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Ducking the Odds: Thanksgiving Edition

The biggest games of the week are picked against the spread. There's the Iron Bowl, the big game between Ohio State and Michigan, the battle for Los Angeles, and Stanford's matchup against Notre Dame looming.

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week:

Sean:  5-4

Rusty:  6-3

This Season:

Sean:  62-48-2

Rusty:  55-54-2

S:  Washington State (pk) at Washington

In absence of a line, I gotta go with the Cougs to win, even on the road. Cougs have covered eight straight lines (!!) and looked really good doing it. Despite some good appearances in spots for Washington, I think Wazzu has the goods, especially on defense.

R:  Washington State (pk) at Washington

Oregon and Washington State are the two hottest teams in the PAC-12.  If not for a missed field goal the Cougars would have won their last seven games and all their losses, even the one to Portland State, were within a single score.

Washington looked great against Oregon State but then who doesn't look great against Oregon State.  The Cougars do a great job tackling in space so they will limit the Huskies' big plays and get a few big plays of their own.

S:  Oregon State (+31) at Oregon

As good as our Ducks have looked of late, 31 is a tonnn of points in a rivalry game. The Beavs have shown next to no life on offense all year, and so the Ducks *should* cover 31, but I think there is a good chance this is a little closer. Stay away from this game if you are actually betting.

R:  Oregon State at Oregon (-31)

This one is going to get real bad.  There are mixed reports on whether Seth Collins will play and Collins is really the only way the Beavers can be competitive in the first quarter.  Their offense is non-existent.  Their quarterbacks throw more interceptions than touchdowns and they have completion percentages below 50%.

Oregon just shredded USC's secondary.  I'm not even sure Adams will have to play that well.  I hope Benoit, Taj Griffin, and the other running backs get a lot of carries and experience and the Ducks can run for over 500 yards.

S:  Baylor at TCU (+1.5)

Everyone is injured in this one. Not sure who will be under center for either squad. But TCU is still super-pissed about losing in dramatic fashion to Baylor last year, and is at home. Two very evenly-matched teams, but TCU is a touch better in this game because of their motivation from last year.

R:  Baylor (-1.5) at TCU

I thought Oklahoma State was one of the best teams in the conference so I can't diminish them because of the loss.  Baylor is very good and their only loss is to the absolute best team in the conference, Oklahoma.  Baylor has an outside shot at the playoffs and the advantage the Bear offense has over the TCU defense is greater than the TCU offense over the Baylor defense.

S:  Ohio State (pick) at Michigan

Buckeyes aren't out of gas yet. I think they take care of business in this rivalry game. Not a ton of analysis; I think that OSU is just a lot more talented than Michigan.

R:  Ohio State at Michigan (pk)

If it wasn't for the fact that this is a rivalry game I would pick any good team against Ohio State.  As I said in the podcast, I really don't think Ohio State is that good.  They have only played one ranked team and they lost.  Despite the fact that Michigan State didn't have their starting quarterback and were entirely one-dimensional.  Yeah, this team has talent, but they don't play well.

Michigan's defensive line is going to hold the running game in check forcing the Buckeyes to pass it and the Buckeyes showed that passing wasn't the winning formula for them.  Harbaugh will get a signature win in his first season and the Michigan faithful will applaud themselves for the first good coaching hire this century.

S:  Penn State (+11) at Michigan State

Michigan State still has uncertainty at quarterback, a potential for a big letdown spot, and a penchant for not being able to close out leads. Penn State's defense is good enough to limit MSU's chances, and they *should* be able to score 14 points. This is just too many points in a game where I don't trust Sparty to dominate.

R: Penn State at Michigan State (-11)

It sounds like Connor Cook will be back but it might not matter because the Spartan pass rush will get to Hackenberg.  His entire career, Hackenberg has been sacked.  Against Temple he was sacked ten times.  There is the possibility that Michigan State has a hangover but I think they'll come out more inspired and viewing the Penn State game as a time to really perfect what they're doing before the Big Ten championship game.

S:  Colorado (+16.5) at Utah

If there was ever a chance for CU to keep it close, it's here. Utah is trending down: lost 2 straight, and 2-3 over their last five. Colorado has oscillated back and forth between looking good and looking *rank.* Let's hope it's a good-looking week for the Buffs, who would love a big upset to get their offseason started on the right foot.

R:  Colorado (+16.5) at Utah

The Utes have dropped their last two, including a loss to Arizona who completed one pass and that was in overtime.  Utah is without Devontae Booker but their offensive line was the majority of his success.  Utah has been very competitive in games against good opponents and they'll keep it close here.

S:  Florida State at Florida (+2)

I feel like the public money is going to go FSU's way. But FSU really hasn't succeeded against a good defense this year, and Florida is definitely that. I have faith in the Gators to get this done, something like 20-17.

R:  Florida State at Florida (+2)

How Dalvin Cook wasn't a finalist for best running back in college football is beyond me.  I thought he was the best running back in the country.  He was physical, he was quick, he was fast, he was patient, and he did more with less through running smarter than everyone else.

Florida almost dropped a game against Florida Atlantic, which would've been hilarious.  The Florida defense is going to force the FSU QB to make plays and no QB on their roster has shown that they can make plays and play smart football with the ball in their hands.

S:  Texas A&M (+5) at LSU

LSU is trending down, they're on a skid, and there is a cloud of suspicion around one Les Miles. A&M has rebounded somewhat with a nice win over Vanderbilt. I think there will be enough weirdness for A&M to make a run at a win.

R:  Texas A&M at LSU (-5)

TAMU poached John Chavis, the LSU defensive coordinator for years, and this is his first time coaching against his former team.  Things have not been easy for Chavis this season.  Often having to deal with the Aggie offense being stagnant and quick off the field.

LSU seems to be playing for Les Miles' job and I think they'll show up and get the win.  Miles has a few more moments of magic.  He's got more grass to eat.  Texas A&M's defense won't be able to slow the LSU offensive line and Fournette will run through some big holes all game.

S:  Alabama (-13) at Auburn

I'd like to take Auburn, but I think Alabama is going to crush these guys and hold on to that playoff spot.

R:  Alabama (-13) at Auburn

The Tide defense is going to swallow Auburn.  Auburn's lone good win was over Texas A&M.  Sean White, the Auburn QB, simply is not good enough to win the game on his own.  Derrick Henry is going to have a field day and slowly wear Auburn down.  This will be one of those games where Alabama controls every facet of the game and before you know it they're up 35-0.

S:  Arizona State (+4) at Cal

I put these teams about dead even. Except ASU has won two in a row and Cal hasn't looked good since early October, save for a big win over woeful Oregon State. Take the points and look for ASU to win outright.

R:  Arizona State (+4) at Cal

I'm subscribing to Bruce Feldman's body blow theory on this one.  Playing the week after facing Stanford is tough.  Stanford is extremely physical in every facet and teams are very banged up afterwards, which makes Oregon's win over USC even more impressive.

Arizona State looked solid against Washington and Arizona, doing what they should on offense and the defense playing at an acceptable level.  This will be a very close and I could see this going either way but I think it's more likely that Sparky comes away with the win.

S:  Oklahoma (-6) at Oklahoma State

OU is ready for its closeup. Tough task on the road in Stillwater, but I think this is the right team to get it done (notwithstanding Big Game Bob Stoops roaming the sideline). OU covers and waltzes into the CFP.

R:  Oklahoma (-6) at Oklahoma State

Both of these teams are playing to hopefully make it into the playoffs.  The winner should be making it.  They're playing the best in the Big-12, on offense and on defense.  But the Cowboys couldn't slow the Baylor offense even though they scored a lot of points on their own.  Oklahoma is a touchdown better.  The Sooners squashed the Baylor offense and systematically took apart the Baylor defense.

S:  Notre Dame at Stanford (-3.5)

Notre Dame has been flirting with disaster all year. I think they find it this week against a Stanford team that is eager to make a national statement. (Also, I'm now rooting for Stanford so that Oregon backs its way into a weird Rose Bowl appearance.)

R:  Notre Dame at Stanford (-3.5)

Stanford was really exposed in a way against Oregon.  They're susceptible to the big plays and they are mistake prone, which is very unlike the Stanford teams of old.  Notre Dame has won games through big plays.  If Stanford can limit big plays then they have a great chance to win and cover easy.

Notre Dame has been winning and I've got to give them credit for it, but they haven't dominated a game outside of Texas.  With the game on the farm and McCaffrey having a big game the Irish will find themselves down and make more mistakes trying to claw back into the game.

S:  UCLA (+3.5) at USC

UCLA is just better right now. USC is super unhealthy and is bad in the secondary and at linebacker. UCLA has a good chance to win this one, and so I will take the points.

R:  UCLA (+3.5) at USC

USC's secondary was totally lost at times against Oregon and Josh Rosen is going to pick apart the USC defense.  The Trojan front seven has been struggling since losing two linebackers and I could easily see Josh Rosen going nearly perfect.

The UCLA defense has been performing well throughout the year and will make Kessler throw the ball all the time.  While it may seem like keeping the ball in Kessler's hand is a bad idea it really isn't.  When UCLA knows USC will pass the defense can pin their ears back on the rush and players in coverage know what to expect.