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Nick's Picks: Pac-12 predictions for week 8 of the college football season

Halfway through the 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.

As fall begins to set in, every team in the Pac-12 is now at least halfway through its schedule, so The State Press took a look at the upcoming slate of games out west this weekend.

Stanford at ASU (Oct. 18, 6 p.m. MST)

A full set of Pac-12 games opens on Thursday night in Tempe, with the Cardinal coming to Sun Devil Stadium. The composite index gives ASU just under a 35 percent chance to win, which isn’t terrible considering the injuries ASU has been dealing with. However, ASU struggles heavily against running offenses, and Stanford brings one of the nation’s best running backs in senior Bryce Love. It’ll be closer than some think, but Stanford will come away with a win.

Stanford: 65.2 percent chance to win

ASU: 34.8 percent chance to win

Prediction: Stanford 27, ASU 17

Colorado at No. 15 Washington (Oct. 20 12:30 p.m.MST)

Saturday’s slate begins with an intriguing match-up between the Buffaloes and No. 15 Huskies. Both will be looking for a big conference win to boost championship hopes, but Washington just looks too good for Colorado. The composite index agrees, giving the Huskies just over a 62 percent chance to win. Washington lost a heartbreaker to Oregon last week, but they are set to get back on track on Saturday.

Colorado: 37.9 percent chance to win

Washington: 62.1 percent chance to win

Prediction: Washington 38, Colorado 21

California at Oregon State (Oct. 20, 1 p.m. MST)

Oregon State has been the laughingstock of the conference this year. The Beavers put up their biggest fight in the Pac-12 when they visited ASU and hung in with the Sun Devils for the better part of that game. 

However, Oregon State is just worse than every other team in the conference. The composite index has this game slotted as the most lopsided game of the weekend, giving California over a 70 percent chance to win the game. The Golden Bears haven’t been that good and are coming off a pummeling at the hands of UCLA, but this week is different. It doesn’t matter who Oregon State is playing, they will likely lose.

California: 70.6 percent chance to win

Oregon State: 29.4 percent chance to win

Prediction: California 35, Oregon State 13

No. 12 Oregon at No. 25 Washington State (Oct. 20, 4:30 p.m. MST)

Regarded by many as the Pac-12 game of the week, this should be a good one. No. 12 Oregon comes in off of its stunning win over Washington, and No. 25 Washington State is flying high after entering the AP Top 25

ESPN’s College Gameday will be in Pullman, Washington on Saturday, only adding to the hype. The composite index has this one pretty much split down the middle, giving a slight edge to Oregon. Washington State hasn’t played in the national spotlight yet this season, and Oregon has plenty of experience in big games. The Ducks are predicted to win a nail-biter in The Palouse.

Oregon: 53.6 percent chance to win

Washington State: 46.4 percent chance to win

Prediction: Oregon 38, Washington State 35

USC at Utah (Oct. 20, 5 p.m. MST)

Before the season, this looked like it would be the de facto Pac-12 South championship game, but both teams have under-performed in 2018. USC sits atop the division after handing Colorado its first loss, and the Trojans would put a stranglehold on the division if they win. On the other hand, a Utah win would put the Utes right back in the hunt for a trip to the Pac-12 Championship Game themselves. 

The composite index gives a slight edge to USC, even on the road in a tough environment. It will be painful to watch, but the Trojans are predicted to find a way to beat the Utes on the road. However, it could just as easily go the other way.

USC: 52 percent chance to win

Utah: 48 percent chance to win

Prediction: USC 13, Utah 10

UA at UCLA (Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m. MST)

This week’s “after dark” match-up pits two struggling teams against one another. UA has had a tough time under new head coach Kevin Sumlin, and junior quarterback Khalil Tate has had a rough season. UCLA hasn’t been any better; the Bruins only picked up their first win last week, thumping California. 

The composite index has this one pretty much dead even at about 50-50 odds. UCLA will be at home and is coming off a good performance, so the Bruins will pull this one out over the Wildcats.

UA: 49.9 percent chance to win

UCLA: 50.1 percent chance to win

Prediction: UCLA 42, UA 38

Heading into the week, here is where each team in the Pac-12 stands in the ESPN Football Power Index, the custom power index and the composite index:

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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