SportsBookReview.com and Peter Loshak are here this week to break down the betting lines of the seventh week of Pac-12 football.
UCLA at Stanford -6.5, 54
Stanford has been dominant since their Week 1 loss, with 4 straight subsequent wins and ATS covers. UCLA is coming off a bad home loss as a big favorite, so it's no surprise at all that Stanford's spread has gotten bet up here since opening. But as we have seen this year, expecting the unexpected is often the name of the game in the Pac-12, and it's been a very treacherous thing in recent years to bet on Pac-12 favorites with apparent momentum over their underdog opponents.
Stanford does have some clear important advantages for a prime time game like this: a strong physical running game, and an experienced senior at QB as opposed to UCLA's freshman. The public will be betting Stanford in this one, but there may well be sharp action coming in the other way on UCLA.
Oregon St at Washington St -8, 63
Washington St comes into this one off of the emotional high of their overtime upset win at Oregon as a big underdog, while Oregon St comes into Week 7 off of what may prove to be the low point of their season, an embarrassing blowout loss coming out of a bye week.
Washington St is an impressively improved team on defense and in their running game, two areas that are usually particular weaknesses for them, but they still have flaws as a team, and are probably not likely to be as good going forward as they have looked in their last two games. Conversely, Oregon St is a very young team this year, which leaves them vulnerable to embarrassing beat-downs on the field such as the one we saw last week, but also leaves them primed for improvements as the year grinds on, which we may see this week.
My guess is that Washington St will be in somewhat of a hangover mode for this game, and that Oregon St will get it together and at least play competitively, and more likely than not cover the current spread.
USC at Notre Dame -6.5, 60.5
It's a little hard to get a good read on how USC is likely to respond this week to the turmoil of the dismissal of Coach Steve Sarkisian and the off-field drama associated with it. They may rally around the adversity immediately, or they may be felled for a week and be looking ahead to their big home game coming up next week against Utah.
But the negatives for USC in this game are not limited to the Sarkisian affair. USC also suffered a big loss last week when star Center Max Tuerk was lost for the year to injury, and their offensive line was having problems even with Tuerk, who was their best lineman and a veteran leader. Notre Dame is also motivated for revenge from last year, when they got blown out badly at USC, 49-14, and this year's version of Notre Dame has the talent to get that revenge, being significantly better than last year's version, particularly on defense. Notre Dame has also been a good bet overall this year, covering 5 out of their 6 spreads so far.
Still, USC does have the talented roster that inspired the high expectations they had at the beginning of the season, and the psychological impact from the coaching change is a wild card factor that could prove to be a positive in retrospect.
The favorite in this rivalry series has tended to be a good bet though, covering 10 out of the last 14 games, and Notre Dame has done well ATS in October in recent years, with an eye-opening ATS record of 34-16-2 over their last 52 October spreads. Most signs point towards this being a tough spot for USC from both a straight-up and ATS perspective.
Arizona at Colorado +8, 66.5
Colorado has been a bad bet so far this year at 1-4-1 ATS, while Arizona has dealt with significant injury issues this year but is coming off of a big blowout win that was encouraging for their prospects going forward.
The issue for Colorado is their defense, and they will enter this game particularly thin and vulnerable at linebacker, at least on paper. Arizona has a potent offensive attack when QB Anu Solomon is healthy, which he appears to be now after sitting out the Stanford game 2 weeks ago. Colorado has given up more than 40 points 2 games in a row, and a third one here would not be a surprise.
Still, Colorado can often be a dangerous home underdog, and they had a players-only meeting after their blowout loss last week, and are sure to be looking for a much more respectable effort this week. Arizona in general has a poor ATS record on grass recently, and even if Colorado's D can't get any stops again this week, their offense is good enough that it may be able to keep them close anyway. I'm looking for a Colorado cover at the current line.
Arizona St at Utah -6.5, 56.5
Turnovers have been a key factor for both Arizona St and Utah so far this year. Utah has one of the most opportunistic defenses in the country, and they have one of the best turnover differentials in the nation partially as a result. Arizona St was plagued by turnover problems through their first 4 games, all of which they lost ATS, but then improved greatly in that regard in their last 2, both of which they won comfortably and covered. But going up against Utah's tough and aggressive defense on the road this week looks ominous, and we may see a return to the poorer play that we saw from Arizona St when they lost badly to Texas A&M and USC earlier this year.
Utah, though, is no longer an under-the-radar team, and they have gotten appropriate respect from the market odds recently. Last week was a good example, when they pulled out a gutsy win over Cal, but were giving slightly too many points and lost ATS, and with that ATS loss they're now just 1-5 ATS in their last 6 Pac-12 home games.
Still, considering how cohesive and talented Utah is this year, how tough they can be at home, and how vulnerable to inconsistency against top teams Arizona St appears to be this year, Utah might be a good bet in this game giving anything less than 7 points.
Oregon at Washington -2.5, 58.5
Books that hung early preseason lines back in August for this game had Oregon as a favorite of almost 17 points. That Washington opened this week as a small favorite and has since gotten bet up to -2.5 or -3 tells you everything you need to know about how Oregon's season has gone.
Of course, Oregon is coming off a shocking home loss to Washington St, where they closed as a 15.5-point favorite, dropping them to 2-4 ATS on the year, while Washington is coming off of an impressive road win at USC where they closed as a 17-point underdog, bringing them to 4-1 ATS on the year.
Still, the pro-Washington and anti-Oregon bandwagons may be causing an overreaction with this line. Oregon's starting QB Vernon Adams could return from injury this week, as well as key big-play receiver Darren Carrington, who was suspended for the first 6 games of the season. Additionally, Washington's leading tackler Azeem Victor will be suspended for the first half of this game. And as much as Oregon was clearly wildly overrated and overvalued at the beginning of the season, they have still managed to cover the spread in both of their road games so far this year.
The under could also be a decent play. Washington's offense is still relatively weak overall despite showing some promising signs this year, and 4 out of Washington's 5 games have gone under the closing total, including unders against Boise St, Cal and USC, all teams with normally high-powered offenses.