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Sunday, March 3, 2024

College football odds Week 11: Utah Utes will cover, other best bets


Welcome back to another week of my best college football bets — also known as Best Pac-12 Weekly Wagers. What can I say? I love my conference! 

And we’re starting to heat up as the season gets longer. 

Check out the four games on this week’s slate that I like (odds via FOX Bet). 

Colorado at No. 8 USC (9:30 p.m. ET Friday, FS1)

I’m going back to what worked last week against Colorado, which is taking the team total Over for the first half of the Buffaloes’ opponent. 

USC’s high-powered scoring attack ranks eighth in the country, averaging 21.4 first-half points per game. Colorado is near the bottom of the sport, allowing nearly 21 first-half points. The Trojans come out smoking each weekend as Lincoln Riley unleashes new plays that attack opposing defenses. SC tends to power down once in the lead. With UCLA looming next weekend and with a banged-up receiving corps and offensive line, once USC is out to that big lead, the Trojans will shut it down quickly. 

I like USC to pour on the points early. 

PICK: USC first half team total Over 24.5 points

Stanford at No. 11 Utah (10 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN)

Stanford has packed it up for the season. 

After its upset win over Notre Dame just three weeks ago, the Cardinal lost 38-13 to UCLA and 52-14 to Washington State. Stanford has not scored more than 16 points in a game since October 8. The Cardinal are battling injuries to running backs and to offensive linemen. Without any depth or elite talent at receiver, they just can’t move the ball on offense. Now they head to Utah, and they are about to get dominated.

Utah is dealing with its own injury issues. The Utes lost their best defensive lineman for the season this week, and a couple of their best skill position weapons probably won’t play much this weekend. However, Utah still dominated Arizona last weekend, and with Cam Rising at quarterback, they’ve dominated every non-elite team they’ve faced. 

In Week 10, the Utes covered against Arizona. They also covered against Oregon State, Arizona State and San Diego State. Utah ranks 10th in offensive points per drive and 46th in defensive points per drive. Opponent Stanford ranks 95th in offensive points per drive and 108th on defense. 

There’s some concern for a late back-door cover, but once again, Stanford has shown no real ability to even make things interesting with those late covers. 

PICK: Utah (-24 at FOX Bet) to win by more than 24 points

Arizona at No. 12 UCLA (10:30 p.m. ET Saturday, FOX)

If you read what I wrote about Colorado-USC, most of that will apply to this game. 

The best wager against Arizona is taking its opponent to score a ton of points. Arizona ranks 28th in points per drive on defense, 131st in rushing success rate and 129th in passing success rate. The Wildcats allowed 49 points to Cal, Oregon and Washington, then 45 to USC and Utah. 

Now they go on the road to face a UCLA offense that ranks fourth in points per drive, sixth in rushing success rate and third in passing success rate. UCLA just rushed for over 400 yards without its starting running back against Arizona State. I would expect the same output this weekend — with or without running back Zach Charbonnet. UCLA is averaging 40.8 points per game with this explosive offense. 

I like UCLA Over 48.5 points in this contest. 

PICK: Arizona team total Over 48.5 points scored at FOX Bet

Washington at No. 8 Oregon (7 p.m. ET Saturday, FOX and FOX Sports app)

It’s Oregon-Washington rivalry week. But I’m not sure if it’s a rivalry since Oregon has won 20 of the last 26 games. Remember when Kenny Wheaton sprinted into the west end zone at Autzen Stadium in 1994? Yep, the Ducks have been beating up on UW for a long time. 

If you’re not into history dating back almost 30 years, I have a more recent fun fact for you. Oregon has won 15 of the last 17 games, including a 12-game win streak from 2004 to 2015. Anyway, I digress. Let’s talk about the game this weekend.

Even though the Ducks only scored three points in Week 1, Oregon’s offense this season needs to be considered one of the country’s best. The Ducks lead the country in points per drive, they are first in rushing success and passing success, and they have an offensive line that has allowed zero sacks this season. Quarterback Bo Nix has thrown for 2,495 yards while completing nearly 74% of his passes. He has added 457 yards on the ground and 13 rushing touchdowns. This is why Nix is firmly in the Heisman consideration. 

The reason for Oregon’s offensive success is simple. The team has an uber-aggressive offensive attack and a complex rushing attack that changes by the week. That Ducks passing attack offers plenty of down-field opportunities, but it’s still “easy” enough for Nix to read the defense and get the ball out. For these reasons, the Ducks are scoring at will. They’ve had eight straight games where they’ve put up more than 40 points this season. That’s the longest streak in the country

You have to have a good defense to stop an offense like that. Sorry Husky fans, but Washington’s defense is not good. Yards per game allowed is an awful stat to determine success rate — especially when you’ve been torched by three conference opponents in the top 50 of offensive efficiency and have allowed at least 38 points in three of four of those games. UCLA, Arizona State and Arizona combined for 1,422 yards with an average of seven yards per play when playing Washington, and the Huskies defense allowed a 60% third-down conversion rate in those contests. 

Here are more of Washington’s stats this season: UW is ranked 124th on third down, 97th in points per drive, 90th in rushing success rate and 99th in passing success rate. The team’s defensive line creates havoc, but that has yet to matter to Oregon’s offensive line this season. 

This is all to say that Oregon will score and score and score against Washington on Saturday. 

With Washington’s ability to also score quickly, the Ducks will keep their foot on the gas the entire game. Coach Dan Lanning’s aggressive nature also leads to more points, as the Ducks routinely go for it on fourth down — including in their own territory. 

I’ve also noticed the Ducks offensive staff has an eye toward pumping up Nix’s stats lately, which could play a role in their desire to keep scoring.

PICK: Oregon team total Over 42 points scored at FOX Bet

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