Free College Football Picks: Washington Huskies at Washington State Cougars
Washington Huskies at Washington State Cougars, Friday Nov. 23, 8:30 p.m. ET
The Apple Cup is one of the top rivalry games of this weekend every year. It isn't as high-profile as some of the others, and it hasn't always been particularly competitive, but there is a lot of hate here - and that's what makes a rivalry game great. But this year we have a game that matters more than the game usually does, so layered on top of the hate are some serious national consequences for this game. Most directly, the winner of this game wins the Pac-12 North and will be favored to win the Pac-12 Championship Game over Utah. And for Washington that is the best they can hope for - probably a Rose Bowl berth against the Michigan-Ohio State loser if they win out. But Washington State can harbor higher ambitions. They need a whole lot of help, but they could still make the Playoff. But that unlikely outcome would have to start with a decisive win here.
To make the Playoff, Washington State would, as we said, need a lot of help. For starters, they need a spot in the current playoff lineup to open up. That means that Alabama would have to lose - perhaps twice, because one loss could still get them in. Or Clemson would have to lose, and again one loss might not be enough, though given the weakness of the rest of their schedule it might very well be. Or Notre Dame would have to lose decisively to USC in their finall game. Or, most likely, Michigan would have to lose to Ohio State or Northwestern. And even if a spot does open, Washington State wouldn't be the first choice to grab it. They would need Oklahoma to lose one of their final two, and Georgia to lose - which is likely because they play Alabama. And if Michigan loses then they would have to hope that they don't get passed by a one-loss Big Ten champion Ohio State squad that generally gets more national respect. It's a rough road ahead, but all the Cougars can do is win big here and in their next game and hope for the best.
Washington at Washington State Betting Storylines
Gardner Minshew seems like the only story that anyone is talking about around this game. But there is a good reason for that - he's is an incredible story. After starting out at junior college, he transferred to East Carolina. He spent two years there and was only a part-time starter both years. His numbers were functional enough, but frankly not spectacular. After graduating he had his eyes on a coaching career, so he was set to transfer to Alabama as a grad transfer and get his first coaching education from the best there is. But he had an Air Raid background, and Mike Leach was in a bind after tragically losing his best quarterback. So, Leach said he would make Minshew the nation's top passer if he came to Pullman. And as unlikely as that seemed, here he is - leading the nation with 400.5 yards per game through the air, and well on track to get invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony. And he's particularly dialed in right now - against Arizona last time out, he completed more than 78 percent of his passes for 473 yards and seven touchdowns. The Huskies have been fine against the pass, but not truly elite, and they obviously have never seen an attack like this one. Mike Leach is at his fearlessly creative best right now, and he's going to be fired up for this one. One thing we can be sure of - this won't be boring.
The Huskies have surely already spent a lot of time looking in the mirror this year, and a loss here would send them into a painful session of self-exploration. They lost their opener to Auburn at a time when it seemed like they were destined to be a Playoff team again. Expectations were massive, and they took a big hit early. And then they lost in overtime to Oregon. And then they lost again to Cal. And now they are not only completely irrelevant - they could win the Pac-12, but it's not like anyone would care - and they have to watch their hated rivals have a shot at all the glory.
Washington at Washington State Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Washington State favored by 3.5 points. That jumped briefly to four but has since fallen back to the key number of three . A strong majority of bets have come in on the Cougars, so we aren't likely to see significant movement without a major development. The total opened at 53 and has since fallen at 49.5.
The Huskies are 0-7 ATS in their last seven conference games and 0-6 ATS in their last six overall. They are a dismal 1-7 ATS in their last eight road games, but they went 5-2 ATS in their last seven games played on Friday. The Cougars are 17-5 ATS in their last 22 games overall and 19-7 ATS in their last 26 games at home. They are 25-10 ATS in their last 35 conference games.
Washington at Washington State Predictions and Picks
The last time the Cougars beat the Huskies was in 2012. The last time they were favored was in 2006. This is not a normal situation. But the Cougars are playing with a whole ton of confidence, they have a QB they trust fundamentally, and they can taste blood against a wounded rival here. The crowd will be crazy, and they will feed off of that, and I don't trust the Huskies to have the fight they will need to counter the attacks here. Washington State is the pick.
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