The Oregon Ducks are not nearly as good this year as they were during the Marcus Mariota era, especially defensively, so the big points seem worth taking with Washington State.
With both teams expected to contribute to a rather high scoring game, the underdogs seem worth taking Saturday evening getting 17 points in Pac-12 play when those Washington State Cougars (2-2, 2-2 ATS) pay a visit to the uncharacteristically unranked Oregon Ducks (3-2, 2-3 ATS) at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, OR at 6:00 ET in a game available on Pac-12 Network.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Washington State as a large road underdog for this contest with the current line at +17 with odds of -106.
Oregon went to the College Football Playoff Championship Game last year where it lost to Ohio State in Marcus Mariota’s last game as a collegian, and the Ducks were still ranked in the top 10 in the country just four weeks ago. However, they lost 31-28 at Michigan State in Week 2 and were later embarrassed 62-20 here at home in Eugene by Utah two weeks ago, and at 3-2 the Ducks are now in the unfamiliar position of being unranked.
Washington State was a shocking losing college football pick to Portland State of the FCS 24-17 to begin the season, and that was at home no less. However, a driving rainstorm contributed to that defeat and the Cougars have bounced back well for Coach Mike Leach, following up that stunner with back-to-back wins and then playing undefeated California tough last week in a 34-28 loss on the road in Berkley.
Defense Crippling Oregon
It has been almost as if Mariota never left for Oregon offensively with the Ducks averaging 42.2 points and 527.8 total yards per game with 300.4 of those yards coming on the ground, ranking the Ducks eighth in the country in rushing offense. However, the defense is the reason that Oregon has lost two games and is unranked, which became rather obvious in the blowout loss to Utah.
The Ducks are 113th in the country in scoring defense allowing 37.4 points per game, 103rd in total defense surrendering 441.4 yards per contest and an obscene 115th out of 128 FBS schools in passing defense allowing 287.5 yards per game through the air.
Now, Oregon often had skewed defensive stats in recent years just for the simple reason that the defense was on the field for so long due to the offense scoring so quickly. Granted the offense has been great again this year, but this time the defense has been legitimately bad as evidenced by allowing 5.8 yards per play overall, which ranks 91st in the country.
2-0 ATS on the Road
The very big underdogs from Washington State seem perfectly equipped to take advantage of the biggest weakness for Oregon with its typically pass-happy one-dimensional offense under Leach. The Cougars treat running as an afterthought ranking second to last among the 128 FBS teams in rushing with a mere 68.5 rushing yards per game, but the are seventh in passing yards at 369.2 per contest, and that should continue vs. what has been a dreadful Ducks’ secondary.
Luke Falk is the latest passing protégée in Pullman as he has completed 72.6 percent of his passes while throwing for 1459 yards with 10 touchdown passes vs. two interceptions. Also, the defense may be the best that it has been since Leach took over as head coach, which may not be saying much considering that the Cougars are allowing 393.5 total yards per game. Still, that is a marked improvement over the last couple of years.
And Washington State has continued it pattern of recent seasons of being a good bet on the road, as prior to the near miss at California, the Cougars traveled across the country and pulled an outright 37-34 upset at Rutgers back in Week 2 on the heels of the stunning loss to Portland State.
Perfect ATS Last Five Years vs. Better Ducks
Finally, Washington State is a perfect 5-0 ATS vs. the Ducks over the past five years, and all of those point spread covers came vs. much stronger Oregon teams than this one. The Cougars are also 10-4 ATS in their last 14 road games overall, while Oregon is 0-4 ATS in its last four home games.
Look for the Washington State passing attack to exploit the Oregon secondary here like just about every other Ducks’ opponent has done, so take the big points with the Cougars and look for their ATS road success to continue in Eugene on Saturday.
College Football Pick: Washington State +17 (-106)