Rusty: 10-5 (Last Week); 47-55-2 (Overall)
Rusty's Hits: Oregon -21, Utah -2.5, Duke -3, Arizona State +3, Cal +7, USC -19.5, Michigan State -14.5, Kansas State +8, Notre Dame +12, Ole Miss -16.5
Rusty's Misses: Baylor -8.5, Arkansas +3.5, Texas A&M +12.5, Rutgers +19.5, Oklahoma State +8.5,
Sean: 7-8 (Last Week); 54-48-2 (Overall)
Sean's Hits: Utah -2.5, West Virginia +8.5, Duke -3, Cal +7, Kansas State +8, Ohio State -19.5, Ole Miss -16.5
Sean's Misses: Washington +21, Arkansas +3.5, Stanford -3, Texas A&M +12.5, Colorado +19.5, Indiana +14.5, Oklahoma State +8.5, Florida State -12
The weekend-that-was saw a couple great upsets in the Big 12 (West Virginia and K-State), but otherwise, a lot of favorites really asserting themselves: Georgia, Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Michigan State, TCU, among others. Some takeaways:
(i) Oregon looks like Oregon again.
(ii) Alabama looks like Alabama again.
(iii) TCU is a bad 4th quarter against Baylor away from being the #1 team in the country.
(iv) The B1G might have some life left in it, at least with regard to Ohio State, Michigan State, and Nebraska.
This Week's Picks
No more talking. Let's get after Week 9.
Home Teams in CAPS
Sean Says: CAL (+19) over Oregon
This just feels like a bigtime shootout. Cal can't stop anybody, Oregon has been somewhat susceptible to Air Raid-like attacks, and I just don't think they'll be able to hold a 20-point lead. I like Oregon to control with the ground game and the screen game after what UCLA was able to do to Cal, but I still think this one stays closer than 20.
Rusty Says: CAL (+19) over Oregon
I think a lot of points will be scored in this game. Cal is one-dimensional on offense, but so was Washington State. I think Cal will score points. No matter who they play, other than the blip against Washington, they have scored a lot. I don’t think Oregon’s pass rush is good enough to slow the Bears, but the Bears’ defense won’t be doing any stopping of their own. I like Oregon to win by a few scores.
Sean Says: Miami (-3) over VIRGINIA TECH
Going on the road to Blacksburg is never an easy spot. Miami has looked solid at times and has a promising young quarterback, but Tech has looked just good enough to scare some people. But I just haven't seen enough from Va. Tech to trust them, even in a raucous home environment. Do you really think Tech could beat Ohio State now? No way. Tentatively laying the points on a road favorite here.
Rusty Says: VIRGINIA TECH (+3) over Miami
The Hurricanes are traveling to the Hokies for their Thursday night matchup, and Virginia Tech at home on Thursdays is a tough place to play.
Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya played very well in the ‘Canes big win over Cincinnati two weeks ago.
Virginia Tech has been spotty at best this year. They followed up a win over Ohio State at the Horseshoe with losses to East Carolina and Georgia Tech. The doubled up North Carolina then lost at Pitt. I think having the game at home will be huge and the 3 points are enough to cover.
Sean Says: BOISE STATE (-6.5) over Byu
Night games in Boise are almost their own entity. I was in high school in southern Idaho (about 1.5 hours southeast of Boise) when Boise State started becoming "a thing" in the early 2000s. I remember they were the first team to really buy into playing on weeknights. They consistently got ESPN to come gawk at the novelty of the blue turf, while the Broncos beat the crap out of the WAC (R.I.P.) and got a bunch of free advertising to target rejected Pac-12 recruits.
BSU's program has come a long way since then, but one thing is the same: it's almost impossible to win at night on the blue turf. BYU is a well-rounded team - even without Taysom Hill - but give me the Broncos in a home spot on Friday night.
Rusty Says: BOISE STATE (-6.5) over Byu
Blue turf on a Friday night? It’s going down. BYU hasn’t been the same since losing starting quarterback Hill to injury in the Utah State game. This is a pretty even matchup because Boise State has struggled lately on defense but has still managed to get a healthy margin of victory in every win.
Sean Says: AUBURN (-17.5) over South Carolina
In this week's Quack Poll, I voted Auburn ahead of Alabama. I still think they're a potential playoff team and have a lot of really excellent pieces. South Carolina somehow still lacks identity coming into week nine, and that's a bad spot to be in when you roll into Auburn's place. Lay the points. Tigers big.
Rusty Says: AUBURN (-17.5) over South Carolina
The Tigers had a bye week after their last loss and are going to be roaring coming into this game. Look for Auburn to really commit to the ground game in this game so that they can pull away in the second half.
South Carolina has got some major issues that I don’t think Spurrier is going to be able to turn around this year.
Sean Says: COLORADO (+13) over Ucla
Last week, I picked Colorado to keep it tight (+19) at the Coliseum, but got seriously burned to the tune of 56-28. I'll put it this way: I'll roughly equate Colorado at home to Cal at home, and UCLA just played Cal to a virtual draw. I think this Colorado team still has some fight in it despite licking its USC-given wounds. I don't think one week of relative normalcy in the Pac-12 changes the fact that there is spectacular parity in the conference, and I think this matchup will reinforce that. Give me the Buffs.
Rusty Says: Ucla (-13) over COLORADO
If this line were a point higher I could be talked into picking Colorado. I think that UCLA is two touchdowns better than Colorado. The Bruins did everything possible to keep Cal in the game last week and were not having any troubles scoring points. I also think the defensive front 7 for the Bruins is going to cause a lot of problems for the Buffaloes.
Sean Says: TCU (-22.5) over Texas Tech
I won't bet against TCU after the way they looked against Oklahoma State last week. Tech can score (at times), but I think they're running into a juggernaught in Fort Worth that still thinks it's a playoff team. And the Horned Frogs might be right. Lay those points.
Rusty Says: TCU (-22.5) over Texas Tech
TCU appears to have razor sharp focus after their loss to Baylor. They appreciate the little things that go into preparation and winning games.
Texas Tech just has an awful defense paired with an offense, that while excellent passing, I think will be significantly slowed by the tenacious Horned Frogs. The Red Raiders haven’t beaten a quality opponent yet this year.
Sean Says: Oregon State (+13.5) over STANFORD
I can't trust Stanford's offense at all. I can't trust Oregon State...at all. Therefore, I believe this score will be 7-6 in a shootout that SEC fans will love.
Rusty Says: Oregon State (+13.5) over STANFORD
[Because Rusty failed to provide commentary I can only deduce that he is, in fact, a Beaver sympathizer.]
Sean Says: MICHIGAN STATE (-17) over Michigan
This seems like not enough points. Michigan State is a bona fide top-flight team and I think is going to stomp the S out of the Wolverines. My only pause is that this is a rivalry game, but this is a motivated Sparty team at home.
Rusty Says: MICHIGAN STATE (-17) over Michigan
I want to pick Michigan for some reason but I’ve seen them throw up all over themselves too many times this season. This is a big rivalry game and one that might be able to save Hoke’s job (might is the keyword).
Michigan doesn’t have a quarterback, doesn’t rush the football well, and struggles to score points. Michigan State is solid on both sides of the ball, the game is in East Lansing, and could easily wear down a Wolverine squad that I think is close to giving up on the year.
Sean Says: LSU (+3.5) over Ole Miss
Now is the time to bet against Dr. Bo Wallace. LSU uglies it up, relies on turnovers and special teams, and loses/wins 20-17.
Rusty Says: Ole Miss (-3.5) over LSU
LSU has shown significant improvement in their last couple weeks and are coming off a dominating win over Kentucky. This young team might have just needed a few weeks to get up to game speed.
I keep waiting for Dr. Bo to become the player we knew him for the last few years but he continues to avoid mistakes in a shocking way. The Rebel defense is the strong unit and should be able to limit LSU to only a few scores and most importantly, create short fields for the offense.
Sean Says: Arizona (-2.5) over WASHINGTON STATE
I have successfully sold all my stock in Palouse Inc. and have zero faith in Wazzu's defense. Strangely, Arizona has been better on the road than at home, and Anu Solomon is a stone-cold killer. This is a shootout (which should almost be automatic in Pac-12 games) but I think the Wildcats assert themselves in the ground game and grind out a win.
Rusty Says: Arizona (-2.5) over WASHINGTON STATE
This is a must win game for the Wildcats if they want a shot at representing the PAC-12 South in the PAC-12 Championship Game. I honestly think this spread is comically low and is my lock of the week.
The Wildcats’ base defense is set up well to take on an air raid offense and we get to see two of the most innovative offensive coaches go toe-to-toe in this game. There will be points and I like Arizona to win and seal the game late.
Sean Says: Usc (Pick) over UTAH
Ah, the first even spread of the games we've picked this year. Utah has looked great, but oddly enough has been better on the road. I think USC has to win this one if they want to be taken seriously. They are shallow, and may have a tough time keeping up defensively and at altitude, but I think Cody Kessler is starting to find a rhythm at a good time in the season. USC in a squeaker.
Rusty Says: UTAH (Pick) over Usc
I like the defense and altitude in this game. USC still has some depth issues and the altitude will test the lungs of the players so I’m interested to see how they use tempo in this matchup.
Travis Wilson is going to be taking the first team reps in the game after splitting time this year with Thompson. Wilson has shown to be an improvement thus far over Thompson but the real story is going to be how well Utah’s run defense stands up to Javorius Allen of the Trojans.
Sean Says: West Virginia (+1) over OKLAHOMA STATE
This is a potential trap game for WVU after a huge, emotional win over Baylor and looking ahead to a matchup with TCU. But they're underdogs here to a Cowboy team that looked pure, straight awful last week at TCU. I don't know how to feel about this one, but WVU's pass defense must now be considered top-10 and defense is generally consistent on the road. This one is lower-scoring than expected but the Mountaineers win something like 28-24.
Rusty Says: West Virginia (+1) over OKLAHOMA STATE
The Cowboys looked straight bad last week and West Virginia had a huge win. I don’t think Oklahoma State was as bad as that score indicated but I do think West Virginia is as good as their game against Baylor showed.
The Mountaineers are moving upwards while Oklahoma State might be defined as a good but not great team. Clint Trickett and Kelvin White are going to be a dynamic duo in this matchup and lead the Mountaineers to a win.
Sean Says: Ohio State (-13) over PENN STATE
Ohio State is on a freaking roll. Penn State is really weak up front, and has looked bad in the trenches against Michigan and against Northwestern. What do you think the lines are going to be able to do against a pissed-off Ohio State team? Lay the points.
Rusty Says: Ohio State (-13) over PENN STATE
These two teams are going in opposite directions. Ohio State is only getting better with Barrett playing quarterback while Penn State is giving Hackenberg absolutely no help.
Simply put, Penn State won’t be able to keep up with Ohio State. They won’t be able to trade touchdowns, which is what is going to have to happen since the Buckeyes have the advantage in talent, athleticism, and depth.
Sean Says: Arizona State (-3) over WASHINGTON
Not a lot to love about Washington after last week's dismantling in Autzen. Their offense looked uncreative and a little anemic, and their supposed stout defense gave up a ton of rushing yards. Not a good sign when you're taking on a hot ASU team that has showed consistency on offense. I don't "love" love the Sun Devils in a road spot, but I like ASU these days more than I like Washington.
Rusty Says: Arizona State (-3) over WASHINGTON
Husky quarterback Cyler Miles suffered a concussion and is still day-to-day on playing Saturday. Arizona State is also playing with a backup quarterback, albeit one that has played the majority of the season.
The Sun Devils are going to neutralize the Washington rush with quick routes and might have found a way to attack the Husky front seven after watching last week’s Oregon film. Their win over Stanford was a huge step for the program and I think they’ll only build on their momentum.