We were spoiled last week with six ranked matchups in seemingly the best college football slate in quite some time. Back to the grind we go, although Chip Kelly’s return to Eugene in a battle of top-10 schools does offer plenty of intrigue.
No. 9 UCLA enters this showdown with No. 10 Oregon (-6) undefeated, despite being an underdog in back-to-back games. Normally, I’d question how much a team has left in the tank facing its third straight ranked opponent, but the Bruins are coming off a bye. I have more concern that those previous tests (Washington and Utah) occurred at home, while this is UCLA’s first road game of the entire season. Autzen Stadium will be electric.
Sharp money on Oregon early in the week moved this line up a half-point. My main wager is on the over 70.5. It’s a huge number, but there are a lot of reasons for that. First off, both defenses are fairly average, ranking 50th or worse in defensive efficiency. The Ducks have faced three respectable offenses. Georgia and Washington State lit them up, and the BYU performance is a bit misleading. The Cougars were forced to go for it on fourth down a few times but all in all, it was a solid showing by Oregon’s defense.
Meanwhile, these offenses are elite. Each rank in the top 15 in efficiency, points per game and yards per game. On top of that, if you dive deeper, Oregon’s numbers could be even more staggering, if not for the nature of blowouts. In four of their six games, Oregon took it easy in the fourth quarter by resting starters, including quarterback Bo Nix. In a game that’s expected to be competitive, all indications would be that Oregon’s offense can score a ton through four full quarters.
UCLA’s wins over Washington and Utah each featured at least 72 points. The Bruins have demonstrated an ability to score at a high rate against a quality opponent, and that is likely needed on Saturday. Dorian Thompson-Robinson has steadily improved each season and this year he has 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Avoiding turnovers is how to cash this high of an over because both offenses will inevitably have plenty of chunk plays with tempo.
Boston College Eagles at No. 13 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (-20.5)
The Demon Deacons are quietly having a strong season and remain alive for an ACC title. They only have one loss, and that was a six-point defeat to Clemson. This year started off with uncertainty, but star quarterback Sam Hartman joined the team and the offense is still potent. It ranks 20th in offensive efficiency and ninth in yards per pass attempt. Wake should be able to carve up a Boston College defense that has deteriorated over the years, ranking 104th this season in efficiency. The Eagles should give up a ton of points and not be able to match Wake’s scoring, due to BC’s 104th ranking in offensive efficiency. BC has played two road games and got blown out in both. This should be a third.
Pick: Wake Forest -20.5
It’s not often you seen an unranked team favored over an undefeated top-10 school, particularly an SEC one, but here we are. And honestly, it makes sense. The Tigers got undressed by Tennessee a couple weeks ago but we now can appreciate the Vols even more. LSU is a solid football team and will be ready to rock at Death Valley. On top of that, Ole Miss really only has one impressive win (Kentucky at home) and this team feels ripe for a loss. The Tigers have plenty of talent in the secondary to handle Lane Kiffin’s aerial attack and let’s hope QB Jayden Daniels can duplicate last week’s impressive performance.
Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors at Colorado State Rams (-5)
There is not much positive to say about either team. They have combined for three wins, and this game should be a tough watch. However, we don’t have to watch it; we just need a winner, and I think we have one with the under. Colorado State is the only FBS team to go under in every game this season. Offensively, the Rams rank dead last in efficiency out of 131 schools. Meanwhile, Hawai’i has been unable to uncover quality quarterback play. My only concern is Hawai’i’s inability to stop the run, and the Rams will likely try to dominate this game on the ground. My hope is the Rainbow Warriors are able to make some tackles and keep this game relatively low scoring.
Pick: Under 46.5
Colorado at Oregon State (-23.5, 48.5)
The Buffs are riding high after scoring their first win this season against Stanford. But let’s not start pretending they have resolved their offensive woes. They rank 125th in efficiency and while Oregon State sits 40th, they are averaging just under 23 points the last three games since backup QB Ben Gulbranson took over. The Beavers want to lean on their defense and grind out a win. In terms of seconds between plays, they have the eighth-slowest rate in FBS. This combination is a recipe for an under.
Pick: under 48.5