18-1.


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