Still finishing up my picks, and calculating how I did last week (craptastic), but here's my pick for the Thursday night game.
UCLA at Arizona (-5.5)
Maybe we should call this the Bellotti Bowl – loser gets to have the former Ducks as their head coach in 2012
Let me get this straight, Arizona, which is 1-5 and just fired its head coach a week and a half ago, is a 5.5 point favorite over the Bruins, who are 3-3? Really? I mean, yeah, Arizona is playing at home, but it’s not that big of a home field advantage.
That just seems odd.
Excuse me, Mr. Neuheisel? Rick? Did it make a sound when you hit rock bottom?
Maybe it’s not so much about how far the Bruins have fallen, and more to the fact that Arizona played a brutal schedule early on and is better than its record would indicate.
You know the Wildcats are going to play with more confidence. They no longer have the simmering ginger volcano waiting to erupt at them after the slightest mistake. What was fun for us to watch on TV was probably miserable to deal with face to face. And you just know that Stoops showering them with spittle during his tantrums.
Interim coach Tim Kish has turned over the offense completely to the offensive coordinators. It’s good, because he’s going to still have to focus on a defense that could even make Kevin Prince look good. The Wildcats are giving up 37 points per game and have allowed 500 or more yards of total offense in all but one of their games. Of course, they were facing better offensive attacks than the run-first, run-second, run-to-avoid-Prince-throwing offense that UCLA employs.
The pick: This sounds improbable, but the Bruins could win the NFC West, er, Pac 12 South. It’s not improbable. If they go 4-2 over their final six games and beat Arizona State it’s very possible. Knowing what you know about the Sun Devils and their lack of discipline, a slip up in their final four games of the season – WSU, UCLA, Arizona and Cal – wouldn’t be the least bit surprising.
And yet, for all that UCLA has to play for. I think the absence of the yelling ginger is going to be big for Arizona. If you look at strengths vs. weaknesses, they seem to even out. I usually then go to quarterbacks. Nick Foles vs. Kevin Prince.
Well, that’s not so difficult. I’ll take Arizona.
If I were a betting man … I’d guess that Dan Guerrero will be sending text messages to the agents of Bellotti, Kevin Sumlin of Houston and Mike Leach in the fourth quarter. I’m a little scared of 5.5 points. If you could tease it to a +.5 and knock the over/under down from 62 to 56, that would be ideal. But in a one-game bet, I would give the 5.5. Arizona is going to get up early and force UCLA out of its comfort zone of running with Franklin and Coleman, and forcing Prince to pass.