Pick Washington State +24 vs. Oregon College Football

Darin Zank

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 4:31 PM UTC

Wednesday, Sep. 17, 2014 4:31 PM UTC

It's the same old story with the Oregon Ducks; they're favored by a big number in a game they should win, Saturday night at Washington State (10:30 pm ET, ESPN). But do we give the points with our free NCAAF pick, and hope the Ducks play all four quarters? Or do we take the points and hope the Cougars can keep this one close?

The Betting Odds
As of midweek most of the college football odds were chalking Oregon at -24 over Wazzu, with a total of 75. Those out there who think the Cougars have a chance to pull the upset can get a price of +1375 on the money line at Sport Bet.

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Game Set-Up
Oregon is off to a 3-0 start to this season, but is just 1-2 ATS. The Ducks opened with a 62-13 scrimmage against FCS South Dakota, but came up just shy covering at -52. They then came from behind to beat Michigan State 46-27, covering at -14. And last week Oregon defeated Wyoming 48-14, but didn't cover at -42.

The Ducks actually got shut out in the first quarter by the Cowboys, then scored the next 41 points.

Two weeks ago Oregon trailed the defending Rose Bowl champion Spartans 27-18 midway through the third quarter, then scored the last four touchdowns of the game.

Oregon returned 12 starters this year from a team that went 11-2 last year. Seven starters came back on offense, led by Heisman candidate QB Marcus Mariota, thousand-yard rusher Byron Marshall and three along the offensive line. But only five starters came back on defense.

Washington State, meanwhile, is 1-2 both SU and ATS. The Cougars opened with a 41-38 loss at home to Rutgers, falling outright as seven-point favorites. Wazzu then lost outright at Nevada 24-13 as three-point faves. They finally got on the board last week with a 59-21 victory over FCS Portland State, covering at -23. 

Washington State returned 14 starters this year from a team that went 6-7 last year. Eight starters were back on offense, led by senior QB Connor Halliday and the entire receiving corps, but they had three holes to fill along the offensive line. And six starters were back on defense, including five of the front seven.

Halliday completed 63 percent of his throws last year, compiling a 34/22 TD/INT ratio; this year he's hit on 68 percent of his throws, for a 12/5 ratio.


Ducks-Cougars Recent History
The Oregon Ducks have beaten WSU seven times in a row by an average of 32 points per game. Last year in Eugene the Ducks only led 34-24 at the half, then scored the next 28 points. Washington State then came up with a couple of meaningless touchdowns near the end to secure the cover as 38-point dogs.

Halliday threw the ball 89 times playing catch-up in that loss to the Ducks last season, for 557 yards and four touchdowns, but also four interceptions.

That game went OVER its total of 71 on an Oregon touchdown early in the third quarter!


Ducks-Cougars Betting Trends
Washington State, somewhat surprisingly, has covered the spread in the last four games in this series. Of course, it helps that the Cougars have been underdogs by an average of 35 points in those last four meetings.

Oregon is 2-2 SU and 0-4 ATS in its last four Pac-12 games. When chosing your free picks note that perhaps all those big point-spreads are finally catching up to the Ducks.

Five of the last six meetings in this series have played 'over' on the totals. And most of that occurred before Coach Leach got to Pullman.


Free College Football Pick
It sounds like a cliché, but it's true; when you're a team like Oregon, everybody takes their best shot at you. For Coach Leach and Washington State this is a chance at making some big news. The Cougars may not win this game, but they'll go down slingin'. It's never too late to throw a ball toward the end zone for Coach Leach. For your college football picks  we'll go with Wazzu plus the points on this contest.


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