I don’t suppose it is a surprise to many college football fans that Jimmy Lake was fired as head coach at the University of Washington after coaching just 13 games. We saw terrible signs from the beginning with his curious hiring of coordinators. It only got worse as the Huskies dropped sharply in recruiting, on-field performance, and coaching repute as reports of alleged abusive behavior surfaced.
It seemed like only a matter of time until Lake would be gone, and having watched it progress now makes me feel somewhat like Mark Twain, who once said, “I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”
I am surprised to see the oddsmakers and Savvy projecting a win by #20 Utah (7-3) over visiting #9 Oregon (9-1). Oregon has been in the rankings all season and on a noticeable uptick in November, whereas Utah has only recently become a resident of the rankings. Oregon has proven to be better in big games as the Ducks beat powerhouse Ohio State on the road while Utah lost twice to ranked opponents (BYU and San Diego State).
Neither of these teams are in the top 70 of the nation’s passing attacks, so this one will be decided on the ground. Both have top-20 offensive lines, and both are in the top 10 for yards-per-rush. In my opinion, the winner will be decided by Oregon having the better offensive coordinator. At least, those are my thoughts.
And that reminds me: if it’s a penny for my thoughts and I just gave my two cents worth, then who got the other penny?
The last time the Washington Huskies (4-6) traveled to Colorado (3-7), they lost. This week, they travel to the Rockies again, but they don’t have Chris Petersen as their head coach. In fact, they don’t have an actual head coach at all. Despite that and a two-game losing streak, our system sees the Huskies as a 28-20 favorite.
Although nearly everyone favors Arizona State (7-3) over Oregon State (6-4) by about one possession, I think Oregon State’s unstoppable ground game and much better team discipline will result in a Beaver win.
Arizona State has played two other elite rushing teams in BYU and Utah and lost to both. The Sun Devils rank 126th in the nation for committing penalties and 121st for fumbling the football.
California (3-6) is a one-point favorite over Stanford (3-7) in our Index based mostly on Stanford getting only 3.4 yards per rushing attempt and its inability to settle either on a primary quarterback or a discernible offensive game plan. Cal leads the nation with just one lost fumble all season, while Stanford has lost five.
Since firing head coach Clay Helton (now at Georgia Southern), USC has lost more games than it has won, and dreams of a PAC-12 South title vanished long ago. The Trojans are up against UCLA (6-4) this week, and the Bruins have yet to lose to any opponent that is not a contender in its conference.
USC has posted net-negative trends in three of the past four games, whereas UCLA has posted net-positive trends in three of its last four games. UCLA hasn’t defeated USC since 2018, but the Bruins will win this very close game.
Arizona (1-9) has among the best performance trends of any team in the Savvy system in recent weeks, and much of that has come from the spectacular improvement of the Wildcat defense under former Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown. A year ago, Arizona’s defense was 117th in the nation in giving up yards per play. Today, it is not only 40-plus positions higher, but it ranks ahead of UCLA, Colorado, Stanford, USC, and even Oklahoma.
Although that won’t be enough to overcome Washington State (5-5) this weekend, it is enough to think the Wildcats can cut into a predicted margin of 31-14.
Around the nation . . .
This week, there are sixty-six games on tap for FBS teams, and the best of them will occur in Columbus, Ohio, as the #4 Ohio State Buckeyes (9-1) host #18 Michigan State (9-1).
Although MSU has national rushing leader Kenneth Walker III (1473 yards; 6.49 ypc), the Spartan defense is dead last in America for giving up passing yardage (329 ypg). That works well for Ohio State because the Buckeyes are not only sixth in the nation for passing yardage (353 per game), but they’ve also scored an astounding 32 touchdowns through the air.
Our system (savvygameline.com) favors Ohio State 39-24.
This past Sunday, I was surprised to see our system vault Notre Dame (9-1) all the way to #2 in the rankings. Indeed after an unimpressive start to the season, the Fighting Irish have been building championship trend lines in our Index for the past several weeks. The Irish are 40-14 favorites over struggling Georgia Tech (3-7).
Top-ranked Georgia (10-0) is a 49-0 favorite over FCS Charleston Southern (4-5). Although the game will be a yawner because CSU is physically too small to compete, it will be fun to watch quarterback Jack Chambers who led the Buccaneers in passing and rushing in the 2021 spring FCS season. He’s also likely to throw enough interceptions to roust fans from time to time.
Next week, Georgia will be heavily favored at Georgia Tech, so any chance we will have of seeing the Bulldogs in their customary late-season crash will have to wait until the SEC championship game.
Arkansas (7-3) visits #3 Alabama (9-1) but will fall again to a ranked opponent. The Razorbacks can beat the little guys but can’t seem to muster themselves enough to beat anyone who actually matters. They run the football 65% of the time, which is among the highest rush ratios in college football. Alabama likes teams that run the ball a lot because the Crimson Tide is third in the nation for cutting runs short (2.6 ypc).
Our Index favors Alabama, 39-20.
We agree with 61 betting lines on which teams will win this week, but we go to the experts to make the following five predictions:
#22 Baylor over Kansas State by 2 – (lines say KSU by 1)
#11 Louisiana over Liberty by 1 – (lines say Liberty by 4.5)
#16 Wake Forest over Clemson by 1 – (lines say Clemson by 3.5)
Central Michigan over Ball State by 3 – (lines say Ball State by 2)
Florida State over Boston College by 3 – (lines say Boston College by 3)
Last week, we bucked the oddsmakers eight times and won four. We were 4% better in projecting which teams would win. Over the season, we’re behind oddsmakers in predicting over/under point spreads, but we’re an incredible 60 games better in predicting over/under total game points.
To see all 66 of our college football predictions this week, please visit us at savvygameline.com.