Ari Wasserman, David Oppen and Scott Dochterman preview the biggest games of Week 7 of the college football season on the podcast through Saturday. The trio discussed the biggest matchups of the week and made picks versus the spread Oregon State at Washington, USC at Notre Dame, Miami at North Carolina State and more.
Below is an edited and condensed version of their discussion of several Week 7 games. The full episode includes discussion of Ohio State (-19.5) at Purdue, USC at Oregon (-3.5), Wyoming at Air Force (-10.5), Iowa at Wisconsin (-10), and Texas A&M at Tennessee (-3.5). ) and more.
You can listen to the full episode here.
Oregon at Washington (-3)
open: I’ve been looking at some numbers this week and they confirm a lot of what I’ve seen just watching these two teams. And this is a more complete Oregon team. I know Washington is a lot of fun to watch. I have a lot of respect for Washington, but this is a team that doesn’t really try to run the ball, and doesn’t particularly care about running the ball.
When you don’t run the ball or have any desire to run the ball, these are the games that kind of catch up with you. This Oregon team now ranks third nationally in defensive yards per game. You can talk about the timeline all you want, but at the end of the day, this is really impressive. They are No. 1 nationally in yards per carry. Oh, and they have a Heisman candidate at quarterback in Bo Nix.
I think Oregon absolutely wins this game. But Ari, we’ll get right to it from the top, the lock of the week for me is the bottom in this game. Under 67.5.
Wasserman: What?! This is my lock of the week. Are you serious?
open: Yes. Such games are rarely track meetings, and both teams have better defenses than people realize. And I checked, and I think more than 90 percent of the money is gone and that line hasn’t moved.
Wasserman: I didn’t even see you did that. We’re not usually like this. There are so many things you can choose. The fact that we are both is kind of scary. I don’t want people to be on that.
Dochterman: I think Oregon’s defense is built on stopping a lot of offense coming from Washington, and they’re going to turn it one dimensional. This is where Michael Penix will have to show that he is better than he has been in the past in these types of situations against this type of opponent. I think the Ducks are a better team. And now the game is in Washington. The Huskies will be excited about that, but I think they can be taken down very quickly by what will be a very effective Oregon State offense.
Wasserman: I look at this very simply. Part of the reason I’m at the bottom is because Oregon’s defense is underappreciated nationally. He ranks fifth in the country in total defense in yards per game. And if you look at Washington’s defense, they’re somewhere in the 60s.
I see two very good teams that are likely to play a very close game and what does that usually lead to? Which team gets more stops?
I just think Oregon, like you said Dave, and I hate to have to agree with you, it’s weird to have to agree with you so early in the show, but I think Oregon is going to win this game outright and probably comfortably.
USC at Notre Dame (-2.5)
Dochterman: I love USC. USC’s defense is a big problem. We know that and it will keep them from winning a national title and possibly a Pac-12 title. But I’m not sure I can accept Notre Dame’s offense. It will probably get Notre Dame scoring more often, but they won’t be able to keep up with what USC can do offensively. They may have come into the game late, but I think Caleb Williams is built for this type of game. I think it will expand the stadium even though it’s in South Bend. You may experience some severe weather. But I think this is the game where Caleb Williams will once again put himself at the forefront of Heisman Trophy conversations.
open: I think this is part of a continuation of last week. I didn’t like what I saw from Notre Dame and I didn’t like what I saw from their offensive line mostly in the run game. I think two things. Notre Dame doesn’t have the skill position talent to take advantage of USC in the secondary where they were truly the weakest. The USC front is fine. They’re not great. They’ve got good bodies up front. They handle a little better. The secondary thing is that the issues we’ve seen are a little bit more from them and Notre Dame won’t be able to exploit that.
And again, I think Notre Dame is a tired team and I don’t know that that’s going to change when you get into a game like they did last week. For better or worse, I don’t think anyone would make a bid for this team. But that was still a physical ball game and a stress ball game.
USC, it feels like in many ways their season is starting to build on that start and that point and maybe they’re a little fresher. Whether we want to call Arizona State exploiting USC’s shortcomings, forward outlook, or something else, I’m just a bad matchup for Notre Dame in a bad place. I think USC wins this outright as well.
Wasserman: I think we have to admit that Arizona may have one of the best receiving duos in the country.
open: We hit that last week. Titiroa McMillan is a football player. Jacob Koenig has been doing just that.
Notre Dame doesn’t have a good receiver and I would say the pass catcher is as good as the two that Arizona had and they took advantage of that. So this is a bad game for Notre Dame. I think the bear is still coming for USC, but it’s not this week. They get the win and get to 7-0.
Wasserman: Yes, I’m with you guys on this one. This podcast has been bad so far with all the convention.
open: When we all agree, I get really nervous.
Wasserman: Maybe we will all be wrong, but there is no confrontation. Entertainment is confrontation.
I think it’s very easy to pile on USC when things aren’t going well. Has anyone stopped to notice that things are actually getting worse for Notre Dame?
I understand the game is on the road, but the only thing that would scare me about this game is if Notre Dame uses Audric Estime, it limits USC possessions and overruns USC’s defense. Kind of how Utah got to them last year. However, USC scored a lot of points in those games. I really don’t think Notre Dame has enough offense at the skill position players. Listen, they have a great offensive line. I think they’ll be able to run the ball. Joe Alt is one of the best, if not the best, offensive lineman in the country. They don’t have enough offensively for me to be like, okay, here’s a game where USC gives up 58 points. I don’t see that. And I don’t know if Notre Dame can keep up with how much Caleb Williams is going to score on this team.
The excess here is 60.5. Do we really think Notre Dame scored 38 points in this game? Me, no. So I’m going to study USC. Like Dave just said, the bear is coming. I think the bear will come more than once. I don’t think he’s here. I think this will happen even in their favorite game.
Miami and North Carolina (-3.5)
Wasserman: This should be a match between two undefeated teams. Unfortunately, the Miami players did everything they could to win a football game last week and their coaches robbed them of that opportunity, so it’s 4-1.
open: This is difficult because we don’t know how Miami will respond. I’m very curious after a game like this and an event like this, it kind of transcends the sport, you kind of live in it. You’re clearly very disappointed in your coaches and there’s no amount of accountability they can take when it’s obvious what happened there. So the response would be really interesting to me. But I will say when you talk about Vegas and you have one team that looks as good as North Carolina looked last week and as bad as Miami looked last week, I think the public overreacts to that. In general, Vegas lines can reflect this. I want to look at the whole picture and when I look at the whole picture, I think Miami can win this ballgame and the margin is too big. I think Miami absolutely wins this one.
Dochterman: Give me the Tar Heels on this one and the reason is I want to see what the mentality is in Miami. I would say it’s been fairly fleeting with all the gate guys they’ve had in the last few years. When you see what your coaching staff did, and the foul play they made at the end of the game, can Mario Cristobal walk into the locker room every day and say: ‘I’ve got your back.’ We’re all in this together.’ I don’t know. I really don’t.
North Carolina played very well last week and I could see the number right here at -3.5 and I get the number. I don’t like the hook much, but I love the Tar Heels. I love Drake May and I’m not sure Miami can mentally come back and face that adversity, knowing what happened last week.
Wasserman: I think the Tar Heels will win this game by more than 3.5. I think I would be an emotional wreck if I was on the Miami team.
I don’t know how Miami can be okay mentally. No no. After that, it’s like I won’t even try. It’s as if your coach betrayed you.
(Photo by Michael Penix Jr. and Roma Udonze: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)
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