Pac-12: Week 9 Preview and Point Spreads

By Lucas M.

Last week’s slate of action in the Pac-12 featured a classic hodge podge of blowouts and close defensive-minded slugfests. Despite sitting their starting QB due to injury once again, the Oregon State Beavers stayed unbeaten against Utah, winning 21-7. Stanford, two point favorites on the road, beat Cal 21-3 in a muscular, hard-hitting game. Arizona, USC and Oregon all destroyed their opponents; the most impressive of the three victories being Arizona’s 52-17 beat down of a talented Washington team.

There are a lot of questions and issues heading into Week 8 in the Pac-12. With the return of QB Sean Mannion, can Oregon State further assert its dominance of the division against Washington? Can Arizona and USC stop each other from scoring? Is Arizona State’s defense for real, or did they just have a bad game against that buzzsaw Oregon offense last Thursday night? Let’s take a look at some of the best games in the Pac-12 this weekend.

Pac-12 Game of the Week

Oregon State (-4.5) at Washington

This Oregon State Beavers team continues to surprise. Most pundits projected them to finish in the basement of the Pac-12 this season, but here they sit at 6-0, the No. 7-ranked team in the country, and they’re not looking back. They even have an  embarrassment of riches at the QB spot; backup Cody Vaz played so well in Mannion’s absence that there were even rumors of a mini controversy. However, Beavers coach Mike Riley nipped that in the bud, despite Mannion having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee less than three weeks ago.

“It was difficult. Cody has played well and Sean has played well,” Riley said of his decision. “I just kind of took it back a little bit further to the initial competition. Sean had played four games and played well so we decided to go with him. But it was not easy. The one thing we feel good about is our quarterback situation, because now Cody’s got some experience. He’s won a couple of games. We would never even blink about playing him.”

Even though the Beavers are riding high, they’re going to have to be careful against this Huskies team. Washington is a different squad at home; they upset Stanford 17-13 there in late September, and took USC down to the wire too. For that reason, coupled with the fact that Oregon State has a stingy defense themselves, makes me lean toward picking the Huskies here. I think the Beavers win in a close one, but the Huskies cover.

UCLA (+6.5) at Arizona State

Even though Oregon put a whooping on them last Thursday, the Arizona State defense is still ranked no. 1 in the country. However, UCLA is another well balanced offense, averaging over 200 yards both rushing and passing per game this year. As stingy as the Sun Devil’s D is, I love UCLA and the points here. I think they get their rushing attack going and keep the game close at the very least. Their offense functions similarly to Oregon, if not as effectively, and I think it’s enough to keep Arizona State’s defense off kilter. Take the Bruins and the points.

USC (-6.5) at Arizona

USC’s defense has been much improved this season, allowing two touchdowns and intercepting five passes in the last two games. However, this Arizona offense, particularly at home, is a different kind of animal entirely. USC is on a very real upset alert here. If the Trojans’ D can lock down Arizona’s Matt Scott, they could easily win in a blowout. However, if he flexes his muscles and gets going, this could easily devolve into a shootout in the desert. I like Arizona with the points here.