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Pac-12 Football odds and picks: The Gamble-Tron, Week One

Melbourne Racing Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images

Welcome back. It seems like just yesterday we were gagging away a decent start to pretend gambling season. Eight short months later, here we are again, ready to tie ourselves to the whipping post and take another beating.

We ended the 2016 regular season down a decent bit, and the start of bowl season didn’t do us any favors. Then we began to chase, and it got even worse (it always gets worse). However, we actually chased so far that there were a couple victories - particularly by Air Force because naturally - down the stretch that got us back into the black. But that’s last season, so we’ll start fresh.

Like college football in general, we had a soft opening last weekend.

So we’re 1-1, both by sizable margins. For one week, and probably one week only, we’re not winners, and we’re not losers. As Elaine Benes would say, we’re break-eveners.

Now for this week, where there are only six wagerable (if I can make up a word) Pac-12 games. Six. Lame. You’d almost think it’s mid-November in the SEC.

New Mexico St (+23/-110) at ASU (-23/-110): Todd Graham begins this year coaching for his job at sleeping giant almost perennially disappointing ASU. It looks like Manny Wilkins won the quarterback derby, but who knows what will actually happen in Tempe. I expect at least two, and probably three QBs to either start or get significant playing time this season. As for this game, New Mexico State is pretty terrible, and ASU always seems to put cupcakes away with ease. Just throw nine routes to N’Keal Harry every time and you’ll score at least 35, Sparky.

The Pick: $220 on ASU

Colorado (-6/-110) vs. Colorado St (+6/-110): I don’t care who I pick, this picture will never not be in this space when this matchup is taking place. Not sorry.

This game opened at Colorado -8, and has now shrunk to as low as 5.5 in some spots. It’s no mystery as to why the line moved toward CSU after they poleaxed Oregon State in the second half last weekend. Always beware when it comes to overreacting to the first week’s results.

I think CSU has an advantage not because they won, but because they got a lot of the kinks worked out. I picked the Rams last season, and Colorado won by like 89. Like Ronald Reagan once said to Jimmy Carter, “There you go again.” Or if you’re into 80s music, like David Coverdale sang as Tawny Kitaen writhed across the hoods of those Jaguars, here I go again.

The Pick: $110 on the Fightin’ Bobos

Washington (-27.5/-110) at Rutgers (+27.5/-110): Former “WSU is my safety school until UW offers” commit Austin Joyner is in “temporarily not an OKG” territory, along with Azeem Victor. Unfortunately for UW, that means two talented players will be out as the Huskies open up a dangerous non-conf...hahahaha I couldn’t even finish the sentence. In the absence of John Ross, Jake Browning will have to find a new receiver to chronically underthrow this season. Luckily for him, UW is facing possibly the worst Power Five team this week.

The Pick: $110 on Washington

Cal (+11/-110) at North Carolina (-11/-110): If you’re putting actual money down this weekend, pretend this game has tuberculosis and stay as far away as possible. I don’t think Cal will be too good this season, but man, that’s a lot of points. Bothell native Ross Bowers gets the nod at QB for a rebuilding Cal team, while UNC is apparently starting nobody at every position. A little research reveals that the Tar Heels lose a staggering 98.6 percent of their offensive production from 2016.

This game is a referendum on how well Larry Fedora has recruited at UNC, and whether Brandon Harris (if he even plays) is a decent quarterback who was stifled by Les Miles’ arcane system at LSU. This smells like a game where the early start negatively affects the west coast team and they just can’t recover, like the time a very good Cal team opened the season at noon in Knoxville and got manhandled. I smell a backdoor cover, but a comfortable UNC win.

The Pick: $110 on Cal

Western Michigan (+27/-110) at USC (-27/-110): Yes, the Broncos were the best college football team called the Broncos last season, going 13-1. But P.J. Fleck ain’t rowing his boat back through that door. More importantly in the short term, Zach Terrell, Corey Davis, Michael Henry and Carrington Thompson ain’t rowing through that door. Who is back? Joe Flacco’s younger brother. Take that for what you will. Oddly, Terrell got a shot with the elder Flacco’s Ravens but has already been waived. I don’t know what any of that means but USC should roll Saturday.

The Pick: $110 on USC

Texas A&M (+4/-110) at UCLA (-4/-110): Easily the game of the week in the Pac-12, and it’s on Sunday, which is cool. Josh Rosen will be playing on Sundays next season, barring some sort of catastrophic injury or drop in production. This is a rematch of last season’s thriller in which UCLA erased a 24-9 fourth quarter deficit, only to lose in OT. If there’s one thing you can count on from the Aggies, it’s an opening-day win to get everyone thinking they’re good. If there’s another thing you can count on, it’s that they’ll get worse from then on.

This matchup is perfect in that it features two teams whose talent almost perennially outpaces their results. The one thing in UCLA’s favor is that they don’t field the largest collection of d-bags under the sun, aka the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets. I’ve met one (ONE!!!) cool A&M grad in my 18 years in the Air Force (shoutout to Kevin Botsford). That small segment of the student body colors my perception of the entire school, which is probably closed-minded but whatever. Anyway, I also can’t stand Jim Mora, who would have been an ideal fit in the A&M Cadet Corps for several reasons, so I have no idea what to do here. Give me the lesser of two evils.

The Pick: $110 on UCLA

Other quick-hitters:

Navy (-9.5/-110) at (Florida Atlantic +9.5/-110): This game opened somewhere between Navy -14 and Navy -21. Why on earth is it down under 10 points? Is Lane Kiffin that valuable? Lane Kiffin isn’t in the same time zone as Ken Niumatalolo when it comes to coaching ability, and all the Power Five castoffs in the world ain’t helping that on Friday.

The Pick: $110 on the Middies

Troy (+11/-110) at Boise State (-11/-110): My man Coug-A-Sutra owes me big time if this doesn’t come home.

The Pick: $110 on the other Trojans

NC State (-5/-110) vs. South Carolina (+5/-110): It took like two weeks for NC State to go from the team nobody was talking about to the team everybody is talking about. They might turn out to be good, but I’ll go with the “they’re so underrated that they’re now overrated” trend every time. Is that even a trend? Who cares?

The Pick: The Cock crows for $110

Happy Football