Rusty: 6-7 (Last Week); 72-79-2 (Overall)
Rusty's Hits: Cal (+14.5), Utah (+7.5), Arkansas (-2), Washington (+9), Florida State (-1.5), Mississippi State (+8.5)
Rusty's Misses: Ohio State (-12), Nebraska (+6), Clemson (-3.5), Duke (-5.5), Auburn (+2.5), Texas A&M (-5.5), Arizona State (-9.5)
Sean: 6-7 (Last Week); 78-73-2 (Overall)
Sean's Hits: Cal (+14.5), Georgia Tech (+3.5), Utah (+7.5), Arkansas (-2), Georgia (-2.5), Mississippi State (+8.5)
Sean's Misses: Ohio State (-12), Nebraska (+6), Duke (-5.5), Arizona (-9), Miami (+1.5), Texas A&M (-5.5), Arizona State (-9.5)
Both Rusty and I had uninspired showings last week. Still biting myself for picking against Jameis Winston.
(i) [All the MelGor commentaries.]
(ii) With a surprising Duke loss to Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech is suddenly a player in whatever the division of the ACC is that they're in.
(iii) Arizona State: what the what?
(iv) Texas A&M is a stupid, stupid organization of underachieving weirdos.
(v) Pour one out for Todd Gurley. Nice showing by Georgia, though.
(vi) I'm a little skeptical about Alabama's offense still, but they've rightfully played their way into the #1 spot, at least for now.
This Week's Picks
This week is fairly gross. Outside of some nice games in the Pac-12 (Utah-Arizona showdown, battle for LA), not much around the country. Let's take a look.
Home Teams in CAPS
Sean Says: OREGON (-33) over Colorado
Sefo Liufao, the engine that makes the Buffs train go, is out for this game. Taking his place? Sophomore Jordan Gehrke, who is 11-of-26 for zero touchdowns in his career. CU won't be able to run, and won't be able to get the ball into Nelson Spruce's hands enough to keep up with the Ducks. Ducks cover.
Rusty Says: Colorado (+33) over OREGON
The Buffs need good field position and some special teams magic to keep this one close. That’s how they’ve kept their other games close. However, the Buffs are 80th in F/+ on defense and 84th in F/+ on special teams. This will be a backdoor cover as we see the backups come in early in the third quarter but Colorado does just enough to feel good about themselves while still losing.
Sean Says: Kansas State (+2) over WEST VIRGINIA
I like K-State too much to not pick with one Bill Snyder. Tough last few weeks for both teams: WVU loses a close one to TCU, then gets murdered by Texas. K-State loses big to TCU.
I think K-State comes in more focused, especially off the bye week. I also like the body blow theory here, as WVU just got beat up on the road against a physical Texas team. Go Cats.
Rusty Says: Kansas State (+2) over WEST VIRGINIA
I get that Trickett and White are the top QB-WR duo in the country but I don’t see how the Mountaineers are giving points to the Wildcats except for the fact that the game is in crazy Morgantown. Hide your couches.
The ‘Cats are coming off a bye week and while without stars have solid players at every position. Keep in mind, this squad would’ve beaten Auburn if it had better kicking. Kansas State goes into Morgantown and gets the win in the most boring, Kansas State way possible.
Sean Says: North Carolina (+6) over DUKE
I've been riding Duke all year long. But this is going to be a shootout, and I think UNC has more on offense than Duke does. UNC has specialized in showing up when people count them out, with surprising wins over Georgia Tech, Virginia, and Pitt. I waffled back and forth between Duke asserting itself late with all its veterans and UNC being able to out-athlete Duke late and keep it tight. I think in a rivalry game, you have to assume the underdog has more in the tank. Tar Heels cover.
Rusty Says: DUKE (-6) over North Carolina
The Tar Heels have a good offense but their defense is awful and their special teams play is even worse. I don’t see how North Carolina wins this one on the road against Duke. Duke is 25th in F/+, 2nd on special teams, and 22nd on defense. It’s a strength v. strength matchup when the Blue Devil defense takes on the Tar Heel offense. I like the Blue Devils in this one.
Sean Says: Miami (-6) over VIRGINIA
I don't love Miami in this matchup. They are fresh off a demoralizing, last-minute loss to FSU at home when they had a chance to win.
I also don't love Virginia in this matchup. Since starting 4-2, they have 4 straight losses and have struggled to score points against all comers.
Who do I like less? Virginia. Miami still has something to play for, and has a lot of offensive talent. I think they can outscore Virginia late. And I think this is no more than a 24-17 game. Kind of a gross one, but Miami wins on the road.
Rusty Says: Miami (-6) over VIRGINIA
Miami is sneaky good. They have the 11th offense and 18th defense according to F/+. Virginia has a strong defense but weak offense.
Kaaya has been playing well and the ‘Canes nearly had a win over Florida State last week. If it hadn’t been for some last minute heroics the Hurricanes might have won the state of Miami.
There is a strong potential for a Hurricane hangover but I think the Miami offense will neutralize the Wahoo strength on defense and pull away late.
Sean Says: TENNESSEE (-3.5) over Missouri
I still have no idea how Missouri is 8-2. And neither does Vegas, as they're dogs on the road in Knoxville. I think Tennessee has turned a corner with back to back wins over South Carolina and Kentucky. Vols win this one at home and cover the 3.5.
Rusty Says: TENNESSEE (-3.5) over Missouri
Missouri is 37th in F/+ while Tennessee is 38th. Both teams rely heavily on their defense while Mizzou has the edge on special teams. Missouri is really the least sexiest team in the SEC even though last year they had unprecedented success.
With the game being in Knoxville and the Vol players getting significantly better every week I like the Volunteers to win a close one.
Sean Says: Minnesota (+10) over NEBRASKA
Minnesota still has a lot to play for, and looked good at home against Ohio State. Nebraska's defense is demoralized to the n-th degree. Neither team has any passing threat. This game stinks like a 17-10 game. I'll take the points.
Rusty Says: NEBRASKA (-10) over Minnesota
The Cornhuskers were absolutely demolished by Melvin Gordon who set an NCAA single-game rushing record going for 408 yards.
This week Nebraska will come out angry. Minnesota has been a team on the rise but the talent disparity will be too much to overcome.
Both teams have excellent special teams play but Nebraska is noticeably better on both sides of the ball. I’m willing to risk ten points in this game because I think the Gophers are a bit of a paper tiger.
Sean Says: Boston College (+19) over FLORIDA STATE
I can't believe how many times we've picked Florida State games, and I can't believe how many times I've been wrong.
I saw online in a comment or something that the best pick ever is parlaying the first half spread against Florida state along with the Florida State moneyline. AKA Florida State looks like doo-doo in the first half then roars back to win the game. I mean, is there any doubt this happens in this game?
BC has a nice offense and will test Florida State's ability to stay disciplined. Florida State probably wins this by 14. Give me the points.
Rusty Says: Boston College (+19) over FLORIDA STATE
We’ve seen this game before. Time is a flat circle. Boston College will get out to a great start. Jameis Winston makes some bad decisions on the field. In the second half Winston plays near perfect and the Seminoles edge out a close win, but won’t cover.
Sean Says: Ole Miss (-3.5) over ARKANSAS
Ole Miss still has an outside shot at the CFP if they win out. They know this, and they know that they can move the ball against a deceptively good Arkansas defense. Give me the Rebels on the road.
Rusty Says: ARKANSAS (+3.5) over Ole Miss
This is going to be what southerners call "big boy football." Arkansas has a punishing rushing attack going against one of the best tackling defenses. Ole Miss is going to have to do what Oregon struggled with the last couple years: fighting in a phone booth.
Dr. Bo Wallace is going to make a couple mistakes and Arkansas will get ahead and take the air out of the ball. I like the Razorbacks to cover.
Sean Says: CALIFORNIA (+5.5) over Stanford
I'm picking against Stanford until they show they can score points. If this turns into a shootout, Cal wins it.
Rusty Says: CALIFORNIA (+5.5) over Stanford
Is Stanford in trouble? I think so. They might have lost the will to carry on after being run over by Oregon and losing to Utah in double overtime. In the rivalry game they travel to Berkeley where shit happens to take on a surging Cal team.
Cal can score points and I think that they’ll have a good gameplan to attack a strong Stanford secondary. Stanford wins a close one.
Sean Says: NOTRE DAME (-3.5) over Louisville
Louisville has zero passing game now that Will Gardner is out. Golson is primed for a comeback game. I can't believe I'm picking Notre Dame, but it's happening.
Rusty Says: Louisville (+3.5) over NOTRE DAME
The Fighting Irish will only make it as far as Everett Golson can carry them and against good defenses that’s not very far. There’s an Everett Golson against bad defenses who looks really good and there’s a body portraying Everett Golson against good teams.
Louisville has one of the best defenses in the nation and is going to force turnovers en route to a win.
Sean Says: UTAH (-4) over Arizona
Utes at home. Arizona's offense is slipping, and Utah's defense is as stout as any defense west of the Big Ten. Utes win by a touchdown, and #SackLakeCity stays in the running for the South title.
Rusty Says: Arizona (+4) over UTAH
Utah has had a rough few weeks and now they take on an Arizona squad doing a lot of innovative stuff on the offensive side of the ball.
The Arizona 3-3-5 matches up well with the Utah offense, in my opinion. If Utah pulls this game out it will be a true testament to the teams character.
Sean Says: Oregon State (+6) over WASHINGTON
Beavs have a running game! And that lets them stay in this game. Washington's defense is slowly eroding away, and I think the Beavs have enough firepower to keep it tight.
Rusty Says: WASHINGTON (-6) over Oregon State
Sean Mannion, when he has time, is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. The Huskies are one of the best teams in the nation at getting to the quarterback; Beaver kryptonite.
Oregon State might also be riding a little high after their huge win over Arizona State. Although, this is what Oregon State typically does. They get real good at the end of the season.
Sean Says: Washington State (+16.5) over ARIZONA STATE
Oh God. I have no idea. I'll take Washington State because the rule in all Pac-12 games is take the points. So there's that. Arizona State gets to play at home, thoroughly embarrassed after being dismantled by the Beavs. Wazzu is sans Connor Halliday, but still dangerous to score. Zona State will win comfortably, but you always take the points in a shootout game.
Rusty Says: ARIZONA STATE (-16.5) over Washington State
The Sun Devils are significantly better on both sides of the ball and I don’t expect them to falter after their loss to the Beavers. This game became a must-win if the Sun Devils want to make the post-season. The urgency will carry over to the practice week and the gameplan and energy will carry the Sun Devils over the spread.
Sean Says: Usc (+3.5) at UCLA
I think USC wins this one outright. Their offense has quietly become very effective and have a couple of offensive players who can score at the drop of a hat. UCLA's entire life force runs through one Brett Hundley. USC knows that. They will do everything they can to prevent Hundley from running wild. USC has revenge on its mind after two straight losses to UCLA. They get that sweet sweet revenge this year at the Rose Bowl. Trojans get the W.
Rusty Says: Usc (+3.5) at UCLA
David Piper has been saying all year that UCLA isn’t that good and I’m starting to believe him. I hope UCLA wins out, because that would be great for Oregon to beat UCLA in the PAC-12 title game. They are the least scary of the four South teams left.
USC, in order to win, is going to have to get to Hundley. Hundley, when pressured, is an average quarterback, but he can reach Herculean levels when he has no pressure in the world.
I like UCLA to win a close one in the Battle for LA but the Trojans to cover.