This handicapper has covered a lot of ground on this week's NCAAF betting board, picked a lot of games, hopefully successfully. And he's still got a pair of plays for Saturday night.
USC vs. UCLA -4
In a game that might decide a berth in the Pac-12 championship bout the 8-2 Bruins and 7-3 Trojans meet under the lights at the Rose Bowl.
At 6-2 in Pac-12 play the Trojans lead the South Division by a half-game over UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State. But the Bruins control their own destiny; win their last two games, and they win the South. The Trojans, on the other hand, need a win and help in the form of an Arizona State loss.
UCLA has underachieved this season, winning several games by less than enough to cover the spread. But the Bruins have covered their last two spreads, most recently beating Washington 44-30 as six-point favorites.
USC, meanwhile, is 5-2 SU and 4-3 since that loss at Boston College back in September, twice losing games in the last 10 seconds.
UCLA has beaten USC twice in a row since Coach Mora took over; two years ago the Bruins topped the Trojans 38-28, and last year UCLA defeated USC 35-14. The Bruins outgained the Trojans last year 396-314. Since that game, not a whole lost has changed, as far as these teams' level of play is concerned.
Up close, this game looks like a very even match-up, and the line basically says the same thing. But when we pull back and reflect upon our preseason perceptions toward these two teams, we expected UCLA to beat out USC in the Pac-12 South. And that won't happen if the Bruins don't win this game. And if they win this game there's a very good chance they'll cover this spread. So we'll go with our earlier instincts in this spot.
Free College Football Pick: UCLA -4 at 5Dimes
Oregon State vs. Washington -6
The 5-5 Beavers, coming off an upset victory over Arizona State at home last week, hit the Pac-12 road to play the 6-5 Huskies in Seattle.
Oregon State had lost four games in a row both SU and ATS, but beat the Sun Devils last week in Corvallis 35-27. For the first time in four games the Beavers outgained their opponent, but a lot of their yardage came on just a few plays. Storm Woods had a 78-yard TD run, Terron Ward ran one in from 66 yards, and they scored on a 67-yard pass. That was almost half their yards right there.
We've always had a respect for Coach Riley – his OSU teams have been good bets, all in all, over the years, but those home losses to Cal and Wazzu prior to last week's game weight on our mind.
Washington, meanwhile, is only 2-5 SU in Pac-12 play in its first season under Coach Petersen, but 4-3 ATS. Which indicates to us the Huskies might be making progress with the new regime's systems, and might be a tad underrated on the betting line. Last week Washington lost at Arizona on a field goal at the buzzer, but outgained and outrushed the Wildcats, and covered as a seven-point dog in College Football odds.
In expecting a letdown from the Beavers we like the Huskies for the win and the cover.
Free College Football Pick: Washington -6 at Bookmaker