Picks of the week: Cal and UCLA face the dastardly road back-to-back

We’ve previously addressed the difficulty involved in playing back-to-back road games, but the topic seems appropriate this week because two teams face the challenge Saturday in games that have division race and bowl ramifications.

Cal visits USC after playing a night game in Pullman last week.

UCLA visits Arizona State after playing in Eugene last week.

The Hotline did a quick check of results thus far and found …

Instances of back-to-back games to date: Nine
Instances of road team as betting favorite/narrow underdog in the second game: Four
Wins by road team in the second game: One

The victory came courtesy of Utah, which won at Stanford in Week Six after a trip to Washington State.

(A 1-8 record with Utah providing the only win? That sounds familiar.)

Here are the losses in the second game of the road back-to-back for anyone who hasn’t kept track (which is probably everyone):

Washington at Oregon, Stanford at Notre Dame, Arizona State at Washington, Oregon at Arizona, USC at Texas, Utah at Arizona State, Arizona at UCLA and Colorado at Washington.

In only two of those eight cases did the road team significantly outperform the point spread.

In three cases, the road team was blown out (relative to the point spread).

Let’s not treat this as a scientific study, or even a bad imitation of a scientific study. Not yet.

Two of the nine instances involved non-conference games, another involved an overtime loss (Washington at Oregon) and two were impacted by injuries to the road team’s quarterback (Utah at Arizona State and Arizona at UCLA).

Every conference schedules back-to-back road games. The Pac-12 does it more frequently than any other Power Five except the ACC, but it’s unavoidable, particularly with a nine-game conference schedule.

And playing back-to-back roadies sure doesn’t appear as difficult as playing a Friday road game after a Saturday road game — …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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