Things have slowly improved here at Rule of Tree, as two of the three of us nailed our Lock of the Week last week. On the other hand, we all wrongly put our faith in Stanford over Washington. We'll see if we, like Stanford, can improve on last week's errors. Chances are at least one of us will do well, as we are split on four of the five games.
One thing's for sure: this won't be the week we all get our Lock of the Week right.
Here are this week's picks:
USC (-14.5) at Utah
Jack: Utah. I think the Utes cover at home. And Thursday night games have a certain black magic to them that's hard to predict. USC wins, but not by much.
Jacob: USC. The Trojans are in desperate need of a marquee win after their marquee loss to Stanford. A Thursday night showcase against a disappointing Utah team is exactly what USC needs.
Scott: USC. Utah got rocked by 30 points at Arizona State last game and I just don't see home-field advantage helping the Utes that much. Of course, I said the same thing about last week's Thursday night game...
Arizona at Stanford (-9)
Jack: Arizona. The Wildcats cover, Stanford wins in a close one. Score: Stanford 24, Arizona 17.
Jacob: Stanford. I struggled with this one for a long time. Both teams are coming off disheartening losses. For me, the difference is that Arizona has relied on turnovers so far, and Stanford (despite its offensive flaws) is good at winning the turnover battle. Score: Stanford 31, Arizona 21.
Scott: Arizona. I think Stanford will get back on track at home, but this offense doesn't look capable of blowing out a pretty good opponent right now. Score: Stanford 24, Arizona 17.
Washington State at Oregon State (-15.5)
Jack: Washington State. Again, I think Oregon State wins this one (I do love #BeaverJuice), but the Cougars put up a pretty good fight against Oregon last week.
Jacob: Oregon State. I've (incorrectly) picked against the Beavers every week. This time, OSU is at home and at a significant talent advantage. The only question is if Oregon State will have its head in the game, and I think Mike Riley will get his players up for the game.
Scott: Oregon State. Beavers should have a few more believers after last week's win in Tucson. With an energized fan base behind them, I think they'll roll at home.
UCLA (-2.5) at Cal
Jack: UCLA. Cal looks like they're ready to go into a full tailspin.
Jacob: UCLA. This is one of those games that seems too obvious, meaning that Cal will probably win. But the Golden Bears have already lost twice at home as favorites, and I haven't seen anything from Cal that would give me enough faith to pick the upset.
Scott: UCLA. Jim Mora will present the game ball to the assistant SID he berated last week.
Washington at Oregon (-24.5)
Jack: Washington. After that defensive performance against the Cardinal last week, I fully believe that the Huskies can keep the score at least to three touchdowns.
Jacob: Oregon. Oregon games are the biggest toss-ups to me because they're only a question of how much the Ducks will try. Everything went right for Washington last week and the Huskies still barely eked out a win, and since this is a rivalry game, I think Oregon will be a little more prone to pouring it on.
Scott: Washington. Ducks win by 23.
Lock of the Week
Jack: Washington. That's a pretty good spread for Oregon to cover against a pretty solid UW team... I'm sure I'll regret this pick come Saturday.
Jacob: Oregon. Despite what I just said about Oregon games being toss-ups, I think all the external factors (Washington's letdown, Autzen Stadium, rivalry game, national TV) will spur Oregon to pile on late.
Scott: USC. Do not make this bet. My locks are about as sturdy as the ones on a little girl's diary.