Pac-12 Week 9 Overview: Thriving Washington State will Outpace Stuck-in-the-Mud Stanford

Jay Pryce

Tuesday, October 23, 2018 11:14 AM UTC

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018 11:14 AM UTC

Few predicted No.14 Washington State to emerge the Pac-12's best college football team, yet that is the case as it heads to No. 24 Stanford Saturday night. Our best bet is to pick the Cougars agains the spread. Analysis and a peek into the remaining Week 9 conference schedule here.

 


Pac-12 Spotlight: No. 14 Washington State at No. 24 Stanford (-3.5)Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, on Pac-12 NetworkFree NCAAF Pick: Washington State ATSBest Line Offered: Heritage

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No. 14 Washington State (6-1 SU, 6-1 ATS) is both the highest-rated and only one-loss team left in the Pac-12 headed into it’s Week 9 clash at No. 24 Stanford (5-2 SU, 4-3 ATS). Somehow, the conference has five teams ranked in the AP poll, yet the Cougars remain the only team with a real shot at making the College Football Playoff. Their 34-20 win over Oregon last Saturday made Wazzou bowl eligible for the fourth season in a row.

The Cougars are once again thriving under head coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid attack. The up-tempo, spread offense tops the nation with 51.7 passing attempts per game. The offense throws balance out the window, passing on 70.4 percent of plays.

A stingy defense is really the catalyst for Washington State’s rise up the national rankings. It rates ninth in both yards allowed per game to FBS opponents (303.8) and successful third-down conversions (28.6 percent) nationally.

The secondary is particularly strong, and often shines against efficient passing offenses. Since the start of last season, the Cougars are 10-4 ATS when squaring off against a team averaging better than 6.5 yards per attempt. They yield an average 174.0 passing yards and 26.4 points. Stanford (5-2 SU, 4-3 ATS) enters with an 8.5 efficiency rate.

The Cardinal are coming off a hard-fought 20-13 win over Arizona State. It was the third game in a row the offense failed to score more than 21 points, the once-vaunted rushing attack spinning its wheels. Stanford averages 91.7 yards on 29.7 carries, its 2.9 yards per attempt ranks 126th in the country. Not the best numbers for a team constructed to win in the trenches.

Stanford’s inability to run the ball, and move the chains, is having its effect on the defense. The squad yields an unprecedented 7.4 opponent passing yards per attempt. When factoring in FBS foes only, the number jumps to 8.5 yards per pass. Toss out Leach’s first year at Wazzou, and the Cougars post 41.1 points per game against teams surrendering more than 7.0 yards per attempt. They are 16-5 SU and 15-6 ATS in 21 games under these conditions.

Washington State might not reach 40 points, but it should definitely outpace a Stanford offense stuck in the mud. Take the 3.5 points with the Cougars.

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THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A COUG
HERE’S TO THE WEEKEND WE WILL NEVER FORGET

WE DESERVED THIS, BE PROUD AND GO COUGS 🐾🐾 pic.twitter.com/VXAbiOVaBh

— ZZU CRU (@ZZUCRU) October 22, 2018
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Around the Pac-12 (All Games Saturday Unless Noted)

Oregon State at Colorado (-23.5), 3 p.m. ET, on Pac-12 Network

Colorado (5-2 SU, 5-2 ATS) has covered just one spread in its last seven laying 20 points or more, including a 1-4 mark under current head coach Mike MacIntyre. Oregon State (1-6 SU, 2-5 ATS), meanwhile, is 2-8-1 ATS in the last calendar year catching points, failing to cover a 16.2 average line by 8.3 points per game.

Arizona State at USC (OFF), 3:30 p.m. ET, on ABC

The line is off the board as oddsmakers await the status of USC (4-3 SU, 2-5 ATS) QB J.T. Daniels. Daniels, in concussion protocol, and backup Matt Fink (ribs) were both injured in the 41-28 loss at Utah. Third-stringer Jack Sears will likely lead the first team.

No. 15 Washington (-10.5) at Cal, 4:30 p.m. ET, on FS1

Washington (6-2 SU, 2-6 ATS) allows 17.5 points per game to unranked Pac-12 rivals all-time behind head coach Chris Petersen, never surrendering more than 30 in a contest. Since 2000, Cal (4-3 SU, 2-4-1 ATS) is 14-35-1 ATS (28.6 percent) at home scoring fewer than 30 points in a clash.

No. 23 Utah (-10) at UCLA, 10:30 p.m. ET, on ESPN

Utah (5-2 SU, 4-3 ATS) has spotted Pac-12 rivals more than 5.5 points on the road just four times since joining the conference. It hast yet to cover a spread, coming up 8.8 points shy of a -11 average line. UCLA (2-5 SU, 3-4 ATS), meanwhile, is 6-10 SU and 13-3 ATS in its last 16 games when gifted more than a touchdown at the Rose Bowl

No. 19 Oregon (OFF) at Arizona, 10:30 p.m. ET, on ESPN

Arizona (3-5 SU, 4-4 ATS) starting QB Khalil Tate hopes to return to action following an ankle injury in the Wildcats 42-10 loss at Utah in Week 7. The offensive leader missed the 31-30 loss to UCLA last Saturday; accuracy issues plagued backup signal-caller Rhett Rodriguez. Until Tate’s availability is clearer, expect the matchup to remain off the college football oddsboard.

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