By REED NELSON
Ladies and gentleman, now introducing, The Comeback Kid!
(Cue the Gambling Puppet Master redirecting all his rage toward the poor, unsuspecting chicken-counter writing this column, vowing to crush his hopes and dreams in the coming weeks by any means necessary. Earthquakes included, batteries, however, are not.)
After a week of total humiliation, I was a Skinny Post away from reversing the tide. That’s right, Oregon cost me my first perfect week of Pac-12 play against the spread — and my first monster parlay of the season.
But I’ve learned two things from last week: Oregon is still the Pac-12’s best team and Chip Kelly only covers the spread against good teams 1.
Thanks to some wishful thinking (and a Stanford team that wasn’t nearly as good as its #8 ranking wanted them to be), I managed to hedge out the Oregon loss. 4-1 against the spread (and 5-0 on the money line) could be way worse. Like last week. Last week couldn’t have been any worse, save the off-chance that I would have taken Jay Cutler at 6-1 to win Fan Favorite at the ESPYs.
Even after the Top 10 went 0-7-1 against the spread, the Top 25 went 3-13-1 against the spread, and the first ranked team to cover outright was #12 ranked Texas.
Once again, thank you Stanford.
It sure didn’t have the makings of a redemption week, but after Washington knocked off Stanford (who I took with the points and parlayed it with the money line. Cha-Ching.), things started to look up.
They got a bit hairy when Oregon State relinquished their early lead in Tuscon, but the Beavers held on to the win, urinating on the odds-makers for the third straight week.
Oregon had the 30.5-pointer dialed in for a fleeting second, but like I said, forces well beyond my control were at work. Oh, what could have been.
But everybody loves a comeback, and after Week 5, I’m almost back to .500 (15-16-1) against the spread this season and a glowing 33-10 on the money line. I’m pumped. Onward.
Washington 17, #8 Stanford 13 — On Thursday, I wrote that, if there was any game to shock the nation, this was the game for Washington to do it. In the coming weeks, the Huskies play at #2 Oregon and on the road against #13 USC. Washington had to come away with a win over an overrated Stanford team (one that only beat San Jose State 20-17 just three weeks earlier), and they did. Stanford was further exposed as a one-dimensional, defensive juggernaut, and while Josh Nunes did his best to keep up with Keith Price, the Cardinal simply doesn’t have the fire-power to compensate for any lapses on the defensive side of the ball. If Stanford is going to beat any more elite teams this year, their defense is going to have to be perfect. My pick: Washington (+7)
Arizona State 27, Cal 17 — In the most unjustifiable Pick ‘Em line of the year, this one was a no-brainer. Cal, who came into the game 1-3 against the spread was somehow getting zero points against an ASU team that remains undefeated (5-0) against the spread. ASU’s Taylor Kelly1 had himself another great game, and with his 2012 efficiency rating (208.4) he now leads the Pac-12 in passing by a long shot (Marcus Mariota is second with a rating of 152.7), and is 15th in the nation. His 1,292 total yards is good for best in the Pac-12 as well (22nd in the country), and Cal just couldn’t slow him down. He threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns as ASU won on the road, and quickly turned up the heat on Cal coach Jeff Tedford’s hot seat to a scalding 11. My pick: ASU (pk).
UCLA 42, Colorado 14 — No duh. Instead of recapping this game, I give you a haiku: Jon Embree alone/Cries rivers at Folsom Field/Colorado sucks. Just kidding, Jonathan Franklin continued his march across the Gridirons of the West, racking up 111 yards on just 15 carries. Franklin now has 697 yards in 2012, good for third most in the nation. There was supposedly a game, but save Colorado’s weird zombie performance last week that was more reminiscent of Will Ferrell’s Old School debate heroics than any other college football game I have ever witnessed, the outcome, 20-point spread be damned, was never open for debate. Like an Eastern marital union, this one was predetermined. My pick: UCLA (-20).
#18 Oregon State 38, Arizona 35 — At some point (that point is this week, but work with me here), the odds-makers are going to favor Oregon State. Forget the 3-0 record, or their 2-0 mark against the Top 25, or the weird gorilla math that says that the Beavers are now the #1 team in the BCS computers. Oregon State is a good team that was handed 2.5 points on the road, against an Arizona team that was undoubtedly reeling after the ear-boxing they incurred at Autzen. This was the easiest take of the week. I don’t even care that it got precarious at times, Oregon State showed some spunk. I hate spunk. They even engaged Arizona in a mini-shootout, deeming their strict “defensive” label obsolete. Arizona looked alright too, but Sad RichRod is back, and as much as I hate spunk, I love Sad RichRod. My pick: Oregon State (+2.5).
#2 Oregon 51, Washington State 26 — I’ve gone into this game, but there is only one more thing to take away: Oregon’s defensive backfield, even without Michael Clay patrolling the Robber slot in the second half, looks like a much better unit than last year’s. Other than that, Oregon failed to cover against a bad team. Again. I’m still laying the points against Washington this week, but at this point I’m starting to look more like the dog who never quite learns the boundaries of his electric fence. My pick: Oregon (-30.5).
- This is the only rational explanation for Oregon’s 1-4 start against the spread this season. From the Irrational Department: Coach Kelly hates gamblers with the fire of a thousand Ty Cobb’s, and carefully studies lines prior to kickoff, only covering when he is fed numbers that would indicate that the general public is taking the Ducks’ opponent in greater volume than the Ducks. Jump
- There are wayyyyy too many Taylor/Tyler/Travis QBs in the FBS. Just an observation: If you want your kid to play quarterback in Big Conference college football, name him Tyler, Tayler or Travis. There are five Tyler and Taylor’s in the Top-40 rated passers alone. Take a hint. Jump