The Pac-12 football season starts this Saturday, Nov. 7, so Litwin’s Locks will look a little different this week. I’ll be starting with this week’s locks with the Pac-12 games, but I won’t be giving up on the NFL. Whether or not that is a good thing might be debatable based on my previous picks.
Litwin’s Locks went an underwhelming 5-8 against the spread in week eight of the NFL. To date, Litwin’s Locks record is 11-14-1 (Win-Lose-Push). Luckily, in sports, there is always another week of games — or another season — and a strong showing this week could propel Litwin’s Locks over .500.
As a Cincinnati boy who grew up two hours from “THE” (pronounced “Thee”) Ohio State University's campus, Pac-12 football was not something I watched too often.
Attending the University of Arizona has not made a difference yet. However, judging by my picks for the NFL — which is something I have been watching my entire life — the length of viewership may not be an accurate barometer of one’s success at picking games.
This week’s sports betting term is "parlay." In a parlay, the bettor chooses two or more teams to bet to win, to go over or under the total or to cover the spread. To win, all the “legs” of your parlay must succeed.
If you choose the moneyline, that team must win. If you chose the spread, that team must cover and if you chose the over or under of a total, that must hit as well. When that happens, the payout is larger since you incurred more risk by betting more than one team.
The downside — since there is always a downside in gambling: If any of the legs in your parlay doesn’t hit, the entire parlay loses. The same rules apply whether the parlay has two legs or 10. While a 10 team parlay may offer a large payout, the odds of all 10 things actually going your way are slim.
Odds according to ESPN Daily Lines on 11/4
Arizona State Sun Devils at No. 20 USC Trojans
Line: USC -10.5
Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards is going to have his work cut out for him this year. Talented but inconsistent, sophomore signal caller Jayden Daniels will not be able to rely on wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and running back Eno Benjamin as he has in the past. Luckily, the Sun Devils have a loaded defense that is retaining eight starters from last year. That defense is coached by former Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis with whose defensive scheme I am very familiar with. Expect the Sun Devils’ defense to be solid at tackling and fundamentally sound. The Trojans also have a loaded defense that is returning eight starters. Trojans’ quarterback Kedon Slovis was a nice surprise last year and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown will be playing on Sundays. With a lot of uncertainty this year, I will back the home team. Pick: Trojans -10.5
Arizona Wildcats at Utah Utes
Line: Utah -14
The Utes had a tough off-season losing a ton of talented players, most notably on the defensive side of the ball. The Buffalo Bills' gain of former Utes’ running back Zack Moss in last year's draft will be a tough hole to fill for this Utah squad. The Wildcats' off-season was as bad, if not worse, than Utah’s. This Wildcats appears to lack direction and is having a hard time landing big-time recruits. By this point, Arizona fans thought head coach Kevin Sumlin would have the team pointing up and competing in the Pac-12. I hope I am wrong, but this seems unlikely. Going to play at Utah is a brutal way to start a bizarre season. Pick: Utah -14
Stanford Cardinal at No. 12 Oregon Ducks
Line: Ducks -11
Oregon lost star quarterback Justin Herbert to last year's draft, and expected top-5 pick Penei Sewell has opted out to focus on this year's NFL draft. Sewell would look great in black and orange stripes blocking for Joe Burrow. While those are big losses, this team is still loaded and probably the Pac-12’s best chance of making the College Football Playoff. Stanford is a struggling program. Head coach David Shaw hopes last year's poor season is just a fluke and that supremely talented quarterback David Mills can make the Cardinal relevant again. I just don’t think that will happen this week. Pick: Oregon -11
UCLA Bruins at Colorado Buffaloes
Line: UCLA -6.5
The Chip Kelly experiment has not worked out the way UCLA fans would have liked. The defense has some holes in it and the offense does not have a ton of firepower to hold up. As for Colorado, new head coach Karl Dorrell follows former coach Mel Tucker who left to take the Michigan State job. Colorado quarterback Sam Noyer was turned into a safety and back into a quarterback for this season. QB-safety-QB is enough to keep me from picking Colorado. Pick: Bruins -6.5
Washington State Cougars at Oregon State Beavers
Line: Beavers -1.5
It will be no easy task for Washington State Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich to replace the legend that is Mike Leach. Throw in starting true freshman quarterback Jayden de Laura, and it could be a long year in Pullman. The Beavers will have talented defender Hamilcar Rashed Jr. leading a good Beavers’ defense. On offense, running back Jermar Jefferson will get a ton of carries this year. I like the home team. Pick: Beavers -1.5
Washington Huskies at California Golden Bears
Line: Golden Bears -1.5
Cal football is pointing up due to head coach Justin Wilcox’s brand of football. The total in this game would be low even for the NFL. This is odd since Pac-12 football is not known for defense. Longtime Washington Huskies’ coach Chris Peterson is taking some time off, but the team will remain with Peterson disciple Jimmy Lake. Washington has had a nice run in the last five to six years, winning a lot of games. This should be a tight game, but I lean toward the home team because of the uncertainty of the season. Pick: Golden Bears -1.5
Odds according to ESPN Daily Lines on 11/4.
Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills (Sunday)
Line: Seahawks -3
This is one of the better games on Sunday’s slate of matchups. Russell Wilson is must-watch TV. While I am a devoted Bengals fan, I admit to enjoying the Seahawks. This game is HUGE for the Bills, who have beaten bad teams but struggled against good teams. I am interested to see how they play. The Bills’ defense is plagued with injuries and quarterback Josh Allen has not thrown the ball accurately in his last few games. I am tempted to make this my Lock of the week, but there is another game I like more. Read on. Pick: Seahawks -3
Lock of The Week
Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans (Sunday)
Line: Titans -5.5
The Titans were embarrassed last week by my up and coming Cincinnati Bengals. The Titans’ defense struggles to get pressure on the quarterback, and its secondary is not great but should get better after trading for Desmond King from the Los Angeles Chargers. Luckily, this is a great week for the Titans to get the defense back on track. The Bears’ offense has no identity and can barely move the ball. The Bears’ defense can keep them in any game, but its offense can’t win them all. Titans will rebound and crush the Bears, destined for a rebuild. Pick: Titans -5.5
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday Night)
Line: Bucs -5.5
The Bucs’ inconsistency makes their games hard to pick. They go from a thorough beating of the Green Bay Packers to barely beat the New York Giants. The Saints are a good team that desperately needs wide receiver Michael Thomas on the field. It’s a different offense when he is out there, and that’s where they’re hoping he will be. This seems like a week where the Bucs play well, especially since talented but widely maligned wide receiver Antonio Brown will be suited up. Pick: Bucs -5.5
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