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Duck the Odds, Week 12: Questions All Around Us

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While the Ducks rest on their bye week, lots of important separation games in the SEC, the ACC, and B1G.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Rusty: 7-4 (Last Week); 66-72-2 (Overall)

Rusty's Hits: Oregon (-9.5), Texas A&M (+21), Alabama (-6.5), Baylor (+5), Arizona (-15), Ohio State (+3.5), Arizona State (-2.5),

Rusty's Misses: Washington (+4.5), Florida State (-18), Oregon State (-8), Kansas State (+5.5)

Sean: 4-7 (Last Week); 72-66-2 (Overall)

Sean's Hits: Oregon (-9.5), UCLA (-4.5.), Texas A&M (+21), Arizona (-15),

Sean's Misses: LSU (+6.5), Oklahoma (-5), Florida State (-18), Oregon State (-8), Michigan State (-3.5), Notre Dame (+2.5), Kansas State (+5.5)

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Rusty did well last weekend, I did not. End of commentary.

Lots of interesting games; lots of compelling questions this week. Is Florida State good? Is Mississippi State good? Can Auburn rebound? Which B1G running back (Abdullah or Gordon) is the best B1G running back? Will Arizona State let down at Corvallis?

This Week's Picks

Home Teams in CAPS

Sean Says: California (+14.5) over USC

Take the points in a shootout. Cal has done super well against the spread this year, especially as an underdog (Washington debacle excluded). I think Cal has a great chance in this game. USC has been good in the Coliseum, but 14.5 is too many points to lay on an inconsistent USC team.

Rusty Says: California (+14.5) over USC

Two great offenses square off in this matchup.  Cal doesn't have the defense to keep up with USC but the Trojans don't have the depth to hold off Cal forever.  I like USC to win but Cal to backdoor cover.

Sean Says: Ohio State (-12) over MINNESOTA

This has a potential to be a letdown spot, but I think going on the road again will help focus the Buckeyes. Minnesota is a scrappy B1G team, and annihilated Iowa last week. But I think the Buckeyes are on an elite level and have come a thousand miles since that terrible loss to Virginia Tech. Buckeyes big on the road.

Rusty Says: Ohio State (-12) over MINNESOTA

This is the first of three very tough games for the Golden Gophers.  I don't think the Gophers have the offense to keep pace with TJ Barrett and the Buckeyes.  The heavy reliance on rushing will make it easy for the Buckeyes to pin their ears back and key in on the pass.

Sean Says: Nebraska (+6) over WISCONSIN

Nebraska has the slight edge in quarterback play and that makes the difference here. I'm a little spooked because the "better" Nebraska team is a 'dog in this one, but I still think Nebraska has the overall better squad and better potential through the air late in the game. Huskers cover at Camp Randall.

Rusty Says: Nebraska (+6) over WISCONSIN

This is Must-See-TV to watch Abdullah take on Melvin Gordon.  Two of the best running backs in the country in the same game, with one always on the field?  How can you not love that?

Nebraska had a bye week after playing Purdue so they'll be ready for this game. These teams are so reliant on running with the Cornhuskers having the advantage at special teams.  I like a close game that Wisconsin wins, but closer than the experts think.

Sean Says: GEORGIA TECH (+3) over Clemson

Gotta feeing about Tech. I think they'll be able to out-methodical-ize Clemson, who is welcoming back their starting QB. I don't know much about either team, honestly, but I think Tech has the better shot here at home.

Rusty Says: Clemson (-3) over GEORGIA TECH

Deshaun Watson is back at quarterback for the Clemson Tigers.  Georgia Tech has been quietly very good this year but face a team with a lot of talent.  I think the Clemson is going to make just enough plays to win and cover.

Sean Says: DUKE (-5.5) over Virginia Tech

Taking Duke. These guys have covered almost every spread this year and have a ton of big-game experience. They get a reeling Hokie squad that lacks identity and direction. Duke has an ACC Championship game in its sights and has enough savvy to control this game at home. Blue Devils by 7.

Rusty Says: DUKE (-5.5) over Virginia Tech

At this point in the season I don't think there is anything special about this Hokie defense and the program has to start wondering when a change might be necessary at head coach.  Like Oregon, Virginia Tech is an organization that has thrived because of consistency in the leadership roles.

The Hokies are dealing with a lot of injuries and have dropped their last three games.  Duke hasn't lost since September and has been in a variety of games to gain the experience needed for a win.

Sean Says: Utah (+7.5) over STANFORD

This game is 20-17 either way. Two good defenses will hold down two bad offenses, and 7.5 is too many to lay on Stanford. I like Utah here. They looked pretty good last week against Oregon, despite the final score. I think Utah can win this one, or at least keep it within a TD.

Rusty Says: Utah (+7.5) over STANFORD

I know the Oregon score doesn't reflect it, Utah is a real good team.  Travis Wilson is at quarterback as the Utes travel to the Farm.

Stanford is nothing special.  They don't have an identity on offense and even though their defense has been spectacular, I don't expect to see them score enough points against a Utah defense that probably has a better front seven than the Trees.  I like Utah to win straight up.

Sean Says: ARKANSAS (-2) over Lsu

Body blow theory. LSU is beat up after a brutal stretch. I think Arkansas has the better offense in the matchup, and will be able to dictate the field position better than LSU.  I've liked the Hogs all year, and I think they get the win at home.

Rusty Says: ARKANSAS (-2) over Lsu

This is a pure body blow theory and home-field advantage pick.  These teams are so similar.  They rely on good field position, a dominant offensive line, and trying to squeeze the life out of opponents.  If you've missed football from the 60's then this game is for you.

LSU just has a lot to bounce back from after playing Alabama and now they play one of the hardest hitting teams in the SEC.  I expect Arkansas to win by a field goal late.

Sean Says: ARIZONA (-9) over Washington

Washington's in disarray. Their best players have been swapping sides of the field, and their defensive front is down to one true starter in Danny Shelton. Arizona will not go ahead by two scores in the first half, but will assert themselves in the 4th quarter and win by 10+.

Rusty Says: Washington (+9) over ARIZONA

This is a matchup pick.  Washington can get in the backfield and cause some chaos, which would disrupt the Arizona attack just like it messes up Oregon's.  I like Arizona to win but Washington to keep it close.

Sean Says: GEORGIA (+2.5) over Auburn

Taking the home team here, against an Auburn team that may still be shell-shocked from the worst case of fumblitis I have seen in my entire medical career. Georgia is undervalued after looking like a pu pu platter against the Florida Gators, but they get one Todd Gurley back, and get the Tigers at home. Georgia outright, which takes the heat off of Mark Richt (at least for now).

Rusty Says: Auburn (+2.5) over GEORGIA

I don't think Georgia is a better team than Auburn.  They have Todd Gurley back but the Bulldogs were still lacking on the whole without a drop in rushing production during Gurley's absence.

Auburn shot themselves in the foot a bunch of times against Texas A&M and I expect them to come out mad instead of disappointed against Georgia.  I like Auburn to win on the road behind Nick Marshall and a powerful Auburn rushing attack.

Sean Says: MIAMI (+1.5) over Florida State

This is more of an emotional pick. I don't really buy Miami in this matchup, but this is mostly a statement that Florida State has played with fire in literally EVERY GAME this year, and has somehow stayed undefeated despite it all. I would love if Miami rises from the ashes and wins this one. Freshman QB Brad Kaaya has really showed up for Miami, and I think they've got a shot to keep it tight in the fourth quarter. Let's go Canes.

Rusty Says: Florida State (-1.5) over MIAMI

This line shows that no one really has any faith in the Seminoles.  However, Jameis Winston can hold everything together no matter how badly his offensive line plays.  He makes big mistakes but at times can play perfectly.

The Hurricanes have been surging lately with dominant wins over Virginia Tech and North Carolina but I don't think they have the experience or depth to match-up for a full 60 minutes and come away with a win.

Sean Says: TEXAS A&M (-5.5) over Missouri

Texas A&M has looked equally as bad (at times) as Missouri over the season. Missouri's best win is over South Carolina, which is secretly not good.  Missouri's worst losses are a 34-0 blanking by Florida and a loss at home to Indiana.  A&M's best win is either their shellacking of South Carolina or their win over Auburn last week. Worst loss is a 59-0 shellacking at the hands of Alabama.

I like A&M at home, riding a wave of momentum after the improbably win against Auburn on the road. Aggies cover here.

Rusty Says: TEXAS A&M (-5.5) over Missouri

The Tigers have been less than great in their wins over Kentucky and Vanderbilt while Texas A&M is back.  I didn't think the Aggies were as bad as some thought during their mid-season skid and they came back big against Auburn.

With the home advantage I like the Aggies to beat Missouri by a couple scores.

Sean Says: Arizona State (-9.5) over OREGON STATE

The only argument as to why you take the Beavs here is a "letdown spot" from Zona State after the Notre Dame. I can't see that happening. Arizona State's defense is going to eat Mannion and the running game alive. Lay the points. Arizona State by 21.

Rusty Says: Arizona State (-9.5) over OREGON STATE

Oregon State can't stop a nosebleed.  They lost to Washington State who was starting a backup quarterback.

Arizona State is going to win the PAC-12 South and is coming off a dominant victory over the Fighting Irish.  This one could get ugly.

Sean Says: Mississippi State (+8.5) over ALABAMA

Bulldogs can score. Alabama can, at times. But they're beat up after an emotional win in Baton Rouge, and plays a Mississippi State team fresh off a bye and ready to assert themselves.  Take the points. Bama may win, but not by 9.

Rusty Says: Mississippi State (+8.5) over ALABAMA

There's no way that Alabama wins this game by nine points or more.  The SEC West is unbelievably deep.  As we saw last week, every game is up for grabs and could be realistically won by both sides.