Fans in the Northwest have been waiting for this final week of the regular season and the anticipated showdowns between programs in Washington and Oregon. Some must win for bowl eligibility, while others must win to stay in the Conference and national championship races.
But before we get to the PAC-12, I just can’t resist a new development in the clown show, which is Texas A&M’s search for a new head coach.
A former Texas A&M player has stepped forward to offer his consulting services. You might know him as “Billy,” the guy who sported a thick blond mustache, thick blond hair, and sunglasses.
If not, you might also know him as Johnny Manziel while dressed in disguise at Las Vegas parties instead of supporting his Cleveland Browns teammates who thought Manziel should be with them even while he was on the injury list.
I suppose many of you think that any consideration A&M admins would give to Manziel as a consultant would be a step down in common sense, but I would argue that any program that paid Jimbo Fisher $95 million over ten years despite Fisher having a losing record in his last year at Florida State and five straight seasons in which he didn’t win more games than the year before might have a common sense void of its own.
It seems to me that “Billy” might be a step up.
Alas, we move on to the PAC-12.
In addition to this being rivalry week in the PAC-12, there are other rivalry games across the nation, and I have all of those predictions here.
(All rankings shown are from my savvygameline.com prediction system, not those of wire services, polls, etc.)
The two rivalry games in the Northwest should be fantastic!
Washington State [ 5 – 6 ] at #6 Washington [ 11 – 0 ]
For the current PAC-12 to go out with a “bang,” both teams must be in bowl games. Why? Because half of this conference’s bowl wins last year came from these two programs.
For both to get into bowls, Washington State must pull off one of the biggest upsets of the 2023 season.
The Washington Huskies have already been penned into the PAC-12 championship game and probably penciled into the national playoff. They want to finish the regular season with an undefeated record.
The game is in Seattle, and Washington State is 1-4 in road games. The Cougars are minus 52 points in their last two games against ranked opponents, and UW is a top-ten outfit. The Cougars lost by three touchdowns to UW the previous year. Experts predict UW by 16.
An upset seems unlikely, but that’s why we call them “upsets.”
We should never sell momentum short, and the Cougars have plenty of that after playing lights-out last week against Colorado. If that momentum comes with the Cougars to Seattle, we could be in for a heckuva game.
Washington has noticeable vulnerabilities on defense, but sensational quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has overcome those, and he is in the top five of nearly every important passing statistic in the nation. He put up 485 yards against WSU last year.
Washington State is 94th in pass defense efficiency, so expect Penix to have another outstanding performance against the Cougars.
Cameron Ward is a terrific quarterback for the Cougars. He’s also the most overworked player in the entire FBS. Not only is he third in the nation for most passing attempts, but he’s also run the football 109 times in 11 games. He’s barely averaging one yard per carry, so we know most of his ground game is scrambling and not part of an effective schematic plan.
These two teams combined for 95 passing attempts last year, and they have averaged a combined 88 passes per game this year, so it’s clear this game will be won in the air.
My savvygameline system sees Washington as a 42-21 favorite.
But there’s more to this game than just the game.
Imagine being a fan in the stands for a game in which one team is fighting to get to a bowl, another is fighting to stay undefeated, and these programs are duking things out in a Seattle courtroom to determine which keeps multiple millions of dollars of Conference booty.
I doubt the players will show much care, but I’ll bet plenty of fans will.
Until there is a legal verdict, each will have its booty safe and protected.
For that, I recommend a trick suggested by Elayne Boosler. She put six locks on her door and only locked three of them. She explained, “I figure no matter how long somebody stands there picking locks, they’re always locking three.”
#20 Oregon State [ 8 – 3 ] at # 5 Oregon [ 10 – 1 ]
These programs are performing well above preseason projections. In fact, Oregon ranks number one above every other team, including Michigan, Ohio State, and Georgia.
Much of Oregon’s success has come from the leadership of quarterback Bo Nix, who leads the nation in passing accuracy (once again over 78%) and is in the top 10 of all other significant passer rankings. He is the runaway leader of the PAC-12 regarding number of touchdown passes (35) to interceptions (2).
Oregon State will counter with D. J. Uiagalelei, who is playing his best college football ever as he has amassed over 2400 yards passing and accounted for 26 total touchdowns.
Both teams come in with top-35 defenses and are top-15 in turnover margin. Both have 1,000-yard ball carriers and top-35 offensive lines.
Neither has defeated an opponent that is currently among the top 25.
Oregon State won last year 38-34. Yes, Oregon had Bo Nix then, but the Ducks didn’t have Will Stein as offensive coordinator, and it is Stein who has lifted these Ducks into the rare air of national title contender.
Experts say Oregon will win by 14. Savvygameline says it will be Oregon, 35-28.
Predictions for all other PAC-12 games this week …
Arizona 28, Arizona State 24
#18 Notre Dame 38, Stanford 14
UCLA 35, California 21
Utah 39, Colorado 17
Last week, my savvygameline system was 56-12 in projecting game winners, and the system now stands at 538-186 for the regular season. The system has been 1% better than betting lines in choosing winners, three games better in determining point spreads, and 47 games better in projecting total game points.