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

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That sound you heard was our picks crashing back to earth.

TURKEY-BRAZIL-ACCIDENT-TOURISM Photo credit should read -/AFP via Getty Images

Welcome back to our weekly exercise in “this stuff will humble the best of them.” It is also really good at humbling the worst of us, like yours truly. That’s pretty much what happened in this space last week, as a stratospheric opener got sucked back to earth by stupid Isaac Newton and his stupid gravity, whatever that is. Pretty sure it’s a fake media hoax.

We warned against overreaction last week, and then walked right down that path, to an extent. After watching Oregon, we didn’t think there was any way they’d hang with the explosive Buckeyes offense. Whoops. But that’s just one of many “whoops” situations from the second week of the college football season, so we won’t prolong the misery any more, and we’ll get to the self-flagellation. But first...

Why I’m a genius

Didn’t lose ‘em all! That’s something! Maybe?! Not every winner was some sort of Carnac situation, though. First and foremost is the Washington-Michigan total. Did anyone ever think that this game would threaten - let alone reach - 50 points? Whomever set that total should be fired. Wait, no. Promote that person so I can win something! Same goes for the service academy “under” principle play. That total didn’t even get to 30. Maybe I should just stop picking spreads and and go with totals. According to Tally Sight, that would be a good idea!

Why I’m an idiot

Oh let me count the ways. I know Washington has a terrible offense, but I sure didn’t foresee its defense getting steamrolled. How do you know you suck? When the entire world knows that the opponent can’t pass, and you still can’t do a thing about it. Who else sucks? Todd Graham and Hawaii. Oh, and I suck for thinking they had a pulse. My complete abhorrence for Texas A&M has more ammo now, after they needed a Houdini act to escape Colorado with a three-point win.

Oh, then there’s the part where I picked Clay Helton to beat a conference opponent by more than two touchdowns. Talk about stupidity! Also TEXAS IS NOT BACK! Well, Texas is actually back (to being the same overrated and soft program that it has been for more than a decade now). I heard in many places that Ball State was pretty darn good, and kinda thought that Penn State was primed for a letdown after a huge opening win at Camp Randall. Regrets. I’ve had a few thousand.

I could go on, and on, and on about all of my blunders (Oklahoma State, N.C. State etc.), but I don’t think there’s enough space on the internet. On the other hand, just when you think things can’t get any worse, the aforementioned internet is there to pick you up. In my case, it was a Twitter user (and big fan!) who made me laugh uproariously.

As I told Jeff on Twitter, maybe it’s time for a transfusion. Despite that, the levels of hilarity embedded within this tweet are amazing. To wit:

  • Twitter warrior Jeff didn’t think Cak had a chance at TCU. Well, Jeff, not only did Cak have a shot, Cak probably should have won! We love Cak around here!
  • Superior prognosticator Jeff bragged about his football prediction bloodlines, then went zero-for-two!
  • Doctor Jeff also said Oregon’s best player (presumably Kayvon Thibodeaux) was playing. Kayvon did not play.
  • The best part? Jeff could have called me on 67% of my picks that turned out to be wrong, and he’d have had a point. Instead, he managed to single out two of the five measly picks I hit! Jeff, buddy, you seem to be one of the reasons that casinos are always looking to expand.
  • Finally, Jeff’s “homework dude” chaser is truly a dagger. Not only does the grammar leave room for multiple interpretations, but Jeff apparently thinks people like me put more than 10 seconds of thought into this exercise. Then again, Utah fan Jeff had a rough week, so I won’t pile on him anymore. Hopefully, if Jeff decides to read again, he doesn’t scroll down to my Utah-SDSU analysis, lest I be exposed as a homework-avoiding joke yet again.

Last Week: 5-10

Season Total: 18-13

Reader Results:

  • BothwaysUphill: 4-2
  • CrimsonCrusade12: 4-9 (It’ll get better! I promise!)
  • .:R: 4-6 (That Iowa State kicker really helped you!)
  • cougman the II: 7-7
  • J.J. FeKl: 6-6

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Colorado Buffaloes (-3)

The Gophers had a nice breather after their tough opener against Ohio State, while Colorado is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Texas A&M. I didn’t see much of the game, but by all accounts the Buffaloes showed well and could’ve won the game. I think that says more about the Aggies than the Buffs. Even though the Gophers will be missing Mohamed Ibrahim, I’m confident that they can win this game, a fitting sendoff to PJ Fleck as he prepares to attend his first news conference as USC’s new head coach.

The Pick: Ski-U-Mah

Side note: This pick led me to research the meaning of that phrase, and it’s even more nonsensical than you can possibly imagine, which makes it perfect for college football.

USC Trojans (-8.5) at Washington State Cougars

Stupid football narrative #1: When a team is playing after an off week or playoff bye, there are always competing sports talk radio tropes. If the team wins, it was rested! If that team loses, it was rusty!

Stupid football narrative #2: When a team wins the first game after its previous coach is sacked, it was fired up and wanted to prove everyone wrong! When a team loses the first game after its previous coach is canned, the players were clearly upset with the administration’s decision and are not buying into the interim guy! It’s all nonsense, and you should stop paying attention to it.

Where were we? Oh yeah, the Cougar game. USC is lousy but very talented. WSU is lousy and not very talented (by comparison).

The Pick: USC

Arkansas State Red Wolves at Washington Huskies (-16)

Wanna see one of the more bizarre box scores of the season? Last Saturday, Arkansas State quarterback Layne Hatcher was 23-28/276 through nearly three quarters. That wasn’t good enough for the coach, who subbed in backup James Blackman with 2:19 remaining in the third quarter and the Red Wolves trailing 41-23. The next four Ark St. drives went touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown. In just over a quarter, the Florida State transfer went 19-28/308 and four TDs! I bet the coach wishes Blackmon had played the whole time! Sounds familiar!

Arkansas St. ended up scoring 50 points, but it wasn’t enough. If Washington scores 33 points this Saturday, that will give them 50 points combined over its first three games. Washington has scored 17 points total in two games, and it’s supposed to win this game by 17? How bad is the Ark St. defense? Sheesh. This is make or break for Washington, which should give you a pretty good indication as to where that program is at the moment. (hint: right where Cougar fans like it!)

The Pick: Washington. If not now, Jimmy, when? Also, under 57.5

Utah Utes (-9) at San Diego State Aztecs

The Aztecs sure turned things up a notch or three last weekend, as they jumped all over Arizona, leading 35-7 at halftime enroute to a 38-14 boatrace. The Aztec YPA was 12.2 (Arizona was 5.0), and SDSU averaged 4.9 per carry while holding the Wildcats to 2.6. I don’t know if it says more about SDSU being good or Arizona being horrible, but I haven’t seen any compelling reason to think that Utah is going to go on the road and beat a good team by double digits.

The Pick: The Brady Bunch

Stanford Cardinal (-10) at Vanderbilt Commodores

This bad boy opened at Stanford -9 and has creeped up to 12 in some places. Luckily for us, we jumped on it before it got that high. There are several competing narratives here. Is Stanford as bad as we saw in week one? Probably not. Is it as good as we saw in week two? Probably not. Is Vanderbilt anything close to competent, considering that it went on the road and beat Colorado State after getting dominated by and FCS team? Nope.

The Pick: Trees

Arizona State Sun Devils (-4) at BYU Cougars

This is a weird one. The line opened at ASU -2 and has since doubled in some spots. Seems like the early bettors are sensing a BYU letdown after its long-awaited victory over Utah last week. I’m having a tough time trying to figure out how ASU is favored by more than a field goal, on the road, after having showed very little in the first two games. Maybe that’s by design, and they’re waiting to unleash Jayden Daniels, whose mom has hopefully logged off of Orbitz by now. Either way, I’m taking the home dog.

The Pick: BYU

Fresno State Bulldogs at UCLA Bruins (-11.5)

There sure are some intriguing PAC-12 vs. Mountain West matchups this weekend. This one should be pretty good, as both teams are coming in relatively fresh. The Bruins had the week off after beating LSU, while Fresno had an FCS tuneup. In its two games against teams not named Oregon, Fresno has outscored its opponents 108-10. Of course, those two games were against FCS Cal Poly and FCS-level UConn, but that’s still somewhat impressive. I know UCLA is good - possibly Pac-12 South champion good - but this seems like a high spread.

The Pick: The Valley / Over 62.5

Auburn Tigers at Penn State Nittany Lions (-6)

Penn State has a road win over one of the B1G’s better teams, and a home win over a MAC title contender. Auburn has two home wins over a garbage FCS team and bottom-feeding MAC team. Going with the “iron sharpens iron” theory here.

The Pick:

I’m sorry but that’s just too damn funny and I’m riding it until I lose on them.

Tulsa at Ohio State Buckeyes (-24.5)

Faded Tulsa last week and lost because Oklahoma State’s offense - led by Spencer Sanders - positively stinks. Also took Ohio State last weekend and lost. In other words, both of these teams kicked me in the pills. Whatever, I’m doubling down!

The Pick: Ohio State and its dumpster defense

Michigan State Spartans at Miami Hurricanes (-6.5)

I think Michigan State is gonna win the game, and you’re giving me a touchdown? Where do I sign? Heck, Michigan State (+210) on the money line is a decent bet.

The Pick: Sparty

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Oklahoma Sooners (-22)

You might recall this as the game Bill Moos tried to cower from as he was presiding over a once-proud program that is rotting away oh and also he almost certainly knew that Scott Frost was running afoul of NCAA rules. Ladies and gentlemen, one more round of applause for Ol’ Steak n Sizzle!

The Pick: Boomer / Over 61.5

After an amazing opening week of Twitter picks, we went silent last Saturday and it is probably the reason we sucked. So of course we will probably jump in with some additional calls, especially if (read: when) the early games head due south.

Happy gambling!

Staff Picks