Pac-12 Not Doing Itself Any Favors

The Huskies' win over Stanford has cast some serious shadows over the Pac-12's National Championship hopes.

Thursday night’s 17-13 loss to Washington has cast a cloud over not only #8 Stanford and its chances of being selected to play in the BCS National Championship Game, but also the Pac-12’s chances as a conference.

For a conference that was considered the only viable competition to the dominant SEC ahead of the season, things are looking less than clear now.

Decoding the Pac-12

Just two weeks ago, the Cardinal upset USC, denting the Trojans’ own chances of going to the Championship Game. In the process, Stanford staked a claim to be the team that would head to Miami Gardens in January. Admittedly, it was a loose claim. Stanford after all struggled to beat San Jose State in Week 1.

Ahead of Week 4, UCLA looked to be putting their names forward for consideration, but a loss to Oregon State suggested that it’s a little too early to consider the Bruins as serious contenders.

Oregon State meanwhile has gone 2-0 with two wins over ranked opposition. Not a bad start. But can the Beavers keep that pace up? Probably not, although oddsmakers have slashed odds of a BCS championship from 500/1 in the preseason to 75/1 this week.

So that leaves Oregon. Having been considered second fiddle to USC during all of the preseason, the Ducks are now considered the Pac-12’s best chance for a national title. Preseason odds of 10/1 have steadily shortened to 13/2 heading into this week’s action.

The Ducks have looked solid so far this season, averaging close to 53 points per game. But critics could argue that Oregon has yet to play anybody of merit. Sure, they defeated Arizona 49-0 last week, but Arizona’s inclusion on the AP poll was less than solidified. Had the likes of Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska played better this season, it’s hard to imagine the Wildcats appearing on that list.

For Oregon, the big challenge comes on November 3, with a visit to USC. That is of course if the Ducks can get by Washington next week. A loss to the Cougars would effectively write off National Championship hopes this year.

Week 5 Pac-12 Schedule

After Washington’s upset win over Stanford, here’s what else is on tap this Saturday. Both USC and Utah are on a bye week.

Arizona State (3-1, 0-1 road, 1-0 Pac-12) @ California (1-3, 1-1 home, 0-1 Pac-12)

4:00 PM ET / 1:00 PM PT

The Sun Devils will be looking to continue their strong start to the season with a win over a struggling Golden Bears team. Arizona State currently leads the South division by way of USC’s loss to Stanford and Arizona’s loss to Oregon. Still, the team opened as underdogs in this one, before odds flipped in their favor. The Sun Devils are currently narrow favorites (-1) with the over/under set at 58. There’s certainly money to be made on this game.

UCLA (3-1, 1-0 road, 0-1 Pac-12) @ Colorado (1-3, 0-2 home, 1-0 Pac-12)

6:00 PM ET / 3:00 PM PT

A loss to Oregon State last week saw UCLA’s two week tenure in the AP Polls come to an end. A win against Colorado this week could, but probably won’t, see the Bruins return to the rankings. UCLA enters the game as favorites (-21) and are expected to make easy work of a Colorado team that has looked poor this season. Only a 35-34 win over Washington State last week prevented the Buffaloes from starting the season 0-4. The over/under is 60, with UCLA expecting to accumulate most of those points.

#18 Oregon State (2-0, 1-0 road, 1-0 Pac-12) @ Arizona (3-1, 3-0 home, 0-1 Pac-12)

10:00 PM ET / 7:00 PM PT

Arizona enjoyed two weeks in the AP Poll before losing big to Oregon last week. Oregon State may have only played two, but the Beavers have knocked off two ranked teams (Wisconsin, UCLA) and is sitting pretty heading into this game.

Oddsmakers have the Wildcats as favorites (-3) heading into this one, so they’ve yet to be bowled over by the Beavers’ performances. This games figures to be a close one. The over/under is 61. A win for Arizona will see the Wildcats flirting with the AP poll once again. A win for Oregon State will cement the team’s AP approved credentials.

#2 Oregon (4-0, 0-0 road, 1-0 Pac-12) @ Washington State (2-2, 1-1 home, 0-1 Pac-12)

10:30 PM ET / 7:30 PM PT

Whether Oregon remains the Pac-12’s last remaining hope against the dominance of the SEC remains to be seen. This week the Ducks head out on the road for the first time. Despite the travel north, Oregon are big favorites (-32) over the Cougars. The over/under is 74. Oddsmakers are expecting this to be a high-scoring one-sided affair, just like Oregon’s previous four.

Baseball and College Football Kick Start Exciting Weekend

 

Ahead of the weekend’s busy NCAA and NFL football schedules, Friday night provides bettors with some captivating matchups. We start with the race for the American League Wild Card, a contest that continues to get closer by the day, before heading to Vegas for a college football teaser.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays @ New York Yankees

Tampa Bay's trip to New York this weekend could have huge implications in the races for both the AL East title and the vacant Wild Card places.

Tampa Bay (77-66, 39-32 road) arrives in New York on the back of Thursday afternoon’s 14-inning epic against Baltimore. The Rays came out on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline, losing a third-straight against the Orioles. They now sit four games out of the second Wild Card place, behind Oakland, New York, Baltimore and Los Angeles Angels.

The Yankees (81-62, 40-34 home) arrive home from a 5-5 road trip that concluded with a 2-0 win in Boston last night. It was the first time in close to a month that the Yankees had recorded back-to-back wins. The win was enough to keep pace with the Orioles at the top of the AL East, after the Birds’ win earlier in the day.

Tampa has had New York’s number this season, winning 9 of 15. New York though has gone 4-2 against the Rays at the Stadium. Home advantage could well play a part not just tonight but throughout the weekend.

Both teams send their aces to the mound on Friday as David Price (17-5, 2.54 ERA) faces C.C. Sabathia (13-5, 3.56). Sabathia took the win when he faced Price in New York on May 10. Price beat Sabathia, again in New York, on June 7.

Sabathia and New York start as favorites with the moneyline reading -130 (New York) and +110 (Tampa Bay). The over/under is set at 8 runs. Take New York, both to beat the spread and win straight up, whilst going with the under.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles @ Oakland Athletics

Baltimore's epic win over Tampa on Thursday could hinder any chances of defeating Oakland on Friday night.

Baltimore (81-62, 39-30 road) makes the long trip to the West Coast after Thursday afternoon’s marathon victory over the Rays. Oakland (82-61, 45-26 home) fell to the Angels Thursday and will be looking to bounce back from the rare defeat.

Baltimore has held its own in the race for the AL East and a Wild Card berth but Oakland has been otherworldly. The team is 56-26 (.683) since June 10, and has only lost 15 games since the All-Star break.

Both teams send LHPs to the mound. For Baltimore, former-D’Back Joe Saunders (8-11, 4.22) will start. He’s 2-1 since joining the Orioles with a 4.24 ERA. Tom milone (12-10, 3.90) goes for the A’s. He’s limited opponents to two runs or less in three of his last four starts.

The A’s are -1.5 favorites with a +145 to beat the spread and +145 to win straight up. It’s hard to see a tired Baltimore team that has traveled 3,000 miles with a beat-up bullpen getting much out of this one. Put your money on Oakland. The 7.5-point over/under could really go either way. If it goes over, it’ll be because of Oakland’s bats, not Baltimore’s. Let’s say a tentative over.

NCAAF: Washington State @ UNLV

Washington State QB Jeff Tuel is unlikely to start, but the Cougars are still 8-point favorites as they visit UNLV.

Away from baseball, get ready for NCAA football on Saturday by taking a look at this Friday night (9 PM ET) fixture.

Washington State (1-1, 0-1 road) heads to Sam Boyd Stadium to take on UNLV (0-2, 0-2 home). UNLV has had a disappointing start to the season and will be looking for a home win at the third time of asking. For the record, the Rebels open the season with four straight at home.

After being dismissed by a Brigham Young side on its way to the AP rankings, the Cougars notched a victory over Eastern Washington last weekend. The Pac-12 side enters the game as 8-point favorites. Take the road team to beat the spread and win outright, while taking the under at 55.5 points.

 

That’s it. You’re all set. Friday’s night’s action should get you well and truly in the mood for Saturday’s full slate of college football and Sunday’s NFL action. Of course, Major League Baseball continues all weekend with some vital matchups.

If you’re looking for something interesting in each, go ahead and give these a try:

NCAAF:  (Saturday, 8 PM ET) #20 Notre Dame (2-0, 1-0 road) @ #10 Michigan State (2-0, 1-0 home)

NFL: (Sunday, 1 PM ET) Baltimore Ravens (1-0, 0-0 road) @ Philadelphia Eagles (1-0, 0-0 home)

MLB: (Friday – Sunday) St. Louis Cardinals (76-68, 33-39 road) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (74-70, 38-34 home)

Each of these fixtures is rife with importance and promises to be a close encounter worth testing oddsmakers’ lines over the weekend.