Rusty: 4-7 (Last Week); 59-68-2 (Overall)
Rusty's Hits: Auburn +2.5, Kansas State -14, Cal +2.5, Utah +5.
Rusty's Misses: Stanford +9.5, Louisville +4.5, Mississippi State -10, Georgia -13, Washington State +7, Arizona +4,TCU -6.
Sean: 4-7 (Last Week); 68-59-2 (Overall)
Sean's Hits: Auburn +2.5, Arkansas +10, Kansas State -14, Cal +2.5,
Sean's Misses: Stanford +9.5, Louisville +4.5, Georgia -13, Washington State +7, Arizona +4, Arizona State -5, TCU -6.
After a solid few weeks for Rusty and me, we fall back down to earth with less-than-impressive 4-7 records ATS. We'll recover.
I started to write takeaways, but realized I was just regurgitating all the #narratives from the #lamestream #media. So let's just get to the picks in a thick Week 11 slate, shall we?
This Week's Picks
Home Teams in CAPS
Sean Says: Oregon (-9.5) over UTAH
The anticipation for this game is big for me, because my wife and I will be meeting ATQ's own Mr. Noah Dee in Salt Lake City to watch the Ducks take on the Utes.
I watched the Utah offense closely last week against Zona State. Not impressed. As good as Utah's defense has looked this year, they don't have the offensive skill or Xs and Os to hang with Oregon. And you know what other defenses looked great when not facing Oregon? Michigan State, Washington, Stanford. Oregon wins by 14+.
Rusty Says: Oregon (-9.5) over UTAH
This is a risky play. I can’t objectively analyze Oregon. The Ducks travel to Utah, play at altitude, against a team that gets in the backfield a lot, and a week after a huge win over Stanford.
Utah really struggles on offense and especially throwing the football. Their defense is special but they don’t have the same benefits Stanford did of having an offense that can control the pace of the game.
I think that Oregon knows how important this game is after just missing out on the national championship the last couple years. This is where experience and veteran playmakers take over.
Sean Says: Ucla (-4.5) over WASHINGTON
If UCLA's defense plays with 2/3 of the defensive intensity they had against Arizona, they win this easily. If they do not, then obviously they're at risk here in a hostile Seattle environment. But with as bad as Washington's offense has looked over the past few weeks, I'm not confident in their ability to score with UCLA. Jim Mora is nothing if not a good motivator, and I think he and UCLA know that this is a big turning point for the program. Cautiously laying points on the road fave here.
Rusty Says: WASHINGTON (+4.5) over Ucla
On paper, and according to Football Outsiders F/+, this should be an easy win for UCLA. Not so fast. Washington gets to the quarterback and UCLA really struggles to protect Brett Hundley at times.
The big win over Arizona says more about Arizona shooting itself in the foot. We’ve seen plenty of evidence from UCLA that show that they aren’t a great team.
Shaq Thompson is going to make plenty of plays this game and Cyler Miles is going to make enough plays for a backdoor cover.
Sean Says: Texas A&M (+21) over AUBURN
Too many points. Sure, Auburn has looked great. But they are off of a dramatic, emotional, insane win on the road in Oxford on very strange circumstances. Malzahn's a great coach, but isn't Auburn primed for a letdown?
I think Auburn stays in control, but I think A&M has a great chance for a backdoor cover in this bad boy. Take the points in this shootout.
Rusty Says: Texas A&M (+21) over AUBURN
This is simply too many points to give in an SEC West game. Sure, the Aggies are trending down while Auburn is on the way up. Sure, the Aggies might have just gotten by UL-Monroe and got blanked in embarrassing fashion by the Crimson Tide, but this is how the season goes. Teams are always rising and falling in America.
Keep in mind though that Auburn struggled against South Carolina. They’re not perfect and have flaws. With the division being so competitive and the way the season is panning out I think this is a close cover for the Aggies.
Sean Says: LSU (+6.5) over Alabama
Betting on LSU to do to Alabama exactly what it did to Ole Miss: muck this game up. You don't think LSU can turn this into a 14-10 game? I think that's exactly what happens. Alabama has looked great at times, and has looked questionable at other times. Not enough consistency to build on to lay basically a TD on a road favorite going into Baton Rouge. Tigers cover.
Rusty Says: Alabama (-6.5) over LSU
LSU’s strengths on offense play right into Alabama’s strength on defense: rush defense. The Tigers are in trouble if they have to start throwing the football.
Alabama has too many weapons between Amari Cooper, Blake Sims, TJ Yeldon, and el Tractorcito. The Bayou Bengals are going to drop their second night game of the season at Tiger Stadium.
Las Vegas thinks that Alabama is one of the best teams in the country and I have to agree. I believe LSU is too one-dimensional and a bad matchup against the Tide.
Sean Says: OKLAHOMA (-5) over Baylor
Sooners are primed for a comeback. I think Baylor's "quality" is overstated. When will Trevor Knight have that "clicked in" game like he did against Alabama? Can it be this week? It had better be, or Oklahoma's top-10 dreams die in Norman on Saturday. I'm surprised to find OU as a favorite, so I think the oddsmakers know something that we don't see. I think the Stoops Brothers (both Full Stoops and Diet Stoops) find a way to get it done.
Rusty Says: Baylor (+5) over OKLAHOMA
The Sooners got a Sugar Bowl-caliber performance out of Trevor Knight last week. If it was guaranteed that he would play that well week in and week out we’d still be talking about the Sooners as a national title contender.
Both defenses are similar, allowing just above 21 points per game so the difference comes down to the offense. Baylor is the highest scoring team in the country and incredibly balanced between running and throwing the football. With Baylor getting the points I like the Bears to win.
Sean Says: FLORIDA STATE (-18) over Virginia
Florida State found a nice formula last week when it found itself on the ropes in Louisville: give the ball to all your 5-star guys and see what happens. I think they've found a running game rhythm, and their speed on the perimeter will be too much for the Cavaliers. Lay the points on Florida State this week. I think they're finally ready for a dominant performance.
Rusty Says: FLORIDA STATE (-18) over Virginia
The Cavaliers are on a three game losing streak and are a week away from losing to Georgia Tech by 25 points. Luckily for the Wahoos, Florida State can’t run the football. But you don’t really need to when Jameis Winston is your quarterback. He responds to poor first halves by barely throwing an incompletion in the second half.
Teams benefit from a poor first half to get a lead before the Seminoles fight back. I don’t think Virginia will get that advantage headed into halftime.
Sean Says: OREGON STATE (-8) over Washington State
Yeech. Oregon State is bad. Washington State is down one Halliday. I think the Beavs have enough skill to take control over the shaken Cougs. But I seriously have no idea.
Rusty Says: OREGON STATE (-8) over Washington State
The Cougars are without Connor Halliday who underwent surgery for a season-ending injury. According to F/+ these teams are surprisingly close to each other, but that was before the injury to Washington State’s fearless leader.
I don’t think Washington State is going to be able to execute on offense as well with Falk at quarterback and their defense is going to make the Oregon State offense look good. I like the Beavers to win in one of the saddest games of the day.
Sean Says: ARIZONA (-15) over Colorado
I've been cautiously optimistic on the Buffs all season because of their offensive talent, but I think they're running out of gas. Arizona is pissed off after an embarrassing road loss to UCLA, and is eager to re-prove their offensive prowess. Enter Colorado. Lay the points on an Arizona squad that needs a big win right now.
Rusty Says: ARIZONA (-15) over Colorado
Arizona is 28th in F/+ and Colorado is 76th. The Buffalo defense is 85th on the defensive side of the ball and won’t be able to make enough stops on the road. The Arizona defense is 29th in the country and will take on a somewhat weak Colorado offense. I feel bad for Colorado because they have to play an angry team coming off a bad game. There’s no way I can pick Colorado to cover.
Sean Says: MICHIGAN STATE (-3.5) over Ohio State
I think Sparty is a more complete team than the Buckeyes. Ohio State has looked pretty good in all but three games: Navy, Virginia Tech (obviously), and Penn State. But in those games they have looked REAL vulnerable. Sparty has been in complete control the entire season other than in 1.5 quarters at Autzen and 1 quarter vs. Nebraska. I think they've had this game circled on their calendar for a while and are ready to make a statement. Michigan State by 7.
Rusty Says: Ohio State (+3.5) over MICHIGAN STATE
JT Barrett has come a long way since the loss to Virginia Tech. He has a 64.7% completion rate, 23 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions, and has rushed for a few hundred yards and 6 touchdowns for good measure.
Michigan State’s offense averages 45.5 points a game and has been tearing through every team on their schedule sans Oregon and Nebraska. This game is a real offensive showdown. Who would’ve thought we would see that in Big-10 football?
The points are the real tipping point in this pick. Ohio State will do just enough on defense and the offense will score enough points to keep it close. These teams always have exciting games.
Sean Says: Notre Dame (+2.5) over
Notre Dame ARIZONA STATE
This is a really cool late-season matchup that is BIG for both teams. If either team wins out, they're probably in the playoff. (Please note, that's a biiiig "if.") But one of their roads to the CFP could start here.
I really don't know much about Notre Dame, other than that their offense is pretty legit with Golson and their defense is not. They've been inconsistent and haven't had a big win this season. Arizona State is riding a wave of momentum after four straight wins over legit competition (USC, Stanford, Washington, Utah). Somehow - somehow - their defense is getting it done. No better time to be facing Notre Dame at home.
I can't really make qualitative or quantitative judgments about the game, because the two styles are so different. But from a philosophical perspective, the question to ask is: will this be Todd Graham's signature win at ASU? Or will it be more of the same: beating teams ASU is supposed to beat and getting out-physicaled when it counts?
I was VERY tempted to go with ASU. I really do think it's their time to shine. But I think the fact that they are down 1 (Jaxon Hood) - and potentially 2 (Demetrius Cherry) - defensive linemen is big here. If Notre Dame can control the clock, they can win this one. I think Notre Dame is going to win this one on the road.
Rusty Says: ARIZONA STATE (-2.5) over Notre Dame
It’s a playoff elimination game between the Sun Devils and the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame has yet to beat anyone of top quality, although you could argue Stanford is a top quality win.
I thought Arizona State would be hurting on defense but the unit has developed so well this year and they will cause problems for Everett Golson.
Arizona State meanwhile gets to host Notre Dame in the desert with two quality quarterbacks leading an offense that can score points. I don’t think Notre Dame will have the athletes to keep up on defense and won’t be able to score enough points.
Sean Says: Kansas State (+5.5) over TCU
Riding with the 'Cats til they die. K-State is well-coached, methodical, and ready for another shot in a primetime game after letting Auburn slip away with a win in Manhattan a few weeks back. TCU has looked great at times this year, but I think this is the kind of game that K-State is built to stay close in. The KSU defense saw Boykin make mistakes in Morgantown last week, and know they can be just as opportunistic.
And from a psychological perspective, TCU knows it needs to do big things to impress the Playoff Committee. So they'll be pressing. K-State? No pressure. Just win baby. In a matchup of two truly elite coaches, Bill Snyder will out-fox Gary Patterson. K-State covers and maybe even pulls this one off.
Rusty Says: Kansas State (+5.5) over TCU
Winner keeps their playoff hopes alive. Loser leaves town.
You can’t count out a Kansas State team led by Bill Snyder. They’re always so well coached to the point of being boring and even kept it close with Auburn.
TCU is very balanced and with Boykin at quarterback they can expect to be running on all cylinders hosting the Wildcats. I think they get the win late but Kansas State will cover.