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Pac-12 Championship Expert Pick and Prediction – December 1, 2023

Pac-12 Championship Expert Pick and Prediction – December 1, 2023

PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – DECEMBER 1, 2023 – The final game of the Pac-12’s history gives us the rematch everyone wanted: Oregon and Washington. The Ducks and Huskies played out a classic in Seattle earlier this season, and the teams have gone in somewhat different directions since then.

In terms of wins and losses, both teams have done exactly the same things they’ve done all season. The only loss either has taken was Oregon falling to Washington by 3. But since that game, the Huskies have struggled to an extent.

None of Washington’s wins since Sept. 23 over California have come by more than 10 points, despite facing also-rans in Arizona State and Stanford. The Huskies are just 2-4 ATS post-Oregon, and their average margin of victory has been a mere 6.5 points.

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Conversely, Oregon has battered almost everything in sight post-Washington. The Ducks played most of the same opponents Washington did (swapping Stanford for California), but their smallest win was by nine over USC (ironically, that was Washington’s largest win) and their average margin of victory has been 26 points.

Based on the rankings, this is almost certainly a pure elimination game for the playoff, with the winner claiming one of the four spots and the loser off to the Fiesta Bowl. As such, expect an even more intense atmosphere in Las Vegas than what we already got in Seattle.

The Odds

Matchup

Open

Spread

Points

Moneyline

Oregon

(11-1 SU, 10-2 ATS)

-9.5

-9.5

O66.5

-355

Washington

(12-0 SU, 5-6-1 ATS)

U67

+9.5

U66.5

+280

Kickoff

When: Friday, December 1st at 8 p.m. EST

Where: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas

TV: ABC

Public Bets: 59% on Washington

Public Money: 73% on Oregon

Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of November 28th, 2023

Oregon vs. Washington In-Season Trends

The consensus around Oregon has been that Bo Nix means points. But a funny thing has happened: the Ducks actually alternate between overs and unders. Over the past six weeks, Oregon has gone 3-3 on the totals, in large part because in their over weeks, the offense has nearly hit the number on its own.

Against California and Arizona State, the Ducks came within one score of hitting the total with just their offense. In their under games, they held Utah to six points and Oregon State to seven.

Washington is also 3-3 on the totals, but it’s a different kind of 3-3. The Huskies have played to the level of competition. Against teams that play good defense, such as Oregon State and Washington State, they’ve played to the under.

Against teams without a defense, like USC and Stanford, they’ve played to the over. The difficulty with projecting this is that Oregon plays well on both sides of the football.

The Difference-Makers

Michael Penix Jr. has Washington one win away from a perfect regular season and a CFP appearance. (Photo by Kevin Clark/Seattle Times)

Is Michael Penix Jr. the same player he was pre-Oregon? The Ducks held him to 302 passing yards, which was his lowest total of the season, but he’s since gone under that number four separate times. As the season and expectations have weighed on him, it seems that he’s struggled to hold on against the pressure.

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On the other hand, Bo Nix seems to only be getting stronger. Against Arizona State, Nix actually managed more touchdown passes (six) than he did incomplete passes (five), and he’s thrown for 350 yards or more in each of his past four starts. The Ducks’ offense seems to be firing on all cylinders, and the consensus is that Dan Lanning’s over-aggressive play calling was what caused Oregon’s defeat the first time.

Weather

Under the Raiders’ dome, weather won’t enter the equation.

The Pick

This is difficult. It’s true that Oregon has been a cover machine and has looked far superior to Washington over the past six weeks. But are the Ducks really a full 10 points better than the Huskies at this point? There’s no real evidence to suggest that Oregon has improved and Washington has regressed to that level, as the Huskies’ best feature has been their ability to survive.

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The play I’ll probably make is a two-game teaser with Texas to get the Ducks down to a far more reasonable -3.5. I do think Oregon is the better team, should have won the first game and will end up making the College Football Playoff. But taking the Ducks to cover two possessions against the Huskies? I’m not going that far.

Dan’s Picks

Washington +9.5

Over 66.5

 

4 Comments

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