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Ducking The Odds: 2016 CFB Week 8

Rusty and Sean pick against the spread for the biggest games.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Two huge showings by us last week. I think we’re finally firing on all cylinders making these picks. Now it is safe to take us somewhat seriously. But not too seriously.

Last week

Rusty: 7-3-1

Sean: 9-1-1

This Season

Rusty: 28-41-5

Sean: 36-31-5

R: Miami (+4.5) at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech is coming off of a two-touchdown loss to Syracuse. Quarterback Jerod Evans has legs and has a 55-yard rushing touchdown to go with 1352 passing yards and 17/2 TD/INT. The Hokies one good win thus far is against North Carolina and the Tar Heels turned it over four times that game.

Miami has dropped their last two games. They lost by 1 to Florida State and a touchdown to North Carolina. Miami will be competitive in every game with Brad Kaaya at quarterback. It will be tough to take on the team that basically made itself famous for playing on Thursdays but I think the Hurricanes have the talent, have the quarterback, and the coaching to keep it close or win outright.

S: Miami (+4.5) at Virginia Tech

The ACC is nuts. Virginia Tech looks great against North Carolina. Then the Hokies lose to Syracuse. North Carolina has beaten FSU and Miami on the road, but got beat down by Virginia Tech. Miami's defense is great. But they've been inconsistent on offense, and unable to get over the hump against good teams (UNC, FSU).

Tempted to take the home team, as it's tough to play in Blacksburg, and VT has a hell of a defense. But I CAN'T QUIT YOU HURRICANES. For some crazy reason, I want the 'Canes to be back. College football is just more fun when they're good. This defense is loaded, and they have enough talent on offense to put it all together. I think they're stung by two tough losses to North Carolina and Florida State. I think Va. Tech's defense will have trouble with the aerial attack that Brad Kaaya can offer. Give me the points. This feels like a 3-point game, either way.

R: Oregon at Cal (-3)

I think the Ducks do have a shot at taking this game. The Oregon secondary showed up big time against Cal last year and the defense forced Cal to be one-dimensional. Cal’s wide receiver Chad Hansen has already caught 59 passes, has 770 yards receiving, and eight touchdowns. Cal’s quarterback Davis Webb may not play on Friday night but there are still a lot of problems that the Cal offense can pose.

Justin Herbert had a very good first start, given the circumstances, against Washington and this bye week has probably helped a lot. But playing on the road is a different animal and stuff can get weird at Berkeley. When it comes to what is more likely than not I think there is a better shot of Cal beating Oregon than Oregon beating Cal. Oregon hasn’t covered a game all year.

S: Oregon (+3) at Cal

Oregon's four losses (is it actually four? God.) have come against #5 Washington, #8 Nebraska, and then Colorado and Washington State, who should each be ranked in a 20-25 slot. What I'm saying is that the Ducks have lost to teams that have two competent sides of the ball. Cal does not.

Sure, Cal's offense can zip it. But they also have a weaker running game and a defense that can't really stop people. Also, I have a feeling that it's seriously now or never for the Ducks. Helfrich's job is on the line with this game. Yes, this game. I think the Ducks pull this off.

R: Oregon at Cal over/under 88

With the Cal quarterback uncertainty and with a true freshman quarterback for the Ducks making his first ever start we might find points are a little scarcer than we thought. I think the guys in the desert are expecting people to bet the over, because with both teams you just think that neither offense can be slowed and neither defense is up to the task anyways.

S: Oregon at Cal UNDER 88

"If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour... you're gonna see some serious shit." - Dr. Emmett Brown.

88? In one game? That is a crazy, crazy over/under. Cal has gone over in all but one of its games. The Ducks have gone over in all but two games.

But, but: weird things happen in Berkeley. And it would be weirder if this went under than over. So, I'll be contrarian and take the under.

R: TCU at West Virginia (-5)

Gary Patterson’s team struggled mightily against Kansas last week. Fun fact, the Horned Frogs also nearly lost last year’s game against the Jayhawks. Kenny Hill and the offense have been turnover-prone this year and their best win is over Iowa State.

The Mountaineers might have found how to play defense in the Big-12, something the rest of the conference has struggled to do. Last week they held video game-caliber Texas Tech to 17 points. The most they’ve given up in a game is 32 points to BYU in week 3. I think the Mountaineers are great on offense and above average on defense, which goes a long way in the conference.

S: TCU at West Virginia (-5)

West Virginia's defense is secretly elite. The only team that has given up fewer points per game to Power 5 teams is Michigan. This squad plays great at home, and have enough offense to score with a lot of Big 12 teams. TCU has been inexplicably inconsistent despite all its experience, and West Virginia has home field advantage like few other teams in the nation. Give me the Mountaineers. They've been under the radar, but that defensive dominance against Texas Tech caught my eye, and I think this is their "HEEYYYY YOU GUYYSSSS" game.

R: Wisconsin (-3) at Iowa

Iowa’s most notable moment of the season thus far was their 23-21 loss to North Dakota State in week 2. Why people still schedule the Bison is beyond me. (Oregon plays NDSU at Autzen in 2020) Since then the Hawkeyes have done the same thing they do every year, when games in very boring fashion. They beat Rutgers by a touchdown (Rutgers is maybe the worst team in football), lost to Northwestern by a touchdown, beat Minnesota by a touchdown, and beat Purdue by two touchdowns. This is not a special team.

Wisconsin is a special team and exists in the third tier below Michigan, Washington, Louisville, and Clemson. Wisconsin’s players might not be fast individually, but they react quickly and are so well prepared on defense that windows close very quickly. Last week, Ohio State was faster at nearly every position but the readiness and awareness is what keeps them in it. They’ve beaten LSU, Michigan State, and lost by a touchdown to Ohio State and Michigan. They will comfortably top the Hawkeyes.

S: Wisconsin (-3) at Iowa

Um, so Wisconsin is like, really really good. They can't really score, but they can stop everyone in the nation - yes, anyone - from scoring. Iowa is inconsistent, lacks real offensive identity, and does not have a great run defense. I think Wisconsin can go on the road and exploit those weaknesses. Give me the Badgers. (And, spoiler alert, I'm going to take Wisconsin in every game that we pick. Year-to-year, they outperform the spread.)

R: Washington State (-6.5) at Arizona State

Arizona State notched a solid win against UCLA two weeks ago when Josh Rosen had to leave the game. Still, UCLA is one of the most talented teams in the country with and without Rosen. But the Sun Devils got run over by the Buffs. They gave up 315 yards on the ground while only rushing for 50 themselves.

I’m so down with the Cougars. I love them. They are currently the second-best team in the conference only behind the team that must not be named. Their defense plays very aggressive and opportunistic. Washington State has also found a way to run the ball effectively and Luke Falk is the second least hurried quarterback in the country. I like the Cougars a lot in this game.

S: Washington State (-6.5) at Arizona State

ASU is not-so-secretly real bad, even at 4-2. Wazzu overcame a sloppy performance last week to beat UCLA at home. I think the sloppiness is out of their system. The focus on Wazzu should be on its vastly improved (and secretly really good) defense. I think past film will show plenty of ways to slow down Arizona State's offense employed by various teams. Give me Wazzu 'til they fall apart.

R: Oklahoma at Texas Tech (+13)

The Sooners gave up 33 to Houston, 45 to Ohio State, 46 to TCU, and 40 to Texas. The Sooner offense is also not as potent as it was last year when they topped Texas Tech 63-27. Oklahoma is going to win. Their advantage on the Texas Tech defense is greater than Texas Tech’s advantage against the Sooner defense.

Texas Tech will score points and 13 is too much to give up. The Red Raiders ran into my favorite defense in the Big-12, West Virginia, who might have the conference figured out. Kliff Kingsbury struggled against the top teams in the conference but this will be a shootout and the Red Raiders will keep it competitive.

S: Oklahoma at Texas Tech (+13)

Oklahoma's back-end defense is pretty bad. Basically a fatal flaw. Going on the road to Lubbock is always a TRAPPPP, and I think TTU will have enough on offense to keep pace with the Sooners. This is a lot of points, and potentially an overreaction to West Virginia's drubbing of the Red Raiders in Morgantown, which I attribute to WVU's super-talented secondary. Oklahoma won't be able to contain Texas Tech for four quarters. Take the points in a shootout.

R: Colorado (+3.5) at Stanford

Stanford’s offensive woes continued last week against Notre Dame. The Cardinal came away with a 17-10 win but only produced 296 yards of offense and turned the ball over three times against a defense that has been awful this year. Christian McCaffrey remains a question mark to play but the issues on offense go deeper than one player.

Colorado did not play well last week and only lost by 4 to USC. The Buff’s backup quarterback played against the Trojans and the Buff starter Sefo Liufau returned to the lineup in a good showing against Arizona State. I like how the Buffaloes matchup against the Cardinal.

S: Colorado (+3.5) at Stanford

This game is going to be entertaining as hell. A clash of styles, and two programs headed in [generally] opposite directions: Colorado returning to prominence, a Stanford team perhaps regressing to the mean. I haven't seen much from Stanford this year, other than wins over subpar USC and dreadful Notre Dame.

I think the Buffs coaching staff is reallll fired up for this one. This is a big opportunity for a program-defining win. I think the Buffs answer the bell. Let's go CU.

R: Arkansas (+9) at Auburn

This game is exceptionally difficult to pick. Auburn and Arkansas both come into this game with two losses but both are to top teams. Both teams have lost to Texas A&M. Auburn lost to Clemson in the season opener and the Arkansas lost to Alabama. Auburn is coming off a big win over Mississippi State and Malzahn is a great X’s and O’s coach. The Tigers will win but it will be close.

Arkansas QB Austin Allen has really shined this year, especially in their win last week over Ole Miss. As entertaining as it is to make fun of Bret Bielema he is rarely outcoached. His teams are always prepared and I think they will be against Auburn. The Tigers won’t be able to run over the Hogs the way they did the Bulldogs.

S: Arkansas (+9) at Auburn

Just too many points to lay here. Especially when Auburn just hasn't been super consistent for very long. Arkansas has its own issues, but they have good quarterback play, an always-tough offensive line, and a good-enough defense. I think Arkansas can keep this within a touchdown. So I'll take the points.

R: Ohio State (-20) at Penn State

The Buckeyes really struggled against Wisconsin but they came out with the win in overtime. Ohio State travels to Happy Valley to take on a Penn State team fresh off a bye week. Penn State has already played Michigan, who is in the tier below Ohio State. Penn State lost by 39 and gave up over 500 yards of offense.

Ohio State is so solid on both sides of the ball. I don’t think Penn State has the speed that Ohio State does, nor does the defense play as fast as the Badger defense does. I place a lot of faith in Urban Meyer and the young team. The trip to Madison was probably a big learning experience for all the new starters this year when they were pulled into deep water, the championship rounds, and still came out on top.

S: Ohio State (-20) at Penn State

Penn State does not, as a habit, play defense. Granted, Ohio State is a little beat up from emerging from a drag-out fistfight at Camp Randall, but I think they'll be just fine on a road trip to State College. Other than Saquan Barkley, Penn State doesn't have any notable position groups. I feel like Ohio State will be able to get open, get loose, and score in space. And I get the feeling Ohio State's defense is going to turn Trace McSorley over a lot. Buckeyes big.

R: Texas A&M (+16.5) at Alabama

I love both of these teams a lot. Texas A&M comes into the game undefeated. Trevor Knight has the Aggie offense firing on all cylinders, giving Sumlin his best quarterback since Johnny Manziel. Defenseive end Myles Garrett is probably going at the top of the upcoming NFL draft and he will be able to put some pressure on the Alabama quarterback.

Alabama has built maybe an unstoppable force on offense with Jalen Hurts at quarterback. Hurts is the second leading rusher on the team and has 8 rushing touchdowns on the year. He has speed, size, and also has a 63.5% completion rate, 1385 yards, and 9 touchdowns through the air to 3 interceptions. The Tide defense also has a lot of first round NFL players on it and they are coached by Nick Saban. They will win, but it won’t be by three scores.

S: Texas A&M (+16.5) at Alabama

Dang, this line is high. The numbers, I guess, would dictate a line this high, but it feels super high. Especially for an Alabama team that has gone on the road to Arkansas and Tennessee. Especially for an A&M team coming off a bye and in the playoff conversation. Especially considering A&M always plays Alabama tough, and when the real difference in the game last year was turnovers and sloppy play. So I'll take the points, and hope that A&M gets after Alabama's young, talented QB.