Story by Jon Wilner
Before diving into Pac-12 picks against the spread for Week 10, we have an important announcement.
Actually, it’s more of a question:
Has anyone seen Arizona State?
The Sun Devils’ last known whereabouts were in Salt Lake City, on Oct. 16 — almost three full weeks ago.
Per reports, they were caught on video trotting off the Rise-Eccles Stadium turf with a 14-point halftime lead, a mere 30 minutes from taking full control of the South division.
They haven’t been seen since.
Preliminary findings suggest they vanished into thin air.
Outscored 56-7 over the ensuing four quarters, the Sun Devils are now two games back of Utah (including the tiebreaker) and scrambling to avoid a complete collapse of their season.
They need rapid injections of leadership, resolve and focus — all of it prior to USC’s arrival this weekend and none of it, apparently, with the help of adjustments from the coaching staff.
“It’s the players,” coach Herm Edwards said. “There’s going to be no new offense. There’s going to be no new defense. We’re not revolutionizing anything. We got to execute.”
In addition to their absence of urgency, the Sun Devils lack discipline: They followed the 13-penalty mess at Utah with a five-turnover performance in a lopsided loss to Washington State.
Sorry, we misspoke. After the 13-penalty mess, they had an extra week to prepare for the Cougars, then committed five turnovers.
They are No. 105 nationally in turnovers committed.
They are No. 126 in penalties committed.
And they were just blown off their home field by a 16.5-point underdog on Homecoming as the school was honoring the 1996 Rose Bowl team.
Essentially, ASU was given one bye week, but it took two.
When their focus and execution are sharp, the Sun Devils can beat anyone in the conference. But they are losing time as well as games.
They’re two back of Utah with four to play: USC at home, Washington and Oregon State on the road, then the finale against Arizona in Tempe.
Lose this weekend — ASU is an eight-point favorite over the reeling Trojans — and there’s no telling when the slide could end.
To the picks …
Last week: 1-5 (brutal)
Five-star special: 4-6
All picks against the spread
Lines taken from vegasinsider.com
All times Pacific
Idle: UCLA and Washington State
Utah (-7) at Stanford (Friday)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. on FS1
Comment: Even accounting for the short week, the Utes should win comfortably. Stanford, which is last in the conference in rushing — that’s offense and defense — simply cannot hold up at the line of scrimmage. Interesting imaginary prop bet: Utah rushing yards vs. Stanford total yards. Pick: Utah.
Cal (-12) at Arizona
Kickoff: 12 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks
Comment: Both teams are coming off their top performances of the season, but the disparate results are telling: Cal thumped the North co-leader, Oregon State, while Arizona’s best showing merely meant it was competitive in defeat at USC. Unless the Bears are lethargic, sloppy or both, we don’t see this as particularly competitive in the fourth quarter. Pick: Cal.
Oregon State (-10.5) at Colorado
Kickoff: 4 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks
Comment: The Beavers are in must-win mode if they hope to keep pace with Oregon and should benefit from strength-on-weakness: They are No. 11 nationally in rushing yards per game; Colorado is No. 111 in yards-per-rush allowed. That said, OSU’s defense has played poorly on the road, so the Buffs should have scoring chances. Not sure this is an outright upset, but we like the home dog to muster one of its better performances of the season and cover the number. Pick: Colorado
Oregon (-6.5) at Washington
Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. on ABC
Comment: One of the conference’s top rivalries resumes after the 2020 cancellation. The Ducks have won 98 out of the past 100 meetings … Sorry: That’s 14 of the past 16 meetings. Oregon has played best on the big stage, and this meets the standard. UW must perform markedly better than it has at any point this season — that goes for both players and coaches. Pick: Oregon
USC (+8) at Arizona State
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
Comment: With so many players from Southern California, ASU views this as a rivalry game and typically plays well against USC. Somehow, the Trojans must produce first downs and touchdowns without injured star Drake London. These are the most undisciplined teams in the conference. If we presume offsetting gaffes, then physicality and playmaking are the keys. Edge to the home team on both counts. Pick: Arizona State
Five-star special: Oregon. Washington has struggled to beat bad teams at home and on the road; Oregon beat Ohio State and UCLA on the road. That is all.
Straight-up winners: Utah, Cal, Oregon State, Oregon and ASU
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