“Buy the Numbers” is a column by Michael Loy about professional betting.
Week 8 recap:
Washington let me down. The Huskies had an 86.5% chance to win against Oregon with a 10-point lead late in the third quarter. However, Mycah Pittman, the brother of USC’s Michael Pittman Jr., scored his first career touchdown to usher in the Ducks’ comeback.
The Huskies might have disappointed me, but I still finished 3-2 on the week thanks to USC’s blowout win over Arizona, Utah’s blowout win over Arizona State and Michigan’s close loss to Penn State.
Week 8 is over. There are some wheels falling off in the college football world, but this column’s wheels are still on tight. Let’s dive into the numbers of the five most interesting games for Week 9.
Game 1: Colorado vs. USC, Friday, Oct. 25 @ 6:00 p.m.
Favorite: USC (-13)
I don’t want to predict this game. Friday’s matchup is a classic trap game for USC. The Trojans like to play down to their competition, especially when the competition is very bad.
However, Colorado’s really, really bad. Since the Buffaloes’ fluke win over Arizona State, they’ve lost to Arizona (by five points), Oregon (by 42 points) and Washington State (by 31 points). There’s no doubt that the Trojans can join the ranks of the blowout victory squad, especially with their newfound speed in freshman running back Kenan Christon.
Be cautious, but on paper, USC wins this by a landslide.
Prediction: USC (-13)
Game 2: No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 13 Wisconsin, Saturday, Oct. 26 @ 9:00 a.m.
Favorite: Ohio State (-14)
Wisconsin was a 31-point favorite in its loss against unranked Illinois last weekend. The Badgers had a 20-7 lead late in the third quarter, but the Illini clawed back until former Trojan receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe brought the game to within two points. After a late interception and a last-second field goal, Illinois shocked the college football nation.
Make no mistake, the Badgers are still a quality college football team. Junior running back Jonathan Taylor is about to cross 1000 rushing yards on the season. The Badgers defense is stifling with four shutouts on the season.
Ohio State’s sophomore quarterback Justin Fields will cause the Badgers problems. Fields has 22 touchdowns with 1492 yards and only one interception on the season. The Buckeyes average nearly 50 points per game with more than 500 yards per game, and they beat up on Northwestern in a 52-3 victory last weekend. The spread might be big, but Ohio State’s dangerous. Fields will eat up the Badgers’ defense.
Prediction: Ohio State (-14)
Game 3: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 9 Auburn, Saturday, Oct. 26 @ 12:30 p.m.
Favorite: LSU (-11)
LSU senior quarterback Joe Burrow is a legitimate Heisman contender this season. Burrow and the Tigers continue to improve each and every week, but they’re now in the gauntlet of their schedule. This week, the (LSU) Tigers face No. 9 Auburn; next week, LSU gets ‘Bama.
Two top-10 teams looks like a close matchup on paper, but LSU has dominated its competition throughout the season. LSU celebrates the return of sophomore Terrace Marshall Jr., who recorded six touchdowns and 304 yards before a foot injury sidelined him for a month.
Auburn’s no pushover; the team has averaged 433 yards per game and limited opponents to 319 yards per game this season. The Tigers contained their competition to only eight touchdowns on 20 red zone attempts. Despite Auburn’s tight defense, it hasn’t seen a quarterback to the likes of Burrow this year. LSU will dominate the matchup of the Tigers.
Prediction: LSU (-11)
Game 4: No. 19 Michigan vs. No 8 Notre Dame, Saturday, Oct. 26 @ 4:30 p.m.
Favorite: Michigan (-1)
Time and time again, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh gets close to a marquee ranked victory. Against No. 7 Penn State last week, that oh-so-close match ended in a dropped Wolverine pass leading to a seven-point loss. In Harbaugh’s time at Michigan, the Wolverines have only one top-10 victory, and they’ve never won as an underdog.
Despite being favored in essentially a pick’em, Notre Dame is coming into Saturday’s match well rested. The Fighting Irish have prepared for this match since their win over the Trojans. Notre Dame needs to win out to have a shot at the college football playoffs; a win against Michigan can make or break the season. Michigan has no shot at the playoffs, but the Wolverines will be looking to avoid another ranked loss.
Harbaugh’s struggles against ranked teams will continue; Notre Dame should win the match.
Prediction: Notre Dame (+1), Moneyline (+100)
Game 5: UCLA vs. No. 24 Arizona State, Saturday, Oct. 26 @ 4:30 p.m.
Favorite: Arizona State (-4)
First off, I watched the lowlights of the Stanford vs. UCLA match last Thursday in honor of this column. What shocked me during the game was the competency of UCLA sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Robinson’s passes were on point and his dual-threat runs created space against Stanford’s lackluster defense.
Arizona State’s still ranked, but the team has struggled in recent matches. Then-No. 13 Utah held the Sun Devils to four completed passes for 25 yards and only 111 yards on the ground. The longest Sun Devil pass of the game went for 12 yards. The Sun Devils fumbled 3 times. You get the point; the offense is struggling.
UCLA is my favorite upset pick of the week. Even if UCLA struggles on defense, its offense will move down the field with Robinson behind center. A Bruins win could elevate them to a tie for first place in the Pac-12 South if both Utah and USC lose. That’s how wild the Pac-12 South is this year.
Prediction: UCLA (+4), Moneyline (+160)
Overall “Buy the Numbers” prediction record: 6-3-1
His column “Buy the Numbers” runs every Tuesday.