Rusty: 5-7-1 (Last Week); 25-38-1 (Overall)
Rusty's Hits: Notre Dame (-9.5), USC (-9), Clemson (-14.5), Washington (+7.5), Tennessee (+17)
Rusty's Misses: Oklahoma State (-13.5), Arizona State (+4.5), Cal (-13.5), South Carolina (-5.5), Texas A&M (-9.5), Florida State (-19), Utah (-13)
Rusty's Push: Baylor (-21)
Sean: 9-3-1 (Last Week); 32-31-1 (Overall)
Sean's Hits: Texas Tech (+13.5), UCLA (-4.5), Colorado (+13.5), Notre Dame (-9.5), USC (-9), Washington (+7.5), Tennessee (+17), N.C. State (+19), Washington State (+13)
Sean's Misses: South Carolina (-5.5), Texas A&M (-9.5), North Carolina (+14.5),
Sean's Push: Baylor (-21)
Rusty was over .500 picking in Week 4, now I take a turn in the winner's circle in Week 5. Couldn't have done it without Rusty blazing the trail. Thanks buddy.
Some takeaways from last week:
(i) UCLA finally gets off the schneid and scored a bazillion (62) points, but I'll say what many else said: the Bruins gave up 626 yards to a backup QB in Tempe.
(ii) Holy Cal-Colorado. 14 passing touchdowns?
(iii) Mizzou beating South Carolina makes the SEC East look pretty bad.
(iv) Washington and Stanford took offensive football to a new low on Saturday.
(v) Looky what Wazzu did in Salt Lake City.
(vi) Raleigh, North Carolina is Florida State's Bermuda Triangle.
This Week's Picks
What a slate of games this week. This is what you wait all offseason for: fantastic games all day Saturday. Let's pick some winners.
Home Teams in CAPS
Sean Says: Arizona (+23) over OREGON
I've seen a lot of things to like from these Ducks. A lot. But 23 is a ton of points to lay against an offensive-minded Arizona squad when **NARRATIVE ALERT** we're not really sure what the Ducks' patchwork offensive line or defense is made of. With how much offensive talent is spread around the conference (with the exception of maybe Stanford and Washington), there are going to be a hell of a lot of shootouts in the Pac-12 this year (this game included). Oregon wins, but not by 23.
Rusty Says: Arizona (+23) over OREGON
I think this line is comically high. Arizona is the eighth best passing team in the country and 29th in rushing yards per game. They score a lot of points and can do it very quickly. I don’t care how bad Cal’s defense might be. Scoring 36 points in one quarter is impressive.
Remember that last year Arizona embarrassed Oregon. I hope the Ducks come out fired up. But the Wildcats forced Mariota’s fist pick of the season last year and Oregon has avoided turnovers at a rate that begins to defy statistic probabilities.
On a Thursday night against a team that can pass and run well, I think the Ducks will win a close one.
Sean Says: Texas Tech (+12.5) over KANSAS STATE
I think you've GOTTA take the points in this one. Another classic Big 12 shootout brewing here. Too many points to lay, even though I love K-State and Bill Snyder at home.
Rusty Says: Texas Tech (+12.5) over KANSAS STATE
You know what you’re getting when you see this game. Kansas State plays fundamental (aka boring) on offense and is sound on defense. They aren’t spectacular at anything but very good at all facets of the game. The Wildcats held Auburn to a relatively mild day on offense and were a few special teams plays away from a win.
The Red Raiders are struggling under Kliff Kingsbury but have showed improvement against Oklahoma State. I don’t think that Kansas State is great enough to win by a lot but they will certainly win, but not cover.
Sean Says: NOTRE DAME (+2) over Stanford
Too many questions about Stanford's offense and playcalling to lay points on a road favorite. I trust Everett Golson more than Kevin Hogan in the second half here, especially with a Notre Dame home crowd. A two-point spread is basically a bet on who will win the game. Notre Dame is 3-1 against the spread this year, and I give the edge to the Irish at home.
Rusty Says: NOTRE DAME (+2) over Stanford
The matchup that will decide this game is the Cardinal defensive secondary against the Notre Dame passing attack. Everett Golson has looked so good this year. He looks totally different from two years ago. The revamped Irish passing attack has been impressive but untested. Their closest game was against Syracuse who isn’t well-known for being good at football.
Stanford’s defense has been just as impressive this year. They held Washington to only 179 total yards of offense, 98 of which were through the air. The offense is a different story. I’m shocked the Cardinal have feet left after they’ve shot themselves so many times. Their loss to USC was because of turnovers and an inability to score in the red zone. Those challenges persisted against Washington.
The miscues for Stanford will hurt them against a team like Notre Dame. This will be an entertaining game and it will be close. Notre Dame has the benefits of their first stiff competition at home and will outscore the Cardinal for the win.
Sean Says: Arizona State (+11.5) over USC
Torn on this one. On one hand, USC just looked REAL good beating up on Oregon State and ASU just got beat up by UCLA. On the other hand, USC is likely to struggle against an offense that plays with tempo because of their depth issues on defense, and ASU gained 626 yards against UCLA and were only undone because of turnovers and big plays. Momentum dictates that you take USC here, but I have to come back to the logic that USC's lack of defensive depth has been tested by teams that play with tempo. Lots of skill on ASU's sideline.
I'm gonna look real dumb when USC wins 56-20, but my gut tells me that this will be a shootout. USC wins, but ASU covers. Maybe 38-30.
Rusty Says: USC (-11.5) over Arizona State
A week after being bombed by UCLA the Sun Devils have to make the trek to LA to play the Trojans. Sparky had 4 turnovers in the blowout loss to the Bruins. Taylor Kelly will probably miss his second game in a row leaving the backup to struggle against a Trojan defense that might’ve found their mark.
The Trojans held Oregon State quarterback, and future NFL quarterback, Sean Mannion to just 123 yards through the air and forced two interceptions. USC can score points and after a few turnovers they will blow this game wide open.
Sean Says: Lsu (+7.5) over AUBURN
Freshman quarterback making first start at Jordan-Hare against an improved Auburn defense? What could go wrong?
I gotta go with the Hat here, though. Even if Auburn hangs a bunch of points on LSU early, can't you see LSU staging some crazy comeback to make it interesting? Although Auburn has looked really good, they're only 2-2 against the spread this year. And I think Les Miles will have his dudes ready to play in this one after looking bad vs. Mississippi State.
Rusty Says: AUBURN (-7.5) over LSU
The Bayou Bengals will be starting freshman Brandon Harris at quarterback after his solid performance replacing Anthony Jennings last week. A game at Auburn is not the best place to get a first start.
LSU is fairly one-dimensional. Their greatest and only real strength is running the football. Auburn will be able to load up on the run and force Harris to win the game for LSU.
Auburn probably saw Mississippi State run all over LSU and started licking its chops at the wide-open holes and poor pursuit angles by the LSU secondary. The Auburn Tigers have struggled on third down the last few weeks and it will be very important for them to do well on first down. I like Auburn to cover late.
Sean Says: Oklahoma (-5) over TCU
Laying the points on Oklahoma for the same reason I laid points on UCLA against Arizona State last week: "If [Oklahoma] is what it thinks it is, it has to cover this spread." Same logic here. Sure, TCU's defense looks more like the classic/scary Gary Patterson defenses we know. Sure, TCU is 3-0 against the spread and look great on offense. But I'm finally giving credit to Oklahoma after a streak of impressive performances. Like I said a few weeks back, that road win against West Virginia was quite impressive. Laying the 5 points on the Sooners here because they won't miss the chance to make a statement in the Big 12.
Rusty Says: Oklahoma (-5) over TCU
The Sooners have played like the best team in the country as we head into October. They have good wins over Tennessee and West Virginia. They score over 44 points per game while allowing under 17. They rush, pass well, and aren’t dependent on any single player or scheme to win.
Sean Says: TENNESSEE (-1.5) over Florida
Gimme the Vols. They looked very tough last week, and are ready to start winning some games in the SEC East. That starts Saturday against a Florida team that still can't play offense and always struggles on the road. Vols 24-21.
Rusty Says: TENNESSEE (-1.5) over Florida
Florida is just plain awful. Consider that this game is in Knoxville and there’s no way the Gators pull this win out. Tennessee almost topped Georgia and played Oklahoma better than most thought.
Last we saw the Gators they were getting dominated in the second half against Alabama giving up 645 yards of offense. Their points that made the game seem competitive came off Tide turnovers that were practically gift-wrapped for touchdowns. With Jeff Driskel at quarterback they won’t score enough points and I don’t think the Florida defense can outscore the Tennessee offense.
Sean Says: Baylor (-16.5) over TEXAS
The correct answer is Baylor-minus-anything. Staying with this until I am proven wrong. Texas will have to score 30 points to cover this spread. That will not happen.
Rusty Says: Baylor (-16.5) over TEXAS
The Longhorns have a lot of problems. They were pounded by BYU and lost to a Bruins squad that was still waking up from hibernation. Baylor on the other hand is still looking like an unstoppable force. Texas has talked some smack to Baylor after losing to the Bears (why, I don’t know) but I sincerely doubt that Art Briles will take the foot off the gas in this game. This spread will be covered easily.
Sean Says: Alabama (-6) over OLE MISS
Sorry, Rebs. You're not ready for your closeup yet. Ole Miss has made great strides this season, but I think 'Bama is finding an offensive identity and the defense is as good as ever. Although Ole Miss will probably move the ball some, Dr. Bo Wallace will be throwing interceptions to whomever he pleases. Those crushing turnovers will prevent Mississippi from getting over the hump here. 35-24 'Bama.
Rusty Says: OLE MISS (+6) over Alabama
For years Ole Miss (really the whole state, including Mississippi State) has seemed to be the team on the rise in the SEC. They have The Grove, some history, the SEC, and the co-eds to make it seem like a possible powerhouse school if they just had a little bit more money.
The Rebel secondary is a good matchup against Alabama’s passing attack. With the defensive line they’ll get some pressure on Sims and hopefully they’ve been able to come up with a plan to limit Amari Cooper.
I think the Tide will win because they’re so good. But given that the game is at Ole Miss and that the Mississippi teams have a twinge of destiny to them, I like the Rebels to cover.
Sean Says: MISSISSIPPI STATE (-1.5) over Texas A&M
Mississippi State is fresh off of their best win in recent memory. They've had a week off to rest and watch A&M film, and I think will get a win in Starkville. I like what Texas A&M has been able to do this year, but they are beat up after a physically- and emotionally- draining overtime win against Arkansas. A&M's defense got beat up between the tackles all game last Saturday, and now is tasked with chasing Dak Prescott all over the yard. Bulldogs with the upset at home.
Rusty Says: MISSISSIPPI STATE (-1.5) over Texas A&M
Two great quarterbacks face off in this matchup. Kenny Hill, whose fourth quarter passing got the win against the Razorbacks, takes on Dak Prescott who ran an amazing first half in the Bulldog win against LSU.
Both teams have played good teams and been through the fire. This is a game about handling adversity. Whichever team can handle the ups and downs of a game mentally will come out with the win. I think that since the game is in Mississippi the crowd will help the Bulldogs just enough for the win.
Sean Says: Utah (+13) over UCLA
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to announce that I am ready to lay points on UCLA this year. Their win over ASU last Thursday was a turning point for a Bruins squad that, at least offensively, was wondering when it would find its stride. Well, it did, and in a big way.
HOWEVER. This game, for UCLA, is a TRAP GAME, a.k.a. a classic Letdown-Look-Ahead Sandwich: Off of a huge win at ASU, and looking forward to a monster home matchup with those Oregon Ducks. These are 19 and 20-year old dudes roaming UCLA's sideline, and focus could be an issue.
THEREFORE: Give me the Utes. Give me all those points in a game that's closer than it should be in a game where UCLA might not be as motivated as their talent level would suggest.
Rusty Says: UCLA (-13) over Utah
If you believe that the win we saw UCLA get last week against Arizona State said more about the Bruin offense than it did about the Sun Devil defense then you will side with the Bruins in this game. I think we saw the Bruins squad we were all expecting to start the season. Maybe they got their mojo back.
Utah blew a 21-point lead to the Cougars in Utah. That’s tough to do. They have many more question marks than the Bruins and I think Hundley is going to be the dynamic player we’ve all hoped in a backdoor cover for the Bruins.
Sean Says: COLORADO (+7.5) over Oregon State
Buffs have a great chance of winning this one. Losing in 2OT is tough, but the Buffs have to have some confidence after scoring at will on the road against Cal. Oregon State showed little to no "zip" last week at USC, and now have to turn right around and travel to Boulder and play at altitude. CU's passing game is humming and they're gonna keep this one close.
Rusty Says: Oregon State (-7.5) over COLORADO
It’s really hard to get excited about this game. The Beaver offense was brought back to Earth against USC and the Buffs lost to Cal in overtime. While the Buffs are improving they still have a ways to go. I don’t expect the Beaver defense to break as often as the Bear defense did and I don’t think Colorado has the talent to stop OSU from scoring more than 30.
Sean Says: WASHINGTON STATE (-4) over California
Yes, yes, Cal just won in dramatic fashion. Yes, yes, Wazzu has looked less than stellar on its way to 2-3. But, remember the Palouse Rule of Betting. Haven't heard of it? Well, I'll tell you.
There is a lot of math, geology, planetary physics, property law, and tarot card theory involved in the Rule, but basically it boils down to: bet against teams on the road in the Palouse. Why? Because sh*t goes weird there.
Cal has had two remarkably nutso games in a row, and has to come down sometime. I like the way Wazzu dug itself out of a hole last week in Utah, and think that's a turning-point moment for Leach and his guys. I'm taking the Cougs.
Rusty Says: WASHINGTON STATE (-4) over California
With Cal’s defense being terrible this should be an easy pick, right? Wrong. With Connor Halliday at quarterback it can always be a toss-up. He’s good for two interceptions every game as long as he’s not playing Oregon. If he’s playing Oregon he’s going to look better than Tom Brady.
The Cougars showed a lot of heart last week to beat Utah after being down 21-0 in the first quarter. They overcome losing the turnover battle by 2 and still outgained the Utes by almost 150 yards.
Cal can score on offense and this will be a shootout of the most entertaining fashion. The PAC-12 nightcap will be like NOS for your system. I like the Cougars to pull out a late win and cover.
Sean Says: MICHIGAN STATE (-8.5) over Nebraska
I have seen nothing, absolutely nothing, that shakes my faith in Michigan State. Their only "bad" stretch was the second half in Autzen when Marcus Mariota went all Marcus Mariota all over everybody's asses. Otherwise? They have been 100% in control against every opponent. Nebraska has looked really good so far, and could have the best RB in the country in Ameer Abdullah, but I think they're facing an MSU team that knows exactly what it is, is excellent in every phase, and is eager to make a showing against a marquee opponent after going down in Eugene. Lay the points on Sparty Party.
Rusty Says: MICHIGAN STATE (-8.5) over Nebraska
The Cornhuskers are a good team. Behind the shoulder pads of Ameer Abdullah they are the 3rd best rushing team in the country. Abdullah has willed the team to wins this year. However, the Huskers are just too one-dimensional to have an impact against Michigan State.
Oregon needed the pass to open up the run against the Spartans but Nebraska won’t have that luxury. Michigan State is going to force a turnover, take the lead, and grind out a win and a cover behind Connor Cook.