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Ducking The Odds: CFB Week 12 Picks ATS

Rusty and Sean pick against the spread in the biggest games in week 12 of the 2016 college football season

NCAA Football: Kansas at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week

Rusty: 5-2

Sean: 5-2

This Season

Rusty: 45-63-7

Sean: 55-51-7

Seems narrowing the number of picks we make in a week really helps us out. Due to the weak slate of really compelling games we spent a little more time again on a smaller number of games.

Last week the schedule didn’t seem that exciting on paper, which is when all chaos breaks loose. There are a few good matchups this week but the rest of them are not very enticing. Hopefully chaos makes a return trip.

R: Louisville (-14) at Houston

At the beginning of the year this was one of the best games of the season. Both teams were coming into 2016 with a lot of hype. So far, Louisville and Lamar Jackson have held up their end with one of the most exciting offenses in the country. Tom Herman’s offense has slipped to ranking 66th in S&P+ of and on defense they are ranked 22nd. The country forgot about Houston after their loss to Navy. Two weeks later the Cougars dropped a game to SMU, only scoring 16 points. Houston seems to struggle creating the difference to put a team away at the end of games.

Louisville is also very balanced, but according to the Football Outsiders statistic S&P+ the offense is ranked 5th in the nation and the defense is ranked 8th. The Cardinals have had some close games the last few weeks such as Virginia and Duke. However, Louisville always has the ability to blow a game wide open, like when they scored 41 straight points in the 4th quarter against Wake Forest.

S: Louisville at Houston (+14)

My instinct is Louisville. So I will go with Houston. This is - by far - the biggest remaining game on Houston's schedule. Home crowd, night crowd, very good defense. 14 points is just too many for a potential Super Bowl game for Houston at home. Louisville is superbly talented on offense, but Tom Herman can coach the dang defense. Give me the points.

R: Oklahoma at West Virginia (+6)

The Big-12 conference is an absolute mess. Absolutely anyone can win any game any week. So why not just take the points in a Big-12 conference game with two teams that are similar?

Besides that, Oklahoma has the best passing offense in the country according to some advanced stats from Football Outsiders. Their running game offense and defense are also both solid.

West Virginia doesn’t score that well in the advanced statistics to be honest. But looking at their schedule you can see that they have only given up more than 21 points once this season. In a conference full of high-scoring offenses the Mountaineers have found a way to tame the wildest of horses. Oklahoma is better on paper than West Virginia in a lot of ways, but the Mountaineers get results. Morgantown is also crazy and weird stuff happens there. I like West Virginia to keep it close with a real good shot of winning outright.

S: Oklahoma (-6) at West Virginia

I like WVU's defense a lot. I really do. And I like that they're at home. But I'm worried that OU's offense is going to shellack the Mountaineers. West Virginia looked great against subpar competition early in the year, but has had problems down the stretch here. I think OU is in a "zombie anger" phase, where they are literally trying to kill everyone out of spite since their opener loss to Houston. Lay the 6.

R: Washington State at Colorado (-6.5)

A lot of people are down on the PAC-12 this year because of a perceived lack of quality teams. Just because USC, Stanford, and Oregon aren’t at the very top doesn’t mean that Washington State or Colorado are any worse than top PAC-12 teams in previous years.

Luke Falk is the best quarterback that not many people have heard of. Only the real college football fans understand how great he is. He has a 73.9% completion rate and leads the nation’s 17th best offense according to S&P+. The Cougar defense is also ranked 33rd against the run according to S&P+.

Colorado has two losses. The first was to Michigan where they were close into the second half until their starting quarterback sustained an injury. Their second loss was to a USC team that figured it out and is currently one of the hottest teams in the country. The Buffs are ten spots ahead of the Cougars in F/+ and they are the 12th best team against the pass in the S&P+ ranking. I think Colorado is just a good matchup against Washington State so I have them covering what is a wide spread.

S: Washington State at Colorado (-6.5)

The fact that the line is so in favor of Colorado surprises me here. My initial thought was to "take the points in a shootout," but that's too reductive. Colorado's defense is really, really good. They are especially good against the pass. They'll need that here. The weather in Colorado just turned really bad (watching a sleet storm out my window right now!) and it will be a challenge for WSU to come to altitude, battle the elements, and still hum along on offense. Go Buffs.

R: USC (-9) at UCLA

UCLA was one of the most popular teams headed into the season but things have not broken the Bruins’ way. They are without Josh Rosen, which is problematic when they rank 123rd in S&P+ rushing.

USC is fresh off of beating a top-ranked Washington squad on the road. The Trojans had a 21-13 first down advantage over Washington and held them to .6 yards per carry. .6! The USC pass defense also showed up and made Jake Browning look average. USC’s defense is top 10 in both passing and rushing S&P+ defense and with Sam Darnold leading one of the best passing offenses in the country I could see a few turnovers blowing this game open.

S: USC (-9) at UCLA

Lock this up with all million of your dollars. Two programs going in opposite directions. USC's defense is as scary as anyone outside of Bama/LSU. Their offense is diverse, balanced, and efficient. UCLA is a tire fire, personified. Take the Trojans.

R: Oregon at Utah (-10)

Oregon’s defense made Stanford’s offense look unbeatable. Remember, Stanford is not a good offensive team. They only scored 34 against Arizona, 26 against Oregon State, 5 against Colorado, 17 against Notre Dame, and 16 against Washington State. Then they scored 52 on Oregon’s defense. Oregon’s offense does 90% of the things right but then blow an easy first down chance with a false-start penalty, which won’t work against Utah.

The defensive front seven for the Ducks has a hard time with gap integrity, which means that they need to load the box. The offensive line ranks high in passing downs and adjusted line yards but close to last in standard down sack rate. A couple of the defensive backs don’t necessarily have the skillset to be on an island.

Utah’s lines are well known for being big, athletic, and physical. They always have at least one top NFL-caliber lineman on defense and are solid across the entire offensive line. The “Sack Lake City” line will overwhelm the Duck offensive line the way USC did. The Utah offensive line will get Utah consistent first downs on offense and eventually wear the team down at the end of the game.

S: Oregon at Utah (-10)

Oregon is in a tailspin. They are traveling to a fevered, high altitude, tough place to play. Utah's defense is as good as any in the conference, up there with USC, Colorado, and Washington. Oregon's offense is just not dependable enough with youth on the O-Line to have a solid running game, and Justin Herbert just isn't quite ready to go win a game on its own. And Oregon's defense is historically bad. Let's put this game to bed, and hope we can beat the Beavs next week.

R: Florida at LSU (-10.5)

This is a tough game to pick. Two former Purdue quarterbacks who transferred out, Austin Appleby of Florida and Danny Etling of LSU, will be trying to lead their teams against the top defenses in the country.

Where these two teams separate are on offense. Florida is in the bottom third of the country in both rushing and passing offense. LSU has a top ground game with Leonard Fournette carrying the rock and they have an above average passing game. I think the LSU advantage on offense will help separate the two teams over the course of 60 minutes. I see a 27-10 score.

S: Florida at LSU (-10.5)

LSU is on a roll, but LSU's offense has really struggled against every defense it has faced. But Florida's defense is beat up, which is a bad way to be when facing LSU's dreaded run game. Don't feel great about it, but Florida does not play well on long road trips, and is headed to a hostile environment with not much offense to speak of. Lay those points.