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Pac-12 Football Odds and Picks: The Gamble-Tron, Week One

Welcome back!

Portrait of Gabe Kaplan

Welcome back
Our parlays were your ticket out
Welcome back
To that same old place where we’re full of doubt

Well, the odds have all changed
Since we last made our bets
But those bad beats have remained
We’ve had to pawn a few pets

Who else looks for action
(Who else looks for action)
On Tuesday evening MACtion?
(On Tuesday evening MACtion?)

Yeah, we tease lines a lot
‘Cause there’s low money in the pot
Welcome back

Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back

Welcome back
We always could find a book
Welcome back
We still smile when we see three and a hook

And we know that we lose
So much more than we win
And we still don’t know why
You clicked on here again!

Who else looks for action
(Who else looks for action)
On Tuesday evening MACtion?
(On Tuesday evening MACtion?

Yeah, we tease lines a lot
‘Cause there’s low money in the pot
Welcome back

Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back


We may have given y’all a tease with our season total column last week, but college football is officially here (Nebraska is still terrible! And there’s more football tonight!) so we’re ready to squander whatever markers we have left. Lots of juicy lines out there, and we’re hoping to take advantage sooner rather than later, so let’s not waste any more time. THERE’S MORE MONEY TO LOSE!

We will spoil a couple of the Pac-12 picks up front, because we saw some juicy lines and couldn’t hold out in case they move.

Utah State Aggies at Washington State Cougars (-16)

So many unknowns here, even more than a typical season opener. For WSU: Who will start at quarterback? Will he be any good? How good, really, are the corners? Is the receiver talent and depth anywhere near good enough for this offense? Why the hell isn’t WSU selling beer to the masses?

For Utah State: Was 2020 an anomaly after two good seasons, or is the program headed south again? How long will the new coach take to instill his culture? Will all of those transfers contribute right away? How did Gary Andersen go from highly successful to complete disaster as a head coach?

I’ve been telling myself all week that this is too many points. It probably is. It’s also week one, meaning there’s lots of time to bet against my favorite team. Damn the torpedos. (turns out that is both a famous quote and a Tom Petty album)

The Pick: Cougs

Stanford Cardinal vs. Kansas State Wildcats (-2)

David Shaw took time out from complaining about Stanford’s early start at Northwestern in 2015 to begin complaining about Stanford’s early start in Dallas this Saturday. Hey David, those games help pay your salary, so shut up and color. As far as Kansas State, they beat Oklahoma in 2020 before falling off a cliff. Probably not a coincidence that their poor play began when the starting quarterback went down. Speaking of starting QBs, does Stanford have one?

The Pick: KSU

Fresno State Bulldogs at Oregon Ducks (-21)


Fresno isn’t anywhere near as talented as Oregon, although Jake Haener is the best Husky quarterback the Ducks have faced in several years (side note: Jake Browning has a lot more time on his hands to watch old UW highlights now). The Bulldogs looked great against UConn’s corpse last week, and I think it’s a huge advantage that they have a game under their belts. Principle play here.

The Pick: Fres-YES

San Jose State Spartans at USC Trojans (-14)

Like Fresno, SJSU looked incredibly impressive last Saturday. Also like Fresno, the Spartans played a really, really bad team. I think San Jose is a tad overvalued after that opening win, so I’m taking the other side. That’s right, I’m laying two touchdowns on Clay Helton. God help us all.


The Pick: USC

Oregon State Beavers at Purdue Boilermakers (-7)

Oy. Both of these teams probably stink. Colorado transfer Sam Noyer is starting for the Jermar Jefferson-less Beavers, while Purdue has like two good players. When in doubt, I’m taking the touchdown. I’m also taking the under 69, dude.

The Pick: Beavs

LSU Tigers (-3) at UCLA Bruins

This is one of the most compelling games of the weekend, with storylines all over the place. UCLA looked like world beaters last Saturday, but they were playing a grease fire of a team. Zach Charbonnet looked nothing like the player we watched at Michigan, which is a great thing for UCLA. UCLA also has the huge advantage of having played last week, albeit in front of like 16.34 live spectators. This is clearly Charlie Kelly’s best team in Westwood.

Then there’s LSU and DA COACH O. Not only did the Tigers lose their starting quarterback to injury at the start of camp, they’ve been practicing in Texas because they were displaced from Red Stick due to Hurricane Ida’s devastation. This could go one of two ways. Either LSU is inspired to kick ass and bring some happiness to thousands of displaced people, or its players are too distracted by goings-on at home, and their heads aren’t in the right place. Either way, I want to watch.

The Pick: HOLD THAT TIGAH / Under 65.5

BYU Cougars (-12.5) at Arizona Wildcats

Like we mentioned in the season preview, Jedd Fisch seems to be gaining a decent foothold on the recruiting front. Problem is, that won’t help the Wildcats one iota in 2021. There’s also the part where Fisch has precisely zero evidence from his past that indicates he’ll be a good coach. BYU won’t be anywhere near the 2020 squad that ran roughshod over the flotsam and jetsam known as its schedule, but the lesser-than Cougars should be good enough to cover this spread. I just don’t think they will, as neither team is anything special.

The Pick: ‘Zona

Nevada-Reno Wolfpack at California Golden Bears (-3.5)

Resident Pac-12 hack scribe Jon Wilner’s wet dream school was all set to have a great 2020, only to see it derailed by COVID and poor conference decision-making. Now the Bears have lost a decent amount of talent to the NFL and to injury, and open with a team returning a lot of solid players, including a quarterback on the NFL’s radar in Carson Strong. Like Lee Corso is fond of saying, closer than the experts think! So close that the Wolf Pack may sneak out of Strawberry Canyon with a win.

The Pick: Reno / Under 52.5

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Mississippi State Bulldogs (-23)

Mississippi State had a stretch of eight consecutive games in 2020 during which it didn’t score more than 24 points. After the opener when the Bulldogs were gifted a matchup against Bo Pelini, scoring 44 points, they scored 30 points total over the next four games. Am I supposed to think they will suddenly win any game by 24? I’ll believe it when I see it.

The Pick: Techsters

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Miami Hurricanes (Total = 62)

For the first time in a couple seasons, Nick Saban’s defense will carry the offense for a bit while it breaks in what will likely be a slew of 2023 NFL Draft first rounders. Meanwhile, Manny Diaz has gone to the old “I’m going to be more involved in the defense” trope that never works.

The Pick: Under

Penn State Nittany Lions at Wisconsin Badgers (-6)

How ‘bout the B1G roaring out of the gate with some juicy conference matchups! Bravo! I like the season prospects for both of these teams, and I think both are fairly even. Given that, I will happily gobble up those points.

The Pick:

Happy gambling, and Go Cougs!

Staff Picks