FOX sports betting analyst
Here we are, folks. We’ve finally reached the final week of the college football regular season.
After 13 weeks of ball, I’m still excited to see which teams come out and give it their all.
So, one last time for this regular season, let’s dive into my best bets (all odds via FOX Bet).
number 18 Our Lady at number 7 USC (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday, ABC)
I am 36 years old. I have watched football since I was five years old and have been playing competitively at a high level since I showed up at Oregon a month after my 18th birthday. I retired from football in 2016 and have continued to consume the sport as a fan and watch film of college and NFL games ever since.
I’ve never seen a team like USC.
The Trojans are two wins away from a playoff appearance with an offense that ranks second in points per drive and a defense that ranks 104th in limited points per offensive drive. USC’s defensive line is 7th in pass rush and has forced 24 turnovers this season, good for a team turnover rate of 21-plus! It’s almost impossible to have a defensive line that good with a defense that can force so many turnovers and yet to be 104th in defensive points per unit. SC has won two games by three points each on the road against ranked teams while forcing four turnovers in each game. There is no way to explain this success.
Every fiber in my body still wants to wipe out USC, but this has been a bad deal. The Trojans continue to win and cover, just like Saturday night. So the best play is Saturday’s Over when they host the Irish.
Notre Dame’s offense is hit or miss, but against SC, every offense is a hit. Utah scored 43, Arizona 41, Cal’s 95th-ranked offense scored 35 and UCLA, despite four turnovers Saturday, still scored 45 points. USC hasn’t played a defense like Notre Dame’s in a long time, but I’m not sure it matters if Notre Dame is good on defense or not.
USC will score. The Trojans always end up scoring. But is Notre Dame quick enough on defense to keep up? Thus, points will be achieved on Saturday. Take the points.
TO PICK UP: Over 62 points scored by both teams combined at FOX Bet
number 12 Washington at Washington State (10:30 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN)
The Apple Cup at the Palouse with a home kick at 7:30 p.m.: Gotta love the home Cougars in this one.
The forecast for Saturday night in Pullman is cold with wet weather, either freezing rain or snow. That’s not ideal for Washington’s high-powered passing attack against the best defense they’ve seen all season. The Cougars rank 12th in defensive efficiency and 21st in points per drive. They are equipped to slow down Washington’s passing attack, which we’ve seen is possible when playing better defenses like Oregon State and Cal.
Yes, I worry about Washington State’s offense in cold, wet conditions. The Cougars can run the ball, though they mostly choose to ignore that part of their offense. They have a shaky offensive line that can lead to pressure and mistakes from quarterback Cam Ward.
However, Washington’s defense shouldn’t offer much resistance. I like the home Cougars to have a little upset in this game.
TO PICK UP: Washington State (+2 on FOX Bet) to losee by less than 2 points (or win outright)
number 12 Oregon at number 23 State of Oregon (3:30 p.m. ET Saturday, ABC)
The game formerly known as Civil War will be a low-scoring affair, and that’s a rare occurrence in this matchup.
Oregon State’s defense is legit and the Beavers deserve more national respect. They rank 30th in points per drive and 21st in passing success percentage. They struggle to stop the run, but that hasn’t hurt them much this season. They just don’t allow points.
Oregon’s offense is excellent, but quarterback Bo Nix is hurting. He came through in the Ducks’ win on Saturday, scoring just enough to beat Utah. Without Nix at full speed, the Ducks’ offense is less explosive and Oregon State’s defense will be able to slow them down.
On the other hand, Oregon State’s offense relies on the run; focuses on gaining yards through the ground. They use the play action pass, screens and other “easier” options to move the ball through the air. Oregon’s defense is built to stop this offense, as we just saw against Utah. I’d even say the Beavers offense is light on Utah, but with a worse quarterback.
I’m sure Oregon can slow down the Beavers. With both teams trying to run the ball, this clock will run. I’ll take the Under.
TO PICK UP: Under 57 points scored by both teams combined at FOX Bet
State of Arizona at Arizona (3 p.m. ET Friday, FS1)
The Territorial Cup has been one-sided lately, with the Sun Devils winning five straight against their rival Wildcats. That streak ends this season as the Wildcats are in a much better spot than the Sun Devils.
Arizona State fired Herm Edwards after a Week 3 loss to Eastern Michigan and has managed just two wins since then. The Sun Devils beat Washington 45-38 at home and Colorado 42-34, and since then, have lost three straight without covering a game. They’ve passed between quarterbacks, have a good running game, but are very poor defensively. In fact, they rank 69th in points per game on offense and 128th on defense.
Their rival Wildcats have four wins, but have been much more competitive this season because of their offense. The Wildcats’ offense ranks 37th in points per drive and first in the nation in explosive pace of play. Arizona does most of its damage through the air, and Arizona State has shown no ability to stop any opponent from doing anything.
The Wildcats need to score because their defense is awful, but I don’t think the Sun Devils can capitalize on that enough to stay within the number.
give me the cats
TO PICK UP: Arizona (-4 at FOX Bet) to win by more than 4 points
number 16 UCLA at must (4:30 p.m. ET Friday, FOX)
Here’s a list of things you can do instead of betting on this game: go shopping, mow the lawn, make a leftover turkey sandwich, throw a ball, work out, take a nap. You get the idea.
But if you just need to feel the thrill of betting on a Pac-12 game, go with the Under.
UCLA’s season is “over.” The Bruins played hard against rival USC last weekend before ultimately losing 48-45. They are no longer in contention for the Pac-12 title game. Everything they’ve worked for this season after starting 7-0 with wins over Washington and Utah is for naught as they won’t be in Las Vegas trying to win the conference for the first time since 1998.
It’s easy to argue that Cal covers this game, but guys, Cal isn’t exactly reliable and betting a single penny on the Bears would be a waste of money.
Cal snapped a six-game losing streak against Stanford in the Big Game last weekend, winning 27-20. The Bears needed a defensive score to cover this game after their quarterback threw two interceptions in the end zone. They rank 97th in rushing offense and 82nd in scoring defense. There is nothing they do well. They don’t go to a bowl. I don’t know his motivation for this game.
So you have a game where UCLA could be flat playing a Cal team that could be flat. Or UCLA shows up and dominates. Or Cal plays better than their record and UCLA is bad, and Cal covers that game.
Given all the uncertainty, the Under is your best play.
TO PICK UP: Less than 60.5 points scored by both teams combined
number 10 Utah at Colorado (4 p.m. ET Saturday, Pac-12 Network)
Utah heads to Boulder after a poor showing in Eugene against Oregon. Utah quarterback Cam Rising played his worst game in the past two seasons. And since there’s still a chance the Utes can play in the Pac-12 title game, I think Cam and his offense have an excellent bounce-back performance this weekend against Colorado.
But more than anything, Colorado might be the worst team in the sport with a lame-duck coaching staff and a roster full of players who will soon be looking for new homes through the transfer window. In the last five weeks, the Buffaloes have lost and failed to cover all four ranked teams they have played. They lost to Oregon State by 33, Oregon by 39, USC by 38 and Washington by 47.
Utah is going to smoke Colorado.
TO PICK UP: Utah (-29.5 at FOX Bet) to win by more than 29.5 points
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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