It has been a rough couple of weeks for The Six Pack. We followed up a 1-5 performance in Week 6 with a 2-4 performance last week. While one of our wins was LSU's upset over Florida, which helped offset some of the losses, we've still dug ourselves quite a hole on the season -- a hole I'm ready to start digging out of.
I just want to say one thing to the readers and everybody in Six Pack Nation: I'm sorry. Extremely sorry. I was hoping for an undefeated season. That was my goal. It's something The Six Pack has never done here. But I promise you one thing: a lot of good will come out of this.
You have never seen any writer in the country pick games as hard as I will pick games the rest of this season, and you'll never see someone push these teams as hard as I will push them the rest of this season. You'll never see a picks column pick harder than this picks column will the rest of the season. Trust the Process.
All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
Games of the Week
No. 9 UCLA at No. 10 Oregon: Raise your hand if you looked at the schedule over the summer and pointed to this game as a top-10 matchup. The Ducks have rebounded well from their opening-week annihilation at the hands of Georgia, and UCLA has been one of the biggest surprises of the season. Now, both meet in Eugene in a game that could easily decide one of the two available spots in the Pac-12 Championship Game (it could also be a rematch).
My heart and mind tell me we're going to see a lot of points scored in this game. Oregon and UCLA both do an excellent job offensively on first and second down, which puts them in a great position on third, and sometimes, fourth down. It's no surprise, then, that they have two of the best offenses on third and fourth down. But guess what? Defensively, they're both bad on third and fourth downs! Oregon's defense has been porous in general, particularly against the pass, but neither one of these teams does a good job of getting off the field. So, we have two offenses that are excellent at moving the chains against two defenses that can't get off the field. Does that sound like the kind of combination that leads to stops? Oregon 41, UCLA 37 | Over 69.5
No. 17 Kansas State at No. 8 TCU: The letdown has to come at some point, right? I keep waiting for it with TCU. I expected it last week, and for a while it looked as if I might be right. The Horned Frogs fell behind 24-7 against Oklahoma State before battling back and winning 43-40 in overtime. The Horned Frogs have now beaten rival SMU, throttled Oklahoma by 31, outlasted Kansas and knocked off a top-10 team in Oklahoma State, all in four consecutive weeks.
Either TCU is a much better team than any of us anticipated -- it very well might be, but it had a preseason win total of 6.5 -- or things will begin to even out soon. At the risk of being labeled a hater, the latter is the more likely scenario, particularly with a defense that has shown to be porous. Furthermore, there are extremely high winds expected for this game, which will have a more significant impact on TCU's offense than Kansas State's. The Kansas State offense will also provide a unique challenge for this Horned Frogs defense. The Wildcats can use their rushing attack to keep the TCU offense off the field and the game close, so I'm taking the points. TCU 28, Kansas State 27 | Kansas State +3.5
Lock of the Week
Purdue at Wisconsin: Yeah, this line is disrespectful to Purdue, and according to most Purdue fans, I hate the Boilermakers. So if I think they're being disrespected, imagine how they feel. One of the great ironies about Wisconsin's subpar season is that defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard was handed the keys to the program during the season his defense has failed to meet its usual standard. The Badgers have been abused on first and second downs, and a pass rush that was once fierce is pretty tame (they are 41st in pressure rate). That's not a great combination against one of the few Big Ten teams that's happy to drop back and test you vertically in the passing game.
Purdue should find success in the passing game and put Wisconsin in the uncomfortable position of having to score points and keep up. While the Badgers are still effective on the ground with Braelon Allen, the Purdue defense has been much better against the run than the pass. The Boilermakers can put Wisconsin in third-and-long situations, which will not work in the Badgers' favor. Purdue wins this one more often than not, but I'll happily play it a little safer with the points, too. Purdue 27, Wisconsin 24 | Purdue +2.5
Under of the Week
Louisiana-Monroe at Army: These are two of the most deliberate offenses in the country. Army ranks as the 121st "quickest" offense in the country and ULM is 118th, according to my pace metric. As if moving slowly isn't enough, both teams run the ball often. Army ranks second nationally with a rush rate of 82.6%, but while ULM only ranks 44th at 54.3%, it runs the ball 60.1% of the time on first down, giving you an idea of what it likes to do in an ideal situation.
While this game won't be the same thing as our beloved Service Academy Unders, it will likely play out in a similar fashion. I was genuinely surprised to see the total listed as high as it is, because my numbers say the total should be closer to 48. Army 27, ULM 21 | Under 55.5
Birds of the Week
Georgia Southern at Old Dominion: Georgia Southern is good. When the Eagles beat Nebraska earlier this season and put the final dagger into Scott Frost's tenure, it was viewed as a huge upset. As the season has gone on, however, the Eagles have shown it wasn't as crazy of a result as you'd think. They hung tough in losses on the road at UAB, Coastal Carolina and Georgia State, and last week they beat an undefeated James Madison team that had cracked the AP Top 25.
Of course, Old Dominion is coming off a pretty big upset of its own, crushing Coastal 49-21 in one of the more surprising results of the season. Coastal had no answer for Monarchs running back Blake Watson, but that performance was an outlier. Before last week, Old Dominion's offense had not had a success rate higher than 36.5% in any game, nor did it average more than 1.71 points per drive in a game. Against Coastal, it had a success rate of 67.3% and averaged 5.44 points per possession. While Georgia Southern has problems defensively, it's improved a little every week and has just been the more consistent team all season long. I'm betting on consistency. Georgia Southern 34, Old Dominion 31 | Georgia Southern +2.5
Upset of the Week
Boise State at Air Force: Simply put, Boise State is a different team with Taylen Green at QB than it was with Hank Bachmeier. (Elevating Dirk Koetter to offensive coordinator has helped, too.) I said the same thing about Utah State when it made the switch from Logan Bonner to Cooper Legas at QB, and then the Aggies went out and beat Air Force 34-27. With Bachmeier at QB, Boise's offense had a success rate of 37.5% and averaged 1.59 points per possession. With Green, those numbers have improved to 39.2% and 2.88. The team's EPA (expected points added) per snap on offense has jumped from -0.13 to 0.09.
It's a much better team now, and the numbers haven't caught on yet. While Green can be hit-or-miss as a passer, he's been terrific as a rusher and gives Boise an attack that's much harder to stop. That's a problem considering Legas rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons ... and Green is a more explosive runner. Finally, while Boise's offense was a problem early in the season, it's defense has never been a problem. The Broncos have one of the best run defenses in the country and are better equipped than most to slow down the Air Force offense. Boise State 31, Air Force 17 | Boise State (+140)
Games of the Week
Lock of the Week
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 8, and which top-20 favorite will go down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,000 in profit over the past six-plus seasons -- and find out.