The Otter Room’s Weekly College Football Picks

8-5 last week to bring the overall record to 36-37-2. Bringing some steam into week seven.

Syracuse (+23.5) vs. #2 Clemson – O/U: 57 – OVER

Although their record is only 3-3, there have been some significant improvements in year three of Dino Babers. The Orange offense is averaging 32 points per game and have been able to put yards and points up against elite defenses. Clemson may boast the best defense in the country, but Syracuse tallied 25 points at N.C. State and 26 at LSU and while it is a down year for LSU – team with comparable defensive athletes. Clemson QB Kelly Bryant is a tad banged up coming into the game and just like with Pitt last season, the Clemson letdown game may come when least expected.

Mississippi State (-24)
vs. BYU

I was all over Nick Fitzgerald early in the season, but the Bulldogs have struggled since upsetting LSU. However, MSU should take care of business easily in StarkVegas Saturday. BYU has not defeated an FBS team this season and this is the worst Cougar team in decades. BYU has lost five games by an average of 20 points and they have only managed to stay within 15 points of an opponent once.

West Virginia (-3.5)
vs. #24 Texas Tech

If you read our preseason predictions, you know that we were not high on Texas Tech at the start of the season. However, Coach Handsome has put Tech on the right path and their lone loss came by a touchdown to Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders have won their first two road games this season (Houston and Kansas), but they will take a step up in road competition and atmosphere this week.

WVU’s losses came in close games to TCU and Virginia Tech, but Will Grier has looked more and more comfortable in Dana Holgerson’s system as the year has gone on. Expect the Mountaineers to cover in a high scoring affair.

Kansas State (+6.5) vs. #6 TCU

I keep thinking Jesse Ertz is really good and I’m banking on him proving me right one of these times. After a big home win and having College Gameday on campus, the Horned Frogs might have to deal with a bit of a letdown for an 11 AM CT kickoff in the Little Apple. The Wildcats have not lost at home this season and this situation is ripe for a Bill Snyder upset.

Duke vs. Florida State (-7)

After winning its first four games of the season, Duke has lost two straight including a loss at rebuilding UVA last week. The Seminoles are reeling, but all three of their losses have come against top-20 teams and despite the loss to Miami last week, James Blackman put forth his best game of the season. FSU’s athletes will be too much for the Blue Devils on both sides of the ball as the ‘Noles win big.

LSU (+7) vs. #10 Auburn – O/U: 43.5 – UNDER

Auburn seems to be the dark horse in the Playoff conversation despite not having an impressive resume to date. Auburn’s best win to date was at home vs. Mississippi State, but the last time the Tigers played in a raucous atmosphere against a stout defense, they were shut down by Clemson in a 14-6 defeat.

LSU’s win over Florida last week took some of the heat off of Coach O, but a win vs. a top-10 team would really put him back in the good graces of the LSU faithful. Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham has improved over the last few games, but this LSU defense will be the biggest test since Clemson. Expect a tight defensive slug fest in Baton Rouge.

Texas (+9) vs. Oklahoma

Despite Texas having some down years, the Longhorns always save their best for the Sooners. Perhaps no unit in the country has made more strides from week one than the Texas defense. Todd Orlando has the Longhorns attacking and although a pair of overtime games skew the defensive numbers, UT has allowed just 12.7 ppg. since their opening week loss to Maryland.

Oklahoma, and especially their defense, has to find a way to bounce back from their shocking defeat to Iowa State last week. Expect Baker Mayfield and the Sooner offense to hum along per usual, but the game will be one with the OU defense vs. UT offense matchup. The Sooners have given up 38 points to Iowa State and 41 to Baylor in their only Big XII games to date. The combined records of those two teams? 3-7. If Texas QB Sam Ehlinger puts forth another good game, the Longhorns have all of the tools to upset Oklahoma.

#11 Miami vs. Georgia Tech (+6.5)

Not much could be worse than coming off the biggest win for the program in the last 10 years only to come home and prepare for the triple option- that’s exactly the task Miami faces. The Yellow Jackets are a two-point conversion vs. Tennessee from being undefeated and have manhandled the competition (it’s pretty surprising that they aren’t ranked) in their three wins as GT has an average margin of victory of 23.6.

The key to disrupting a triple option is having a disruptive front four and the Hurricanes possess that. The key, however, is if they can maintain their patience and assignments defensively. Georgia Tech can paper cut an opponent to death and if the ‘Canes come into this game with any hangover from last week’s win, the Yellow Jackets will jump all over them. The “U” is always back until they aren’t.

Memphis (-3.5)
vs. #25 Navy – O/U: 71 – OVER

Speaking of the triple option, Navy takes on their biggest test of the season as the Midshipman travel south to take on AAC foe Memphis. Navy escaped with a 48-45 win over Air Force last week and will be tested by the Memphis athletes. The Tigers are 4-1 and will have a size and speed advantage over Navy, but the key, as always, will be how they defend the option.

The Mids have defeated Memphis in both meetings since Navy joined the AAC, but this year will be different. Memphis has a propensity of getting into shootouts and even if the Tigers are unable to thwart the Navy offense, the Navy defense may not be able to keep the Memphis offense at bay. Quarterback Riley Ferguson, just as he was in their early season upset vs. UCLA, will be the difference.

#1 Alabama (-31.5) vs. Arkansas

Did you hear Nick Saban after the Tide’s win at Texas A&M last week? He was not pleased that ‘Bama won by just eight. I’m sure he took that frustration out on his players this week and the Hogs will bear the ramifications. An angry Alabama team is a scary Alabama team and with Arkansas in the midst of a disastrous season, things will get ugly in a hurry in Tuscaloosa.

Nebraska (+24.5) vs. #9 Ohio State

Ohio State is in the midst of their annual fall ritual – lose to a big name team early, disappear for a few weeks and play cupcakes, and then reemerge as the media shamelessly sings your praises as if everyone forgot how bad they looked in their one legitimate game.

Nebraska is putrid, but they can’t lose back-to-back home night games by 20+ points can they? If they do Mike Riley might as well start packing his bags. I hear there’s an opening in Corvallis – can you go back home for a third time?

#19 San Diego State (-6.5) vs. Boise State

This ain’t your father’s, eh, maybe older brother’s Boise State team. The Broncos have struggled on offense this season and highly-touted quarterback Brett Rypien’s inconsistent play has been the main factor. San Diego State on the other hand, continues to roll and look like the best team out of the Group of Five.

Arizona State (-18.5) vs. #5 Washington

Granted they have had a soft schedule thus far, but Washington has looked as good as any team in the country. The Huskies travel to Tempe for their third road game of the season. There first two resulted in convincing final scores, but they were not easy games. In road games against inferior opponents Rutgers and Colorado, UW struggled for much of those games before breaking it open late.

For the Sun Devils, this game is their season – ASU is coming off a bye with a coach firmly on the hot seat. If the Sun Devils were to fall to 2-4 on the season, Todd Graham’s days in the Valley of the Sun would be numbered. All three of ASU’s losses were in competitive games to teams that are currently ranked. Arizona State has already pulled one home upset this season (vs. Oregon) and expect for the Sun Devils to play like a desperate team and give Washington a scare.


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