Submitted by Wayne Allyn Root on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at 5:56 PM
Wayne Root: PAC 12 Handicapping Notes
Usually in this spot on the schedule I talk about a marquee matchup coming up in the Pac 12. This week I was going to choose between Arizona State at UCLA, and Arizona at Stanford depending on what happened last week. Well, the Arizona schools looked so horrible in blowout losses that you can't think of either of those as marquee games!
Maybe ASU or Arizona will recover from their huge home losses to the LA schools and bounce back strong. I'm confident now, though, that both of the Arizona schools were greatly overrated to start the season. Arizona's defense is awful, and the offense has barely been tested vs. real competition...while ASU's offensive woes have caused the team to go 0-4 to the Under so far. Actually, there's a lot of that going around in the Pac 12!
*Oregon has fallen way off past standards. The defense got lazy during the Mariota years...and now they can't even tackle. The same kind of thing happened to the University of Texas after Vince Young and Colt McCoy moved on. The program still hasn't recovered! Is that happening now to Oregon?
*Oregon State is 1-3 against the spread...while playing some really embarrassing football. Expectations were lower here than with the Ducks of course. But, OSU is playing worse than those lower standards.
*Washington State is 1-2 against the spread, with the only cover coming against a horrible Rutgers team. The Leach era may soon be coming to an end because you just can't win football games with no defense and a quarterback that takes so many hits. The game has evolved past this "swashbuckling" gimmick.
*Colorado has improved...but, you know what? They're still overrated! The Buffs didn't improve by as much as the market had believed, leading to a 1-2-1 ATS record so far. The team is 1-3 to the Under because the offense has been a disappointment.
*Washington has actually been covering pointspreads even though they don't have an offense! That unit was helpless in a close cover at Boise State. Then, last week's boxscore is amazingly bad when you realize they were facing the poor Cal defense. Texas moved the ball at will vs. Cal...and Texas has no offense! Washington kept kicking the ball around.
*UCLA...as great as UCLA looked last week...that was their first pointspread cover of the 2015 season! They had to face a slumping Pac 12 foe to get the money! I still am enthusiastic about Josh Rosen at quarterback. He'll have troubles when he as to carry the load, as we saw against BYU. Like Colorado, the market overshot the mark when trying to guess how much the program had improved in the offseason. If Rosen continues to learn...the Bruins have a real shot to reach the national playoff even though they were technically "overrated" in their first three games.
It's not all bad news. I think Stanford has settled its ship after that season-opening shocker at Northwestern. NW has a great defense...and that loss may not look so bad on the final resume. Stanford was legitimately great on the road at USC (a huge PINNACLE winner for me!) Then they did a good job of avoiding a letdown the next week at Oregon State.
Utah has always been dangerous at home. Last week, they proved they can be dangerous anywhere! I liked their chances to cover that spread...but even WAYNE ALLYN ROOT wasn't expecting that kind of slaughter. Utah's defense is for real...and they're one of the few Pac 12 teams who can really hurt you physically with their ground game (like Stanford). Can the Utes win the South? Tough call now...because this is still a team that isn't well suited to shootout-style football. Can they beat BOTH the Bruins of UCLA and the Trojans of USC?
I should also mention California. At least their offense. The defense is going to be in trouble vs. good opposing offenses. But, Jared Goff can connect on a big pass play from anywhere else on the field. The Bears could be one of those teams that covers big vs. the worst Pac 12 teams...but then falls apart in big games.
My best advice for handicappers right now is to focus on how badly the market is missing recent pointspreads. Oddsmakers have REALLY misunderstood the strengths and weaknesses of these teams. Remember when polls had both Arizona and ASU ranked in the Top 25? Did they look like ranked teams to you last week? So, both the media and oddsmakers have been way off the mark. Focus on the healthy talent on hand, the strengths and weaknesses of each team, and perhaps most importantly...the strengths and weaknesses of each head coach. Without tipping my hand too much about upcoming major releases...I think knowing coaching tendencies is going to be the most important key to handicapping the Pac 12 through the rest of 2015
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