Oregon moved from 11th to 5th in my savvygameline.com system of ranking teams and predicting football scores. The Ducks are Savvy-predicted to win again this week.
I have that and predictions for all PAC-12 games after a brief comment about PAC-12 coaches.
When an underperforming program has a coaching change, it is predictable that the program will make a significant upward spike. It’s become my theory that hype produces hope, and hope produces results. In other words, the more hype, the more hope, and the more hope, the more wins, at least for a while.
Whether that upward spike continues long-term depends on the merits of the new head coach.
When USC hired Lincoln Riley, there was great hype, not just in Los Angeles but across the nation.
The problem for me back then was that the hype seemed greater than his accomplishments. Riley’s wins at Oklahoma dwindled from one year to the next. His resume’ before Oklahoma offered no foundation to believe he could sustain an elite program. And he has not rid himself of a curious allegiance to defensive coordinator Alex Grinch despite awful defensive performances.
All those factors led me to express the opinion that Riley would do what he did in Soonerville — start fast; fade steadily.
Welcome to Trojan football 2023.
Like his first season at Oklahoma, Riley had a great first year at USC in 2022. He started 2023 with a weak intersectional schedule and is now struggling to keep his chin above water against a fabulous group of PAC-12 programs.
He didn’t reverse the trends at Oklahoma. Instead, he bolted for USC. Just watch. If he doesn’t change the trends at USC, he will bolt sooner than later—just an opinion.
It’s like Solomon said: “What has been will be again.”
When Deion Sanders came to Colorado, there was even more hype than when Riley went to USC. With that great hyper-hype came great hope, and we saw three early wins.
However, Deion had never coached in the FBS, not even as a position coach. He didn’t have a single season as an understudy to elite coaches such as Alabama’s Nick Saban or Georgia’s Kirby Smart or even second-level elites such as Clemson’s Dabo Swinney or Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh.
To me, the hyper-hype looked like a trap for Deion because hyper-hype is unsustainable. When it dies, so do the wins.
That pretty much encapsulates Colorado under Sanders. Three early wins; 80% losses after that.
And now he has another problem that he might have been spared had he spent time learning his craft from the masters.
Deion called out his offensive line after last Saturday’s loss to UCLA. I can’t imagine a better way to sabotage your program than to condemn your players in the national press.
Besides, who chased away the offensive linemen already at Colorado and replaced them with these new guys? Who told us two months ago that his way was how you build an instant winner?
So, if these new guys were the right guys in September, then why aren’t they the right guys now? If they aren’t the right guys now, whose fault is that? The players didn’t give themselves scholarships, did they?
Yes, he built an instant winner. It doesn’t appear he made a sustainable one, at least not yet.
It may be time for Deion to make a call to Tuscaloosa. Otherwise, twenty years from now, this whole Deion thing might be nothing more than a droll Jeopardy question.
Predictions for PAC-12 games . . .
#10 Washington [8-0] at #23 USC [7-2]
In the preseason, most of us thought this would be a battle of national passing leaders matching UW’s Michael Penix Jr. against USC’s Caleb Williams. If we looked at just their total passing yards, we might still think so.
However, that yardage has come more from an abundance of passing attempts than superior accuracy. In the past four weeks, both have fallen from the ranks of accuracy among the highly ranked national passers, and neither is even in the top four of the PAC-12 in terms of completion percentage.
In that same month of football, Washington did not post a double-digit win despite playing Arizona State and Stanford.
It’s been five weeks since USC posted a double-digit win, and the Trojans were 2-2 in October.
In my savvygameline system of trend lines, neither of these teams has posted a week with more positive trends than negative since mid-September.
Savvy Index favors Washington 36-34 mainly because the Trojans are in a lethal spiral and haven’t shown they know how to escape it.
#17 Oregon St. [6-2] at Colorado [4-4]
Since we know Colorado’s offensive line can’t stop pass rushes, we can count on Oregon State to bring plenty of blitzes. And the Beavers are good at it (12th nationally).
Buffalo quarterback Shadeur Sanders was tormented by UCLA last week and has been in quite a bit of pain from that beating. As of Monday, Sanders is still cleared to play this week against the Beavers.
Colorado must have Sanders and must score through the air because, unlike most buffalo, the CU Buffs couldn’t stampede jello out of a cellophane bag.
The primary problem with the CU rushing attack is the same as it is for the CU passing attack — awful play in the trenches.
That line ranks 129th for pass protection, 128 for stopping tackles for loss, and 132nd for opening holes for running backs — three primary measuring rods for evaluating offensive lines. All of that adds up to the worst offensive line in college football and one worse than what Colorado had last year.
That raises the question once again of whether or not turning over nearly your entire roster in one off-season is a good idea.
I don’t think any of the experts believe Colorado will win this game against Oregon State, but that isn’t where the CU problem stops.
The Buffs have yet to beat a ranked team, and half of their remaining opponents are ranked. Colorado has won only one game against teams with winning records. All of CU’s remaining opponents have winning records.
Colorado will finish with at least four wins, and that is a marked improvement over last year and reason to applaud coach Prime. But if there are no more wins this year, Colorado will have lost eight of its previous nine games.
Since I want to see Deion succeed, I want to do my part to help him by mentioning that 205 is the area code for Tuscaloosa.
Oregon State is favored 41-23 by my savvygameline system.
California (3-5) at #5 Oregon
Not many people want to play the Oregon Ducks these days. Even fewer want to try to “get down” at Autzen Stadium.
This week, California has to do both.
Despite a 3-5 record, the Bears have played good football. Yeah— I know — they’ve lost their last three, but those losses were to Oregon State, Utah, and USC.
Cal has been able to move the ball, but my Savvy system says that will not be the case this week, and Oregon will win this one at home, 43-17.
Stanford [2-6] at Washington State [4-4]
I’ve never doubted that new coach Troy Taylor would get Stanford rolling again. My only question was how long it would take. My conclusion that it wouldn’t happen this year was wrong. If ever there was a miracle worker in college football, it’s Taylor, and he already has Stanford in bowl contention.
His miracles were evident when he took over 1-11 Sacramento State, a team that had been winless in its conference the year before. He won that conference in his first year and lost only six games in four seasons. He also took the Hornets deep into the FCS playoff.
The Cardinal is a dangerous opponent for Washington State as the Cougars have been on a month-long slide and giving up 36 points in four consecutive losses.
The upset credentials for this game are incredibly high.
National experts say WSU will win this by 13. I think my savvygameline is closer with its 37-26 prediction, but I would personally like it if my system added at least one more touchdown to Stanford.
In other PAC-12 games . . .
#24 UCLA 32, Arizona 20
… but don’t count Arizona out of this one. The ‘Cats have been red hot lately, and UCLA is 5th-worst in the nation for throwing interceptions.
#21 Utah 31, Arizona State 13
Oregon is no longer a destination spot for Utah vacationers since their Utes lost to both Oregon schools and could only muster one touchdown in the process.
Last week, my savvygameline system was one-half game better than the bookmakers in determining which teams would win, and it was six games better in determining point spreads. Although it was two games worse in projecting total game points, it is still 42 games better for the season.
You can see all 65 savvygameline college football game predictions here.