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Ducking The Odds: Week 12

Rusty and Sean try to make up for a terrible week.

Iowa v Wisconsin Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

If last week weren’t so entertaining I’d be much more upset about how it went.

Season

Rusty’s Record: 35-34-1

Sean’s Record: 35-34-1

Last Week

Rusty’s Record: 0-7 (LOL)

Sean’s Record: 2-5

Common Games

S: Arizona at Oregon (pick)

Oregon's defense is better than advertised. They've been put in bad situations by a completely horrible offensive attack for the past two months, and still have hung in there and made plays. Khalil Tate is going to get his yards, but I don't think Zona has enough else on offense to stretch the Ducks' D.

Offensively, obviously, the return of Justin Herbert is, well: everything for this team. It's just a different team with competent quarterback play. (Sidenote: at some point, this Ducks staff *must* get competent backup quarterback play. We haven't had a competent backup since Bryan Bennett. In 2012.)

This one is at Autzen. The defense is primed. The offense will be energized by the return of Herbert. The crowd will be energized by both. Ducks bounce back in this one.

R: Arizona (pick) at Oregon

Rumors are flying that Herbert will be back. I think earlier claims before the Washington game were expecting one heck of a fast recovery. But based on the practice reports it seems more likely than not that Herbert will start. I’m not sure that will matter that much.

Sure, the Oregon playbook will be in full effect and we will have something resembling a passing attack, but Oregon is not going to be running him. The Ducks are going to need to score forty points and we should expect some rust.

The Oregon defense is really going to have a tough going. The defense thrived early in the season because of their ability to force turnovers. The only forced turnover in the last few weeks was the strip and score that Amadi had against Utah’s Carrington.

Arizona has maybe the best offense in the country right now. USC kept Khalil Tate in check two weeks ago but the offense still Wildcat offense still scored 35. Tate is the most explosive runner in the country and now he gets to go against a defense that gives up plenty of explosion plays every game.

S: Michigan (+10) at Wisconsin

Michigan is a disappointing team, but still a good team. I'm not sure they can move the ball on Wisconsin, but their defense is good enough to hold Wisconsin in check. This is especially true given the Badgers' uninspiring quarterback play. Michigan is also more battle-tested than Wisconsin, who has played a super-easy schedule. Michigan is quietly still 8-2, and can *totally* change the college football landscape in each of the next two weeks with this game and The Game with Ohio State. I like a 21-13 final for Wisconsin. Wisconsin wins, but Michigan covers.

R: Michigan at Wisconsin (-10)

Wisconsin isn’t give all the credit they deserve. They’ve played a soft schedule so far but they have been doing what they’re supposed to do against lesser competition. The adjusted scoring margin for each win is greater than 20 points.

I think the Badgers have a top 5 defense in the country. They’re a group that is always very well prepared and always know what they’re doing. That allows them to play fast and means they don’t give up points because they’re caught off guard. I don’t see Michigan scoring more than 10 points in this game.

Michigan has an average offense. They’ve made scoring points against average opponents seem like a Herculean effort. Also of note, Michigan hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record. Only two teams, Michigan State and Penn State, have more wins than losses, and on the road Michigan really got blown out. The Wolverines have a good defense, but Wisconsin’s is better. Wisconsin’s offense is also better. With the home field advantage I think this is comfortable win for the Badgers.

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Conference Uncommon

S: Utah at washington (-17.5)

Utah's lost 5 of the last 6. Their win over UCLA was inexplicable, but mostly due to the fact that Josh Rosen was banged up, and the Utes ran all over UCLA. They won't run on Washington. They won't throw on Washington. The Huskies will be able to run on Utah, and will slowly but surely build a 20-point lead in this game.

R: Utah at washington (-17.5)

Part of me really wanted to pick Oregon State to cover against Arizona State. If it were a night game at Reser I could have been swayed. Instead, I’ll reluctantly put my success on washinton’s shoulders. They have been covering consistently and match up really well against Utah. The run defense is probably going to stymie Utah’s attack, putting all of the pressure on the Utah quarterback. I don’t think Utah will be able to hold the huskies back all game. Petersen is going to be ready in a bounce-back game.

S: UCLA at USC (-15)

UCLA has perhaps the worst run defense in the nation. USC has found its stride on offense, mostly because they are leaning into the fact that they are a power rushing team. Bad matchup for UCLA. USC wins by 20, because UCLA is really really bad on defense.

R: UCLA at USC (-15)

I love the jerseys in this game. Both teams wear their home uniforms and the way the blue mixes with the crimson is great.

The rushing stats matter to me most. USC running back Ronald Jones has rushed for over 500 yards in the last 3 games. When USC is able to run the ball and don’t bail on it they are very effective, especially late in the game. The ground game will also make things easier for Sam Darnold.

UCLA has one of the worst run defenses in the country. They rank 107th in defensive success rate and 122nd in explosion plays. Trojans have an outside of shot of sneaking into the playoffs if chaos reigns for a few more weekends, so I expect there to be a good chance of style points.

S: California (+17.5) at Stanford

Can we take a moment to appreciate how far Cal has come in its first season with Justin Wilcox? They're 5-5 overall and 6-4 against the spread. I don't know if Cal will ever get back to 10-win seasons like the mid-aughts, but hey, if this is a perennial 7-5 or 8-4 team, that's a big achievement in the well-balanced Pac-12.

And, to this game. Stanford has had a weird, weird year. Inexplicable losses and then inexplicable wins. They're more talented on both sides of the ball than Cal. But dang: their offense just disappears for big portions of games.

This is a rivalry game, which means you throw the dang records out. 16.5 is a lottttt of points in this matchup. When I see a line like that in a rivalry game, I have to have a very good reason to lay the points. I don't have one here.

R: California (+17.5) at Stanford

Both of these fanbases may seem apathetic at times, about sports as a whole, but this is a rivalry game that still matters. Cal is one game away from bowl eligibility with Stanford and UCLA to go.

Stanford is definitely the better team. But by how much? Stanford’s defense is 102nd on offense and 101st on defense in efficiency. They thrive off of explosion plays, led by Bryce Love. Cal’s defense, while not great, is good at keeping everything in front of them. I think they will match up well against the Stanford rushing attack.

Cal head coach Justin Wilcox has had his moments as a coach shutting down opposing offenses when his defense might have been overpowered on paper. I think he’s got another good game plan in him to bring the Stanford offense down enough so that this is a competitive game. I can totally see him putting his defensive backs on an island and tell his defensive front to go all out on stopping the run and Bryce Love. I think Stanford will win but it will be closer than the experts think.

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Wild Card

S: TCU at Texas Tech (+6)

I like this matchup. Tech has had a tough run, but they have a lot to play for: they're at 5-5 and need to get to a bowl game. TCU has just been knocked out of the college football playoff race, and will play Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game kind of no matter what else happens. Now the Frogs have to go on the road to Lubbock for a weird early game (11:00 am local time) and try to not lose. It's just a weird juju game here. Take the points. This line is oddly low and I'm going to steer into that skid.

R: UCF (-14) at Temple

I hope we can all recognize that Scott Frost was probably a better offensive coordinator than he got credit for. UCF is also much better than the committee is giving them credit for. In two years Scott Frost has made himself one of the hottest off-season coaching hires. He may be able to pick his school this next year and will probably get a $3 million to $4 million contract.

The Golden Knights are the 5th-best team according to S&P+. Temple is sitting at 85th. The Owls have an average defense and one of the worst offenses in the country according to S&P+, mostly due to their rushing attack, which ranks 10th. On the other side of the ball, UCF has the second best offense in the country and has been burying teams this season. UCF’s only real weakness on defense is giving up big passes through the air but I don’t think Temple will be able to take advantage of that. I like UCF, big.