Conferences in the Crosshairs: ACC, Pac-12 picks

Ken Cross

September 19, 2017 at 12:55 pm.


Sep 16, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies wide receiver Dante Pettis (8) runs for yardage after a catch against the Fresno State Bulldogs during the first quarter at Husky Stadium. Photo Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 16, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies wide receiver Dante Pettis (8) runs for yardage after a catch against the Fresno State Bulldogs during the first quarter at Husky Stadium. Photo Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC was extremely good to me last week as the Crosshairs were on point with a 6-0 overall record and a 5-1 mark against the spread.  If I had taken Notre Dame and given the points against lowly BC, I would have swept the league.  There was just something about Boston and late summer that made me think that the Eagles would keep it interesting.

UCLA (-3) against Memphis should have raised eyebrows, especially with the early morning start for the Bruins against a team with possibly better overall skill people in the Tigers. I was set to pick San Diego State over Stanford … and man, was I ever right on the premonition as the Aztecs scored late and after a black out in the stadium at Qualcomm, former home of the Chargers. The Texas Tech Red Raiders drew their pistols with the 7-and-a-hook as they scored late to edge Arizona State, 52-45.

Anyway…league play commences!


Washington at Colorado – The Huskies are relying on that usual sturdy defense which has allowed only 261.7 yards per game. The Buffaloes come back in defending their Pac-12 South title with an elusive running back in Phillip Lindsay, who like Myles Gaskin of Washington, will find the sledding tough against the opposite defense.  Look for Jake Browning and his fleet of receivers led by Dante Pettis to pass to win a tight one in the rematch of last year’s Pac-12 championship game.
Huskies (-8) 30, Buffaloes 20.

USC at Cal – Of course, the critics are still on USC quarterback Sam Darnold’s case as he has six interceptions in the team’s 3-0 start. Darnold is a winner, plain and simple, as he once again showed in Saturday’s late win over Texas as, oh by the way, he passed for 397 yards and three touchdowns.  Cal is off to an amazing 3-0 start, but the defense has struggled in giving up 475 yards per game.  The Trojans will start with physicality up front from Ronald Jones II, and then Darnold should operate his passing game with perfection.
Trojans (-17 1/2) 44, Bears 19.

Oregon at Arizona State – The Quack Attack is back.  Now, let us see how their explosion on both sides of the ball stacks up vs. Pac-12 competition.  Oregon’s Royce Freeman should now be in the Heisman conversation as he is the focal point of a strong offense led by the underrated quarterback Justin Herbert.  While the offense rolls up 609 yards per game, second in the nation, the Sun Devils’ defense could be bracing for a bulldozing.  Arizona State gave up 52 points to pass happy Texas Tech, who leads the nation in total offense.  No rest for Coach Todd Graham, who has to keep his Devils upbeat and in position to navigate the deep Pac-12 and another highly rated offense.
Ducks (-14 1/2) 49, Sun Devils 20.

Utah at Arizona – Rich Rod’s rushing game is a shade ahead of Oregon statistically as it pushes for 328 yards per game behind the dynamic Brandon Dawkins who is back from an injury.  The key point is Houston held the Wildcats to 152 rushing yards as the Cougars shaded Arizona, 19-16, two weeks ago.  Utah, defensively, has again led the Pac-12 at 246 yards allowed, ranked 12th in the nation.  It is the irresistible force vs. the immovable object as the Utes allow only 49 yards on the ground per game.
Utes (-3 1/2) 27, Wildcats 17.

UCLA at Stanford – The Bruins have been dealt blows with injuries especially to their defense, while Stanford has had a tough time stopping the run in the losses to the Aztecs and USC.  It’s the home opener in Palo Alto where Bryce Love and Cameron Scarlett should have a big day on the ground.  Josh Rosen has a 65 percent completion rate with 13 touchdown passes against only two interceptions.
Cardinal (-7 1/2) 37, Bruins 28.

Nevada at Washington State – Luke Falk continues to riddle opposing defenses as he threw six touchdown passes, three to Taveras Martin, as the Cougars rolled to a 52-23 win over Oregon State. The key is always the pass rush and not busting coverages when you play Mike Leach’s teams.  At 0-3, the Wolf Pack averages only one sack per game and haven’t been able to force turnovers so far.
Cougars (-24) 55, Wolfpack 24.


Boston College at Clemson – Even if Clemson has a letdown after defeating Louisville and Auburn on consecutive Saturdays, it will be able to correct itself against the struggling Eagles.  Dabo Swinney is still introducing playmaking receivers in his lineup and Kelly Bryant is playing with amazing confidence and efficiency at quarterback.  Notre Dame plucked the Eagles clean in a 49-20 rout at Chestnut Hill on Saturday.  This one gets ugly in a hurry.
Tigers (-32 1/2) 48, Eagles 7.

NC State at Florida State – The Seminoles have had a game either cancelled or postponed in the last two weeks based on the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma.  Now, it’s time to go to work.  With Deondre Francois out for the season, it’s time to set freshman James Blackman in the driver’s seat and let him run the offense.  FSU struggled offensively against Alabama, but also played a solid defensive game.  Therein, lies what has to happen against the 2-1 Wolfpack.  FSU must discover a running attack against a highly rated defensive line that has under-performed so far.
Seminoles 30, Wolfpack (+14) 21.

Syracuse at LSU – The Tigers are glad to see the Orange after getting blasted 37-7 by the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville last week.  The Tigers need to fashion a passing game to continue to try to move forward as it becomes more and more apparent that Danny Etling is not the answer.  Syracuse has generated offense behind quarterback Eric Dungey, who leads SU in rushing as well.  Syracuse only allows 84 yards per game on the ground, but the numbers are a bit skewed for the ‘Cuse as they piled them up vs. Central Connecticut State and Central Michigan, while losing to Middle Tennessee State.
Tigers (-23) 52, Orange 16.

Duke at North Carolina – It seems so early for this matchup and it gives basketball fans mirages of what will be in another chocked ACC hoops offering.  Duke is 3-0 and hasn’t been out of Wallace Wade Stadium in rolling up wins over North Carolina Central, Northwestern and Baylor. Daniel Jones is running the Duke offense with efficiency, while the Blue Devils boast the No. 1 rush defense in the nation in allowing only 47 yards per game. The Tar Heels have struggled big time defensively and in defending the return game. Jones and T.J. Rahming should be able to connect in the passing game as running back Shaun Wilson averages 7.1 yards per carry.  The Tar Heels will keep it interesting though at Keenan Stadium.
Blue Devils (-3) 34, Tar Heels 23.

Kent State at Louisville – As expected, Louisville’s defensive problems showed against an improving Clemson Tigers offense.  Lamar Jackson still had 397 total yards and even had a 60-yard run called back on a penalty.  The Golden Flashes are a good matchup to use to make corrections, especially with the defense, so Louisville can improve when it dives back into ACC play.
Cardinals 47, Golden Flashes (+37) 17.

Pitt at Georgia Tech – The Yellow Jackets’ triple option offense is in good hands behind quarterback TaQuon Marshall, who joins KirVonte Benson as a tough 1-2 punch.  The Panthers’ defense was torched by Oklahoma State in last weekend’s 59-20 loss.  They go from trying to defend a pass-heavy offense to defending a run-heavy offense.
Yellow Jackets (-7 1/2) 33, Panthers 14.

Toledo at Miami – The Hurricanes, as well as the Seminoles, are finally back out on the field after two games were postponed by Hurricane Irma.  Miami gets a look at a Toledo Rockets squad that is a threat. They have a consistent and efficient quarterback in Logan Woodside and a pair of power running backs in Terry Swanson and Art Thompkins.  The Hurricanes athleticism on defense should allow them to get after Toledo and disrupt the timing and efficiency of the Rockets offense.
Hurricanes (-13 1/2) 31, Rockets 17.

Straight Up
Last week – 12-2
Overall – 29-10

Vs. the Spread
Last week – 7-5
Overall – 17-20

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