There are two major clashes in the Northwest this weekend as Utah visits Washington and USC visits Oregon.
The carnage and sad trombones from those battles will be monumental and something akin to classical Chuck Norris movies.
You know, the guy who put “laughter” into the word “manslaughter.”
Before we get to those predictions, it’s interesting that Lincoln Riley of USC finally parted ways with defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, and that happened just a few days after I wondered why Grinch was still around. I know Riley didn’t fire him because of my question. If that were the case, he would have fired Grinch sometime in the previous two years because that’s how long I’ve been asking that question.
Angelenos are hoping the change will help the Trojans. It’s too early to know for sure, but one thing we do know is that there will be no Grinch for Christmas in Los Angeles this year.
Colorado’s Deion Sanders said over the weekend that his team has lost its passion. I don’t fault his players, nor do I fault Deion. As I mentioned last week, the “hyper-hype” that surrounded the hiring of Sanders was simply not humanly sustainable. It had to cave, and when it did, results would also.
I know this isn’t geographically relevant, but Michigan has been number one in savvygameline rankings since September 9th. Still, my system predicts an upset loss to Penn State this weekend.
To see that prediction and all others across the nation, click here.
Predictions for northwest teams . . .
[All rankings shown are from my savvygameline football ranking and prediction system and not from wire services or polls.]
Utah [7-2] at #7 Washington [9-0]
Utah has played two ranked teams and lost both times. Washington is ranked.
The Huskies have been shaky lately, and that opens a door of opportunity for Utah, an outfit that posted a 55-3 win over Arizona State last week.
The Utes rushed the ball 49 times for over 350 yards, but even better for Utah fans is that quarterback Bryson Barnes completed 19 of 28 passes and four touchdowns. Washington is near the bottom of FBS when giving up yards through the air.
Can Washington handle Utah’s pressure? We know that pressure can put Husky quarterback Michael Penix Jr. out of rhythm. Washington’s offensive front has done well to protect Penix, but they haven’t seen the likes of Utah’s junior defensive end Johah Ellis, who already has 11.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss.
Utah’s problem all year has been a host of players missing because of injuries. That problem worsened on Saturday when top running Jaquan Jackson left the Arizona State game with an unspecified injury and has not yet been cleared for action against Washington.
Washington is undefeated, nationally ranked, and relatively intact.
This game has very high upset potential, but for now, savvygameline says the Huskies will prevail by six.
Washington State [4-5] at California [3-6]
This game appears to be a quandary for the experts. Some see the surging Cal Bears as a clear favorite, while betting lines had not declared a favorite as of Sunday (the day my system produces and publishes rankings and predictions on the savvygameline site).
Five weeks ago, Washington State was 4-0, averaging 40 points per game, in the national rankings, and had a fresh stash of Beaver hide in its belt.
The Cougars haven’t won since. They also haven’t scored 40 points since. In fact, they haven’t hit 30, while opponents have rampaged for 155.
Cal hasn’t been much better. The Bears have lost five of their last six and given up 50 points per game in the last four and 113 total in just the last two.
If no one will play defense and neither can hold onto the ball, then I agree with the experts that this is a toss-up.
Cal has better trend lines recently, and that appears to be the major difference as Savvy predicts a 33-31 WSU win.
Stanford [3-6] at #18 Oregon State [7-2]
Oregon State’s trajectory over the past two weeks is concerning. Typically, OSU teams under Jonathan Smith post smooth trend lines that don’t vary much, but recent lines have been sharp, and too many have been negative.
Meanwhile, Stanford has been steadily building and ranks in the top 30 in America for playing above expectations. That’s an anomaly, considering the Cardinal defense has given up more than 40 points in four of the last five games.
Head coach Troy Taylor will solve those kinds of problems.
What he can’t solve is Stanford administrators who aren’t sure they want a D-1 football program. They seriously considered axing the football program a few months ago.
They still have that ax, and I wonder what they will do next season when Stanford enters the ACC and turns in steep travel costs to places like Miami, Boston, and Pittsburgh instead of Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle.
If I were Troy Taylor, I would hum that Roger Miller tune: “I been a long time comin’, and I’ll be a long time gone.”
OSU wins this one 40-19.
Unranked USC [7-3] at #5 Oregon (8-1]
There has been no better football team in America in the past six weeks than the Oregon Ducks. UO has the trajectory of any team in my Savvy system, and that has come from having perhaps the strongest three-some head coach and coordinators.
USC’s experience has been quite different.
The Trojans have been more like toe-jams when it comes to playing defense, and they now have to face the top-scoring team in the nation with a new defensive coordinator. If you’re a Trojan fan, pray for Santa Anas and hit the beach because this week’s game will not go well.
USC has lost four of its last five, and against ranked opponents, the Trojan defense has given up an average of 44 points per game. USC is in the bottom ten in the nation when it comes to giving up points.
Oregon’s defense is as strong as it has been in a long time, thanks to the leadership of defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi.
It isn’t a surprise that Lupoi has been successful. Before last season, I mentioned that my savvygameline system of rating coaches had pushed Lupoi above “excellent” and into the rare classification of “elite.”
Despite having two wideouts not cleared from the injury list, USC will score against Oregon. We know that because In 80% of their games, the Trojans have surpassed 40 points, and in half of those, they’ve reached or surpassed 50.
Oregon is the real deal and will prove it this weekend. The Ducks are savvy-predicted to win 40-31. Betting lines say Oregon by 15.
Elsewhere in the PAC-12 . . .
Arizona 33, Colorado 26
UCLA 31, Arizona State 17
On the season, my savvygameline system is 495-194 in game predictions. The system is 1% better than betting lines in choosing winners, exactly even in determining point spreads, and 46 games better in determining total game points.