S: Utah (+1) at Washington
Whattttt? Washington is *favored*? This may be the most surprising line of the week. The last time there was an unexpected favorite involving Utah (USC favored by 3), I took Vegas's hint, and bet against Utah. I am tempted to buck that trend, and take the home team, but I think this is an overreaction line. Utah is too solid up front, and will force turnovers against a young Washington offense. This is a weird line, but I think Utah is too solid to really let down that much. Gimme the Utes.
R: Utah (+1) at Washington
....................................I, I, I don't understand. This is a lot like the USC v Utah line where someone in Vegas clearly knew something we didn't. Washington blew up Arizona. I wasn't sure the score was right when I got the alert on my phone. Utah's pass rush could pose real problems for the Huskies who have given up a fair amount of sacks. The Washington defense could really slow the Utah rushing game but clearly I'm not thinking objectively about Washington, for obvious reasons.
S: Arizona at USC (-17)
Arizona is a mess. USC is peaking at the right time. 17 is a lot to lay, but I trust USC here. Arizona is demoralized after getting destroyed by Washington, and now have to go on the road to USC against a fast, athletic, angry USC team.
R: Arizona at USC (-17)
With the game in Los Angeles and with USC firing on all cylinders it's really tough to pick against USC against really any opponent at this point. Arizona had four turnovers in their game against Washington but were also outgained in yards by 50%. Without watching the game I'm not sure how that game got so out of hand. USC has shown they can capitalize on other teams' mistakes and Arizona seems to create turnover opportunities for themselves.
S: TCU (-5) at Oklahoma State
Tough line. But TCU is a wood-chipper right now in every phase. This will be a shootout, but one that TCU wins by a TD. FROGGGSSS.
R: TCU (-5) at Oklahoma State
I think that TCU is clearly one of the top teams in the country. Their defense has gotten its groove back. TCU sometimes struggles on the road and Oklahoma State has the chops to pull an upset but I think the TCU offense is too good and the defense is better than most people think.
S: Florida State (+12) at Clemson
Clemson is the superior team and wins, but Florida State is too talented to lose by two touchdowns. I think FSU will be able to control the game at least to some degree with the run game, but won't have a long-term answer for Deshaun Watson on defense. Clemson by 6-ish.
R: Florida State at Clemson (-12)
Clemson is by far the most complete team in the country. They've got a really good offense and they've got a great defense. They have talent on both sides of the ball and they have a great win. Florida State doesn't have a good win this year. They've played absolutely nobody. Now they have to go into Death Valley and play a team that has already played in primetime? Oh hell naw.
S: LSU (+6) at Alabama
This just feels like LSU's year. It's strength against strength with defense and running game. The only maybe-edge for Alabama is in the passing game, but frankly I haven't seen enough consistent play from Jacob Coker, who has struggled against good pass rushes. Well, LSU has that. I think Tigers keep it close with Fournette doing Fournette things and LSU making enough plays in the pass game to flip field position.
R: LSU at Alabama (-6)
If Brandon Harris performs well LSU wins. However, I don't think that will be the case. Coker showed in the win over Tennessee that he can lead a drive in crunch time. Harris has barely had to throw this season but they will need to when they go against the Tide front seven, which might be the single-best unit in college football. Fournette is great and everything but he's been running through monstrous holes, sometimes not getting touched until five yards downfield, and those holes will not exist on Saturday.
S: California at Oregon (-5)
Ducks are trending up (THANKGAWD); Cal is trending down. I don't even want to discuss the Oregon defense in this pick (I may or may not have mentioned "good linebacker play" in my pick last week), but Cal has a way of coughing up the ball, and about the only thing you can say positively about the Oregon defense is it is opportunistic. Vernon Adams will have more time against the Cal pass rush than he did against ASU's, and I think his comfort with the offense is coming around at exactly the right time. Cal will also have to stop one Mr. Royce Freeman on the ground. Cal will stretch the field with its pass game, and will have a ton of success. I think I can't beat around that bush. But I think the Oregon pass game is coming together at the right time, and Oregon will come out on top in this shootout. Easily 40+ points for each side, but Ducks pull out the win by a TD.
(This pick brought to you by: Duck Fans For No More Fade Routes or Bralon Addison Trick Plays.)
R: California at Oregon (-5)
I'm really surprised we are favored in this matchup. Granted, Cal has lost their last three games but those were to Utah, UCLA, and USC. Those aren't bad losses. Cal turned the ball over a ton against Utah and USC. In their loss to UCLA, Josh Rosen went off and was near perfect.
Cal is going to get their yards. It's so funny to me that people think the secondary is still the problem but it is the linebackers that are struggling this year. How that's possible, I don't know, but they have been very disappointing as a unit and on an individual level except for two to three people in the whole two-deep. Cal is going to do what teams have done this whole year by running guys deep so that Oregon defensive backs pattern match deep and then just shred the underneath routes against the linebackers.
I believe that if Oregon's offense is humming then Oregon will win. If Vernon Adams has a great day, Royce Freeman does the usual, Darren Carrington makes a few plays, and Taj Griffin gets involved, all of which are very likely, then Oregon can make a couple plays on defense and get the win.
Bottomline, Oregon beat Washington so I'm cool with however this season ends up.
S: Notre Dame at Pitt (+7.5)
Pitt is a very similar opponent to Temple: plucky defense, decent offense. If this line were 7 or below, I would side with the Irish, but this is a tough road trip and winning by more than 7 will be tough for Notre Dame.
R: Notre Dame at Pitt (+7.5)
Beano Cook would be so happy with this game. I wish Pitt's starting running back was still healthy. He reminded me of LeGarrette Blount without the falcon punch. Pitt's only losses are to undefeated Iowa and to UNC last week. They host Notre Dame who is coming off a slim win over Temple. Pitt is going to shorten this game and keep it close. Notre Dame wins but doesn't cover.
S: Arizona State at Washington State (-2.5)
My head says ASU, but my heart says Wazzu. The Cougs are 6-2 against the spread and are playing very good defense right now. This is a shootout, and one that WSU wins after letting one slip away last week with Stanford. LET'S GO COUGS.
R: Arizona State at Washington State (-2.5)
Washington State's quick passing will negate a heavy Arizona State rush. This is a good matchup for the Cougars, especially with the game in Pullman. One thing that really stood out to me watching Washington State take on Stanford was how well the Cougar defense tackled, especially in space. If WSU continues that they'll get the win in this game.
S: Michigan State (-4.5) at Nebraska
Lock of the week here. I know it's a road spot, but MSU has been quietly and steadily getting better over last few weeks. They're coming off the bye and are about to face a demoralized Nebraska defense that just gave up double nickels to Purdue. Pur. Due. Lay those 4.5 and watch for a 17-point win for Sparty.
R: Michigan State (-4.5) at Nebraska
I don't understand this line. Michigan State is one of the better teams, not top-10 but rankable for sure, and they're only favored by 4.5 points? Nebraska has been getting its ass kicked. They lost to Purdue. PURDUE. I'm a Boiler fan by blood but even I know they are just awful. Riley is having a rough year and already got the vote of confidence from the athletic director, which is basically the kiss of death. Michigan State off the bye is such an easy pick I think I spent way too much time explaining why.
S: Stanford at Colorado (+15)
Stanford SHOULD win this by 20+. But they just got through a tricky part of their schedule (UCLA, Washington, WSU), and face another tough stretch after going to Boulder (Oregon, Cal, Notre Dame). Colorado has shown a propensity to really move the ball lately, and I think that continues here. CU barely covers: 45-31 Stanford.
R: Stanford at Colorado (+15)
Stanford got pushed to the brink by Washington State and should have lost if not for the yearly coug'ing. I just don't know what to think about this Stanford team. I just don't think anyone is good this year to begin with, except maybe Clemson. As Sean pointed out, Stanford should win this game easy, and even though this is a morning game, I think Colorado will push it. I've said it all season that Colorado will win a game that they have no business being in and that almost happened last week.