Clearly, it’s another slow week. The Pac-12 is back in the spotlight.
The league’s South Division is in tatters, further tarnishing the conference’s reputation, but at least the Pac-12’s marquee matchup of the decade — Oregon-Stanford — carries significant meaning for both schools for the first time since Marcus Mariota was a sophomore.
For the first time since the Heisman Trophy winner went pro, the Ducks (3-0) have a quarterback capable of dismantling the dominant Cardinal (3-0) defense, which is allowing a nation-best 7.7 points per game.
Last season, Stanford crushed Oregon, 49-7, but last year Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert was out with a broken collarbone. Without Herbert last season, Oregon went 1-4 and averaged 15 points per game. With him, the Ducks went 6-2 and averaged over 49 points per game.
Though Oregon, which is averaging 55 points per game, has yet to face a Power 5 opponent this season, Stanford’s lone win of note came against USC, which is headed for a down season. Now, the Cardinal play their first road game in one of the country’s loudest stadiums, with a group that suffered each of last season’s five losses away from home.
An improved Oregon run defense will slow Bryce Love. A healthy Herbert will break out in the biggest moment of his collegiate career. Take OREGON (+2) in the upset.
Tulsa (+7) over TEMPLE: The Owls lost to Buffalo and Villanova, then crushed Maryland, which beat Texas, which barely scraped by Tulsa, then stomped USC. College football makes no more sense than life.
CENTRAL FLORIDA (-14) over Florida Atlantic: Until defensive legend/assistant Monte Kiffin can help turn back the clock, his son’s offensive magic won’t make a difference against even more explosive opponents.
Penn State (-28) over ILLINOIS: Due to the absurdity of divisions within conferences — creating schedule imbalance between the always-loaded Big Ten East, and always-inferior West — the Illini have avoided the Nittany Lions the past two seasons. Expect a repeat of their most recent meeting, which Penn State won, 39-0.
Notre Dame (-8) over WAKE FOREST: Brandon Wimbush’s brutal start to the season (one TD, four interceptions) has sunk opinion of the Fighting Irish far below their talent-level. Buy low.
Nebraska (+18) over MICHIGAN: At least the Cornhuskers won’t have to shell out seven figures for this loss, as they did for the honor of losing to Troy last week. I’m assuming quarterback Adrian Martinez plays. Wait for confirmation before joining.
MISSOURI (+14) over Georgia: Drew Lock is living up to his potential as the best quarterback prospect in next year’s draft, throwing for 354 yards per game, with 11 TDs and one interception. Someone should tell Dave Gettleman to watch.
Tulane (+37) over OHIO STATE: Urban Meyer’s return doesn’t mean much. The sandwich game — a week after a huge win over TCU and week before a monster showdown at Penn State — does.
Clemson (-16½) over GEORGIA TECH: The Tigers limited the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense to a total of 17 points in the past two meetings. Another game against the country’s best defensive line doesn’t bode well for a run-first, run-always attack.
ALABAMA (-26¹/₂) over Texas A&M: After all these years, Nick Saban has not just the best team, but also the best offense in the nation, averaging nearly 57 points per game. And the Tide are covering spreads by nearly 20 points per game.
Kansas State (+16) over WEST VIRGINIA: The past three meetings have been decided by a total of eight points. Will Grier was there last year. The biggest difference is the extra points you need to lay to have a Heisman contender on your side.
Connecticut (+27½) over SYRACUSE: It’s going six overtimes. And put Hasheem Thabeet down for at least 20 points.
TEXAS (+3) over Tcu: The Horned Frogs, who have won the past four matchups by an average of 30 points, seemed like a pretty safe bet — until more than 70 percent of bettors felt the same.
KENTUCKY (+10) over Mississippi State: The 3-0 Wildcats already have one outright win as double-digit underdogs, ending a 31-year skid with a win at Florida behind their impressive ground game, which is averaging 301 yards (seventh in the nation), and can keep the ball away from Nick Fitzgerald’s hands for long stretches.
OKLAHOMA (-31¹/₂) over Army: First, take action on Kyler Murray winning the Heisman. Somehow, the dynamic dual threat is getting 10/1 odds, and has fewer obstacles to reach the playoff than Tua Tagovailoa (+150).
Louisiana Tech (+21) over LSU: The bar for Tigers quarterbacks has been set embarrassingly low. Joe Burrow has received acclaim for leading the team to a 3-0 start, though his 46.2 completion percentage is 117th in the nation. Don’t worry about LSU piling up points too quickly.
Arkansas (+29¹/₂) over AUBURN: Even with so many points, it’s hard to be confident in a team that just lost back-to-back games to Group of 5 teams. At least I feel safe the Hogs won’t give up another punt return for a score.
WASHINGTON (-17¹/₂) over Arizona State: The line looks puzzling at first glance. It looks stranger when you remember that the Sun Devils won 13-7 last year, and have taken 11 of the past 12 meetings. So, it won’t surprise you that the public is overwhelmingly betting on Arizona State — or that I’m sprinting in the other direction.
Best bets: Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Louisiana Tech
This season (Best Bets): 23-28 (4-5)
2014-17 record: 518-471-10
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