By: Liam O’Brien
Cal (+2) over Stanford
The disappointing nature of Stanford’s season is bound to continue this Saturday night in Berkeley.
After losing three of four going into last week’s home game against Oregon State, the Cardinal took care of business and hammered the Beavers by 30. Unfortunately for Stanford, Oregon State is the worst Power 5 football school outside of Rutgers and the Cardinal won’t have a chance to match last Saturday’s offensive output against a formidable Golden Bears defense.
Cal ranks seventh in the nation in defensive efficiency and 16th in yards allowed per game. Two weeks ago, they held offensive powerhouse Washington State to just 19 points, almost 20 points below their per game average. The week before that, they limited Washington to 10 points in a win, 16 points below the Huskies weekly average.
Stanford quarterback KJ Costello is having a superb season, ranking in the top 20 in both passing yards and passer rating. But, the Golden Bears have had success limiting premier quarterbacks. Heisman candidate Gardner Minshew’s lowest QBR of the season came against Cal.
Michigan State (-1.5) over Nebraska
This is going to be a hard-scrabble game under heavy precipitation in Lincoln, Nebraska.
These conditions are perfect for the Spartans. It should be a defensive struggle, which suits Michigan State well and should make Nebraska bettors worried.
The Cornhuskers three wins have come on the heels of their offensive prowess. Points should be hard to come by against a Spartans defense allowing under 20 points a game.
Despite falling to Ohio State last Saturday, Michigan State managed to essentially mute the Buckeyes explosive offense for the first three quarters.
Meanwhile, the Nebraska defense ranks 101st in passing yards allowed per game. This is a good thing for the Spartans, who generate 66% of their yards through the air.
Washington State (-10.5) over Arizona
The Cougars have been a bettor’s darling this season. They are 9-1 against the spread and that will continue on Saturday against Arizona.
The aforementioned Minshew throws for nearly 392 yards per game and has a good matchup this week. The Wildcats defense allows 248.7 passing yards per outing, which ranks 91st in the nation.
Colorado is slightly better against the pass and Minshew dropped 335 passing yards and two scores in a 31-7 rout of the Buffaloes last Saturday. Who is too say he can’t replicate this performance against Arizona?
In addition, the Washington State defense is improving. Colorado averages 29.7 points per game and the Cougars put tape on the mouth of their offense. The week before, defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys’ unit held Cal to 13 points.
Ohio State (-14.5) over Maryland
It’s hard to believe the Terrapins have a win over Texas on their resume.
Over the last four weeks, Maryland has been disgusting. They gained 215 yards combined in losses to Iowa and Michigan State before turning the ball over four times in a 34-32 loss to mediocre Indiana last week.
Add the loss of quarterback Kasim Hill to a torn ACL to the mix and it’s nothing but disarray in College Park. The only way the Terrapins can win this game is with their running game, and the Buckeyes have allowed 3.5 yards per rush over the last two weeks.
Ohio State is storming in with momentum after scoring the last 19 points in a 26-6 win at Michigan State last Saturday. They need this game to set up a showdown with Michigan for Big 10 East supremacy next weekend. The Buckeyes are 3-1 against the spread in their last four against Maryland while the Terrapins are 1-3 against the spread in their last four conference games.