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Ducking the Odds: Week 4 of the 2015 College Football Season

Sean and Rusty are back for another week of picking against the spread. They tackle week 4 of the 2015 college football season picking games including: Cal at Washington, UCLA at Arizona, BYU at Michigan, and Tennessee at Florida.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

There were some amazing games last week.  Ole Miss appears to be a team of destiny and is maybe the most talented team in the SEC right now.  Cal won by a single point, didn't beat the spread, but that game was wild and a missed extra point decided the game.  UCLA played a game late at night, which, you know, what happens then.  Oh yeah, and Stanford took it to USC.  So that all happened.  I'll just slip it in here that I picked Auburn to go to the national title game.

Also, we picked all the same winners, which is statistically unlikely but also true and also is likely to result in no controversy between the two of us.  Sorry NBC, no reality show this week.

Last week:

Sean:  3-6-1



Sean: 11-15-1

Rusty: 9-17-1  (Getting real close to just picking against my own picks every week)

This week's picks:  (Pick against Rusty.. for... entertainment purposes)

S:  Stanford (-16) at Oregon State

Torn on this one. Do we get good Kevin Hogan (like last week at USC) or bad Kevin Hogan (like Week 1 at Northwestern)? Willing to bet we get the good version of Mr. Hogan, since his efficiency depends on time in the pocket, and I don't think Oregon State's pass rush is as good as anyone they've seen this year. Maybe the Stanford offense just needed some warm-up time, as they looked pretty good vs. UCF two weeks ago and really good at USC. Take the Card here, but don't put your mortgage on it.

R: Stanford (-16) at Oregon State

There's a huge risk here for Stanford to have a letdown performance after taking it to the Trojans at the Coliseum.  Kevin hogan (usually) struggles when he was to throw passes in the double digits, which is really weird when he's considered to be a top NFL draft pick and a Heisman dark horse.  Seriously, name a great player who gets worse the more he partakes?  Oregon State already played a team similar to Stanford.  When the Beavers travelled to the Big House they held their own for a quarter, which is actually a huge step for Oregon State.  Stanford will be able to stop the run, force Seth Collins to make plays through the air, and will wear down the Beavers.  Michigan ran for 225 yards against OSU and Stanford will rush for more.

S:  BYU (+5.5) at Michigan

Riding BYU 'til they die. Their defense is formidable and shows a lot of looks, and has been able to confuse every quarterback they have faced.  Their offense has moxie and Tanner Mangum has shown flashes of nice, easy throws to the outside and middle to get BYU into third and short. This game is going to be superbly low scoring (think 16-13) with whoever-that-Iowa-transfer-guy is at QB for Michigan (I wanna say...Jake? Jack? Jag? Jax? Jake-Jack? Keanu?). Take the points, and don't be surprised if the Cougs leave the Big House with a W.

R: BYU (+5.5) at Michigan

BYU pushed UCLA to the brink.  The two previous weeks BYU turned the corner late for the win.  Tanner Mangum is throwing the rock all over the place.  He had 47 attempts last week!  Josh Rosen showed his freshman colors throwing three picks, 106 yards, and a stellar (sarcasm) QBR of 5.7.  That's Jameis Winston bad.  Michigan is prone to making mistakes.  BYU is a veteran group and have been consistent the last decade.  They haven't recorded a head coaching switch at all in the last decade while it's tough to tell when Lloyd Car was let go and just how quickly Rich Rodriguez got chased out, after turning West Virginia into a powerhouse, only to see Rich Rodriguez make Arizona a dangerous team that would shred today's Wolverines.  BYU loves close games.  Michigan loves turning the ball over.  This game is going to be so entertianing.

S: Texas A&M (-8) at Arkansas

As Rusty tells me, this line opened at (-3) and is plummeting in favor of TAMU. It still might be falling. Check CNN for more details.

How can you bet on Arkansas as this point. Their offense is one-dimensional, their defense is awful, and they are getting beat soundly in all three phases. They got boatraced by an undersized and under talented Texas Tech squad. How do you think they'll do against essentially the same scheme, but with 4-and-5-stars all over the field, including former Oregon running back Tra Carson? Lay the points, and be grateful if you get this thing at (-8). Because A&M can win by 20.

R: Texas A&M (-8) at Arkansas

Riddle me this.  If you have a team that is built on power running, so much so that throwing the ball seems exotic, how many times should a QB throw?  If you guessed over 20 then you're the Arkansas offensive coordinator and also not very bright at all.  Brandon Allen threw 21 times.  Alex Collins had 28 carries for 170 yards.  If you're playing a close game why would you go away from something that gets you 5.3 yards every time you run a running play.  This team gave up 35 to Texas Tech last week and Texas A&M is, and this is a fact, pi better than Tech.  With a defensive end like Myles Garrett any passing play that Arkansas attempts will be pressured from snap to throw in a way the Razorbacks haven't seen all year.

S:  Tennessee (+1.5) at Florida

I really have no idea on this one. This is a battle for second place in the SEC West. Neither team has done anything remarkable so far (other than Tennessee's spectacular slow-bleed collapse against Oklahoma).  Florida will only be able to score 17 points, tops.  Tennessee will have a tough time doing that against a defense as talented as Florida's. But in a game where we know scoring will be light, I'll take the team that has the better offense, and that's undoubtedly Tennessee.

(Also, if Butch Jones doesn't win this one, he might be on the hot seat. Because if not now, when will Tennessee beat Florida?)

R: Tennessee (+1.5) at Florida

The Volunteers are going to win this game.  Tennesee has much more maturity on offense and defense.  They've taken their lumps together and have grown as a team.  Florida went from blocking each other to tackling each other.  Although under their new head coach watching a Florida game is no longer like watching a fish trying to breathe.  Florida has some amazing pieces on both sides of the ball but they won't play as well as a team.

S: Mississippi State (+2.5) at Auburn

Auburn is the guy at your average college house party who lost his phone, his shoes, and is now browned-out, crying on your couch because his girlfriend who was visiting him from out of state went off with some other dude. Don't bet on that guy. Not particularly thrilled with Mississippi State right now either, but I can't trust Auburn at all because they can't play offense or defense or special teams. And from initial inquiry on Wikipedia, you're gonna need at least one of those three to win a football contest. CLANGA CLANGA.

R: Mississippi State (+2.5) at Auburn

How is Auburn favored in anything.  Auburn's performance was so bad last week that Leonard Fournette's performance was more devastating than Sherman's March to the Sea.  Auburn has legit sucked all year and only an idiot would pick them to make the playoffs with an unproven quarterback.  The Bulldogs' only loss was a close loss to LSU.  They have two good wins over weak opponents but they did what they were supposed to do.  Auburn is starting Sean White at quarterback over Jeremy Johnson who is probably wrapping up throwing up all over himself.

S:  TCU at Texas Tech (+13)

TCU's defense is secretly a dumpster fire right now, and they just lost another starting cornerback. Not a good look when you're going on the road to Lubbock against a team that can sling it and has tons and tons of confidence. Having a huge PR-meltdown in the form of two players arrested on robbery charges doesn't help things. If you can't trust either defense, TAKE THE POINTS. Doesn't this feel like 51-42 either way?

R:  TCU at Texas Tech (+13)

YEAH!  WHAT HE SAID!  This line is really too big for a TCU defense plagued with injuries and going against a Texas Tech team that is riding high off of beating Arkansas.  When the Tech coach isn't looking like a Ralph Lauren model he's busy bashing Bret Bielema.

S:  Utah (+14) at Oregon

Sports are weird because hundreds of thousands of people are concerned about the right index finger of a 22-year-old man.

If the Oregon fanbase is that concerned about Vernon Adams's health, it's because they know that Jeff Lockie is not going to stretch the field in a way that gives Oregon a chance to challenge and tire an excellent Utah defense. This could be a game where neither starting quarterback plays. So, I give the edge (at least in points) to the better defensive team: Utah. Ducks still have too much speed, and too many ways to score, to lose. But they won't cover 14. Ducks by 10 (and here's hoping I'm wrong!).

R: Utah (+14) at Oregon

More so than Vernon Adams' broken finger the biggest fault that this Oregon squad has is their offensive and defensive lines.  In my opinion, the hot take, they're soft.  They have the size, they have the talent, they're just soft.  Except for DeForest Buckner who will drag the defensive line to being decent despite everyone else's best efforts.  Utah has two lines that are full of bad dudes.  This line dominated a Michigan team that prides itself on corn-fed, win in the trenches, big-boy football.  Utah will muddy up the line of scrimmage and we could see Royce Freeman diving into a figurative patch of thorns for 1-2 yard carries.  Devontae Booker is the perfect compliment to the offensive line in that Booker is an extremely physical runner.  They're just a bruising group.  This is going to be an extremely tough matchup for the Ducks.  It's either a close win or a close loss.

S:  Oklahoma State at Texas (+4)

No defense in this one. And I think Texas may finally have some offense. I know, I know. Texas shredded a Cal defense for a ton of yards and points. But Jerrod Heard just set the single-game record for quarterback yards in Texas history previously held by one Vince Young. That doesn't happen by accident. So I'm willing to give the Texas offense the benefit of the doubt here. I think they step up and play a nice game, especially at home. No idea about the defenses, but since Okie State's "strength of schedule" so far involves two schools with "Central" in their names (that are not named UCF) and a team whose mascot is a Roadrunner, I can't trust the Cowboys as a favorite. Take the points. And I get the feeling that Texas wins.

R:  Oklahoma State at Texas (+4)

TEXAS YOU HAVE SPURNED ME TOO MANY TIMES BUT I ALWAYS COME BACK TO YOU AND YOUR BURNT ORANGE DRAPES.  Jerrod Heard!  Where have you been?  He accounted for over 500 yards of offense and 3 touchdowns in a close loss to Cal that was only ended when the Longhorn kicker missed an extra point.  Maybe Heard is the straw that stirs the drink for the Longhorns.  Honest question though, if he performs this well in one game what is he doing in practice?

S: USC (-6) at Arizona State

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. USC is also kind of a mess, but just way more talented than ASU. Lay the points on the Trojans, who have too much speed for ASU to defend.

R: USC (-6) at Arizona State

I'm really confused as to what is going on with Arizona State.  Maybe they lost all their confidence after getting mauled by Texas A&M and Myles Garrett.  Maybe Todd Graham is already trying to make a move to the Auburn Tigers BECAUSE TAMMY NEEDS TO MOVE ON WITH HER LIFE, DAMMIT.  USC is going to be looking for blood in this matchup and Arizona State just doesn't seem to have their stuff together.  Stanford has somehow had the Trojans' number the last few years so they are an exception.

S: UCLA (-4.5) at Arizona

Arizona's non-conference schedule (UTSA, Nevada, Northern Arizona) might as well have been three sheets of those paper banners that pee-wee teams run through. I know nothing about the Wildcats. I know something about UCLA, and I know that their run game is formidable, and that Josh Rosen is - at the very least - a talented QB who can make all the throws. UCLA has been tested (BYU, Virginia) and has some real-game experience in its tank. I think they're a touchdown better, even on the road with the Zona Zoo. (Watch out for glass bottles, guys!)

R: UCLA (-4.5) at Arizona

The Bruins are without Myles Jack who was the absolute stud on the defense.  I don't think there's been as dominant of a middle linebacker in college football for a long time.  It's rare that someone in the middle and not on the edge can have such a big impact on a game.  I picked UCLA to make it to the PAC-12 Championship Game so I obviously think they're going to win here.  Arizona has played nobodies so this game will be like jumping on a treadmill already rolling at 15 mph.  There's a decent chance they will eat it face first trying to get on.  Scooby Wright is also still out.

S:  Cal (-1) at Washington

Cal can't defend. Doesn't matter, because UW can't score. At least not reliably. Any doubts with the way Jared Goff and those talented receivers are playing that Cal scores 40 here? Can you see the Huskies scoring 6 touchdowns? No way. Roll on, you Bears.

R: Cal (-1) at Washington

Cal is the third best team in the PAC-12 North behind Oregon and Stanford.  Their defense is better, is forcing turnovers, and their offense continues to be stellar with Jared Goff who is still mouthing curse words in disbelief.  I also just don't like Washington and I won't act like I'm objective about this and I hope nothing good ever happens to that program ever again.