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Ducking the Odds: Week 5 of 2015 College Football Season

Rusty and Sean look at the top matchups happening this weekend give their picks against the spread. They preview Notre Dame at Clemson, Alabama at Georgia, and more.

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Last week: 9-2 (for both Sean & Rusty)

Sean this season:  20-17-1

Rusty this season:  18-19-1

S:  West Virginia v. Oklahoma (-7)


I know WVU is supposed to have a revamped defense and everything, but I think I have to keep having faith in OU. WVU has not been traditionally a great road team, and OU has significant front-7 talent to be able to stop the Mountaineers' improved run game. I hate to take a favorite in a game that is shaping up to be a classic Big 12 shootout, but I think Oklahoma's defense has enough talent to keep things in check. Sooners by 10.

R:  West Virginia v. Oklahoma (-7)

Oklahoma needed overtime to topple Rocky Top in week 2 and that was only after a great late-game comeback down 17.  This is also West Virginia's first real game of the season after playing Georgia Southern, Liberty, and Maryland.  With the Mountaineers on the road and Oklahoma having already been tested I like the more established Sooners to beat the Mountaineers by a touchdown or more.


S:  Mississippi State (+6.5) at Texas A&M


Waffled on this one. But I think Texas A&M is beat up after an OT road win at Fayetteville. Now they have to come home and chase around Dak Prescott. More can go wrong for the Aggies than can go right, and I haven't been super impressed by A&M's offense to this point. They are trying to have their cake and eat it too by giving both hyper-talented QBs some playing time, but that is causing a loss of rhythm for the entire offense. I'll cautiously take the points here.

R: Mississippi State at Texas A&M (-6.5)

I'm riding the Aggie bandwagon so hard this year.  Last week the Aggies needed overtime to beat a bruising Arkansas team.  Bruce Feldman has a "body blow" theory that the week after playing a physical team like Stanford or Arkansas there is a significant drop off in play.  That theory applies to TAMU in this case.  The Aggies aren't really great on either side of the ball.  The TAMU pass rush is really amazing and Myles Garrett, who is maybe better than Jaeveon Clowney, will be able to operate in space making this must see TV.


S:  Arizona State at UCLA (-13.5)


I'm going to go ahead and repeat my [almost] exact same prediction for Arizona State this week as last week against USC, with some changes. It all still applies. Changes in [brackets.]
"HOT TAKE: Arizona State is going to go 6-6 this season. They are just not that talented. After getting beaten handily by Texas A&M, they have struggled with FCS Cal Poly and the fighting Lobos of New Mexico [and gotten murdered at home by USC]. USC is also kind of a mess [UCLA looks kind of awesome],  but [and] just way more talented than ASU. Lay the points on the Trojans [Bruins], who have too much speed for ASU to defend."

R:  Arizona State at UCLA (-13.5)

I had UCLA winning the PAC-12 South.  They're just too talented top to bottom on the depth chart and at every position.  UCLA QB Josh Rosen has had one below average game thus far as a Bruin.  The defense should get serious pressure on Mike Bercovici.  I just don't see Arizona State being even good this year, especially when compared to preseason expectations.  This is as much of a pick against Arizona State as it is for UCLA.


S:  Alabama (+2.5) at Georgia

Bulldogs are going down. Why? Because they won't be able to stop the Tide run game. Georgia's pass game has been lights out the last two weeks (and that's how you have to beat Bama if you want to beat Bama], but I think almost any decent QB would have shredded South Carolina and the Fighting Jaguars of South Alabama. Take the points, because the Tide win on the road.

R:  Alabama (+2.5) at Georgia

Georgia does not run a spread offense.  Georgia does not have a serious threat to run at the quarterback position.  Georgia also does not have the amazing talent that Ole Miss has.  The only real question for me is when Lane Kiffin, aka Joey Freshwater, finally stops all the passing, realizes what he has, and hands the ball of twenty or more times a game to Derrick Henry whose athleticism shows that he is not of this earth.

S:  Texas Tech (+17) at Baylor


Texas Tech's offense hasn't been stopped by anyone this year. Why is Baylor any different? Baylor has played essentially warm-body teams so far (SMU, Lamar, Rice), whereas the Red Raiders have had back-to-back "look at us!" performances vs. Arkansas and TCU. Take all those points. Nary a semblance of defense will be seen in this game, and that's to TTU's advantage. Take. The. Points. In. A. Shoot. Out.

R:  Texas Tech (+17) at Baylor

Texas Tech should be one of America's darling teams and Kliff Kingsbury has stolen my heart.  I love it when coaches get salty and speak openly at press conferences.  Him hammering Arkansas in his press conference was great.  Kingsbury's performance against TCU was great even though the Horned Frogs pulled off the win in the weirdest way possible.  The Red Raiders were going against a TCU defense that was missing seven starters.  Both teams have great offenses and Texas Tech's defense is good enough to keep it close.

S:  Oregon (-7) at Colorado


Oh God. I don't know. I *think* the defense is better than what was just shown, but dammit, who knows at this point. I think Oregon recognizes that at this point, its screen game and run game are its strengths. I thought we would see more of this without No. 8 running out of the tunnel. The Darron Thomas-era method involved a lot of this type of sequence: LMJ, LMJ, Kenjon, LMJ, screen to DJ Davis, LMJ, mid-distance route to David Paulson, LMJ, LMJ, one shot downfield to Maehl/Tuinei. It was a great formula. It let playmakers get the ball more often, and shots over the middle or downfield were rare, but surprised a defense tired of defending horizontally. If Oregon goes more with this technique, and plays a shred of defense, Ducks win by 14. If not, well...getcha popcorn ready.

R:  Oregon (-7) at Colorado

LOLOLOLOLOL THIS LINE IS RIDICULOUS BUT WE PROBABLY DESERVE IT.  Oregon's defense is abysmal and as much crap as the defensive secondary gets the front seven is the real issue.  It's made up of almost entirely seniors and the people getting left one-on-one against blockers can't seem to get free.  Buckner and Coleman are fighting off double teams but no one else can beat a block.  That's why the defense sucks right now and are ranked 9th in efficiency.  If this game is close then that's a joke and the senior leadership is throwing in the towel.  I don't think the leadership has been that great to begin with but that would really be the icing on the cake.  Colorado has got some playmakers but the talent is so much better at Oregon that the running game should be able to win at least by more than a touchdown.


S:  Washington State (+19) at Cal


Love me some Cal this year. But this is too many points against a Wazzu team that, at the very least, can get the ball downfield. Cal's defense has improved, yes, but it's still a Cal defense. And I don't trust either of the defenses. So, once again, I will take the points in a potential shootout.

R:  Washington State (-19) at Cal (-19)

I'm huge on Cal.  Right now they look like they could be the front runner to the PAC-12 North championship.  They had an air tight win over Texas and had a solid outing against Washington.  Jared Goff still plays at Call too.  So that's a thing.  The Cougars have a loss to Portland State, a close win over Rutgers who is one of the worst teams in the country, and a win against Wyoming.  Cal could easily put this team in the dirt with how mistake prone WSU is.


S:  Notre Dame at Clemson (pick)


Hard to tell whether the Irish and their stellar defense are running on talent or just pure Rudy-ness. I think Clemson is the better team. Really, without the deep threat of Will Fuller for Notre Dame, I don't think they are undefeated. They haven't played any decent defensive teams. Clemson's defense is a buzzsaw, even with young talent. Death Valley is a crazy place to play, and I think Clemson has just a little more speed and better secondary than Notre Dame. Clemson's ability to make Notre Dame one-dimensional on the ground means they win this one at home,

R: Notre Dame at Clemson (pick)

College Gameday is making its way to South Carolina for this matchup.  Historically I've called Notre Dame a paper tiger.  They get way more praise than they deserve but this year they are different.  They've lost a ton of guys on defense but still keep playing away.  The only truly rough game they've played is against UVA where they were less than a minute away from a loss.  Clemson has had a bye week coming into this game.  Neither one of these teams has played top competition so this is going to be a great measuring stick to figure out how the college football hierarchy will play out this year.  DeShaun Watson is outstanding as the Clemson QB and Clemson will make just enough plays to get the Tigers a win.