Picks to Pound is our regular handicapping feature here at Elbow Deep. I’ll be picking winners for Saturday College Football, Sunday NFL, NBA, College Hoops, and any other lines that spark intrigue throughout the week. All lines via Bovada.
Joe, Tunechi, tell ’em how we feel.
Tough week last week finishing at 2-4. Michigan State continued to win in incredibly underwhelming fashion. The Spartans failed to cover 13 against lowly Rutgers, pushing their record against the spread this year to 0-6. In an act of complete and utter disrespect, Vegas set Sparty as 8 point underdogs heading to Ann Arbor this weekend. Will their first game as dogs help the Spartans buck the trend and cover? Find out below.
As for the rest of last week’s picks, Notre Dame and Florida took care of business, Georgia looked lost without Nick Chubb, Northwestern got emasculated (I’m ready to admit that Michigan is for real), and TCU failed to cover – and lost BH’s first half LOTW – while grinding out a 4th quarter comeback win. Overall a pretty poopoo week for Fudge.
That’s enough of the past, let’s get into the Week 7 picks. We’ll start it off with a good one, the Thursday Night Pac-12 game, UCLA at Stanford.
- Thursday, 10:30pm – #18 UCLA at #15 Stanford.
The pick is UCLA +7.
There is so much parity in the Pac-12 (and across the country, really) this season. Tonight we have two very different teams as the Bruins are led by the young gunslinger in freshman QB Josh Rosen and a Stanford team that focuses on defense and the run game. Cardinal fifth year senior QB Kevin Hogan will limit mistakes, capitalize on big shots when the run game lulls defenses to sleep, and use his plus athleticism to get out of trouble.
The only way this game becomes a blowout is if Rosen turns the ball over numerous times and Hogan lights up the scoreboard. One of those things might happen (Rosen INTs) but not both. Through six games, Rosen has thrown 9 toudys with 5 INTs, but 3 of those picks game against BYU in a game that the Bruins still won. Hogan, on the other hand, will protect the football but he’s not leading any aerial assaults. Hogan’s a smart game manager with a solid arm, but even when he’s rolling coach David Shaw’s conservative play-calling prevent him from running people out of the building.
UCLA’s defense is just as tough as Stanford. The Cardinal will move the ball on the ground, but don’t look for Hogan to beat the Bruins himself. This will be a hard-hitting game with the clock ticking and some big runs. I’m betting on the Bruins to protect Rosen in the pocket (UCLA is 13th in D1 in sacks allowed) and keep it close on defense. Smells like a 35-32 UCLA victory to me.
UPDATE: The Cardinal won big, 56-35. UCLA had no answer for the Stanford running attack. Maybe I should have included a caveat that if Christian McCaffrey turns into The Snowpeircer it could also be a blowout. McCaffrey had a career day to the tune of 243 yards and 4 touchdowns. What are they feeding the white, Irish running backs in Palo Alto?
Kevin Hogan, just as I thought, did not beat the Bruins but he didn’t need to. Hogan was efficient throwing for 131 yards and adding 3 touchdowns on the back of his run game. Josh Rosen threw for +300 yards and added 3 scores for UCLA, but with 2 INTs and 20 incompletions he couldn’t do enough to keep the Bruins in the game. At the end of the day, this loss is on the Bruins’ defense all the way. 0-1 to start the week. Just means we’re due come Saturday. Shooters shoot.
- Saturday, 12:00pm – Purdue at Wisconsin. The pick is Purdue +24. The line is 23.5, I’m buying a half point.
This one is a degenerate special, folks. Both of these teams STINK. Wisco is 4-2 but they are awful. Purdue is even worse – the Boilermakers still haven’t recovered from Kyle Orton’s departure – but they hung tough against Michigan State and put up 24 against Virginia Tech. I’ll bet against Wisconsin QB Joel “My Hair Looks Great But I’ve Got The Yips” Stave all day, at least to win by less then 24. I mean, come on, the kid’s name is Joel. You can’t bet on a guy named Joel. Or Cody. Speaking of which…
- 7:30pm – Southern Cal at #14 Notre Dame. The pick is Notre Dame -7 (moved to ND -5 before kickoff).
One question: When picking a quarterback, do you want a man named DeShone over a boy named Cody? Yeah, me too. Give me DeShone every day of the week and twice on Saturday. Cody? Grow up, guy.
Look, USC QB Cody Kessler has some serious skills. I’m picking on Kessler (disclaimer: I root for the Irish) because he’s a Cali brah with a truly terrible first name, but he is actually very talented. Kessler was in a lot of preseason Heisman conversation and USC was a popular pick to make the playoff because of him. But both Kessler and his squad have performed well below expectations and shouldn’t count on turning things around against ND. Some people might want to pick USC to pull off the “win one for the Gipper!” upset. Sure, it’s enticing to think that Sark’s troubles could spark turnaround – it would make for a great story – but I’m not buying it. Their now ex-coach is a drunk who left them “high and dry,” the Trojan offense just put up a meager 12 points at home against Washington, and the defense has zero depth. What’s more, they’re headed to South Bend to face an Irish team featuring a dynamic offense and an experienced, athletic defense. Notre Dame is looking to go on a run and make the 4-team playoff. USC is about to go into a tailspin. Notre Dame by 25.
- 12:00pm, #13 Ole Miss at Memphis. The pick is Mississippi -8 (moved to Ole Miss -10.5 before kickoff).
Big game for the Memphis Tigers. Unfortunately for my Beale Street kin, the Rebels are about to put a hurtin’ on ’em. This is exactly the type of game that Ole Miss always runs up the score. Under the radar game for the Rebels, at least on a national scale. Florida stopped them in their tracks two weeks ago, everyone turned their attention elsewhere in the SEC, and now it’s time to blow up a few lesser opponents. New Mexico State got a taste last week and now it’s Memphis’ turn. The Tigers aren’t horrible, though. They’ll go on to win Conference-USA and Memphis QB Paxton Lynch (great QB name) can hang with anyone. Look for Memphis to stick around for the first twenty minutes, but Ole Miss will pull away heading into halftime.
Ole Miss is Chad Kelly. Chad Kelly is Ole Miss. They won’t get it done when it counts but they’ll rap their tails off and beat down non-conference opponents during noon games on WatchESPN. Ole Miss 48, Memphis 30.
TOUCHDOOOOOOWWWN, CHAD KELLY
- 3:30pm #7 Michigan State at #12 Michigan. The pick is Michigan State +7.5.
I was shocked when I saw this line. Totally stunned. I understand that these are two teams trending in opposite directions. MSU started the season #2 and has gone 0-6 against the spread thus far, playing down to their opponents and looking less and less like the team we all thought they were. Most recently, they got away with one against Rutgers. They need to turn it around before Rich Homie Quan finds a new sideline to support.
Then we’ve got Michigan. Big Brother looking to regain control of the state. Michigan was not supposed to be this good this fast. We all new Coach Harbaugh would get the Wolverine defense in order, but what he has done with QB Jake Rudock is nothing short of remarkable. Rudock couldn’t beat out CJ Beathard at Iowa, a school that was desperate for decent quarterback play. He’s a complete bum. If we’re being polite, he leaves A LOT to be desired. Yet, Harbaugh has taken that bum and molded him into a solid game manager. Rudock has lead the Wolverines to a 5-0 record and a combined score of 160-14 since losing to now #4 Utah in Week 1. Rudock threw 3 picks at Utah and has thrown 3 more since. On the season, he’s thrown 5 touchdowns against 6 INTs. The kid is not a good quarterback, but that shows how good Harbaugh, the run game, and this defense have been. That trio has managed to demolish every opponent the last five weeks with a Zero at QB.
As good as Michigan has been lately, the Spartans are still the best team they will have seen since Utah. MSU QB Connor Cook needs to have a great game against this Wolverine defense (#2 defense in the nation) and the Spartans need to get their shit together. Michigan State has looked very underwhelming this season, but the Spartans have still won every game. At times this team just looks bored. That’s a good way to get upset, which could certainly happen Saturday at the Big House, but a team led by Jake Rudock is not beating Michigan State by more than a touchdown. Connor Cook has thrown for 12 touchdowns and only 2 picks. Running back LJ Scott is still a monster. As good as Michigan’s defense has been playing, they’ve been doing it against teams with garbage offenses. Watch for both sides to regress to the mean. Cook will avoid turnovers against the Michigan blitz and punch in a few more scores than the Wolverines have allowed all year. MSU will play better and UM will look a little worse.
I like this game to go down to the wire with a score in the mid-high 20s. The Spartans have played crap competition all season. Oregon was a big game at the time, but this is MSU’s first true test of the year. Mark Dantonio will have them fired up, and while they haven’t covered a single game as the favorites I LOVE them as the dogs. Michigan State 28, Michigan 20.
- 3:30pm – #10 Alabama at #9 Texas A&M. The pick is Alabama -4.
This one’s pretty simple in my eyes. Alabama already got embarrassed by Ole Miss a few weeks ago. They’ve got their backs against the wall and know another loss before the halfway mark essentially ends their season. With LSU coming up in two weeks, the Tide can not lose this game.
A&M has been playing well but is yet to be seriously tested. The SEC is so deep this season, I don’t see TAMU making it through without 2 losses. This will be the first. Bama 42, A&M 33
- 9:00pm – Arizona at Colorado. This pick is Arizona -8.
Arizona abuses bad teams. Colorado is most definitely a bad team. They’re like the Jake Rudock of teams. Colorado cannot be trusted. Arizona 38, Colorado 23.
LATE ADDITION BET: This post went up around 9:30 on Thursday night. The Friday night late addition is South Carolina -3 at home against Vandy. I like what I’m seeing from Gamecocks interim coach Sean Elliot. His vibe screams “twice divorced father of 4 (3 girls) and high school Athletic Director with an affinity for whiskey.” That’s the type of interim coach guys will go to war for. Very Ed Orgeron-esque. Exactly what USC needs with Spurrier’s departure. Oh, and Vandy stinks.
Locks of the Week:
BH – Notre Dame -7 vs Southern Cal
Bud deBurgh– Its a Bud deBurgh 2-for-1 Special! Bama -4 at TAMU; MSU +8 at Michigan.
Matty Fudge – Texas Tech -32.5 at Kansas
BH – Kansas State over Oklahoma
Bud – Pittsburgh over Georgia Tech
Matty Fudge – Does Michigan State count? If so, Sparty over Mich is the pick, but let’s look elsewhere…. Cincinatti over BYU is the move.