Last week: 2-3 straight up, 3-2 against the spread
Season to date: 28-15 straight up, 18-19 against the spread
USC 27, Utah (+14.5) 20 – Oh joy, another Thursday night slog. Expect to be bored, but at least it will be over on the West Coast in time for a new episode of “Parks and Recreation.” The Trojans will work their perimeter screen and quick passing game to limit Utah’s defensive line, and let rising defensive end Morgan Breslin (5.5 sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss) go after freshman right tackle Jeremiah Poutasi. Mixing in Utes mobile freshman quarterback Travis Wilson more might be the best bet to boost an offense that managed just seven points and 209 yards in a thumping at Arizona State.
Arizona (+9) 27, Stanford 23 – Ignore the Wildcats’ two-game losing streak. They pushed the resurgent Beavers to the limit last week in a wildly entertaining 38-35 loss, an early candidate for Pac-12 game of the year. Running backs Ka’Deem Carey and Stepfan Taylor will most of the offensive workload for their respective teams, but banged up Arizona quarterback Matt Scott will make more plays than his struggling Cardinal counterpart Josh Nunes.
Oregon State 34, Washington State (+15.5) 23 – How will the Beavers fare without the promise of In-N-Out Burger at the end of this game? Just fine, since quarterback Sean Mannion and receivers Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks can feast on a pass defense allowing 310 yards per game instead. Credit to Mike Riley, who has all but locked up Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors before the end of September with one of the more unexpected recovery projects in recent memory.
UCLA (-2.5) 38, California 17 – The Golden Bears can’t protect quarterback Zach Maynard, allowing 25 sacks on the season, worst in the nation. They can’t stop the run, allowing a Pac-12 worth 174.8 yards per game. And they definitely can’t stop mobile quarterbacks (see: Arizona State, Ohio State, and Nevada in 2012; Oregon, and UCLA last season; Nevada again in 2010). What does UCLA do? They have a dynamic dual-threat quarterback in Brett Hundley, a powerful running game averaging 5.5 yards per carry, and the 10th-best pass rush in college football. Simply put, this line makes absolutely no sense. What is Las Vegas up to here?
Oregon (-24.5) 41, Washington 6 – Can somebody find some NCAA exemption to combine this season’s improving Husky defense (allowing the second-fewest yards per game in the conference) with last year’s explosive offense? Washington simply can’t score behind a brutal offensive line, with four touchdowns in three games against FBS opponents. Against an aggressive and deep Oregon defense, plus the added pressure of a frenzied late-night Autzen Stadium crowd, quarterback Keith Price will get a repeat of his trip to LSU earlier this year, when he was sacked four times.
Dan Greenspan is the publisher of Cal Sports Digest and writes about the Pac-12 for Fox Sports Next. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.