College Football Odds, Predictions: Stuckey’s Week 10 Bets for USC vs Washington, Clemson vs Notre Dame, More

College Football Odds, Predictions: Stuckey’s Week 10 Bets for USC vs Washington, Clemson vs Notre Dame, More article feature image

Getty Images. Design by Cyriel Klitsie/Action Network. Pictured (clockwise from top-left): Clemson’s Phil Mafah, Army’s Bryson Daily, Arizona’s Jacob Cowing and Maryland’s Taulia Tagovailoa.

Last week's spots finished an extremely fair 5-4 full of straightforward winners and justified losers.

Regardless, as always, last week was last week, so there's no sense in dwelling. We're on to Week 10 of the college football season.

For reference, last year's spots finished a ridiculously unsustainable 45-20-1 (69.2%). I don't think I'll ever repeat that level of success in a season, but hopefully we can avoid the regression monster and have another profitable season.

Although, rough weeks in this gig are inevitable. I won't avoid a 2-6 stinker Saturday in perpetuity, so please wager responsibly. If you can't afford a horrible day of results, you're betting too much.

Plus, my primary goal is to simply share a few key angles, notable matchups, regression signals and injury situations for each particular game that hopefully help you make more informed wagers.

Looking ahead to this Saturday, I have highlighted my 10 favorite Week 10 spots, which include several teams that I believe have value due to enormous strength of schedule disparities.

I'll get things started with a trio of bets that kick off at noon ET with Clemson vs Notre Dame and then finish up with a pair of Pac-12 matchups, as has been the norm of late, featuring USC vs Washington.

Keep in mind the actual spread value still reigns supreme. No matter how great a situational spot appears on paper, I still have to factor in how much value the number holds compared to my projections. A good or bad spot may sway me one way or the other on a bet I'm on the fence for, but it's certainly more art than science.

All lines referenced are current as of the time of writing, which I bet and logged on the Action App. For your convenience, I included what number I'd play each to in case the market has moved a bit or you read this later in the week.

  • 2022: 45-20-1 +22.82 units (69.2%)
  • 2023: 37-29-0 +4.06 units (56.1%)
  • Overall: 82-49-1 +26.88 units (62.6%)

Replicate Stuckey's best bets on ESPN BET starting November 14, 2023. This new sportsbook, backed by ESPN and PENN Entertainment, will be announcing the ESPN BET promo code and new user offer soon, so stay tuned to Action Network's sportsbook reviews page for all the details!

GameTime (ET)Pick
12 p.m.Clemson +3.5
12 p.m.Arkansas +6
12 p.m.South Carolina -15.5
2:30 p.m.Army +18.5
3:30 p.m.Maryland +10.5
6 p.m.Middle Tennessee +3
6 p.m.Louisiana Tech +17
7 p.m.Iowa State -2.5
7:30 p.m.USC +3.5
10:30 p.m.Arizona +3

Clemson +3.5 vs. Notre Dame

12 p.m. ET ⋅ ABC

Reluctantly, I have to say it is now time to buy the Tigers, who dropped their second straight game to inexplicably fall to 4-4 on the season.

With games against Notre Dame, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia Tech remaining on the schedule, bowl eligibility is no longer even a certainty.

However, I think we've reached the bottom of the market on Clemson, which closed as only a 2-point home underdog against Florida State in a game it won the total yardage battle, 429-311.

Clemson has undoubtedly had a massively disappointing season, but two of its losses came in overtime, while each has been filled with misfortune in the turnover, fourth-down and red-zone departments.

In their four losses, the Tigers have combined to go 2-of-7 on fourth-down attempts with a -6 turnover margin, including two defensive scores allowed. Crucial missed field goals and 10 lost fumbles also haven't helped matters.

From a pure net yardage perspective, they actually out-gained those four opponents by over 300 total yards (1558-1249), including last week's 364-202 edge.

In one of his many rants over the past few weeks, head coach Dabo Swinney said the Tigers would have an 8-0 record if they didn't lead FBS in fumbles. He's not totally off base in that regard.

Clemson also has some potential looming red zone regression coming its way, ranking in the bottom 10 nationally in scoring percentage inside the 20. What better week for that to happen than against Notre Dame's second-ranked red-zone scoring defense?

From an injury standpoint, the Irish lost star tight end Mitchell Evans, who leads the team in receiving yards with 10 more catches than anybody else, to a season-ending injury last week. He matters.

Here's to a speedy recovery for Mitchell Evans, who was having maybe the best season from a Notre Dame tight end not named Michael Mayer in years

— Notre Dame Football Stats & Analytics (@ND_FB_Analytics) October 31, 2023

Meanwhile, Clemson will likely not have the services of running back Will Shipley, who suffered a concussion last week.

However, more carries for Phil Mafah might actually provide a boost to the offense, especially in the red zone. To date, Mafah has averaged 6.0 yards per carry to Shipley's 4.6 in addition to 1.5 more yards per carry after contact.

Mafah brings much more explosiveness with a 59-33% edge in breakaway run rate and is also a better pass blocker.

Things aren't as bad as they may appear on the surface at Clemson, which still can lean on its elite defense.

Following Notre Dame's 58-7 blowout victory over the corpse of Pittsburgh, this is too enticing of a number to pass up on in a classic buy-low/sell-high spot.

Welcome to Death Valley!

Notable Nugget

Including the postseason, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is 14-7 against the spread (66.7%) as an underdog of more than a field goal, covering by 4.6 points per game.

Arkansas +6 at Florida

12 p.m. ET ⋅ ESPN2

I've had this buy-low spot circled ever since the news broke that Arkansas fired offensive coordinator Dan Enos. To absolutely nobody's surprise, that hire didn't work out.

Things can only improve on that side of the ball with a new play-caller and more tempo.

Plus, with the Hogs coming off a bye, they have two weeks to work on that side of the ball while adding some new wrinkles and looks that Florida won't have tape on.

It also won't hurt to potentially get star running back Raheim "Rocket" Sanders back in the fold to provide a boost to an absolutely anemic rushing attack. On the season, Arkansas is one of only nine teams to average under 3.0 yards per carry or fewer.

Head coach Sam Pittman said he expects Sanders — who should be one of the first running backs off the board in next year's NFL Draft — to play this weekend.

While the offense has been a mess for the Razorbacks due to a lack of running game, extremely poor tackle play on both sides and the season-ending injury to tight end Luke Hasz, getting Sanders and competent early down play-calling should give this offense more juice for stud quarterback KJ Jefferson to work with.

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Meanwhile, the defense has shined all season but has simply been overshadowed by the offensive ineptitude.

Yes, Arkansas has dropped six in a row, but five of those came by one possession against one of the five hardest schedules in the country. The Hogs lost in flukey fashion at home in one-possession affairs to BYU and Mississippi State despite out-gaining those two opponents to under 500 combined yards.

More impressively, they dropped hard-fought one-score games on the road against LSU, Alabama and Ole Miss.

This team is still fighting under Pittman, who may be coaching for his job, and bowl eligibility is still in the cards with a win on Saturday with three home games to follow against FIU, Auburn, and Missouri.

I expect Arkansas to come out with a spirited effort, led by a revamped offense and an always stellar defense.

While Arkansas healed up during the bye, Florida played an emotional and physical battle against Georgia that likely cost it leading tackler Shemar James at linebacker for this week.

It also has a trip to Baton Rouge to take on LSU next week, so it certainly could come out a bit flat for a noon kick in Gainesville.

Woo Pig Sooie!

I'm waiting to see if this goes up before placing a wager, but I'll still play down to +6.

Notable Nugget

Sam Pittman owns a superb 17-7 ATS (70.8%) record as an underdog, which includes a 10-3 (76.9%) ATS mark on the road.

South Carolina -15.5 vs. Jacksonville State

12 p.m. ET ⋅ ESPNU

Let's close the noon slate out by backing the home SEC favorite in a true cock fight between two Gamecocks.

This just looks like a classic get-right spot at the bottom of the market for the supremely talented team on both sides of the ball.

Just based on the two records of these two teams, I think we're getting South Carolina at a bit of a discount. SC sits at just 2-6 on the season, but all six losses came against opponents that were ranked at one point during the season.

Even crazier is the fact that only one of those games came at home for the Gamecocks.

Meanwhile, take a look at Jacksonville State's seven wins this season:

  • UTEP
  • ETSU
  • Eastern Michigan
  • Sam Houston State
  • Middle Tennessee
  • Western Kentucky
  • Florida International

All seven victories came over opponents that sit outside the top 100 of my latest power ratings with three of those wins coming by one-possession.

Keep in mind Jacksonville State didn't cover in a similar price range on the road at Coastal Carolina, which I have rated near a touchdown worse than South Carolina.

To further illustrate how stark the schedule disparity is between these two teams, I have South Carolina's strength of schedule ranked No. 1 overall and Jacksonville State ranked No. 133. That's as big as you'll ever see between two FBS teams.

Not only has South Carolina had the hardest schedule in the country, but it also has been extremely unfortunate in a number of categories, including an FBS-low one fumble recovery on the season.

saturday-college football-picks-favorites-ncaaf-utah-south carolina-oct 14
James Gilbert/Getty Images. Pictured: South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler.

Opponents have also gone 14-of-19 on fourth downs against South Carolina, which includes three late conversions by the Gators in a miraculous comeback win. Meanwhile, South Carolina has gone just 6-of-17 (35.3%) on offense.

From a matchup perspective, Jacksonville State can't take advantage of South Carolina's vulnerable secondary.

Conversely, Spencer Rattler and what looks like a healthier set of weapons this week should shred a porous Jacksonville State secondary that allowed Sam Houston to throw for almost 300 yards.

Plus, Jacksonville State uses as much tempo as any team, which isn't ideal in the underdog role. SC should have plenty of opportunities to put up points throughout against an overmatched and undersized defense.

Lastly, Jacksonville State also has a conference title on its mind with a very favorable remaining schedule. Consequently, I'm not sure head coach Rich Rodriguez will want to risk injuries or show too much, especially if this gets out of hand in the second half, so you could see backups get in the game sooner than usual.

Meanwhile, South Carolina is still fighting under head coach Shane Beamer. Bowl eligibility is still a real possibility with a realistic 4-0 finish in the cards with four home games against Jacksonville State, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Clemson.

I think the Gamecocks from the Palmetto State come out fully focused and put it on Jacksonville State from start to finish in a much-needed get-right game after four straight losses.

Spurs Up!

Notable Nugget

Since 2009, SEC teams have gone 55-38 (59.1%) ATS against CUSA opponents, covering by about a field goal per game.

Pick: South Carolina -15.5 (Play to -16.5)

Army +18.5 at Air Force

2:30 p.m. ET ⋅ CBS Sports Network

Air Force will look to keep its magical season going against Army in a semi-neutral game in Denver.

While the Falcons have started out 8-0 for the first time since 1985, they've definitely benefited from one of the nation's easiest schedules with wins over the following eight teams:

  • Robert Morris
  • Sam Houston
  • Utah State
  • San Diego State
  • San Jose State
  • Wyoming
  • Navy
  • Colorado State

It helps that most of those teams have abysmal run defenses.

The Falcons have also been aided by good turnover luck, fourth-down variance and even weather.

Look no further than last week against Colorado State. In snowy conditions that clearly favored Air Force's triple-option attack against an Air Raid offense, the Rams had 240 yards on five drives that resulted in only six points thanks to a turnover and failing to convert on all three fourth-down attempts.

The Falcons even benefited on a touchdown drive from an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Colorado State bench for some of their fans throwing snowballs if you can believe that.

This is not only a chance to sell high on Air Force but an opportunity to buy low on Army after five straight losses, including a 62-0 defeat at LSU followed by a home loss as a double-digit favorite against lowly UMass in its past two contests.

The Black Knights have looked completely lost at times but have dealt with quarterback injuries and the second-worst turnover margin in college football at -12.

They've also lost three games by one possession, including a pair against Boston College and ULM on game-winning touchdowns in the final minutes.

With that said, this is more just about getting 18.5 points in a battle between two service academies, especially with the new clock rules.

Army's run defensive metrics aren't great, but it knows how to defend the triple option, unlike most teams. That invaluable familiarity is why service academy unders have gone an absurd 44-10-1 (81.5%) in 55 matchups since 2005.

Army's run defense metrics aren't great on paper but are on par with Navy's from an EPA perspective before it played Air Force. In that game, the Falcons averaged fewer than 3.0 yards per carry on 48 attempts. For reference, the Falcons have averaged a stellar 5.5 yards per rush in all other games.

You can basically throw out the rushing metrics when these teams meet.

Despite giving up a pick-six and playing with a backup quarterback, even Navy covered some numbers against Air Force despite amassing less than 50 total yards of offense before a last-minute drive in garbage time.

Even if Army doesn't get a few overdue bounces, it may only need to put one touchdown drive together to cover, but a cover without even scoring is also a possibility in a 17-0 type of game.

This is just too many points to pass up between two of the most run-heavy offenses in the country, which will lead to a limited number of possessions, hence a total that currently sits at 32.

It should be extremely difficult for Air Force to build significant margin.

Go Army, beat Air Force!

Notable Nugget

Service academies catching over two touchdowns have gone 42-24-2 ATS (63.6%) since 2005, covering by just under five points per game.

That includes an ATS record of 17-6-1 (73.9%) with a 9.8-point average cover margin when the total closes at 48 or less.

Pick: Army +18.5 (Play to +17)

Maryland +10.5 vs. Penn State

3:30 p.m. ET ⋅ FOX

After three straight losses and back-to-back one-possession losses as a favorite, this is a good buy-low spot on the Terps in one of their three annual regular season Super Bowls against the powers of the Big Ten East.

In their first one against Ohio State, they actually played the Buckeyes super close in Columbus before throwing a pick-six and ultimately falling apart late.

I think they suffered a bit of a hangover in their past two games after that result while also getting a bit unfortunate in several areas. Now, I'm expecting a fully focused effort against a ranked Penn State team that could get caught peaking ahead to Michigan next week.

I'm also just more than happy to fade this struggling Nittany Lions' offense that ranks dead last in the country in explosiveness. Despite the inability to stretch the field or break any long runs, Penn State still leads the country in Points per Opportunity and ranks second in that category on defense.

Therefore, negative scoring regression on both ends looms in the coming weeks. The Nittany Lions have also benefited from the nation's best overall turnover margin at +13.

From a matchup perspective, Maryland has enough talent in the front seven to stymy a plodding Penn State rushing attack that can't overcome the major problems in the interior of the offensive line.

That will in turn force Drew Allar and the lackluster Penn State passing attack to build margin against a solid Maryland secondary — assuming the turnover luck runs out and Maryland doesn't gift away short fields and/or defensive scores all day, as most of Penn State's opponents have.

I'm OK with that scenario, especially with wide receiver Harrison Wallace III likely out. Wallace was spotted in a sling after leaving last week's game with an injury, and nobody else has emerged from that wide receiver room to help out KeAndre Lambert-Smith after all of the NFL departures in recent seasons.

While things won't be easy for the Terps offense against an elite Penn State defense, they have the better quarterback and enough playmakers at the skill positions to keep this close.

They also might not have to deal with potential first-round draft pick Chop Robinson off the edge after he missed last week due to an injury suffered the week prior against Ohio State.

And while you won't find many cracks in Penn State's defensive metrics, it has played an absolutely laughable schedule of opposing quarterbacks to date.

I have to take over 10 here with the home Terps in a very good situational spot that I project close to a touchdown.

Go Terps!

Notable Nugget

After losing outright as a double-digit favorite, conference dogs of more than a field goal have hit at a 57% clip over the past 20 seasons.

Pick: Maryland +10.5 (Play to +10)

Middle Tennessee +3 at New Mexico State

6 p.m. ET ⋅ ESPN+

New Mexico State is once again on its way to another bowl berth by beating up on an absolute clown car schedule full of cupcakes. Just take a look at its wins this season:

  • Western Illinois
  • New Mexico
  • Florida International
  • Sam Houston
  • UTEP
  • Louisiana Tech

Keep in mind the Aggies — who should've lost to Louisiana Tech in their most recent game — also have losses against cellar dwellers in UMass and Hawaii.

Throw in one respectable opponent in a 16-point loss against Liberty, and you get a schedule that ranks 157th in difficulty, per Sagarin, which includes FCS teams. For reference, Nicholls has a more difficult schedule, while no other FBS team ranks below 137th.

Conversely, Middle Tennessee has a schedule that ranks 83rd in difficulty. Not only did the Blue Raiders start the season with nonconference games Alabama and Missouri, but they've also faced all of the other top teams in CUSA with the basement dwellers to follow this game.

Speaking of that schedule, the Blue Raiders have 17 days off before this matchup, which gives them time to work out some kinks after dealing with plenty of turnover in the offseason. It'll also get healthier after a pretty grueling schedule for a team of their caliber.

Hopefully, they get a guy like Zaylin Wood back on the defensive line against New Mexico State's heavy rush attack.

With three extremely winnable games to follow against FIU, UTEP and Sam Houston, I expect Middle Tennessee to come out with a renewed energy and sense of purpose with its preseason goal of reaching bowl eligibility still very much in reach with a win on Saturday.

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Also, despite a fairly tough slate to start the season, MTSU went 0-3 in contests decided by seven points or fewer. That included road bouts with Missouri and Liberty, which look better by the day.

Rick Stockstill's squad also had some other misleading final scores due to bad variance in terms of red-zone defense, turnovers and late downs on defense, especially when you consider the much rosier numbers on the more stable early-downs data.

The Blue Raiders certainly fit the mold as a major positive regression candidate over the next four weeks.

Meanwhile, NMSU quarterback Diego Pavia has benefited from extremely good fortune. Even against a riotous schedule, he's had 17 big-time throws and 12 turnover-worthy plays, yet has 17 touchdowns to just five interceptions.

Turnovers are coming for the Aggies, who have also been fortunate with fumble bounces in league play.

Ultimately, this is a strength of schedule play, which has led to the market being artificially high on NMSU and too low on MTSU.

I also like the spot after a super extended bye for a team that needs to win out to get to bowl eligibility.

The Blue Raiders should have no issues throwing against the New Mexico State secondary, which is the path to victory against a fraudulent 6-3 Aggies bunch.

Considering I make MTSU a favorite on a neutral field, I gladly took the field goal.


Notable Nugget

Excluding the 2020 COVID-19 season, MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill has gone 5-0 ATS with more than 14 days in between games, covering by 9.5 points per game.

Pick: Middle Tennessee +3 or Better

Louisiana Tech +17 at Liberty

6 p.m. ET ⋅ CBS Sports Network

I'm headed back to Conference USA to back another hard-luck underdog coming off a bye that needs to win out for bowl eligibility against an overrated favorite that has certainly benefited from a comical schedule.

Let's start with the 8-0 Flames, who have thrived under one of the best offensive minds in college football in new head coach Jamey Chadwell.

Quarterback Kaidon Salter has shined in the new offensive system, which features a dynamic rushing attack and endless disguises that set up explosive passing plays. It's a brilliantly schemed offense.

However, the Flames have played one of the nation's easiest schedules while benefiting from extreme turnover luck thanks to an FBS-high 16 interceptions. Just take a look at who Liberty has defeated:

  • Bowling Green
  • New Mexico State
  • Buffalo
  • FIU
  • Sam Houston
  • Jacksonville State
  • Middle Tennessee
  • Western Kentucky

Not only have the Flames yet to face a top-100 team in my power ratings, but they barely squeaked by Middle Tennessee and Sam Houston at home while benefiting from multiple Jacksonville State quarterback injuries in a game that was tied at the half.

In regards to Louisiana Tech, for starters, opponents have converted a ludicrous 12-of-18 on fourth downs, while the Bulldogs have also recovered only two fumbles all season.

Additionally, they've dealt with injuries at running back since opening week and to starting quarterback Hank Bachmeier, all while transitioning to a new offensive scheme. That's not an easy task.

Yet, Louisiana Tech has still been in almost every game. The Bulldogs simply just found themselves on the short end of the stick more times than not with one-possession losses against Middle Tennessee, New Mexico State, Western Kentucky and North Texas.

Even at Nebraska with backup quarterback Jack Turner, they trailed just 14-7 going into the fourth quarter.

From a matchup perspective, with Bachmeier back healthy, Louisiana Tech should have success throwing against a Liberty secondary that has enjoyed extreme luck in regards to takeaways and opposing quarterbacks faced.

While Salter and the Flames' deep stable of backs should enjoy an abundance of success against a leaky Louisiana Tech run defense that really doesn't have much in the interior or up the middle at linebacker, they likely won't get much through the air against an excellent Louisiana Tech secondary.

The Bulldogs also have a couple of edge defenders who could cause problems for Liberty's beatable tackles.

Lastly, don't forget about the special teams where Louisiana Tech has a distinct edge. Keep an eye out for dynamic return man Smoke Harris to make a game-changing play.

After enjoying very good fortune all season (with health as well) and a hilariously easy schedule, Liberty has reached the peak of its market value, while the opposite holds true for Louisiana Tech, leading to an inflated price tag.

Fight for ole red and blue!

Notable Nugget

Undefeated home teams laying double digits in Week 9 or later have hit at only a 40.8% ATS clip since 2010, per Action Labs.

Pick: Louisiana Tech +17 or Better

Iowa State -2.5 vs. Kansas

7 p.m. ET ⋅ ESPN

Kansas probably finds itself in the toughest situational spot of the weekend, having to pick itself off the map after one of the biggest wins in program history for a trip to Ames.

That upset win over Oklahoma — its first home victory over an AP top 10 team since 1984 — also got the Jayhawks their first College Football Playoff ranking in program history.

For what it's worth, only five current Power 5 teams have still never been a part of those rankings:

  • Cal
  • Maryland
  • Rutgers
  • Texas Tech
  • Vanderbilt

There's obviously an enormous letdown risk for the Jayhawks, who I loved last week in an ideal situational spot following a bye week for one of the best offensive staffs in college football.

However, despite last week's performance, Kansas still has a very poor defense that a rejuvenated Iowa State offense should exploit.

Coming into the season, the Cyclones had major questions after dealing with a lot of turnover on that side of the ball in recent seasons in addition to an offseason gambling scandal.

Well, after some schematic tweaks and continued development from a very young bunch, the offense has found its footing.

After a loss at Ohio in which the Cyclones were dealing with a food poisoning outbreak, Matt Campbell's squad has won four of its last five in league play with the lone loss coming in Norman against Oklahoma.

And if not for a late Oklahoma State touchdown in the final minutes, each victory would've been by double digits.

As a result, Iowa State suddenly finds itself in a five-way tie for first place in the Big 12 and squarely in the mix for a conference title.

week 13-college football-rivalry week-saturday-situational betting spots-picks-iowa state-november 26-2022
Tim Warner/Getty Images. Pictured: Myles Purchase (5) of the Iowa State Cyclones.

Freshman quarterback Rocco Becht keeps gaining confidence under center, while EKU transfer wide receiver Jayden Higgins continues his ascent on the outside as a nice complement to Jaylin Noel.

With the inexperienced tight ends also starting to contribute more, that has finally opened up some things for the running backs even if the production still isn't anything to write home about in large part due to an underwhelming offensive line.

After averaging only 83 rushing yards over the first four games of the season, the Cyclones have almost doubled that to 162.5 over the past four.

Look, this still isn't the most efficient offense. But it's getting more explosiveness and improving with each passing week. While it likely won't get much on the ground against Kansas, Becht should hit enough explosives through the air against a vulnerable Kansas coverage unit.

On the other side of the ball, it's good on good when the splendid Rock Chalk offense takes on the always rock-solid Iowa State defense.

However, led by stud cornerback TJ Tampa — whose absence was really felt in the second half last week after a first-half targeting call — this loaded Cyclone secondary has the chops to deal with all of the pre-snap motion and disguise that Kansas uses as well as anybody.

I also expect them to bow up in the red zone enough times after the Kansas offense inevitably puts some nice drives together.

Give me the still undervalued and improving Clones at home under a field goal against the potentially hungover Jayhawks, who have looked very underwhelming outside of Lawrence all season.

Go Clones!

Notable Nugget

Following a top-20 upset as a touchdown or more underdog, conference underdogs playing the next week have gone just 28-51-3 ATS (35.4%), including 13-33-1 (28.3%) when that upset came at home.

Pick: Iowa State -2.5 or Better

USC +3.5 vs. Washington

7:30 p.m. ET ⋅ ABC

After getting burned by a rare USC wager against Utah, I swore off the Trojans and got back to my regularly scheduled fade program last week against Cal.

Well, I lied.

I can't pass up taking a field goal in what profiles as a game where the last team with the ball wins.

Yes, USC hasn't covered in any of its previous six games and still can't stop a nosebleed, but its pass defense grades out significantly better than its abysmal tackling run defense since it has a few very good edge rushers and talented defensive backs.

Unlike against Utah and Notre Dame, that's huge in this particular matchup against the pass-heavy Huskies, who have struggled to run the ball against almost everybody of late.

That includes last week's output of 91 rushing yards on 27 carries (3.4), which followed a mere 13 yards on 13 carries against Arizona State the week prior.

Part of the problem is issues along the interior of the offensive line, which has dealt with a lot of shuffling all season. Not only has that hurt the running game, but teams are also now bringing a ton of pressure up the middle on Michael Penix Jr. to disrupt a passing attack that just doesn't have the same level of potency without Jalen McMillan, who can't stay healthy.

Meanwhile, the Washington defense is also trending in the wrong direction due to a number of key injuries, with the Huskies really missing Tuli Letuligasenoa along the defensive line in addition to a trio of safeties in Kamren Fabiculanan, Vincent Nunley and Asa Turner.

Without those three last week against Stanford, the lack of depth really showed on the back end against a bad Cardinal team that finished with a 495-460 yardage advantage.

This bend-don't-break defense always had a few exploitable holes, but the injuries have sent this unit into a tailspin. Over the past four weeks, the Huskies have had to hold for dear life in four one-possession victories against Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford and Oregon.

They were just fortunate the Ducks couldn't convert a fourth down and the Sun Devils don't have a kicker, or those likely would've been a pair of home defeats, which would've completely changed the narrative with this team.

The Washington offense will still score at will even if it isn't operating at its peak at this moment. Everybody does against the Alex Grinch defense.

However, there's no reason why the equally electric USC offense can't match every score, so I'll happily grab over a field goal with the home Trojans in a game I project closer to +1.

Plus, this is what the Pac-12 ultimately always does: cannibalize itself.

Fight On!

Notable Nugget

It doesn't happen often, but ranked teams that haven't covered in six or more straight games have gone 7-2 ATS (77.8%) since 2005, covering by 8.5 points per game.

Also, Lincoln Riley is 3-0 ATS as an underdog of more than a field goal in his career, which has never happened at home.

Arizona +3 vs. UCLA

10:30 p.m. ET ⋅ FS1

I'm not sure when the Wildcats will get proper respect in the market, but I'll keep betting them until they do.

On the season, Arizona is an FBS-best 7-1 ATS, including 5-0 ATS as an underdog, covering by a whopping 17.1 points per game.

Arizona's offense is extremely balanced and well-schemed, while the defense is extremely underrated.

Don't be surprised if second-year head coach Jedd Fisch isn't in Tucson very long with more high-profile job offers likely to come in the near future.

The Wildcats sit at 5-3 on the season but easily could be 6-1 if not for two overtime losses. Meanwhile, the other defeat came by seven against undefeated Washington.

They've had all of this success even without original starting quarterback Jayden de Laura, who got hurt earlier in the season.

That opened the door for Noah Fifita, who won Pac-12 Freshman of the Week three times in October. All he's done in four starts — all against top-20 teams — is complete 75% of his 153 pass attempts for 1,199 yards with 11 touchdowns to just three interceptions.

While the raw metrics between Fifita and de Laura don't differ by much, the freshman Fifita is much less mistake-prone with a greater willingness to throw the ball away compared to de Laura, who will at times recklessly force a ball into coverage.

Fifita has complete command of an offense that's operating like a well-oiled machine right now.

The pass blocking has been excellent, while the skill positions feature an abundance of talent with a deep backfield of explosive runners that rank third in Rushing Success Rate in addition to the outstanding wide receiver duo of Tetairoa McMillan and Jacob Cowing.

This particular matchup pits together two excellent rushing attacks that might struggle to get going against two stingy run defenses. The success of UCLA's defensive front has been well documented this season, but not enough people are talking about an Arizona run defense that ranks in the top 20 in most rush defense metrics.

Therefore, in a matchup of good-on-good in the run game, this game will likely come down to which quarterback can make more plays through the air.

I'll side with Fifita and the Arizona receivers over Ethan Garbers and UCLA's weapons without pause.

In a matchup between two clubs I have power-rated close to even, I had to grab the field goal with the home pups who have played the tougher schedule against a UCLA team that has disappointed in its only two road league games against Utah and Oregon State, albeit with Dante Moore under center.

Bear Down!

Notable Nugget

Since 2005, no team in college football has been more profitable as a home dog against ranked opponents than Arizona.

Over that span, the Wildcats have gone 18-6-1 ATS (75%), covering by just under 10 points per game on average. That includes a perfect 2-0 this season.

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