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Duck the Odds, Week 4: While Ducks Rest, Showdowns in Seattle and Tempe

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Ducks are idle, but Stanford goes to Seattle and UCLA duels with the Sun Devils.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week's Results:

Rusty: 7-5 (Last Week); 20-31 (Overall)

Rusty's Hits: Utah +5.5, Alabama -14.5, Clemson +16.5, Virginia +14, Oregon State -10, Nebraska -7, California +9.5

Rusty's Misses: Oregon -23.5, Auburn -9, Hawai'i +7.5, LSU -9.5, West Virginia +7.5

Sean: 6-6 (Last Week); 23-28 (Overall)

Sean's Hits: Utah +5.5, Alabama -14.5, Virginia +14, Mississippi State +9.5, Nebraska -7, California +9.5

Sean's Misses: Oregon -23.5, Auburn -9, Hawai'i +7.5, Florida State -16.5, San Diego State +10, West Virginia +7.5


Congrats to Rusty for the first over-.500 week of the year for the esteemed pickers of ATQ. And for those of you who may be thinking: "Only over .500 once this year?" - DON'T RAIN ON OUR PARADE.

Some takeaways from last week:

(i) Cal, what can I say. Karma for "The Play?"

(ii) To me, Oklahoma's pull-away win in Morgantown is one of the more impressive wins of the year.

(iii) Both SEC teams in Mississippi are undefeated. What the F. The SEC West appears to be really, really, scary good.

(iv) Oregon State, after a nice win over San Diego State is now one of 7 (7!) undefeated Pac-12 teams.

(v) Did Ducks fans really expect anything else from a trip to the Palouse?  Remember last time, when both Kenjon Barner and Darron Thomas went down?

This Week's Picks

Two nice Thursday games (Texas Tech @ Oklahoma State and UCLA at Arizona State) start the weekend off with a bang, and some nice games on Saturday, including a compelling Stanford roadtrip to Washington, complete a nice collage of games for Week 5. The Ducks are idle, but I guess we can still pay attention to some of the games. And away we go.

Home Teams in CAPS

Sean: Texas Tech (+13.5) over OKLAHOMA STATE (Thursday)

This one is kind of easy. Although the last time we saw Texas Tech they were getting destroyed by Arkansas, I'm taking the points in what is sure to be a classic Big 12 shootout (Vegas says there will be 71 points in this game).

Rusty:  OKLAHOMA STATE (-13.5) over Texas Tech

The Red Raiders have been struggling on both sides of the ball this year.  They had no hope last week against Arkansas who just ran all over them.  Oklahoma State, while not excellent running or passing, is very good at both.  The Cowboys were close to beating Florida State in the season opener and have cruised through two other teams, including the sneaky good UT-San Antonio.  I don't see how the Red Raiders will be able to keep pace.

Sean: Ucla (-4.5) over ARIZONA STATE (Thursday)

If UCLA is what it thinks it is, it has to cover this spread. I think the Bruins are more battle-tested than ASU, having played two tough games on the road at Virginia and in Texas. With or without Hundley, I think they're a TD better, even on the road in Tempe. Lay the points.

Rusty: ARIZONA STATE (+4.5) over Ucla

I think that the Sun Devils are a better team than the Bruins.  I don't think it matters too much that Kelly won't be lining up in shotgun because their offense is so dynamic on the ground.  Foster has been one of the best running backs so far this season and will be doing a lot of the heavy lifting Thursday.

UCLA hasn't looked good in any game so far this year.  They needed late game heroics to top woeful Texas.  If Arizona's State defense is good to very good, they don't even need to be great, they'll pressure Hundley and do just enough to get the win.

Sean: Baylor (-21) over IOWA STATE

I'm laying Baylor-minus-anything until further notice. Baylor won this one 70-7 at home last year.  Not saying it's that bad this year, but Iowa State has to score 30 points to cover this spread. Ain't happening. Lay all of the points.

Rusty: Baylor (-21)over IOWA STATE

Iowa State's lone win is over Iowa and since the Big-10 is so bad it's really not that special.  Their losses are to North Dakota State and Kansas State.  I could give you the stats for Baylor but they're all stupid high and they show no signs of slowing.  Iowa State might keep it close for a quarter but the Baylor Bears are going to absolutely demolish the Cyclones.

Sean: Colorado (+13.5) over CAL

Really went back and forth on this one.  Don't love CU, but as far as Cal's concerned, this is one of the bigger let-down-spot potentials I've ever seen. I don't trust Cal's defense at all, and I think Colorado can come in there and surprise Cal a bit.

Rusty: CAL (-13.5) over Colorado

This seems like a large point spread to take the Bears but Cal can score points.  Colorado on the other hand, is not certain off scoring past 24.  Based on the spread, a 38-24 score seems more likely to happen than not.  The Buffaloes won't have the offense to come back the way that Arizona did and weird stuff happens in Berkeley.  Just sayin'.

Sean: SOUTH CAROLINA (-5.5) over Missouri

South Carolina is improving and is not as bad as its loss to Texas A&M and its close win over East Carolina suggest.  Even though I like Maty Mauk for Missouri, they're too inconsistent to trust on the road. Lay the 5.5.

Rusty: SOUTH CAROLINA (-5.5) over Missouri

I was very high on Missouri before their loss last week to Indiana.  That might be one of the worst losses of the year so far.  Indiana is awful.  South Carolina has also a lot of question marks.  We saw them get torched by Texas A&M, then beat Georgia, then scraped by Vanderbilt who has been one of the worst teams in the country.  I'm picking South Carolina in this game because they have more talent on both sides, have proven they can operate at a high level, and have Steve Spurrier as head coach.  I love Steve Spurrier.

Sean: Notre Dame (-9.5) over SYRACUSE

Laying points on the road favorite here because Syracuse just got beat convincingly in the Carrier Dome by an unspectacular Maryland squad.  Notre Dame's defense will hold 'Cuse to 14 points or fewer and Everett Golson will get enough done on offense to cover this spread.

Rusty: Notre Dame (-9.5) over SYRACUSE

The Orange needed double overtime to top Villanova and lost to Maryland last week, both at home.   Notre Dame has played in dominant fashion twice so far this year and they get the Orange at home.  Everett Golson is going to ball out and cruise to a win.  Watch for the Orange to get dominated at the line of scrimmage and be forced to pass, with terrible results.

Sean: TEXAS A&M (-9.5) over Arkansas

This is the Bret Beilema offense vs. the Anti-Brett-Beilema offense. Too much firepower on A&M's sideline here. Arkansas looked great running the ball against Texas Tech, but Tech's defense is not nearly as powerful up the middle as A&M's is.  This one stays close into the 3rd but A&M pulls away to win by 10+.

Rusty: TEXAS A&M (-9.5) over Arkansas

A pass-happy offense against an offense that refuses to recognize the forward option as the statistically proven most-efficient way to move the football.  Arkansas is like Stanford in that if they get a lead and can run the ball with some success, they will squeeze the life out of you.  However, the Aggie defense can stop the run, unlike Texas Tech, and has a good shot of jumping out to a lead.

Texas A&M is 2nd in points for and 8th in points against.  They held South Carolina, a good rushing football team, to only 67 yards in the season opener.  Arkansas is going to have to pass and that's going to be as elegant as Bambi on ice.

Sean: USC (-9) over Oregon State

Very, verrrry interesting matchup. Where is USC's focus right now after losing to BC? Is their talented but thin secondary ready for what Sean Mannion has cooking? I'm grudgingly taking USC here. I think they'll re-focus and be ready to play at home.  OSU can't really run, which is what you have to do on the road to hang in a game.  And while Mannion's skills are superior, they haven't really scored in bunches against teams that aren't really that good (Portland State, Hawaii, San Diego State).  I'm still cautiously optimistic about USC, and don't think their depth will be tested as much against Oregon State as it was against Boston College.

Rusty: USC (-9) over Oregon State

My pick of USC to win and cover is heavily dependent on the location of this game.  If this game were in Corvallis I'd probably go the other way.  What USC has going for it is Oregon State doesn't use tempo, meaning depth won't be the biggest concern for the Trojans.  Also, the Beavers don't have nearly as strong a rushing game as Boston College does.  But we may find that USC's run defense just isn't that good or that Oregon State's rushing attack is improving this year.

The talent disparity when USC has the ball will be too big.  The tempo and playmakers on the outside will be too much for the Beavers.  There is a very real possibility that Sean Mannion plays near perfect but if that doesn't happen then USC will walk away with a win and cover.

Sean: North Carolina (+14.5) over CLEMSON

Let. Down. Spot. North Carolina isn't as bad as their beatdown from East Carolina would make them look. ECU is a legit, legit team that was hitting on all cylinders.  Clemson just blew a HUUUUUGE opportunity on the road against Florida State.  UNC has the talent to keep this one close, and 14.5 is just way too many points to lay on a Clemson team that has looked unpredictable and un-clutch in the second half.

Rusty: CLEMSON (-14.5) over North Carolina

The Tigers found their quarterback of the future last week.  DeShaun Watson is a playmaker and ready for the spotlight.  I don't expect Clemson to come out flat.  I expect Clemson to come out angry.  The Tar Heels are only a week removed from being absolutely embarrassed by East Carolina where they allowed 70 points and 789 yards of offense.  Clemson is going to blow the Tar Heels out of the water.

Sean: WASHINGTON (+7.5) over Stanford

In my Pac-12 Prognostication Preview, I picked Washington to beat Stanford at home.  So I'm sticking with my principles!  As inconsistent as its offense has been, Washington's defense has morphed into something to be reckoned with, and I think that makes the difference here.

Rusty: WASHINGTON (+7.5) over Stanford

I'm so torn on this one.  On the one hand, Stanford is probably the better team.   However, their red zone offense is terrible.  Against USC they shot themselves in the feet so often that they're out of toes at this point.  The miscues on offense is a trait that is present in almost all of their games and even possessions.

Washington has gotten off to some slow starts.  I'm hedging though that we'll see the Husky squad from the second half of last weeks game for all four quarters this week.  If they fall behind early they won't be able to get back into the game, which could make for me looking really dumb by the second quarter.

Sean: Tennessee (+17) over GEORGIA

Isn't it about time for Butch Jones to get something together? Tennessee hasn't been much to look at so far, but I have the feeling that this is the one/two times per year that Tennessee gets it together and looks great. (See last year's OT loss to Georgia, win vs. South Carolina.)  Take all those points.

Rusty: Tennessee (+17) at GEORGIA

This is simply too many points to give up for this game.  Georgia's biggest issue is that they still haven't discovered that Todd Gurley is hungry and needs as many carries as humanly possible.  Seriously, he averages 9.8 yards per carry when rushing the football and only got 20 touches against South Carolina.  He can convert 3rd and longs by himself yet Mark Richt prefers play action passes on the 2-yard line.  Are you kidding me?

Tennessee played well against Utah State and showed that it was improving against Oklahoma.  Oklahoma is significantly better than Georgia and last year the Bulldogs needed overtime and a fair amount of Volunteer miscues to come out with a win.  This year's Tennessee squad is an improvement on last years, but I can't say the same for Georgia.

Sean: NORTH CAROLINA STATE (+19) over Florida State

This line started at 27.5 and then PLUMMETED to 19. Which means that 19 is still too many. Give me those points against an FSU that still lacks identity and cohesion, and is on the verge of Clemson'ing itself on the road at NC State - again (see 2012).

Rusty: Florida State (-19) at NORTH CAROLINA STATE

The Wolfpack's best win so far is a 32-point blowout over lowly South Florida.  There's an adjustment period when playing college football and NC State would've probably been better off with scrimmaging themselves the last four weekends.

Florida State has been through the grinder.  They get Jameis Winston back on offense and NC State won't have the talent or scheme to cause the same amount of chaos that Clemson did.  Winston can cover up for a lot of mistakes and weaknesses.

Sean: Washington State (+13) over UTAH

Give me the Cougs. They're figuring out how to play offense at the right time, just as Utah is coming home after congratulating themselves for beating Michigan at the Big House. This is just way too many points for a game that is very likely to be a shootout.

Rusty: UTAH (-13) over Washington State

The Cougars played their best game of the season last week against the Ducks and still lost.  They played near perfect and not only will they have a regression to the mean but they're also going to have to deal with an emotional let down.

I think the Utes have finally turned the corner in the PAC-12 conference.  They can score a ton of points and have done a tremendous job limiting opposing offensive production.  Their defense is very physical and might play some press coverage to take minimize the Cougar receivers.  A few turnovers will get the Utes over the spread for the cover.