“Buy the Numbers” is a column by Michael Loy about professional betting.
Week 7 recap:
The column’s predictions went surprisingly well last week. A 3-1-1 first-week finish allows this column to live on. The only wrong picks were Iowa and Oklahoma. Iowa lost by its exact projection (5 points) due to multiple turnovers, and Oklahoma was unable to extend its lead against Texas, only winning by seven points.
Week 7 is over. Let’s dive into the numbers of the five most interesting games for Week 8.
Game 1: USC vs. Arizona, Saturday, Oct. 19 @ 6:30 p.m.
Favorite: USC (-9)
Until Arizona proves that it can field a team capable of performing against above-average competition, any Arizona opponent will be a favorite bet of the week. This week, the Wildcats travel to Los Angeles to take on the Trojans during their homecoming game.
While Arizona is tied for the top of the Pac-12 south, the team had a rude awakening last week allowing a 31-3 run to Washington in the second half. Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate was unable to develop his rushing game, so the Wildcats employed their unreliable passing attack. Tate finished with 13 completions on 25 attempts, a stat that will get the Wildcats punished at the Coliseum.
USC is also an up and down team, but it showed flashes of brilliance in the second half at No. 9 Notre Dame. The Trojans scored on every second-half drive, but could not stop Notre Dame from draining the clock in the fourth quarter. While USC utilized a more balanced offensive approach against both Notre Dame and Washington, the Trojans will need to bury the Wildcats deep early in the match. USC should blow out Arizona.
Prediction: USC (-9)
Game 2: No. 13 Utah vs. No. 17 Arizona State, Saturday, Oct. 19 @ 3:00 p.m.
Favorite: Utah (-13)
Utah looked liked it had the Pac-12’s best shot of making a College Football Playoff appearance this season until USC put them down at home. Regardless of the loss to the Trojans, the Utes look dangerous. Senior quarterback Tyler Huntley has still not thrown an interception this season. Huntley ranks No. 5 nationally in quarterback rating (187.6), along with the likes of Ohio State’s Justin Fields (187.5) and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (214.3).
Arizona State is coming off a last-second victory against Washington State. Arizona State has been lucky this year; it has two ranked road victories against teams that are now unranked.
I see this game going two ways; either Utah blows out Arizona State or the Sun Devils use their road magic to spook another ranked opponent into falling apart. Utah showing off seems like the more likely option.
Prediction: Utah (-13)
Game 3: No. 12 Oregon vs No. 25 Washington, Saturday, Oct. 19 @ 12:30 p.m.
Favorite: Oregon (-3)
This will be my most lofty prediction of the week. Washington will win this game.
Write off Washington’s early-season loss to Cal; that game ended as the sun was rising on the east coast. Looking at last week’s game, Washington went on a 31-3 run against Arizona to blow out the Wildcats in Tucson. Junior quarterback Jacob Eason finally improved against a weaker defense, giving him the confidence he needs to show up in a ranked match.
Oregon’s also a very tough opponent. The Ducks have allowed seven points or fewer in their last five matchups. However, the offenses of Stanford, Colorado and California are about as effective as someone calling plays on Madden. Washington’s a different beast; this game will look similar to Oregon’s loss over Auburn and will come down to the last possession.
Prediction: Washington (+3) and Washington Moneyline (+122)
Game 4: No. 7 Penn State vs. No. 16 Michigan, Saturday, Oct. 19 @ 4:30 p.m.
Favorite: Penn State (-8)
Penn State defeated Iowa in an ugly 17-12 win. Penn State’s quarterback Sean Clifford went 12-of-24 for 117 yards and one passing touchdown. Michigan also looked shaky in its last two victories, allowing Illinois to score 25-straight points in last week’s win. The week before, Michigan also played in an ugly 10-3 win over Iowa.
Which team can recover from its post-Iowa slump first? Penn State has freshman running back Noah Cain, who has crossed the 100-yard mark in his last two games. Michigan has sophomore running back Hassan Haskins, whose first good game this season was last week. Since both teams are struggling a bit and the spread is more than a touchdown, take the underdog. This game is the most uncertain pick of the week.
Prediction: Michigan (+8)
Game 5: Stanford vs. UCLA, Thursday, Oct. 17 @ 6:00 p.m.
Favorite: Stanford (-8)
Nobody’s going to watch this game. A Thursday night Pac-12 match between two teams with a combined 4-8 record is not going to draw fans in. At the time of writing, seats are selling for as little as $9.
UCLA is an enigma; sometimes they score 67 points against Washington State on the road. Sometimes, they lose by 17 against Oregon State at home.
Stanford’s coming off of a bye week; before that, the Cardinal came off a victory over then-No. 15 Washington.
The main factor in this decision comes to the historical matchups between Stanford and UCLA. The last time UCLA beat Stanford, fans were using their iPhone 3G’s to follow the game. Rapper T.I’s music was blaring over the loudspeakers as fans listened to his new hit songs, “Live Your Life” and “Whatever You Like.” The Bruins have been in a rough stretch against the Cardinal; expect that trend to continue.
Prediction: Stanford (-8)
Overall “Buy the Numbers” prediction record: 3-1-1
“Buy the Numbers” runs every Tuesday.