Across America, sports analysts are discussing Oregon coach Dan Lanning and his aggressive manner of calling plays. Some think it is too much.
But, I think a measure of forgiveness might be in order because he played college football at William Jewell College in Missouri, where the fumes from Anheuser-Busch would be enough to affect anyone’s judgment.
Even in 2007, his aggressiveness was noticeable. As a defensive back, he posted 57 tackles, and 20% of those were in opponents’ backfields.
I don’t think less of Oregon’s program because of the loss to Washington. In fact, this is the first time in decades that I’ve thought Oregon has everything it needs to win the national championship.
Arizona, California, Colorado, and Oregon State have this week off, so we only have two games involving northwest teams. Predictions for all Pac-12 games follow, and predictions for all games across the nation can be seen by clicking here.
(National rankings below are not from wire services but are from my Savvy Index system of ranking teams and predicting games.)
#7 Washington 40, Arizona State 14
There isn’t much to stop Washington’s passing from being prolific in Tempe this weekend. Arizona State will bring one of the better pass rushes in the nation, but the back end of the ASU defense is questionable and, in fact, is dead last in the nation for intercepting passes.
Can the Sun Devils win it with offense?
I know you’re laughing, but I needed some way to transition to some problems that have surfaced in ASU’s attack unit.
The ASU list of injured players is woeful. It now includes two running backs, two quarterbacks (Drew Pine, formerly Notre Dame’s starter, and Jaden Rashada, a five-star freshman), two receivers, and six other players.
Meanwhile, Washington has only WR Jalen McMillan as questionable.
ASU running backs rank 127th in America for yards-per-carry. ASU quarterbacks have thrown more interceptions than touchdowns, and now, with Pine and Rashada sidelined, ASU has just Jacob Conover as a backup.
Can Conover make a difference?
Yes, but not a good one. He has a horrific interception rate of 12.5% (2.3% is about average) and a completion rate of just 38%, so Arizona State faces a massive problem if starter Trenton Bourguet goes down.
Just when it seems things couldn’t get much worse for ASU, we find that things not only can get worse, but they will get worse … much worse.
Beginning this week with Washington, the Sun Devils play five straight games against ranked teams, and three are on the road. That means if Arizona State doesn’t beat Arizona to end the season, the Sun Devils will likely finish 1-11 overall and 0-11 against FBS opponents.
Expect a considerable halftime margin by Washington, followed by a merciful injection of subs in the second half.
The experts say Washington will win by 28.5. My Savvy Index says Washington will win 40-14.
#11 Oregon 40, Washington St. 24
This is going to be a heckuva game because both of these outfits must win if they expect to retain the lofty dreams each had just two weeks ago.
Oregon’s loss last week to national contender Washington by three points isn’t enough to shoot the Ducks out of the playoff sky, but losing to unranked WSU in the next game surely would.
Washington State still has a chance to get to the PAC-12 title game, but the Cougars can’t lose any more games.
Statistically, the Ducks are favored in every meaningful category, and they had dominated the Cougars in every game played in Eugene since 2017 when Justin Herbert was out with an injury; Braxton Burmeister replaced him but was out in other ways as he produced just 145 passing yards to go with two interceptions and four sacks.
Oregon has its starting quarterback this time, and low turnovers have been one of the strongest factors for the Ducks since Lanning took over.
Washington State’s wins over Oregon State and Wisconsin prove that the Cougars can play both sides of the ball with anyone in the country. The problem lately has been fumbles. The Cougars have fumbled five times in the past two games and lost three.
Coincidently, the Cougars have had more negatives in my Savvy Index in October than just about any team in FBS. Fix the fumbles, and you’re looking at a terrific matchup this week.
Betting lines favor Oregon by 20. Savvy Index sets the margin at 40-24 for Oregon.
In other PAC-12 games . . .
#20 UCLA 37, Stanford 17
#18 USC 29, Utah 26
Oddsmakers and Savvy both see less than 60 total points.
Last week, against the betting lines, my system was one game better in picking winners, ten games better in determining over/under point spreads, and ten games better in determining total game points.
Savvy now stands an amazing 49 games for the season, better in determining total game points.