Pac-12 Schedule Breakdown
August 1, 2017
By Brian Edwards
Southern California: USC doesn’t have an open date and plays all 12 of its games in as many weeks. The only bright side of that scenario is that if the Trojans win the Pac-12 South, they will have two weeks to prepare for the Pac-12 Championship Game. The non-conference slate consists of a pair of home games vs. Western Michigan and Texas, in addition to a cross-country road trip to South Bend to face Notre Dame. The games against the Pac-12 North are vs. Stanford, at California, at Washington State and vs. Oregon State. USC has to go to Pullman for a Friday night game to face the Cougars on a short week. There are two sets of back-to-back road assignments – at Cal (9/23) and at Washington State (9/29) before at Notre Dame (10/21) and at Arizona State (10/28). The trip to Boulder to face the defending Pac-12 South champs will come in mid-November, meaning Colorado will have a cold-weather home game against the Trojans. The Buffaloes will be looking to avenge a 21-17 loss at The Coliseum last season.
ATS Note: USC has won five in a row at Washington State by average margins of 33.0 points per game (hat tip to Phil Steele magazine). Also, the Trojans have been cashing tickets galore as home favorites recently, going 5-1 against the spread last season and 23-12 since 2011.
UCLA: Jim Mora Jr.’s team won at least eight games in his first four years and posted a pair of double-digit win seasons. However, the Bruins endured a nightmare 4-8 campaign in 2016 with star quarterback Josh Rosen missing the last six games with a shoulder injury. UCLA will be in revenge mode in its opener at home on a Sunday vs. Texas A&M. The Aggies beat the Bruins 31-24 in overtime in College Station last year. UCLA’s two other non-conference games are vs. Hawaii and at Memphis. Two tough situational spots due to travel will be at Stanford the week after flying across the country to Memphis, and the other is at Utah on a Friday one week after playing at Washington. The Bruins get their bye after hosting Colorado, giving them two weeks to prep for a game at Arizona. They host Cal on a Friday in the regular-season finale.
ATS Note: UCLA is 0-5 both straight up and ATS in its last five games as a home underdog.
Utah: Utah’s non-conference games are vs. North Dakota, at BYU and vs. San Jose State. The opener vs. North Dakota is on a Thursday, giving the Utes a few extra days of rest and preparation for the Week 2 trip to Provo to face the Cougars. BYU will be playing its third game in as many weeks (it opens on Aug. 26) and will be coming off a game against LSU in Houston the previous week. The Utes’ league opener in Week 4 is at Arizona on a short week (Friday). Then they get their open date ahead of a home game vs. Stanford on Oct. 7. There are no back-to-back road contests. When Utah hosts Colorado in its regular-season finale on Nov. 25, the Buffaloes will have two weeks to prepare. On the bright side, Utah gets UCLA in Salt Lake City on a short week (Friday). The Utes’ draw from the Pac-12 North includes games vs. Stanford, at Oregon, vs. Washington State and at Washington. I feel like those are the four best teams from the other side of the conference, so that’s a rough scenario for Kyle Whittingham’s squad.
ATS Note: Utah owns an incredible 13-2 spread record with six outright victories in its last 15 games as an underdog of 6.5 points or more.
Colorado: Colorado’s non-conference slate looks like this: vs. Colorado State (on a Friday in Denver), vs. Texas State and vs. Northern Colorado. For its non-divisional games, CU plays vs. Washington, at Oregon State, at Washington State and vs. California. Considering the Buffaloes get OSU and Cal, they can’t complain about that draw. With that said, the trips to Corvallis and Pullman do come in consecutive weeks in mid-October. As noted above, CU has a bye before playing at Utah. When Mike MacIntyre’s team hosts Arizona on Oct. 7, the Wildcats will have two week to prep for their trip to Boulder.
ATS Note: Since MacIntyre arrived at CU in 2013, the Buffs have compiled a stellar 10-2 ATS record in 12 games as home favorites. Also, we should point out that Colorado went 4-0 ATS as a road underdog last year and is 7-1 in its last eight such situations.
Arizona State: A crucial season for Todd Graham's ASU program gets started with its three non-conference tilts: vs. New Mexico State, vs. San Diego State and at Texas Tech. The Red Raiders will be looking for revenge after dropping a 68-55 decision in Tempe last year. The opener against the Aggies is on a Thursday, thus giving the Sun Devils two extra days to prepare for the Aztecs, who are 0-10-1 (SU) in 11 head-to-head meetings with ASU. Arizona State’s slate against the Pac-12 North includes games vs. Oregon, at Stanford, vs. Washington and at Oregon State. That’s a tough draw to be certain, but we should note that ASU gets two weeks to get ready for the Huskies, who will be playing their seventh game in seven weeks. ASU has one set of back-to-back road games: at UCLA and at Oregon State on Nov. 11 and 18, respectively. We should also point out that the trip to Corvallis will be a cold-weather matchup, but the only other potential cold-weather game is at Utah on Oct. 21. Texas Tech is ASU’s only opponent that gets two weeks to prepare for it.
ATS Note: After 6-7 and 5-7 campaigns that were preceded by a pair of 10-win seasons, ASU is looking to avoid a third straight losing year for the first time since the mid-1940s. The Sun Devils are 17-9 ATS in 26 games as home favorites during Graham’s first five seasons at the helm. They have taken the cash in five consecutive home ‘chalk’ spots.
Arizona: Rich Rodriguez’s team plays vs. Northern Arizona, vs. Houston and at UTEP to complete non-conference action in its first three games. The trip to El Paso comes on a short week for a Friday game. While that’s a disadvantage to the Wildcats, they host Utah on Friday the following week. That gives Arizona an extra day of rest compared to the Utes. UA has its open date next, giving it 15 days to prepare for an Oct. 7 game at Colorado. There’s one set of back-to-back road assignments to close the regular season: at Oregon (11/18) and at Arizona State (11/25). The games against the other side of the conference include at Cal, vs. Washington State, vs. Oregon State and at Oregon. Speaking of the Ducks, they join UCLA in having their bye weeks ahead of facing the Wildcats.
ATS Note: Arizona owns a 7-4 spread record in 11 games as a home underdog during Rodriguez’s tenure. On the flip side, the Wildcats have limped to a 3-11 ATS mark in their 14 games as road underdogs since 2013.
Washington: Washington’s non-conference slate consists of games at Rutgers, vs. Montana and vs. Fresno State. The only set of back-to-back road games comes next, as the Huskies open league play at Colorado and at Oregon State. The games versus the Pac-12 South are at CU, at Arizona State, vs. UCLA and vs. Utah. Chris Petersen’s team has an open date ahead of its home game vs. UCLA. When UW goes to Palo Alto on Nov. 10, it will face Stanford on the road on a Friday. That’s advantageous to the Cardinal on the short week since it won’t have to travel. Also, Stanford will be in major revenge mode after getting smashed 44-6 by the Huskies last year. Arizona State and Washington State will both get two weeks to prepare for UW.
ATS Note: Washington has posted a 6-3 spread record in nine games as a road ‘chalk’ during Petersen’s tenure.
Stanford: We just noted the advantages Stanford has (being at home on short week & revenge) for its crucial showdown vs. Washington that many believe will determine the Pac-12 North. David Shaw’s team opens against Rice in Sydney, Australia. After that long flight down under, Stanford gets its first of two open dates ahead of a game at Southern Cal. The Cardinal are at San Diego State next in the first of two back-to-back sets of road games. The other falls with games at Oregon State and at Washington State. The game in Corvallis is on a Thursday, but this mid-week road game actually works in favor of Shaw’s team. That’s because the Cardinal and the Beavers both have an open date ahead of their matchup. The advantage lies in getting two extra days to prepare for the trip to Pullman to face Luke Falk and Co. Cal and Utah both get two weeks to prepare for Stanford. The Cardinal’s draw from the Pac-12 South includes contests at USC, vs. UCLA, vs. Arizona State and at Utah.
ATS Note: Stanford has an 8-3-1 spread record in 12 games as an underdog on Shaw’s watch.
Oregon: Oregon plays its first 10 games in succession before getting a bye ahead of a home game vs. Arizona. The Ducks have two sets of back-to-back road games – at Wyoming (9/16) and at ASU (9/23), in addition to at Stanford (10/14) and at UCLA (10/21). Willie Taggart’s squad plays vs. Southern Utah, vs. Nebraska and at Wyoming in non-conference action. Oregon will be seeking revenge after giving up a late lead in a 35-32 loss to the Cornhuskers in Lincoln last year. The trip to Laramie to face the Cowboys could be dangerous with their talented QB Josh Allen, who many draftniks have pegged as a potential Top-10 pick in next spring’s NFL Draft. The draw from the other side of the league features games at ASU, at UCLA, vs. Utah and vs. Arizona. Zero foes get an open date before facing the Ducks.
ATS Note: Oregon is 6-2-1 ATS in its last nine games as a road underdog. The Ducks will likely be ‘dogs at Stanford and at Washington and potentially at UCLA.
Washington State: Mike Leach’s team gets its open date before the regular-season finale at home vs. Washington for the Apple Cup. The Cougars open the season with five home games, including non-conference contests vs. Montana State, vs. Boise State and vs. Nevada. They will be in revenge mode against the Broncos, who won a 31-28 decision over WSU last season even though Leach’s club enjoyed a 100-yard advantage in total offense on the smurf turf. When Washington State hosts USC, it will be a quality spot at home on the short week for the Friday night game. This also provides the Cougars with an extra day of rest for the following week’s road opener at Oregon. After the trip to Eugene, WSU is in a difficult spot at Cal because it’s a second straight road contest and the game in Berkeley is on a Friday night. The non-division games are vs. USC, vs. Colorado, at Arizona and at Utah.
ATS Note: Washington State owns a 14-4 spread record in its last 18 games as a road underdog.
Oregon State: Gary Andersen’s third year at the helm starts with all three non-conference games – at Colorado State, vs. Portland State and vs. Minnesota. Oregon State’s draw from the Pac-12 South includes showdowns at USC, vs. Colorado, at Arizona and vs. ASU. The Beavers have two open dates, but the one before hosting Stanford on Thursday is a wash. The other provides a nice situational spot for OSU, as it gets two weeks to prep for Washington, which will be on the road for a second straight week. With the Thursday game against Stanford, the Beavers will get two days of extra prep time for a Nov. 4 trip to Berkeley to face Cal. The only back-to-back road spot is the following weekend at Arizona.
ATS Note: Oregon State went 4-1 ATS as a home underdog last season. The lone non-cover was by merely one-half point in a 38-24 loss to Boise State as a 13.5-point ‘dog. The Beavers covered the number in each of their last five home games last year, winning outright three times.
California: Cal’s non-conference schedule consists of games at North Carolina, vs. Weber State and vs. Ole Miss. The Golden Bears have the following games against the Pac-12 South: vs. USC, vs. Arizona, at Colorado and at UCLA. The regular-season finale against the Bruins is a tough spot, as it falls on a Friday one week after playing at Stanford. Justin Wilcox’s first team gets its open date before the short trip to Palo Alto to face the Cardinal. If there’s an advantageous spot for Cal, it’s when Washington State comes to town on a Friday one week after the Cougars on an airplane to play at Oregon.
ATS Note: Cal has thrived as a home ‘chalk’ since 2008, compiling a 23-12 spread record. However, the Golden Bears have been atrocious over the last decade as both home underdogs (6-16 ATS) and road favorites (5-15 ATS).
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