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Ducking the Odds: Week 10 of the College Football Season

A deep, full slate of meaningful games, including a big one for the Ducks in Seattle.

NCAA Football: Utah at Oregon Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Rusty is pulling ahead of me in the rankings after I’ve had two bad weeks in a row. To quote the middling emo/pop-punk band All-American Rejects: “It ends tonight.”

(Also, Rusty picked washington to cover, so F that guy.)


Rusty’s Record: 31-24-1

Sean’s Record: 30-26

Last Week

Rusty’s Record: 3-3-1

Sean’s Record: 2-5


S: Oregon (+21) at washington

What do you do in a rivalry game? YOU THROW OUT THE DANG RECORDS. Just throw ‘em out.

You don’t think the Ducks defense remembers giving up 70 to washington at home last year? You don’t think they have the goods to disrupt uw’s offense?

The huskies haven’t played any real defenses of note this year. By most measures, Oregon’s will be the toughest defense they have faced. And when Arizona State’s defense got after them with slants, blitzes, and aggressive pass rushes, the husky offense was basically worthless, scoring 7 points.

I don’t think the Ducks are holding Washington to 7 points, but I think they can hold them to 30. And the Ducks can score enough to cover 21 points, even if Herbert doesn’t play.

21 points is just too many in a rivalry game with two good defenses. Take the points. Go Ducks.

R: Oregon at washington (-21)

Rumors are floating around that Justin Herbert will be starting. Obviously, one has to make this pick with the assumption that he won’t be. Even if he were to start I think washington comes away with a comfortable win. It won’t be the train wreck that it was last year but there is large gap between us and washington that hasn’t been bridged yet.

Both the wide receivers and defensive backs for the Huskies have been question marks and liabilities the last few weeks. Browning has also made some questionable passes this season. To be brutally honest I think for Oregon to win this, washington needs to play their worst game of the season, give the ball up two or more times than Oregon does, and be held to under 20 points.

Oregon’s offense had a great showing with Burmeister throwing for less than 50 yards. washington is on the outside of the playoffs looking in. Petersen knows they’re going to need some style points to try and sway the committee. If their play the night before happens to late to catch eyes he will probably try to make the score they see in the morning eye popping. They ran the score up last year (Not complaining. Oregon did it to everybody for years.) and I expect them to do it again if they get the chance.

S: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (-3)

I think the Cowboys have the better roster here. I think they have a good enough pass defense to hold the Sooners in check, and I think the Sooners’ defense is vulnerable through the air. I know that Mike Gundy is only 2-10 against Oklahoma. But I think they have a great chance to make a statement here.

Okie State by 6.

R: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (-3)

College Gameday will be in attendance for Bedlam. Both of these teams have high scoring offenses with preseason hype for their quarterbacks. Both teams also come in with only one loss, Oklahoma’s loss was to huge underdog Iowa State and Oklahoma State got rocked in their prime time moment to TCU.

Ultimately, I think the advantage that Oklahoma State offense has over the Oklahoma defense is greater than the advantage that the Oklahoma offense has over the Oklahoma State defense. The offense for the two teams are both top 5 in S&P+ but Oklahoma’s defensive S&P+ is 103. The Sooners have been in some real fights recently but they have given up a lot of points each of the last 5 weeks.


R: Colorado at Arizona State (-4)

The Sun Devils had a red hot couple weeks to start off August. The followed up a 13-7 win over Washington in what was a true shellacking with a 30-10 win over a Utah team that was still getting a ton of praise after their last minute loss to USC.

Neither defense is particularly effective at efficiently stopping the other team. Arizona State has just been much more prone to giving up explosive plays, which will happen just by the nature of their defense. The same play that got ASU a win over Washington is what can result in giving up 48 points to USC two weeks later. But Colorado isn’t typically an explosive team and while that means they could finally break out against a team that gives up big plays I don’t think that will happen. Colorado just doesn’t have the ability to break open some huge plays against the Sun Devils.

For Colorado to come away with a win they’re going to have to lean on the ground game and Phillip Lindsay. Lindsay already has 1254 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Establishing the run game will slow the ASU rush because they know if they just pin their ears back and try to get after the quarterback they can lose gap integrity and give up easy gains.

R: Oregon State (+8) at Cal

Cal has dropped their last two games. They lost to Colorado by 14 and to Arizona by 1. Both of those losses came after their 37-3 demolition over WSU. In both of their losses Cal had a tough time stopping the run, giving up 200 to Colorado and 345 to Arizona.

Oregon State has had the biggest turnaround of any team this season. Since Gary Andersen left, leaving his assistants under the bus behind him, the team went from lifeless and ineffective to being one of the more dangerous teams in the conference. Their coach is fired up and the whole program knows that at this point they have nothing to lose.

What makes me think that Oregon State will cover is that in their wins they rushed the ball well. They ran for 280 yards against Colorado in their 3-point loss and averaged 3.4 yards per carry against a tough Stanford defensive front. The Beavers could have also gotten a win against Stanford if not for the three turnovers. I like Cal to win by Oregon State to cover.

R: Arizona (+7) at USC

Speaking of teams that are red hot, Arizona is on fire with Khalil Tate at quarterback. He is deceptively fast in that he blows by people when it looks like he’s casually jogging. He’s only thrown 67 passes while carrying the ball 69 times. In four games he’s already accounted for 14 touchdowns, 784 yards through the air, but 926 on the ground. Tate is averaging 13.4 yards per carry and has rushed for 408 more yards than the second leading rusher on the Wildcat roster.

The Arizona team that we see now is a very different team than the one we saw start the season 20-2. They have scored 45 points in each of the last four games. They may not drop 45 at USC, but it’s difficult to imagine they won’t score a lot and push USC until the end of regulation.

USC has been decimated by injuries the last few weeks. They rebounded very nicely from their 49-14 loss in South Bend by topping Arizona State 48-17 on the road. Now they are back in the friendly confines of the coliseum. The biggest weakness for the Trojans is giving up explosive plays on defense, ranking 95th in defensive IsoPPP. Against the run they rank 84th in success rate and 99th in explosiveness. That doesn’t make for a favorable matchup against the Wildcats. I think USC will win but it’s more likely than not that Arizona will cover.

S: Stanford (+2.5) at Washington State

Don’t trust Washington State that much right now. They looked pretty bad last week. I know that Wazzu beat Stanford by 26 last year. But I think Stanford’s defense is improving to the point where they can give the WSU attack some fits, especially since Luke Falk has looked shaky since their big win vs. USC. The weather here also favors the Cardinal: it looks like a cold game with some snow possible.

Bryce Love should be back at least in some capacity, and Stanford’s clunky offensive woes were – I think – contained to that junky appearance in Corvallis last week. Stanford has an extra practice this week to get ready, and I think they will be ready. Stanford outright.

S: Arizona at USC (-7)

Arizona is streaking at the right time. But I think USC found something in their big win over ASU last week. Arizona doesn’t have the defense to hang in this game, and will have to rely on big plays on the offense to win the game. I think USC holds a small lead throughout the game, and then gets a fourth-quarter score to get that front-door cover.

S: Colorado at Arizona State (-4)

Colorado looked good last week in a beatdown of Cal. But I think Arizona State has a more consistent identity, and plays pretty good defense. ASU needs this win. Colorado is well-coached, but under-talented. Lay those 4.


R: Wisconsin (-9) at Indiana

Part of me really wanted to pick Michigan State at +7.5 at home against Penn State but there are so many unknowns. In this game we have the 6th best team, according to S&P+, against the 55th ranked team on the road.

Since the Hoosiers showed off a passing attack that shredded the Buckeye defense in the first half of opening weekend but have largely been ineffective against top teams. Now they square off against the 7th best S&P+ defense.

The Wisconsin defense will be able to completely take away Indian’s running game and force them to pass. Since every down will be a passing down the Wisconsin Badgers are going to be able to get after the quarterback and wear him down over the course of the game. The cracks will show in the first quarter before Wisconsin shatters Indiana in the second half.

R: LSU (+21) at Alabama

The battle between these two teams is one of my favorites during each college football season. Alabama’s biggest game will always be the one against Auburn, but LSU has to be a close second given the last ten years of competition between the two teams.

These teams are almost built to stop each other. The offenses are relatively similar in build and composition but Alabama has shown a lot more diversity and have more tools in the kit than LSU does. However, this game is all about the defenses. This game is going to be one of field position and getting the other team into three and outs will be key. Both offenses are going to try and control the clock and the pace of play, meaning fewer plays will be run than any other given game. Both teams are going to rely on the run, which will keep the clock running.

I think Alabama wins this one cleanly. But with how competitive the game is, how much it means to both teams, and the style of play, this one will be close.

S: LSU (+21) at Alabama

Let’s list of Alabama’s wins against “good” opponents this year: 24-7 over a 2-5 Florida State team, and 27-19 over a 5-3 Texas A&M squad that has had some ugly losses this year. Sure, Alabama looks great, but they’ve been beating upon clearly inferior opponents.

Enter LSU. Whatever funk they had during the first third of the season has at least been covered up by some Axe Body Spray or Febreze (shout-out to college “laundry”). They’ve been grinding out victories with good defense and a competent running game. Sure, they’ve got a tough chore in moving the ball against Alabama. But likewise, I’m not sure how effective Alabama’s offense will be against LSU’s young, talented defense.

So, take the points. This just feels like too many points in a major rivalry game between two heavyweight defenses.

S: Clemson (-7) at NC State

NC State does a lot of things at a B+ level. And if you do that, you’re going to win games. But Clemson has a healthy, scary defense and a balanced offense. I don’t think NC State has enough horses to hang in for 4 quarters.

I bet against Clemson a couple times. It was horrible. I watched them go up two scores in the first quarter, and knew the bet was dead.

NC State is a fun squad, and a good story. But I think Clemson outlasts them.