All twelve PAC-12 teams are in action this week, and eleven are predicted to win in this week’s Savvy Index projections.
#20 Boise State at #13 Washington
The only game with two ranked teams is in Seattle, where 13th-ranked Washington hosts 20th-ranked Boise State.
UW head coach Kalen DeBoer is a master of getting his teams ready to play, especially against ranked opponents. The Huskies will be prepared to play and need to be because the Broncos have the kind of defense that produces upsets.
Last year, Boise State was 14th in the nation in allowing yards-per-play. By comparison, Washington ranked 74th.
UW may have the antidote in quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who completed more than 65% of his passes for more than 4500 yards last year.
BSU will return fire with spectacular sophomore Taylen Green, who has a proven arm but augments that weapon with his ability to run. Last season, Green rushed for 10 touchdowns, 586 yards, and a whopping 7.2 yards per rush attempt.
The biggest concern for Washington is its defensive back end, which only came up with seven interceptions all of last season while giving up 26 touchdowns through the air.
My Index projects Washington will win 28-24, but with very high upset alerts.
Elsewhere in the PAC-12 northwest . . .
#15 Oregon State at San Jose State
After watching last week’s USC rout of San Jose State, we might think the Spartans aren’t as good as experts suggested. However, remember that San Jose State lost by fewer points than the betting lines established. So yes, it was a double-digit loss, but no, the final score was not an indication of a sub-par team.
Oregon State comes to town this week with their shiny new starting quarterback, D.J. Uiagelelei. With D.J. running things, there seems no limit to what this offense might achieve this season. DJU not only has the talent, strong arm, and experience that OSU needs, but he is a terrific leader who quickly accepted by his teammates.
Oregon State is solid on both sides of the ball and borderline spectacular in the return game. Oddsmakers say the Beavers will win by 17.5 points. My Index projects the Beavers, 43-24.
Washington State at Colorado State
These teams have what they need to rise in their conference standings if they can fix their dismal offensive lines.
Last year, Washington State could not pick up blitzes, and linemen routinely missed their pass blocks. If it were a matter of talent, the Cougar offensive line would not have been in the top third of the nation for rush blocking. To me, it seemed like a schematic problem.
How do you fix that? Well, hire yourself a new offensive coordinator or change your scheme. WSU did both, but for reasons I stated a month ago, I’m not sure the Cougars will see any immediate benefit.
The good news for Cougar fans is that they aren’t Colorado State fans because the Rams finished dead last in FBS for allowing sacks and tackles for loss.
Despite a meager 12-point spread set by the bookmakers, my system says WSU will cruise to a 39-21 win.
Portland State at #10 Oregon
Ya gotta love Portland State. The Vikings always have at least two FBS opponents on their schedule. When they show up, they may be outmatched, but they never are intimidated.
The “outmatched” part is pretty sizable this year because Oregon is loaded and may have made the defensive adjustments necessary to bring down opponents’ points per game (27+) and yards per carry (4+).
Without those improvements, the Ducks will have an excellent season but not finish anywhere near the national playoff.
Can Oregon improve defensively? That will be a challenging task after the departure of several elite starting linebackers, but the secondary should keep things under control until the new ‘backers get their footing.
None of those factors will matter this week against PSU. The Ducks are Savvy-projected to win 55-6.
Predictions for other PAC-12 games . . .
Arizona over Northern Arizona 43-20
Arizona State over Southern Utah 44-7
Upset: North Texas over California 27-24
TCU over Colorado 48-13
UCLA over Coastal Carolina 30-28 [very high upset alert]
USC over Nevada 48-14
Utah over Florida 34-17 [this spread will increase if Rising starts]
You can see all 68 of the Savvy Index predictions for this week by clicking here.
Last week, the Savvy Index beat the bookmakers in both point spreads and total game points.