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Pac-12 Football - Week Five Predictions

September 27, 2018

Week Five Predictions


UCLA (0-3) at Colorado (3-0)
Friday, September 28, 6:00 p.m., FS1
Folsom Field, Boulder, CO

Straight-Up : Colorado in a Comfortable Win
Against the Spread: Colorado (-9.5)

Despite going 3-0 with a win over Nebraska, the Buffaloes have yet to be tested by a quality opponent. That isn't likely to change with UCLA coming to town. The Bruins have too many problems—averaging just 22.4 yards per possession, while allowing 403 yards per game—to pose much of a threat. The Buffs, averaging 41 points and 494 yards per contest, may only need a few big plays to blow the game open. Unless Chip Kelly can work his magic a couple years earlier than expected, Colorado wins this one easy.

NotesUCLA holds a 10-3 series advantage over the Buffaloes, having won seven of last eight. The last four games in the series have been decided by a total of 21 points, with the Bruins leading 4-2 in games played in Boulder. Junior UCLA wideout Theo Howard has caught at least one pass in each of the last 19 games. Colorado receiver Laviska Shenault leads the FBS in both receptions and yards, averaging 8.7 and 151.7 respectively.

Utah (2-1) at Washington State (3-1)
Saturday, September 22, 3:00 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Network
Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA

Straight-Up: Washington State in a Close Win
Against the Spread: Washington State (-1.5)

In a battle of two of the Pac-12's best defenses, neither is likely to score many points. But with the Utes averaging just 22 points per game, and leading the Conference in turnovers, the Cougars are likely to score more. Gardner Minshew has been impressive, becoming the first WSU quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards in each of his first four games. Easop Winston has raised his stock as a go-to receiver, pulling in six receptions for 143 yards and two touchdowns last week.

Notes: Washington State leads the all-time series with Utah 8-7 after winning the last meeting 33-25 in Salt Lake City. The Cougars, who have won the last three, are making their first trip to Pullman since 2013. Kyle Whittingham’s teams are 10-5 following regular season byes. Utah leads the nation in total defense, pass defense, pass efficiency defense, and scoring defense.

#7 Stanford (4-0) at #8 Notre Dame (4-0)
Saturday, September 29, 4:30 p.m. PT, NBC
Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN

Straight-Up Pick: Stanford in a Close Win
Against the Spread: Stanford (-5.5)

The ball bounced Stanford's way last week, after being dominated by Oregon for a half. Can the Cardinal beat Notre Dame without such breaks? Yes. The Irish struggled offensively until beating Wake Forest behind Ian Book. And while the Tree's defense hasn't been as stout as in previous years, Notre Dame likely won't have an answer for JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Kaden Smith, and Trenton Irwin. 

Notes: Notre Dame leads the all-time series 18-13, but the Cardinal won last year's meeting 38-20 at Stanford. Notre Dame is the third ranked opponent the Cardinal will face in five games. Dating back to 2017, seven of Stanford’s last 10 opponents have also been ranked. The 17-point deficit against Oregon last week was the largest a David Shaw-coached Stanford team has overcome.


#20 BYU (3-1) at #11 Washington (3-1)
Saturday, September 29, 5:30 p.m. PT, FOX
Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA

Straight-Up: Washington in a Comfortable Win
Against the Spread: BYU (+17) 

The Huskies have already beaten three quality teams in three settings—at a neutral site, on the road, and at home—and should be well-prepared for BYU. Despite the improvement Jake Browning showed against ASU, the Cougars' stout defensive front could cause problems for him and Myles Gaskin, who has surpassed 100 yards in a game just once this season. The Dawgs haven't yet eclipsed 30 points against an FBS foe this season, so are they're not likely to cover the spread.

NotesThe Huskies lead the all-time series 5-4, dating back to 1985, when the Cougars won the National Championship ahead of No. 2 Washington. The Dawgs won the last meeting between the teams 31-16 in the 2013 Fight Hunger Bowl. UW linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven's 20 tackles last week was the most by a Husky since John Fiala's 22 stops in 1996. Browning became the 17th quarterback in Pac-12 history to pass for more than 10,000 yards, and the second Washington QB after Cody Pickett.


Oregon State (1-3) at Arizona State (2-2)
Saturday, September 29, 7:00 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Network
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ

Straight-Up: Arizona State in a Blowout Win
Against the Spread: Arizona State (-22)

Despite an encouraging start, the Beavers appear to have renewed their status as a team Pac-12 foes welcome on their schedules. OSU had a tonic effect on Arizona, giving them new life, and should do the same for the Sun Devils. Look for Manny Wilkins, N'Keal Harry, and Eno Benjamin to put up big numbers. Still, Arizona State shouldn't relax too much on defense: OSU's offense remains capable of putting up plenty of points of its own when things click, especially if running back Jermar Jefferson returns to his early-season form.

Notes: Arizona State leads the all-time series 28-13-1, and have dominated OSU in Tempe 19-4. Oregon State last won in Sun Devil Stadium in 2009, having played there only twice since, in 2011 and 2013. OSU quarterback Connor Blount completed a career-high 17 passes on 24 attempts last week. ASU has scored at least a touchdown in 125 consecutive games, tying Louisiana Tech for the longest active FBS streak.


#19 Oregon (3-1) at #24 California (3-0)
Saturday, September 29, 7:30 p.m. PT, FS1
Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, CA

Straight-Up: Oregon in a Close Win
Against the Spread: Oregon (-2)

The Bears and Ducks must be living right, having moved up in the AP poll after a bye week and a loss, respectively. But one of them has to fall hard this week. Cal is hoping to combine what it learned from its extra prep time with Oregon's possible Cardinal hangover. Whatever the prevailing mindset, this one most likely gets decided in the trenches: the Bears have gained 53% of their offensive yards on the ground, while Oregon has allowed less then 76 yards per game rushing. Something has to give. 

Notes: Cal leads the all-time series 40-38-2, but the Ducks have won 8 of the last 9 meetings. UO hasn't won in Berkeley since 2012. The Bears have not given up any points in the first quarter this season, and have allowed only two field goals total in the first half. Oregon, which  ranks third nationally in rushing yards allowed per play at 2.1, has held three consecutive opponents to less than 100 yards rushing for the first time since 2003. 


USC (2-2) at Arizona (2-2)
Saturday, September 29, 7:30 p.m. PT, ESPN
Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ

Straight-Up: USC in a Close Win
Against the Spread: USC (-3.5)

Many circled this matchup in August as the game that would decide the South title. And despite both teams stumbling to 2-2 starts, it still could. But neither can afford another loss, having already overcome must-win games last week. Both the Cats and Trojans are struggling defensively, giving up close to 400 yards per game. But both had big games offensively last week, with Arizona running for 594 yards against OSU, and USC throwing for 354 against WSU. Expect more fireworks on Saturday.

Notes: USC leads the all-time series 33-8, including a 13-4 mark in Tucson. The Trojans won last year's matchup between the two  teams 49-35 in L.A. USC linebacker Cameron Smith leads the Pac-12 with 30 solo tackles. The Wildcats have amassed 1,218 yards of total offense the last two games, including J.J. Taylor's career-best 284 yards rushing last week. The 14 points Arizona allow OSU were the fewest since beating Oregon State 44-7 in 2015.