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Pac-12 football odds and picks 2014: The Gamble-Tron, Week 9

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On the heels of yet another 4-3 week, we are hoping for something better but, as always, expecting much worse.

Vince Caligiuri

Hello everyone, and welcome to the stretch run of gambling college football season. We are nearing the end of October, which means the intensity will be dialed up, the consequences of losing a game will be more severe and the Gamble-Tron will quite possibly go into full-on meltdown mode. Now, it is quite possible that we could also get hot and go on a winning streak, but that's about as likely as LenDale White being allowed back on the USC sidelines this season.

This week is the first time all season that there are six conference matchups. By now, you'd think we have a pretty good idea of where teams stand, to the point that we could reasonably predict the lines before they're published. You would be wrong. There are a few very odd lines out there, which means it's either prime time for making some money, or the odds-makers know something we don't. I already know the answer to that, but I'll let you draw your own conclusion.

Why I'm a genius: It certainly doesn't have anything to do with my ability to predict Pac-12 games. Anybody who has been watching college football for a while knows that you never predict a team's season based on their previous bowl performance. For some reason, it always winds up happening anyway. This year's darling was Oklahoma, based on their Sugar Bowl win over Alabama. Their holes were exposed in a loss to TCU and a narrow win over Texas. In came Kansas State getting more than a touchdown. Talk about free money. It didn't help OU that their kicker missed a 19-yard field goal in the waning minutes. Thank God we don't have to deal with anything like that around here.

Speaking of Alabama, you just knew that after Nick Saban embarked on one of his famous press conference tirades that his Tide would come out swinging, and that's exactly what happened. It was also pretty obvious that Texas A&M's big win at South Carolina was a giant mirage. The result was a 59-0 beatdown, which only covered the spread by 47.5 points.

Why I'm an idiot: Coming into the weekend, Oregon had beaten Washington 10 straight times, as most of you know. What you may not have known was that they had also covered the point spread EVERY time. That is nothing short of incredible. But heck, we were looking really good when it was 3-0! Unfortunately for the Gamble-Tron, the game was not called there, and Oregon covered yet again. Never screw with a streak.

In other news, I thought Stanford would finally look like a competent offense against somebody not named WSU. Derp! Kevin Hogan and his javelin throws were no match for a suffocating pretty darn bad defense in Arizona State. Do you know how many teams have scored less than the 10 points Stanford put up against that vaunted Sun Devil defense? None. That's right, even Weber State put the ball in the endzone twice in Tempe. Needless to say, the bloom is off the rose in Palo Alto.

The end result was 4-3 (lather, rinse, repeat) with a profit of $30. That brings the season total to 29-31 / $990. In other words, we're almost to the point where doing nothing would have given us the exact same result. But where's the fun in that?

Built-in excuse: Once the beer festival hangover wore off, we visited the doctor this week and ended up going under the knife. The amount of pain was such that the doctor prescribed Oxycodone. Let me tell you, now I know why people like that stuff. So I may or may not be making these picks under the influence. I'll let you know the truth depending on this week's results. If they're bad, it was definitely the drugs.

Week 8 Results

  • Ryan Eames: 4-3 / $80 (plus one million if he wants to pretend the Notre Dame game was on the docket)
  • CarolinaCoug: 2-5 / -$90
  • 89Coug in FL: 5-2 / $75
  • Dr. Coug-A-Lot: 3-4 / $92
  • stewak: 3-4 / -$200

Oregon (-18) at Cal: Cal bounced back somewhat last week after it was dominated at home by Washington. The result was the same though, as they couldn't quite close the deal against UCLA. In comes Oregon and Heisman candidate Jake Fisher. Why is Jake Fisher a Heisman candidate? The Oregon offense has been night-and-day different when he's in there. Fisher is playing, so expect Oregon's offense to hum. Cal played an emotional game yet again Saturday, while Oregon put it on cruise control against Washington.

The Pick: $40 on Oregon

UCLA (-13.5) at Colorado: I keep picking UCLA as a favorite, and they keep letting me down. We've all seen the definition of insanity. Well, this is the week I finally break the cycle. Colorado laid an egg at USC last week, and UCLA escaped Berkeley. Now UCLA has to back on the road and face a dynamic quarterback in Boulder. UCLA will win, but that's too many points.

The Pick: $30 on Colorado

Oregon State at Stanford (-13): The most hotly-anticipated game of the week here, featuring two high-powered offenses. Sean Mannion comes to town with a great supporting cast of the Rodgers brothers and Brandin Cooks. Meanwhile, Andrew Luck, Stepfan Taylor and Chris Owusu will likely provide some explosive plays for the Cardinal. Wait, you mean only one of those guys is still playing? Oh. I don't see any way these teams combine for 43.5 points. I expect a low-scoring game, which means I will happily take two free touchdowns.

The Pick: $30 on Oregon State

Arizona (-2.5) at WSU: This is easily the most confounding line of the week. I expected Arizona to be laying at least a touchdown, then it opened at a measly four points. Not only that, the public bet the line down to 2.5! Huh? Have any of these people seen WSU's defense? I realize that Halliday and the offense will pile up a good amount of yards and points, but Arizona went into Eugene and beat Oregon, and it wasn't a fluke. The Wildcats are pretty dinged up, especially at running back, but come on. In games like these, Lee Corso is fond of saying "somebody knows something." I am not that somebody and I don't know anything.

The Pick: $50 on Arizona

USC (-1) at Utah: Man, is this ever a tough one to call. Utah has a stout defense, especially along the front seven. They also boast one of the best backs in the conference in Davonte Booker, who is averaging over six yards per carry. The problem is the quarterback, where it's been musical chairs between Kendal Thompson and Travis Wilson. Neither has been anything above average. That's where I think this game will be decided. Also, when in doubt, take the Pac-12 road team.

The Pick: $40 on USC

Arizona State (-3.5) at Washington: Despite Mike Bercovici's high level of play recently, it looks like Taylor Kelly is getting the start. The way ASU's offense is humming along, it really doesn't matter who is in there. The same goes for Washington. No matter which quarterback is playing (looks like it could be Troy Williams this week), Washington's offense is the same, and that's not a good thing. The Huskies' defense was also quite disappointing last weekend. Washington is also hurting at running back, and could possibly put Shaq Thompson in for a few snaps. Regardless, I think this will be a tight game, and I won't be surprised if Washington wins.

The Pick: $20 on Washington

Ohio State (-13.5) at Penn State: Here are Ohio State's point totals since their loss to Virginia Tech (and yes, I realize they're not exactly playing the 2013 Seahawks): 66, 50, 52, 56. Here are Penn State's totals against conference competition: 13, 6, 13. A couple more tidbits...Urban Meyer sees James Franklin as a threat in recruiting, so he will keep his foot the gas the entire game. Penn State's offensive line would give 2012 WSU's line a run in terms of ineptitude. This game may be close for a half due to the whiteout/night game factors, but it won't end well for the home team.

The Pick: $200 on Ohio State

Ole Miss (-3.5) at LSU: This is the best Ole Miss team in over 50 years. It has one of the nation's best defenses, and is coming off a bye. [EDIT: Ole Miss actually played Tennessee last week, so it was the closest thing to a bye in the SEC.] Also, Ole Miss hates LSU almost as much as it hates Mississippi State. On the other side, this is one of LSU's worst teams in the Miles era, and there are young players everywhere, most notably at the skill positions. The whole "playing at LSU at night" myth was shattered a while back when Mississippi State went in there and hammered the Tigers.

While we're talking about LSU, there are a couple things about their fans that I can't figure out. First, when I went to Baton Rouge to watch them play the Auburn Tigers in 2007, their fans insisted on yelling "Tiger bait!" every time they saw an Auburn fan. The LSU fans we were with were at a loss when I asked them how a tiger could be bait for another tiger. Also on that front, do these fans not know what bait is? It's something used to lure an unsuspecting animal into a trap, which will likely lead to that animal's death. Why on earth would you want your tiger lured into a trap and killed? Oh wait, we're dealing with LSU fans here. Intelligence, common sense, and houses with running water are all optional.

The Pick: $50 and a hearty Hotty Toddy! for Ole Miss