Pac-12 Odds, Picks: How to Bet Saturday’s College Football Conference Games

Pac-12 Odds, Picks: How to Bet Saturday’s College Football Conference Games article feature image

Ryan Collinsworth/Action Network.

  • Saturday's college football slate features a number of intriguing Pac-12 matchups that are worth betting.
  • Among those are Oregon vs Cal, UCLA vs Stanford, USC vs Arizona and Arizona State vs Colorado.
  • Read on to see how our staff is betting these Pac-12 games below.

Pac-12 Football Betting Previews for Week 9

The team logos in the table below represent each of four Pac-12 conference matchups that the Action Network NCAAF staff is betting on Saturday, Oct. 29. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to jump to a specific bet discussed in this article.

Time (ET)
3:30 p.m.
Oregon Team Total
7 p.m.
USC -15.5
7:30 p.m.
Over 46.5
10:30 p.m.
UCLA -16.5
Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
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No. 8 Oregon vs Cal

Saturday, Oct. 29
3:30 p.m.
Oregon Team Total Over 37.5

By Thomas Schlarp

So, you're saying there's a chance?

Oregon's College Football Playoff hopes looked all but over just one week into the season, but the Ducks have taken flight in the six weeks since to keep themselves in the CFP discussion.

They now hit the road in pursuit of their seventh straight win — all but one of which were by at least two touchdowns — as they travel to face a reeling Cal team.

The Golden Bears have dropped three Pac-12 games in a row, including two by a single score. Will Saturday serve as a turning point for Cal, or can Oregon keep blowing teams out the weekend before the first CFP rankings are released?

Oregon Ducks

Last Saturday officially marked the first day in which Bo Nix Heisman memes became serious statements, as the quarterback had arguably the best performance of his four-year career.

Nix accounted for over 300 yards of offense and five touchdowns with zero turnovers as the Ducks fairly easily handled a top-10 UCLA team in Eugene.

It's the type of performance that is becoming more customary for Nix in his first year in the Pacific Northwest. The quarterback is on pace for career-bests in completion percentage and yards per attempt, and he has already set career highs in passing (17) and rushing touchdowns (8) in a season with at least six games to go.

Nix has helped orchestrate an offense that has scored at least 41 points in every game this season since the shellacking in Atlanta. Oregon's 49 points per game since Week 2 ranks third in the country.

And while Nix and receiver Troy Franklin have been one of the more dangerous duos in football this season, the Ducks are even more potent running the ball.

Oregon ranks fifth in the country with 244.6 rushing yards per game, including averaging 306.3 over the last three games against the likes of Stanford, Arizona and UCLA.

Oregon's defense hasn't been nearly up to snuff with the offense, allowing at least 20 points to every Power Five opponent it has faced this season. The Ducks have particularly struggled against the pass, where they rank 115th and 104th in Pass Success and pass blocking.

California Golden Bears

Cal finds itself on the opposite end of the spectrum, amidst a three-game losing streak with games against Oregon and USC on deck. The Golden Bears are 3-4 on the season with the only Power Five win coming over Arizona and an overtime loss to Colorado, one of the worst teams in the country.

The Bears have had modest success in the passing game with Purdue transfer Jack Plummer, who has completed 61.2% of his passes for 1,754 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions.

Cal has had difficulties protecting, Plummer, however, as it ranks 111th in sacks allowed per game (3.29). Fortunately for the Bears, the Oregon pass rush isn't exactly a game-breaker with only 13 total sacks on the season.

It's been hit or miss for Cal in the run game with freshman Jaydn Ott. Ott ran for 274 yards and three touchdowns against Arizona, but he has averaged just 51.7 yards in the three games since with a lone touchdown.

With a mediocre offense, Cal's defense hasn't been good enough to keep it in games either. All four Pac-12 opponents have scored at least 20 points against the Bears, although they limited limit Washington (40.4 points per game) to six first-half points and 28 total points last week, a season-low for the Huskies.

While allowing only 117.0 rushing yards per game, Cal rank just 117th in terms of Rush Success. Defending the passing game has also been a liability, as the Bears have surrendered at least 340 passing yards in three of the last four games.

Oregon vs Cal Pick

The Ducks are rolling and the Bears are not, but this fits all the classic tropes of being a potential trap game. It's a brand new coaching staff at Oregon, dealing for the first time with this sort of momentum and growing expectations while also playing on the road.

I still think Oregon wins, but I also wouldn't be shocked to see the Ducks get caught sleeping a bit in the first half, allowing Cal to keep this thing within the number. I see more certainty in backing Nix and the Oregon offense to continue to show up.

As previously mentioned, only Georgia has kept Oregon below 41 points this season, yet Oregon's team total is set at 37.5 against the Bears. The Cal defense isn't exactly a group of world-beaters, especially against the run — Oregon's main strength.

If this game is a blowout, the Ducks will cash this number. If Oregon shows up sleepy and its defense allows some early points, the Ducks offense will be forced to keep the foot on the gas and cash this number.

Oregon has had a top-five offense since Week 1, and I see no reason why things will change in Berkeley.

Pick: Oregon Team Total Over 37.5

No. 10 USC vs Arizona

Saturday, Oct. 29
7 p.m.
Pac-12 Network
USC -15.5

By Dan Keegan

The Trojans head to Tucson to take on the Wildcats in a game with the highest over/under on the board.

Both teams are trending up — they just started from different places. Lincoln Riley has led USC back to national relevance thanks to a high-powered offense and a middle-of-the-pack defense.

Jedd Fisch is reviving an Arizona program that was on life support and after winning just one game in his first season (2021), he already has three this year. The offense is spectacular when passing the ball, but fails to move the needle when rushing. The defense is still one of the worst in FBS.

The line portends a comfortable USC win and a whole lot of points. Will we have a shootout on our hands or a blowout?

USC Trojans

Riley’s Oklahoma teams earned a reputation for being all offense with no defense, and that has followed him to sunny Los Angeles.

Caleb Williams followed him too, and Williams is awesome. The Heisman Trophy candidate has completed 63.9% of his passes for 1,971 yards this season. He's also connected on 19 touchdown passes and has thrown only one interception.

He is also a threat on the ground, as he's run for 360 yards (before sack yardage is removed for his box score total) and three touchdowns.

As incredible as Williams has been this season, he is not alone on offense. Oregon transfer Travis Dye has been a workhorse at running back, carrying the ball 101 times for 647 yards.

This offense has been on fire, only twice failing to score 40 points, against Oregon State and Washington State. Arizona’s 113th-ranked defense in SP+ has little chance to slow down this offense, and that’s even if star wide receiver Jordan Addison doesn’t play (he is considered day-to-day).

USC’s defense against the Arizona offense is a matchup of some intrigue, though. The Trojans' defense hasn't nearly been as stout against the rush (130th in EPA/rush) as the pass (38th). This is crucial for this matchup because the Wildcats vastly prefer to throw the ball (122nd in Rush Rate).

In addition, USC’s defense toughens up in the red zone and in scoring opportunities.

It ranks 80th in Parker Fleming’s ECKEL rate, which measures how often a team allows scoring opportunities, which isn’t great. But it improves to 35th in Points Per ECKEL, as it's able to turn teams away or force field goal attempts.

Arizona’s offense struggles to capitalize and only ranks 71st in points per ECKEL.

Arizona Wildcats

Arizona has been excellent at passing the ball, mediocre running it and atrocious defensively. In all honesty, having one strong unit to hang its hat on is an improvement over some of Arizona's recent outfits.

This was a true rebuild, and Fisch has done work in the portal to get things up to competency in the desert. Washington State transfer quarterback Jayden de Laura has been impressive, although he does have a habit of giving the ball away — his 16 Turnover Worthy Plays exceed his 15 Big Time Throws.

His favorite target has been UTEP transfer Jacob Cowing, one of the breakout stars in college football. Cowing is 10th in FBS with 737 yards on the season and seven touchdowns.

He could be in for a big day against USC because he operates from the slot about two-thirds of the time, and USC keeps its best corner, Mekhi Blackmon, exclusively on the outside.

Arizona is poorly situated to take advantage of USC’s biggest weakness: rush defense. The Wildcats rank 74th in EPA/Rush and only run the ball 42.7% of the time, one of the lowest rates in the country. It’s easy to imagine that might be even lower on Saturday afternoon.

If USC can score at will early, Arizona will need to rely on the pass, playing right into the Trojans’ hands.

USC vs Arizona Pick

USC’s offense should be able to score at will.

Fresh off of their bye week, the Trojans' nagging injuries will have healed up and the offense will be at full firepower. Arizona’s defense doesn’t have a single tool in its toolbox that could slow down this impressive attack.

Arizona will be able to score, but the run/pass splits are not in its favor in this matchup. Also, I don’t trust de Laura to protect the ball against this ball-hawking defense.

It would be fun to take the over and root for points in one of the highest totals I’ve seen this season, but that would require 11 touchdowns. A mistake or two and that’s gone — one red zone interception, or a pair of drives that end in field goals and the over vanishes.

I’ll lay the points and back USC, as this should be a comfortable win for Williams and Co.

I’ll take the Trojans at -15, and I would play it to -16.5.

Pick: USC -15 ⋅ Play to -16.5

Arizona State vs Colorado

Saturday, Oct. 29
7:30 p.m.
Over 46.5

By Doug Ziefel

Since it gets dark around 6 p.m. on the East Coast, this matchup between Arizona State and Colorado qualifies as Pac-12 After Dark in my book.

While it may not look to be the most enticing matchup on paper, these two disappointing programs have started to show signs of life under their interim head coaches.

The Sun Devils look renewed the past two weeks as they upset a ranked Washington team and then lost a nail-biter to Stanford last week.

Regardless, both efforts have to be taken as positive momentum heading into this matchup, considering the downward spiral this team appeared to be on.

As for the Buffaloes, there's not much light at the end of the tunnel as their upset over Cal was quickly squashed by a throttling from Oregon State. However, this could be a matchup in which Colorado picks itself up off the deck and competes.

So, how do we play this battle of Pac-12 bottom-feeders? Let's dive in and find out.

Arizona State Sun Devils

In the Sun Devils' upset win over Washington, backup quarterback Trenton Bourguet came off the bench and provided a huge spark. He completed 71% of his passes and tossed three touchdowns in the victory.

While he returned to the bench last week, we saw similar passing success from Emory Jones against Stanford. The numbers say that string of success will carry over to this matchup.

Jones is far from an elite passer, but he's progressed as the season has gone along. His completion percentage in October sits at 67%, which is much higher than what he posted last year at Florida.

However, he doesn't need to be perfect against this Colorado secondary that has been smoked through the air.

The Buffaloes enter this matchup 116th in Passing Success Rate Allowed, and they're 131 in PFF's coverage rating. Although, the offensive opportunities don't stop there for Arizona State. Colorado also hasn't been able to stop the run either, as it ranks 130th in yards per rush allowed.

That number has to make running back Xazavian Valladay's eyes light up, as he's had an excellent campaign thus far. The senior running back is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and has reached pay dirt seven times. So, don't be surprised if he makes multiple house calls in this matchup.

Colorado Buffaloes

Well, we went over how dreadful the Colorado defense has been, and unfortunately for the Buffs, their offense has been equally as bad.

They come in averaging just 13.7 points per game and rank 121st in yards per game. However, they might be able to find some success against this Sun Devils defense.

The Buffaloes have thrown the ball a bunch because they've been trailing a ton this season, but their bread and butter is the run game. They actually have a significant rushing advantage in this matchup, as they're 46th in Rushing Success Rate. They also rank 83rd in Line Yards, while Arizona State sits at 127th.

In addition to their rushing edge, the Buffaloes will likely be without starting quarterback Owen McCown and will turn to J.T. Shrout, who has a completion percentage of 44.8% this season. So, establishing the run game may be their only way of moving the ball.

However, questions surround the running back position. Leading rusher Deion Smith missed last week's game with an undisclosed injury.

If Smith is out again, expect the majority of carries to go to Charlie Offerdahl, who's carried the ball at a 4.6 yards-per-carry clip this season.

Arizona State vs Colorado Pick

This game doesn't exactly scream "marquee matchup," but it does offer betting value. The Buffaloes defense will be exposed by a thriving Arizona State offense that should move the ball at will.

However, the Buffs may actually participate in the scoring here, as they have a big edge on the ground. So, while the Sun Devils will carry the scoring, this game goes over the total.

Pick: Over 46.5 ⋅ Play to 47.5

Stanford vs No. 12 UCLA

Saturday, Oct. 29
10:30 p.m.
UCLA -16.5

By Cody Goggin

Stanford will travel to Pasadena to take on UCLA after picking up back-to-back wins against Notre Dame and Arizona State.

Meanwhile, UCLA is coming off of its first loss of the season after losing at Oregon in the biggest game of last week’s slate.

Stanford’s defense has had success in recent weeks, but hasn't been playing offenses of UCLA's caliber. When Stanford faced elite offenses earlier this season, it was unable to keep games close and fell well short of victory.

This matchup provides a mismatch that favors the Bruins and should allow them a big day on the ground.

Stanford Cardinal

Cardinal Offense

Stanford’s offense has struggled to move the ball this year and has also been unable to generate explosive plays. The Cardinal rank 59th in offensive success rate, 55th in passing success rate and 65th in rushing success rate. They are the 63rd-ranked offense by SP+ and are 77th in explosiveness.

The offensive line has been a sticking point for this offense as Stanford ranks 94th in pass blocking grade by Pro Football Focus. Luckily, the Cardinal should get some reprieve this week as UCLA’s pass rush hasn’t been anything to write home about.

Cardinal Defense

This defense isn’t exceptional and will have its hands full against a potent UCLA offense.

Stanford is rated as the 81st best defense by SP+ and rank 85th in defensive success rate. Rushing defense has been this team's Achilles’ heel as Stanford is 113th in rushing defense success rate and 120th in EPA per rush allowed. This may pose massive problems for the Cardinal against UCLA.

UCLA Bruins

Bruins Offense

This is hands down the best unit in this game. UCLA’s offense has been among the best in the country this season. The Bruins rank second in offensive success rate, first in passing success rate and 10th in rushing success rate. The Bruins are ranked as the fifth best offense by SP+ and have the 10th highest PFF offense grade.

In 2021, UCLA had a potent rushing attack led by Zach Charbonnet and Dorian Thompson-Robinson. This year, the Bruins still have that duo, but have also become one of the best passing offenses in the country.

Thompson-Robinson is averaging 0.42 yards per dropback and 0.39 yards per rush this season. He is completing 75% of his passes and has 17 passing touchdowns to just three interceptions.

He's also added four rushing touchdowns. If UCLA had defeated Oregon last week, Thompson-Robinson would be in the thick of the Heisman race.

Charbonnet has been the true bell-cow running back for this offense and has 109 carries for 771 yards this season. No other back on the team has more than 50 rushes. He is averaging 0.17 EPA per rush and has a 59% success rate on those plays.

Against a Stanford defense that struggles to stop the run, Charbonnet may play a large role in UCLA getting a win on Saturday night.

Bruins Defense

UCLA ranks 108th in defensive success rate and has been poor against the run, ranking 114th.

The opposing offenses the Bruins have had to face have not done them any favors. UCLA’s defense is ranked 54th by SP+, which is not as bad as their raw numbers suggest.

Despite their statistical struggles, PFF gives UCLA the 31st best defensive grade and the 32nd best coverage grade.

Defense is not the strong suit of this team by any means, but the unit has been brought down by facing great offenses in each of the past three weeks. Against a Stanford team that hasn’t been nearly as prolific as previous opponents, UCLA's defense should have a better day.

Stanford vs UCLA Pick

UCLA simply has too much firepower for this line to be where it is. After a hard-fought loss to Oregon last week, I think UCLA will rebound against the Cardinal.

The key to this game will be the legs of Charbonnet and Thompson-Robinson. Those two should be able to do plenty of damage against a Stanford rushing defense that is ranked 124th in PFF run defense grade.

Stanford’s offense may have some success, but likely won't stand a chance at hanging around with the Bruins.

Pick: UCLA -16.5 ⋅ Bet to -17

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