Hello Coug fans, and welcome to week seven of the picks column. Last weekend was one of the craziest weekends of college football we've seen in ages. Throughout the country and within the Pac-12, chaos was the rule of the day. Without doing the research, I'd venture to guess that there has rarely, if ever, been a day in which not one of the conference's home teams won a game. Not only that, but every game came down to the wire, and we even had another victory as a result of a Hail Mary. Well, you may call it a Hail Mary. I'll go ahead and call it "that play where USC just stood around and watched ASU throw a routine pass."
It was also a day which saw traditionally downtrodden programs rise up and assert themselves on the national stage. Mississippi State started off by whipping Texas A&M by 17, in a game that wasn't nearly that close. Later on, Ole Miss stood toe-to-toe with mighty Alabama, overcame awful officiating, and notched possibly the biggest win in the program's history. Even though this season isn't going the way we Cougar fans had hoped, results like these give me a glimmer of hope for the future.
Why I'm a genius: You mean besides taking Cal? Ok, besides taking Cal. The LSU-Auburn game was so obvious that it scared me a little. LSU isn't nearly as good as it has been, and Auburn is outstanding. I took the bait, and Auburn took care of business. LSU may be the worst team in the SEC West. I also had a pretty good feeling that Notre Dame would beat Stanford. This Stanford team, at least on offense, just isn't quite there. Even so, it was their defense that ended up surrendering the backbreaking play when it mattered.
Why I'm an idiot: Right around halftime of the Utah-UCLA game, I was kicking myself for taking the Bruins. My first inkling came Saturday when Ty Hildenbrandt, he of the great podcast The Solid Verbal, talked about how this was the classic letdown/look-ahead game for UCLA. They were coming off a huge road win in Tempe, and were looking at Oregon on October 11. Ugh. Should have seen that one coming miles away. Oh, and UCLA's offensive line has reached Fukushima levels of terrible.
So as Sunday morning hit, we logged our third straight 4-3 record, and took home $65. War Damn Eagle! That raised our record to 21-25 / $960.
Week Five Results:
- CarolinaCoug: 4-3 / -$60
- samsinite: 3-4 / -$100
- Ryan Eames: 2-5 / -$45
- Dr. Coug-A-Lot: 2-5 / -$180 (assuming the Auburn bet was $90)
- stewak: 3-4 / -$200
- harpstar: 3-4 / $50
- Brian Anderson: 3-4 / -$150
- 89 Coug in FL: 1-6 / -$250
- ezcrew: 3-3 / -$150
Built-in excuse: As indicated in the picture, I am making a road trip to Clemson this weekend to take in both the tailgating scene and the game against Louisville. My brother and I started a semi tradition a few years back by making going to Georgia. In 2012, we took my dad along to Ole Miss. This year the three of us are driving up to Clemson. It'll be a weekend full of football and barbecue. I'm not sure which I'm looking forward to more.
We are also hosting my brother, his wife and two kids, and my parents. That means that as I write this, there are 10 people staying in my house, four of which are six years old or younger. The constant din in my house right now isn't conducive to the clear head needed to correctly forecast these games. Needless to say, the seven hour drive from my home to Clemson may contain several spells of silence, simply because there are few things better than silence when you have young children at home.
It's a pretty light slate in our conference this week, as there are only four games. Looks like we'll have to go fishing around the country for a few other matchups. Away we go...
WSU at Stanford (-18): At first glance, it feels like the odds-makers are giving Stanford way too much respect here. Against Power Five teams, they've scored 10, 20, and 14 points. Kevin Hogan is still the same guy he was two years ago, with a lesser running game. On the other hand, he pretty much owned a better WSU secondary last year, going 16-25/286/3. His touchdowns were all explosive plays, going for 57, 33, and 45 yards. In case you hadn't noticed, WSU has given up a fair amount of explosive plays this year, and the guys on the receiving end of those Hogan passes last year (Cajuste and Rector) are still playing. There's also some guy named Ty Montgomery, who doesn't suck.
Helping WSU's cause is the fact that their offense is better this year, record-breakingly (if that's a word) so. Somehow, Stanford's defense seems even better, despite significant losses in the front seven. I watched a decent amount of their game against Notre Dame last week and Henry Anderson was practically living in the Notre Dame backfield. Needless to say, this will be the biggest test of the season thus far for Riley Sorenson and the rest of the line. I expect WSU to play well, and Stanford to be a bit hung over from their gut punch loss last week.
The Pick: $25 on WSU
Oregon (-2) at UCLA: We finally have it, a matchup of the Pac-12s
best, err most mediocre, err two biggest offensive line dumpster fires. Before last Thursday this was looking like a premier game, with the winner assuming the driver's seat in the quest to represent the Pac-12 in the College Football Playoff. What a difference a week makes. This game is nearly impossible to forecast, as both quarterbacks will spend most of the night running for their lives. In the a game like this, give me the better quarterback.
The Pick: $25 on Oregon
Washington at Cal (-3.5): I'VE SPOTTED A MISTAKE IN THE LINE. I thought Washington would be giving a field goal, not getting one. What exactly did the odds-makers see in Cal that indicated they should be the favorite? On the other hand, despite an outstanding front seven, Washington's defensive backs are not much better than WSU's. Marcus Peters aside, UW is very green in the back four and we are well aware of Cal's prowess in the passing game. On the other side of the ball, Washington's awful offense will be facing Cal's equally awful defense. In the end, I expect UW's defensive line to generate alot more pressure on Goff than WSU did.
The Pick: $40 on Washington
USC (-2.5) at Arizona: This is another game that Vegas must have struggled with. Arizona is on fire, while USC is coming off a collapse at home. I continue to be underwhelmed by USC's offense, outside Nelson Agholor and Buck Allen. If Sarkisian were a good coach (he isn't) one of those guys would touch the ball 90 percent of the time. Anu Solomon is getting better by the week, and the vaunted USC defense is not as good as I thought is was. Everything here points to an Arizona win. Hence, the only thing the Gamble-Tron knows is that it knows nothing.
The Pick: $40 on USC
Ole Miss at Texas A&M (-2): The odds-makers are thinking exactly like I am here, making A&M the favorite. I think that the Aggies' ranking was wildly inflated after their whipping of South Carolina, as it's been illustrated that Spurrier's Gamecocks aren't any good this season. On the other side, Ole Miss is only coming off the biggest, most emotional win in the program's last 50 years. Think they might suffer a bit of a letdown here? Did I mention that Ole Miss is on this week's Sports Illustrated cover? Now they have to go on the road and face an Aggie team looking to prove that last week was an aberration. Texas A&M has a rather lousy record against ranked teams at home under Kevin Sumlin. My theory is that A&M feels bad for teams that have to travel to the glorified landfill known as College Station.
The Pick: $50 on Texas A&M
West Virginia (-5.5) at Texas Tech: Texas Tech has quietly become a pretty bad team. The signs were there early on, as they barely beat Central Arkansas and UTEP to start the season. Then Arkansas showed up and completely mauled them. West Virginia came into the season with relatively low expectations, and has played better than many thought. I want to take West Virginia here. I really do. I just can't.
The Pick: $25 on Texas Tech
Louisville at Clemson (-9.5): Nothing like putting a little fake action on a game you get to see in person. Dabo Swinney has to be kicking himself for not starting Deshaun Watson sooner. If Watson had started against Florida State they probably would have won. Of course, if Clemson could execute a simple snap an inch from the goalline, they also would have won. They should be in the driver's seat in the ACC Whatever-it-is division.
Louisville comes in starting a true freshman quarterback, who is playing behind a leaky offensive line. That's not a good combination when facing a very stout Clemson front seven. The fact that they're lousy on offense is out of character for Harley enthusiast/only competent Petrino brother, Bobby. Despite the fact that Louisville has an above-average defense, Clemson wins by two touchdowns and continues to lament the meltdown it suffered in Tallahassee.
The Pick: $25 on Clemson