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Stanford at Oregon St +15.5
Stanford is coming off of their impressive upset win against USC, where they attracted significant sharp betting action, and the public backed USC. This game, though, could be tougher than expected for Stanford. They are still thin on the defensive line, which could be an issue in a game that figures to be physical and run-heavy. And more concerning is the injury status of QB Kevin Hogan, who sprained his ankle in the USC game. He'll be a game-time decision, but whether he plays hobbled or sits, it's not a good situation for Stanford, at least not from an ATS perspective as such a big road favorite. Oregon St is obviously a far inferior team overall, but they do have an emerging strength at QB with dynamic freshman QB Seth Collins. This spread hasn't moved since it opened, but I suspect it will be significantly lower by kickoff, either on news of Hogan sitting, or from sharp action. At +15.5, I'm personally liking Oregon St as a play with value this week.
Nicholls St at Colorado -45.5, 70
Nicholls St brings almost nothing to the table, they're an FCS team loaded with freshmen, and they already got blasted 47-0 by Louisiana-Monroe earlier this season. Last year they lost to Arkansas by 67 points, and to North Texas by 74. Still, point spreads of more than 40 are always tricky in college football, and Colorado has a home game against Oregon next week, so they are not guaranteed to want to press the issue in this one enough to cover the huge spread. Although as inept as Nicholls St is, if I had to make a bet on this one at 45.5, I'd probably take Colorado.
Cal at Washington +4, 61
Washington's new head coach Chris Petersen has the team exceeding market expectations out of the gate, as the Huskies have covered each of their first three games by comfortable margins. Cal though, has also done well so far ATS, covering 2 of their 3 spreads and covering for most of the game against Texas last week until the Longhorns' big 4th quarter comeback. Washington has a major plus on offense with QB Jake Browning, but he is still a true freshman getting acclimated to college play, and Washington's offense doesn't have the offensive line or talent at the skill positions to bail Browning out if he falters. So it's not clear how much the Huskies will be able to take advantage of Cal's still-shaky defense, and it's also no guarantee that Washington's defense, which has been good so far this year against solid but unspectacular offenses, will be able to contain an elite attack like Cal's at all, especially with key defensive back Budda Baker sidelined. Still, a Chris Petersen-coached team as a home dog is often an attractive betting proposition, and an outright win from the Huskies would not be a shock, but it's not clear if any sharp money will like Washington's chances enough to bite.
UCLA at Arizona +3, 66
One of the marquee matchups of the week, and ESPN's GameDay will be coming to town for this. A lot is being made of how Rich Rodriguez' Arizona teams have struggled against Jim Mora's UCLA teams over the past three seasons, going 0-3 SU and ATS, but that won't necessarily be the case this year. UCLA's freshman QB Josh Rosen will play in his first high-profile road test, in a hyped-up matchup in the Arizona heat. UCLA does have talent edges on defense and in the trenches, and Arizona has some major injuries on defense as well, so a UCLA blowout wouldn't be a surprise. Most media previews of the game see Arizona coming away with an outright win. Late sharp action will probably be very telling on this one.
Utah at Oregon -11, 66.5
Oregon is rarely a home favorite of less than two touchdowns, as they currently are for the upcoming Utah game. Going back to 2010, they've only been in that position twice, both times against Stanford, and they covered both of those spreads easily. The health of both starting QBs for this game are questions marks. Both Oregon's Vernon Adams and Utah's Travis Wilson are questionable, and may not play the whole game if they do start. So that's a big x-factor here. Utah is a tough out this year, as they usually are, and maybe even a bit tougher than normal. And Oregon is less explosive this year than they have been in recent years. But Oregon still majorly outclasses Utah in terms of offensive playmakers, and as tough and gritty as Utah is, it will be tough for them to keep up offensively, on the road with a relatively one-dimensional run-first offense, which will be even more one-dimensional if Wilson can't go. Still, Utah was 5-1 ATS on the road last year, and they covered their first road spread this year as well. Oregon has lost their first 2 home games ATS this year, and they only beat Eastern Washington by 19, showing some clear chinks in their armor in that game, especially on defense. I'd be surprised if sharp action touches this game, but the public will most likely favor Oregon heavily, as usual.
USC at Arizona St +5.5, 63.5
USC of course coming off the huge straight up loss to Stanford as a double-digit favorite, is in a critical spot here, as far as their national championship aspirations are concerned. Arizona St is 0-3 ATS so far this year, and has looked out of sync in general, and not quite as dynamic as they have been in recent years. USC's offense was not the problem in the Stanford game, and with their huge offensive line and explosive playmakers, they figure to have another big day offensively. USC's defense got exposed by Stanford though, and Arizona St should be able to have at least reasonable success offensively as well, although if the game turns into a shootout, Arizona St may not have the personnel to be able to keep up with USC TD for TD. The home field edge is big, and the game figures more likely than not to be close. We'll see if significant sharp action comes in on the home dog, but I wouldn't be surprised if it passes on the game, as least with the spread. The public will almost certainly be betting the Over big.