In the PAC-12 . . .
Washington State (3-3) leads the way to the PAC-12 North title after last week’s win over previous leader Oregon State. The Cougars are 2-0 and face the only other team with an undefeated record in the North division, Stanford, which is 3-3 overall.
The only common opponent these teams have had is USC. Stanford beat the Trojans by 14 while the Cougars lost by 31. The primary difference here will be the composure and superior play of Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee.
League leader #13 Oregon (4-1) will have little trouble with the struggling California Bears (1-4). Oregon will be without star running back C.J. Verdell, but that might not matter much since the Ducks might like taking to the air against Cal’s pass defense which ranks 115th for stopping the pass and 117th for stopping touchdowns.
Neither team has a quarterback with much in the way of gaudy stats, although the Ducks’ Anthony Brown has thrown just one interception in 123 passing attempts. His .08% interception rate is among the five best in the nation.
California is an odd mix of seeking to control the ball while at the same time passing more than it rushes. Perhaps that is necessary since the Cal offensive line is among the ten worst in FBS regarding run blocking.
Our Index sees Utah as an upset winner over #25 Arizona State. The Utes have been soaring since former Texas quarterback Cameron Rising took over late in the San Diego State game and had since been completing 65% of his passes, rushing for 6.5 yards per carry, and not throwing a single interception in 85 passing attempts.
Team discipline is often a deciding factor in close games, and Utah is measurably better than the Sun Devils.
UCLA (4-2) visits Washington (2-3) in a perplexing game on many fronts. For example, Washington has underperformed this season while the Bruins have over-performed expectations, yet Savvy and the oddsmakers favor UW.
In addition, Washington coach Jimmy Lake continues to start Dylan Morris despite an interception rate beneath the standards and expectations of most Power Five quarterbacks.
UCLA has played a more demanding schedule and played it better but still can’t get the prediction nod from the betting public.
I see the Bruins winning this by double digits.
Around the nation . . .
So here’s the question: How did Alabama have more rushing yards, more passing yards, more time of possession, more talent, and the advantage of a starting quarterback and still lose to Texas A&M last Saturday?
You don’t have to be a certified forensic expert to figure it out. All you have to do is look at the play of the Crimson Tide’s offensive line, which was 99% My Pillow and 1% Yo’ Mama. Y How bad was it? Well, between giving up tackles for loss and sacks, the Tide line suffered nine disasters in its own backfield. It’s been a season-long issue but never as bad as last week.
The good news for Tuscaloosans is that Alabama (5-1) is still ranked in the top five and still in contention for the national playoff. However, to get there, they’ll have to come up with mo’ Yo’. Expect the Tide to do that with a double-digit win over Mississippi State (3-2).
Our Index agrees with betting lines on 49 of the 52 games scheduled this week, but it disagrees with three, all of which take place out west. Our system projects that Auburn (4-2) will take down Arkansas (4-2) by four despite a Vegas spread of 3.5 for Arkansas; #15 BYU (5-1) will get the best of Baylor fast-rising Baylor (5-1) despite betting lines favoring Baylor by 4.5 and, as mentioned earlier, Utah (3-2) will upset #25 Arizona State (5-1) by one point.
To see all of our predictions this week, please visit us at savvygameline.com.
In the only game scheduled between an FCS and an FBS, Yale (2-2) rates four points better than Connecticut (0-6). Connecticut lost 38-28 to another FCS team (Holy Cross) two months ago.
Despite a gluttony of upsets the past two weeks, our Index was 35-16 last week and stands at 77% for the season vs. betting lines that are 72%. Our system was five games better than the betting lines last week in predicting point spreads. It was one game worse for predicting total game points but still stands 25 games better in predicting over/unders on the season.