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Ducking the Odds - Week 2

After an average week of picks Rusty and Sean are back to pick the few quality games this weekend. While these games will be great on paper there are many other games that will bring the excitement. At least the day finishes with one of the biggest of the season's and College Gameday will be previewing it.

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Big wiffs last week was putting so much faith into Virginia Tech and Texas.  That Texas pick, wow, should've seen that one coming.  It's a weak week of games for the most part but the night game makes up for all of it.  TO THE PICKS!

Last week and Season:

Sean:  4-6

Rusty:  5-5

S:  Utah State at Utah (-14)

USU is coming off a "resounding" "win" by the count of 12-9 over Southern Utah. Utah is hitting on all cylinders after a nice win at home over Michigan. This is a rivalry game, true, but Utah has come a long ways since the 2013 meeting. I think this is the kind of game where Devontae Booker runs wild and Utah scores a ton of points. Take the Utes.

R:  Utah State at Utah (-14)

Utah State has nine guys back on offense and has six guys back on defense.  The Aggies had a small win over Southern Utah.  Utah performed very well against a team with some good players.  The game is at the Utes' house and with such physical play on the line, on both sides of the ball, Utah should pull out a win.  But the -14 line has me waffling big time but I'll stick with who I think will win.

S:  LSU at Mississippi State (+4.5)

Can't trust LSU here. They got beat up by MSU last year at home, and since last year have lost their excellent defensive coordinator, John Chavis, to Texas A&M. They also just don't have good quarterback play. MSU has lost a lot of experience from last year's very good squad, but still have this guy named Dak Prescott. Mississippi State wins at home.

R: LSU (-4.5) at Mississippi State

The Bulldogs have three guys back on defense and four guys back on offense from a team that went 10-3.  Star quarterback Dak Prescott is without stud Josh Robinson and three offensive linemen.  LSU is without their tune-up game, which was cancelled last week.  The Tigers have had some amazing line play no matter how terrible their offense has been.  Leonard Fournette is going to show off his talent in this game behind the offensive line.  The new defensive coach is from ‘Bama and has coordinator experience but the loss of their coordinator to Texas A&M is going to be felt.  The Mad Hatter is probably going to have some dumb plays en route to a Tiger win by a touchdown.

S:  Notre Dame (-13) at Virginia

The so-called Zai-Era in South Bend is off to a rollicking start: 19-22 for 313 and 3TDs, no picks. And that was against a Charlie Strong-coached Texas secondary. UVA just got torched through the air by another excellent young QB, Josh Rosen at UCLA. Any expectations that it will go differently here? Take the Irish.

R: Notre Dame (-13) at Virginia

Virginia is on the second lap of it's Mike London is Getting Fired season.  How the spread against Notre Dame is less than the one against UCLA is crazy to me, especially after seeing Notre Dame play last week.  Granted, Texas is a shell of it's former self.  In overreaction week Malik Zaire is the best quarterback in the country along with Josh Rosen.  Notre Dame's defense is just so solid.  So so solid.  They will take care of business.

S:  Oregon State at Michigan (-15.5)

Can you imagine how intense practices have been in Ann Arbor this week after that opening loss? Oregon State had some trouble scoring points on Weber State, and I think they'll have even more problems at the Big House. Michigan big.

R:  Oregon State at Michigan (-15.5)

The talent disparity between these two teams are just too far apart.  Oregon State looked much better against Weber State than they have against any FCS team in recent memory.  There hasn't been this much optimism in Corvallis for awhile.  Michigan committed a fair amount of turnovers at Utah but were still clearly outmatched.  Against a much weaker Oregon State team Michigan is going to operate well, get the Michigan fan base riled up again, and will handle this game wire-to-wire.

S:  Boise State at BYU (+3)

Boise was pretty stymied by Washington in the 2nd half last week, scoring 0 points and nearly blowing their 16-0 half lead. They're talented, sure, but so is BYU. And I think BYU has some moxie after beating Nebraska on the road, despite losing Taysom Hill (again). In a matchup that's pretty even, I'll take the home team. Cougs pull out the win.

R:  Boise State at BYU (+3)

I hate picking these games between two teams I really don't care to watch and genuinely dislike.  BYU lost Taysom Hill but have really been without him the last two years as well.  They have seven starters back from last year minus Hill and five back on defense.  Boise State struggled to keep Washington at bay.  BYU as an underdog is just too good of a value pick to not take in what seems like a toss-up on a neutral field.

S:  Oklahoma (-1) at Tennessee

I think Oklahoma is the team to beat in the Big 12. Baker Mayfield is a very good Air Raid quarterback playing with some talented people out wide, and one of the best RBs in the country in Samaje Perine. Tennessee just lost a starting defensive tackle for the game, and I think the Vols just aren't quite there yet to defend this offense for four quarters.

R:  Oklahoma at Tennessee (+1)

I really like the Volunteers this year.  I'm drinking the kool-aid.  They have ten starters back on offense, seven on defense minus the defensive tackle they lost last week.  Oklahoma has thirteen starters back but only two of those are on the offensive line.  The game last year between Tennessee and Oklahoma was close until the second half.  With the game in Knoxville and another year of experience I think the moral victory was a step in the right direction.  Many, such as myself, think Tennessee could make the jump this year, which is why I have the Vols in this one.

S:  Oregon at Michigan State (-4)

Asking any team to go into East Lansing and win is a daunting challenge. Both excellent teams here, but I think Sparty has the edge. Connor Cook is an extremely skilled, experienced player. He carved up Oregon's secondary last year, and MSU lost only because Marcus went all Marcus over everyone. I will be thrilled if I am wrong, but I think Oregon will have a tough time winning with the secondary the way it looked last Saturday.

R:  Oregon at Michigan State (-4)

Ugh.  This game.  I've been on the fence between going with my head or with my heart.  If I was neutral I'd pick Michigan State but I'm not so if I was picking outside of this post I'd pick Oregon.  I'm a homer and I'll make up my logic picking this game.  The value pick is MSU -4 but the homer in me really thinks Oregon will win.

Last year Oregon had control for about 45 total minutes.  Michigan State had an explosive second quarter before Oregon did what Oregon does.

Here's a storyline that I don't think many are taking into account.  The Michigan State receivers are maybe less experienced than the Ducks' secondary is.  No one for the Spartans is as good or experienced as Kupp is.  Connor Cook only threw for 58.1% last year and threw for below 50% in their season opener against Western Michigan.  I don't think Sparty is going to be able to take full advantage of the weakness on Oregon's defense.  Also, Michigan State's bread and butter is running the football, which Oregon's defense is exceptional at and the Ducks stuffed the Spartans on multiple big plays.

The biggest difference between this year and last year is Marcus Mariota.  Mariota made up for a lot of different mistakes that Oregon made.  Michigan State also made a few big mistakes.  Pat Narduzzi is gone from the defensive coordinator position at Michigan State and you can't say the defense is going to be just as good when Narduzzi got so much praise as being a defensive genius.  Ultimately I think Oregon is going to make a few too many mistakes.  Adams won't be able to make the same number of plays that Mariota did last year.  With the game in East Lansing, the weakness of pass coverage, and a possibility for too many mistakes I think the value pick here is Michigan State.