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Nick's Picks: Pac-12 predictions for week 10 of the college football season

Data reporter Nick Hedges predicts how the Pac-12 will fare this weekend


ASU players take the field before the Sun Devils 49-7 blowout win over the UTSA Roadrunners at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. Photo illustration published on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018.   

A chaotic week nine in the Pac-12 left the conference nearly eliminated from playoff contention as the playoff committee only included two teams in its initial rankings. With both divisions up for grabs, many games in week 10 are crucial for conference championship hopes across the west coast. 

Here are the predictions for this week:

Colorado at UA (Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m. MST)

These two were on either end of shocking results last week. Colorado lost to Oregon State, and UA easily handled Oregon. Colorado might be without star wide receiver Laviska Shenault, who is listed as questionable for Friday’s game. If he can’t play, UA's chances of winning increase. However, Colorado tops UA in total offense and defense. As it stands, the composite index gives both teams a relatively even chance of winning, with Colorado having a slight edge at just over a 52 percent. The Buffs suffered a terrible loss last week, but I’ll forgive them.

Colorado: 52.18 percent chance to win

UA: 47.82 percent chance to win

Prediction: Colorado 35, UA 27

No. 15 Utah at ASU (Nov. 3, 1 p.m. MST)

Utah easily beat UCLA last week, and the Sun Devils went to Los Angeles and got a big win over USC. The winner of this game probably becomes the favorite to win the South, and the Sun Devils will surely throw everything they have at the visiting Utes. However, Utah might just be too much to handle. It boasts one of the nation’s better defenses which ranks 13th in opponent points per game and third in rushing yards against.

ASU depends heavily on Eno Benjamin, but I’m not sure he can get going against this stout rush defense. Additionally, the composite index gives Utah over a 55 percent chance to win. ASU will keep it close, but the Utes will be too much.

Utah: 55.7 percent chance to win

ASU: 44.3 percent chance to win

Prediction: Utah 37, ASU 31

UCLA at Oregon (Nov. 3, 4:30 p.m. MST)

The Ducks and Bruins both come into this game after suffering blowout losses, and they will each be looking to get back on track. Oregon can still win the North if it wins out, so they have a lot riding on this matchup. The composite index gives the Ducks an almost 67 percent chance to win, and against a struggling UCLA team, Oregon should be able to handle this one. Additionally, UCLA has the 91st best scoring defense in the country. On the road in a hostile environment, UCLA will struggle.

Oregon: 66.65 percent chance to win

UCLA: 33.35 percent chance to win

Prediction: Oregon 48, UCLA 27

Stanford at Washington (Nov. 3, 6 p.m. MST)

Heading into the season, these were the two favorites to lead the North, but the rise of Washington State has changed that. Still, this is a game with big repercussions in the division, and the winning team will likely have a great chance to catch the Cougars in the standings.

The composite index gives Washington a slight edge with an almost 52 percent chance to win, but with both teams coming off tough losses, anything can happen. The Huskies boast the nation’s ninth best scoring defense, and are playing at home, which is always an exciting environment. I expect this to be an entertaining game with the Huskies getting the best of the Cardinal.

51.92 percent chance to win

Stanford: 48.08 percent chance to win

Prediction: Washington 28, Stanford 27

USC at Oregon State (Nov. 3, 7 p.m. MST)

Oregon State shocked everyone when they beat Colorado on the road, and they’ll be looking to continue their winning ways at home against a banged-up USC team. The Trojans were without their top two quarterbacks and three best defensive players when they lost to ASU in their first home loss since 2015. The composite index gives the Trojans over a 76 percent chance to rebound, and with starting quarterback JT Daniels likely returning, they should be able to handle the Beavers. Oregon State surprised everyone by beating the Buffaloes last week, but their success won’t carry over.

76.77 percent chance to win

Oregon State: 23.23 percent chance to win

Prediction: USC 24, Oregon State 10

California at No. 8 Washington State (Nov. 3, 7:45 p.m. MST)

Washington State is the Pac-12’s last hope for a playoff spot, but the Cougars will have to win out and convincingly win the conference championship game to have a chance. For now, the composite index gives Washington State above a 60 percent chance to beat California, which is coming off a big win of their own. However, the Golden Bears have been inconsistent (losing to UCLA by 30 points a few weeks ago), and that inconsistency will make it hard to win against a top-10 team on the road. Also, Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew has taken the nation by storm and entered the race for the Heisman Trophy. He will lead the Cougars to another win.

Washington State: 60.61 percent chance to win

California: 39.39 percent chance to win

Prediction: Washington State 34, California 20

Heading into week 10, let’s see where each team stands in the ESPN Football Power Index, the custom power index and the composite index.

Here's where we were wrong last week: 

Oregon State won a game … wait, what?

Not only did Oregon State win a conference game, but they overcame a 21-point deficit in the fourth quarter on the road to ultimately force overtime, where the Beavers finished the comeback. The composite index gave Oregon State under a nine percent chance to win, but the Beavers shocked everyone and dealt Colorado a huge blow in their hunt for a Pac-12 South title. I'm doubtful that the Beavers will keep their good fortunes going against USC this week. 

Cal holds off Washington

The North division got blown wide open when the Huskies lost to California. The Golden Bears won without even scoring a touchdown on offense. Washington scored its only touchdown in the first quarter and couldn’t put the ball in the end zone for the rest of the game. Washington probably contributed to its own loss just as much as Cal did, but a loss is a loss.

Oregon not only lost to UA, but got destroyed

It’s hard to believe there could be a more shocking game than Oregon State’s win, c drubbing of Oregon was a huge surprise. Oregon went to Tucson and got demolished, losing to the Wildcats by 29 points. The composite index gave the Ducks under a 64 percent chance to win, but they still found a way to lose handily. It was already a tough weekend for Nick’s Picks, but this was a bad way to finish.

Nick’s Picks record for week 9: 3-3

Nick’s Picks record for the season: 7-5

The composite index is formed by combining our own “Power Index” with other rankings and ratings. Read below to see specifics about how the composite index is formed.

The primary component of the composite index is a custom "power index" which combines various player/team unit rankings and scores to create one number that tells how good a team is overall. 

However, because the custom index does not account for in-season changes, ESPN's FPI, CPSSports's Top 129, Sagarin rankings and national composite scores are factored in as well.

After each of these scores are found for each team, the median and average of those scores for each team is calculated. The median and averages for each team are then averaged together to find the composite index score.

To predict games, the composite index scores for each team in the game are added together, adding five points for the home team. After that, the composite index score for each team is divided by that total to find win probability.

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