Week Five feels like a week for underdogs, like a week with over-reactive points spreads — betting lines based a bit too heavily on the results of Week Four.
Another way to view it:
Where would the Week Five lines have been set prior to knowing the outcomes of the Week Four games?
I’m not sure Stanford would be a 15-point favorite over Arizona State if not for the Cardinal’s blowout of UCLA.
I’m not sure Colorado would be a 7-point underdog in the Rose Bowl if not to the lopsided home loss to Washington.
Would Oregon be favored by 13.5 over Cal if the line had been set back when the Ducks were unbeaten?
The immediate results can’t be discounted entirely, but they tend to distort the lines — not in all cases but in many cases.
Where there’s distortion, there’s opportunity.
Last week: 5-1
Five-star special: 1-3
All picks against the spread
Lines taken from vegasinsider.com (entertainment purposes only)
Byes: Arizona and Utah
USC (minus-3.5) at Washington State (Friday): Trojans are beat up (Deontay Burnett, Steven Mitchell, Ronald Jones, Porter Gustin, etc.) and should be weary from a stretch of physical games. Now comes the longest roadtrip in the conference on a short week following a road game (in Berkeley). Meanwhile, the Cougars should be fresh after four consecutive home games against second-tier competition. And WSU has the manpower on the lines of scrimmage to hold up. How much fuel will the Trojans have in the fourth quarter? The guess here: Not enough. Pick: Washington State.
Colorado (plus-7) at UCLA: Line opened at 4.5 and has jumped — far too much, I might add. The Buffaloes are struggling on offense similar to the way Stanford was struggling on offense … until it faced the panacea that is UCLA. Meanwhile, the Bruins’ don’t have the run-pass balance to exploit CU’s vulnerabilities on defense. Josh Rosen throwing 50 times is exactly what CU wants. Pick: Colorado.
Arizona State (plus-15) at Stanford: Don’t see this as particularly close in the fourth quarter — ASU doesn’t run the ball well enough, nor does it do anything well enough on defense to slow Bryce Love and Co. — but that feels like a tad to many points. Hello, backdoor cover. Pick: Arizona State.
Cal (plus-13.5) at Oregon: Best bet of the week, and it’s not the point spread that intrigues me. It’s the over/under: 68.5. Both defenses are vastly improved — Cal has the best defense the Ducks have faced thus far, by far. So long as turnovers are kept to a minimum, this should be fairly low scoring compared to recent meetings. Pick: Cal.
Washington (minus-26.5) at Oregon State: Feels like a letdown week for the Huskies after the long-await rematch with Colorado. Add their issues at receiver and Oregon State’s extra week to prepare, and this won’t turn lopsided until late in the third quarter. That’s too late for UW to cover that large number. Pick: Oregon State.
Straight-up winners: Washington State, Colorado, Stanford, Oregon and Washington.
Five-star special: Colorado. I’ll take Philip Lindsay for 165, and the Buffs to win outright.
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