Two weeks ago, Arizona State faced Washington State but not its head coach because Nick Rolovich had been fired.
Last week, the Sun Devils faced USC but not its head coach because Clay Helton had been fired.
This week, the Sun Devils (6-3) visit Washington (4-5) but not its head coach Jimmy Lake because he has been suspended.
Coaching chaos isn’t anything new to the folks in Tempe since ASU coach Herm Edwards and much of his staff are under investigation for alleged recruiting violations, which may lead to more terminations in Tempe.
Suppose you consider penalties and turnovers as indicators that coaches aren’t emphasizing discipline. In that case, you might like to know that ASU is #1 in the nation for fumbling the ball and #5 in the country for committing the most penalties per game.
Our system (Savvy Index) says ASU should prevail by four points over Washington, but I wonder when coaches on either side of this game will demonstrate the measure of behavior they demand of their players. If teenage students can do it, then undoubtedly, adult coaches can.
Utah (6-3) has returned to the national rankings and is favored 39-14 over Arizona (1-8) to post its sixth win in the past seven games. Arizona’s rush defense is pretty good, but Utah’s top three ball carriers average better than six yards per carry. We said in the preseason that the Ute’s offensive line would run block with the best in the nation, and that is what we are seeing.
This game will be out of reach for the Wildcats, but it’s important to note that UA’s trend lines on Savvy have been shooting upward rapidly for the past five weeks.
The last time California (3-6) played USC (4-5), the Bears lost 41-17 at home. The margin will be closer, but the result will be the same. Both of these programs have performed below expectations, and both must win all of their remaining games to avert losing seasons.
We said before the season started that UCLA (5-4) would make it to its first bowl game under head coach Chip Kelly. We projected seven wins for the Bruins, and with three vulnerable opponents remaining on the schedule (Colorado, USC, and Cal), getting to seven wins seems like a certainty.
UCLA’s defense has been awful against top-tier opponents, but it will have no problem dealing with Colorado (3-6) this week. The last time UCLA had a week off, it lost its next game. The Bruins had last week off but are favored to win this one, 31-21.
Colorado’s offense is improving now that quarterback Brendan Lewis has been turned loose, but that won’t be enough to win this week.
Stanford (3-6) takes its last place selves to Oregon State (5-4) with the hope of escaping the PAC-12 North basement. The Cardinal have lost five of their last six games and seem to have no idea what they want to do when they have the ball.
The Beavers don’t have that problem. They know exactly what they want to do, and that is run the ball 40 times a game, ring up 230 yards on the ground per game, and score nearly three rushing touchdowns per game.
OSU’s issues have been on the defensive side of things, where they have given up more than 30 points in four consecutive games to teams that were not ranked at the time. Perhaps the change to a new defensive coordinator will help.
The Beavers are favored 32-27 over Stanford and will become bowl eligible with the win.
Washington State (5-4) travels to #11 Oregon (8-1) as a 31-24 underdog.
The Cougars underperformed early in the season but have posted six straight weeks of positive metrics in our system. Oregon has been primarily negative, although the past two games have produced some positive lines.
Behind starting quarterback Jayden de Laura, Washington State is 11th worst in the nation for throwing interceptions, while Oregon is in the top 10 for collecting interceptions.
Oregon’s offensive line will be the primary reason that Oregon wins. The Ducks’ wide waddlers are in the top 30 in four significant areas: opening holes for running backs, protecting the quarterback, not allowing runs to be stopped behind the line of scrimmage, and keeping their pants above their crack lines.
Washington State’s defense is ranked between 82nd and 97th in three of those.
But that doesn’t mean this game is a “lock” for Oregon. Keep in mind that the Ducks lost to Stanford and struggled with California, the two teams that right now are at the very bottom of the PAC-12 North standings.
Last week, the Index was three games worse than the betting lines in predicting over/under point spreads but three games better in predicting winners. For the season, the Index is 4% better in predicting winners and 50 games better in predicting over/under total game points.
To see all 64 of our college football predictions this week, please visit us at savvygameline.com.
Around the nation . . .
College football programs are getting early starts on their Christmas shopping by firing their coaches before we’ve even reached Thanksgiving. Nothing says “thanks” quite like a holiday pink slip.
Jumping Black Friday worked well for Georgia Southern as it hired former USC coach Clay Helton and it should have worked better for Texas Tech except that the Raiders hired a guy who has never been a college head coach.
TCU got rid of Gary Patterson, and there were rumors that Sonny Dykes would leave SMU in a rush to seize the title as King of the Frogs. Don’t be fooled. Dykes is only huckstering. But can you blame him for trying to make his own Christmas better?
And now I wonder if former Washington State coach Nick Rolovich will be spending his Christmas in Texas.
Further west, Oregon State decided it was time to part ways with defensive coordinator Tim Tidesbar at a critical point of trying to get a bowl berth. Apparently, taking the Beavers from 106th in yards per play last year to 77th this year just wasn’t good enough.
And, Washington finally lowered the boom on John Donovan after just 13 games as offensive coordinator. Unfortunately, the move came 13 games too late. As I mentioned at the time, his hiring made no sense because candidates with better credentials were available; Donovan had been fired after being a bust at Penn State, he said he knew nothing about UW, and ugly rumors he was a game show host were distorted.
UW head coach Jimmy Lake was also suspended after a sideline altercation with his own player during the Huskies’ game with Oregon.
Florida coach Dan Mullens fired his defensive coordinator and offensive line coach over the weekend. It’s a stop-gap but probably not one that will extend Mullens’ tenure.
UMass got rid of Walt Bell after the Minutemen lost to FCS Rhode Island over the weekend, an upset we predicted. That loss reminds us that the “Minute” part of their nickname has less to do with an element of time and more to do with a dimension of tiny.
And what winter gathering would be complete without talk of biting Frost in Nebraska?
Last summer, I pondered two questions concerning Hawai’i, and I didn’t come up with an answer to either of them. First, I wondered how Todd Graham would do in his first full season as coach of the Rainbows. And second, I wondered why highways on the island of Oahu are called interstates.
This week will be so much fun because we will likely see more coaches packing their bags for unexpected vacations, and we will see more upsets than we have all season.
Three games match ranked teams led by #9 Michigan (8-1) at #10 Penn State (6-3). Neither has been impressive when facing ranked opponents, but Michigan gets our nod as a two-point favorite because the Nittany Lions can’t get much going on the ground. PSU’s primary ball carrier is Noah Cain, who has needed 93 carries just to get to 290 yards.
In another battle of ranked teams, #20 Texas A&M (7-2) is favored 28-25 to take down #13 Mississippi (7-2). I think Mississippi should be given more consideration since it has an undefeated home record, the nation’s third-best turnover margin, and Mr. SuaveHair for a coach. Also, this is only the second time all season that A&M has truly been a visiting team.
Two of the flashiest passing attacks get together as #19 North Carolina State (7-2) visits #24 Wake Forest (8-1). The battle of the starting sophomore quarterbacks will be spectacular as Devin Leary of NCSU, and Sam Hartman of WF have already combined for more than one mile of passing yardage. Both are completing better than 60% of their passes while combining for just eight interceptions in 619 passing attempts. Hartman leads the nation in average yards per play (8.7).
Our Index is going against the betting lines to predict upset wins for Boston College over Georgia Tech, West Virginia over Kansas State, Syracuse over Louisville, LSU over Arkansas, Maine (FCS) over Massachusetts, Missouri over South Carolina, Nevada over San Diego State, San Jose State over Utah State, and Georgia Southern over Texas State.