October 15, 2010

Arizona Wildcats vs. Washington State Cougars Picks, Trends, and Preview



Arizona Wildcats
(4-1, 3-2 ATS)

Washington State Cougars
(1-5, 3-3 ATS)

No one is really expecting Saturday night’s duel in Pullman between the Washington State Cougars and the Arizona Wildcats to be particularly close, but stranger things have happened in NCAA football betting action before, and we certainly have our eyes on this one in Week 7.

Arizona looked awfully soft last week in a 29-27 loss at home to the Oregon State Beavers, and now it has to hit the road for the first in a stretch where three of the next four are played outside of the desert. QB Nick Foles is absolutely fantastic and has done a great job with this receiving corps. He has thrown for 1,529 yards and nine TDs this year, and his top target is WR Juron Criner, who has 32 catches, 542 yards, and three tuddies. The defense for the Wildcats has either been totally hit or totally miss. The unit hasn’t allowed a TD in three of its five games this year, but in those other two, it allowed an average of 28.0 points per game. This is another one of those “can’t win” games for the visitors, as they are supposed to win going away, but if they don’t, many are going to look at them and wonder whether they are really serious contenders for the Pac-10 title and a spot in the coveted Rose Bowl or not.

Washington State is improving, but it is clear that this team really still isn’t competing in the Pac-10 any time in the near future. The Cougs are clearly starting to get the attention of the oddsmakers, as they have covered back to back games by comfortable margins, and they’ve beaten the NCAA football odds in three of their last four. We can thank QB Jeff Tuel for those covers. The sophomore has a heck of a future for Wazzou. He has thrown for at least 200 yards in all of his starts this season, which is a marked improvement for a team that quite often barely reached 200 total yards in games in the past. He is completing a somewhat respectable 58.0 percent of his passes for 1,478 yards and nine scores against five picks. The problem is that the defense is still absolutely atrocious. No team in the country is allowing more rushing yards per game (254.7) or total yards per game (517.5) than the Cougs, and the end result has been an average of 42.8 points per game allowed. Three straight foes have reached that “uh-oh” 40 point barrier, and that’s a trend that must stop to get in the win column in the Pac-10.

Wazzou isn’t winning this game, but we could see this one staying close for a good long while. Arizona is another one of these teams that was vastly overrated when it was in the Top 10, and even though it has fallen all the way to No. 22, it still is getting far too much respect, especially against a team that has proven that it can score some points when needed. The Cougs are good for at least 17 in this game, and if that’s the case, we think that they are sticking in front of this college football spread.

NCAA Football Free Pick: Washington State Cougars +22.5

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