FOX sports betting analyst
Week 10 of college football is upon us and as we prepare for this weekend’s action, I have some early thoughts on some matchups.
These bets include Pac-12 teams, so I know them pretty well.
The Oregon Ducks have bounced back nicely since their Week 1 loss to Georgia, and 6-2 Oregon State continues to do so as well.
But what about Utah? Can the Utes hang on after a handful of injuries? And can Arizona State make a statement in a Pac-12 After Dark matchup?
Read on to find out how you should bet your money on these Week 10 Pac-12 matchups (with odds via FOX Bet).
No. 8 Oregon at Colorado (3:30 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN)
This line is absurdly high. Since 2003, we’ve only seen a Power Five team favored by 30 points or more on the road against another Power Five team 34 times. The favorites have covered only 15 of those 34 times. I wouldn’t bet on Oregon to cover the spread for this game. When the Ducks have been ahead by three or more touchdowns this season, they take the starters out of the game and allow the backups to get valuable playing time. When given the chance, Oregon’s second-team offense can’t score, and Oregon’s second-team defense has given up a ton of points. Several teams have scored 10 or more points on Oregon in explosive fourth quarters this season.
So feel free to bet Colorado if you want, but I have a better option for you.
The Ducks offense this season has been excellent. They rank third in overall efficiency and sixth in points per unit. Oregon continues to be the best running team in the country, and the offensive line hasn’t allowed a sack this year. The Ducks score most of their offensive points in the second quarter, making them an excellent first half scoring team. Colorado’s defense ranks 119th overall and 130th in points per unit. When they’ve played similar defenses, like Arizona’s or Stanford’s, they’ve scored 28 and 31 points in those early parts. Even last weekend, Oregon scored 21 against Cal’s 41st ranked defense and easily could have scored more. Two units stalled on the inside of Cal 14, another stalled at the fourth exit, and another game ended with a dropped pass that resulted in a score.
I think it might be reasonable to expect Oregon not to show up in this one since the point spread is so large, and rival Washington comes to town next weekend. However, the Ducks had a bad first quarter against Cal, and I think that will encourage them to get off to a fast start against Colorado.
Oregon could get up to 40 at the half.
TO PICK UP: Oregon First Half Team Total Over 24 points
number 23 State of Oregon at Washington (10:30 p.m. ET Friday, ESPN2)
The Oregon State team is defined by its defense, something no one expected to say about the Beavers.
Oregon State has a veteran secondary that has routinely shut down opposing teams’ passing attacks. USC scored just 17 points against the Beavers, and even though Utah scored 42 points and had 361 yards against them, only 199 of those came through the air. The Beavers’ defense ranks 31st in overall pass completion percentage and they force teams to throw underneath. As a result, they have an adjusted air yardage of 5.7, which is good for 18th in college football.
This secondary will be important because they are playing a high-powered passing attack in Washington, ranked seventh in passing success rate. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. he has completed 68 percent of his passes for nearly 3,000 yards this season, with a 22-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
However, Washington has only played two defenses that ranked in the top 50 (UCLA 46, Cal 41), and his offensive production was hampered in those games. Washington scored 32 points against UCLA, but 14 of them came in garbage time as the Huskies went down by 24 points. I fear that Washington’s passing concepts will be too simple against this Beavers defense. The Huskies try too many throws outside of the numbers, and better defenses like UCLA and Cal were prepared for that.
Bye, Oregon State will be ready too.
However, there is some caution. Washington’s struggles this season have come on the road, where they’ve lost two of three. This game is in Seattle at night and a forecast of rain and wind is expected. The weather benefits the Beavers, but the crowd benefits the Huskies. Oregon State has struggled on the road this season, losing to Utah and needing late game plays to beat Fresno and Stanford.
However, I will bring the beavers to cover.
TO PICK UP: Oregon State (+4 at FOX Bet) to lose by less than 4 points (or win outright)
Arizona at number 14 Utah (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday, PAC12 Network)
As I write this, the statuses of Utah’s key offensive pieces are in question. Quarterback Cam Rising did not play Thursday night against Washington State. He injured his knee in the Utes’ thrilling win over USC, warmed up to play against the Cougars, then retired. His status is unknown against the Wildcats. The Utes’ top offensive weapon, tight end Dalton Kincaid, left the win over the Cougars with a dislocated shoulder. His condition is unknown as of Saturday. Utah was down its top two running backs: one to injury and the other to the bench. We also don’t know his status for this weekend.
If Cam Rising plays, with or without Dalton Kincaid, the Over is the play of that game. Arizona ranks 29th in points per game on offense and 129th on defense. Arizona has a potent passing attack, and Utah has struggled with UCLA and USC’s passing attacks. In losing efforts, Arizona scored 31 against Cal, 39 against Washington and 37 against USC. Utah’s pass defense matches up favorably with Cal and USC. Arizona should have success throwing the ball.
The Wildcats have given up 49 points three times to Pac-12 opponents and allowed just 45 to USC on Saturday. Utah ranks 11th in the nation in points per game on offense. With Cam Rising, and especially if Dalton Kincaid plays, Utah should score at will against Arizona. I would play here.
If Cam Rising doesn’t play in this game, which could be a game-time decision, you’ll have to take the Under. It seems simple enough for the reasons I outlined above. Utah’s offense will try to shorten the game by running the ball and stay away from the Wildcats’ offense.
You may have to wait until or near the start of this bet.
number 12 UCLA at State of Arizona (9:30 p.m. ET Saturday, FS1)
A night game in the desert is a great recipe for Pac-12 After Dark Madness. I want the home team to get points in this type of game.
We know UCLA can score. The Bruins rank seventh in points per unit, and are led by running back Zach Charbonnet. He has 964 yards on 128 carries, which is good for 7.5 yards per carry clip. They face an Arizona State rush defense that is poor and should let the Bruins do whatever they want on the field. If they get some stops, UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson can help this team score points. I’m not worried about UCLA’s ability to score in this game.
The reason I think the Sun Devils keep this game close is their offense. The Devils offense is much better now that they have changed quarterbacks. Trenton Bourguet has played about a game and a half. He made his first start against Colorado last weekend after playing half the game in a win against Washington after starter Emory Jones was injured. Bourguet is completing 73.4 percent of his passes for 10.1 adjusted passing yards per attempt. By comparison, Jones completed just 62.5% for 5.9 yards per attempt.
Arizona State has a rushing attack with Xazavian Valladay leading the way. UCLA’s defense ranks 105th in rush rate, and that’s the recipe for Arizona State to keep the game close.
I will bring the sun devils.
TO PICK UP: Arizona State (+11 at FOX Bet) to lose by less than 11 points (or win outright)
Geoff Schwartz played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his freshman year. He is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.
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