NCAA Football Week 9 Picks: The Tailgater Breakdown

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Last week turned out rough for the crew, with nobody finishing with a winning record. As it was, the chaos that swept through college football also wreaked havoc on our records picking against the spread.

After the improvement of last week, we all feel back to Earth once again. When it all balanced out, here’s how each of us fared picking Week 8 games against the spread:

  • Zach Bigalke: 5-5
  • Matt Strobl: 5-5
  • John Mitchell: 4-6

Matt and i remain gridlocked at the top of our standings. As we get into November and the heart of the regular season, the title of top Tailgater is still anybody’s to snatch. After more chaos shuffled the top 25 again in Week 8, will there be more upsets this weekend? Let’s fire up the grill, crack open a cold one, and get down to business before games start tomorrow. So who do we like this week?


Boise State Broncos at BYU Cougars (-7)

byu_helmetMitchell: Boise State is improving, but their body of work to this point isn’t all that impressive. Their best win is a road one over Utah State, which would be impressive if Chuckie Keeton had been under center for the Aggies. BYU has had a Jekyll and Hyde season to this point, and you never know which Cougars team is going to show up. Seven points is a little high, but BYU has been unstoppable at home this season, winning every game by at least 18 points. I don’t think the margin will be that wide against Boise State, but I do figure they cover the touchdown spread. PICK: BYU

Strobl: Even now, more than halfway through the season, I have no idea what to make of BYU.  This team is confounding, playing great one week and barely surviving the next.  At Reliant Stadium against Houston, BYU won the battle of Cougars by one point, and we all know that even this 2013 edition of Boise State, a shadow of its former self, can be a threat.  The Cougars giving seven makes this a tricky pick.  My suspicion is that BYU will win behind the talented Taysom Hill and I think we’re unlikely to see a repeat of last year’s 7-6 Boise State win.  The Cougars have averaged better than 38 points per game over the past four, and I’m not convinced Boise can post such numbers. PICK: BYU

Bigalke: Joe Southwick is gone, likely for the year, after breaking his ankle early in last week’s win over Nevada. That leaves the Broncos’ quarterbacking situation up to Grant Hedrick, a run-first type of player that plays a little like the guy on the opposite sideline. Taysom Hill has spent the season being lauded for his 259-yard rushing effort against Texas, but he also proved last week that he can look like a LaVell Edwards quarterback as well by putting up over 400 through the air. With the game in Provo, Chris Petersen’s team reeling, and Hill looking better by the week, I’m going to have to side with the home team. PICK: BYU


Texas Tech Red Raiders at Oklahoma Sooners (-6.5)

Mitchell: This is a tough pick. Texas Tech is a bit overrated, and they have benefited more from the chaos around them to jump into the Top 10 than by anything else. Credit to Kingsbury’s crew for being undefeated, but the real season starts this week against the Sooners after they feasted on cupcakes and some cellar dwellers from the Big 12. Oklahoma, on the other hand, is nowhere near as good as recent Stoops teams as we have seen the last two weeks. After getting thumped by Texas in the Red River Rivalry, the Sooners struggled to beat lowly Kansas last week. Much like Boise/BYU, homefield plays the biggest role here. It’s always a huge challenge to knock off the Sooners in Norman, and I don’t see Baker Mayfield or Davis Webb being able to pull off that feat as freshmen. This is where the Red Raiders suffer their first loss. PICK: Oklahoma

Strobl: With the way Oklahoma has played, it’s easy to understand why the underdog Red Raiders are being picked by 60 percent of the bettors according to Yahoo’s distribution.  This is a popular upset selection; Tech is undefeated and, aside from a close call against Iowa State, has looked like the far superior team in each of its matchups.  Oklahoma bumbled to ugly wins over West Virginia and TCU earlier this year and was torched by Texas in the Red River Shootout; why would OU be giving nearly a touchdown, even in Norman?  I can’t believe I’m doing this when I promised myself I was done with Big Game Bob and Boomer Sooner, but… PICK: Oklahoma

Bigalke: Yeah, Matt, I certainly can’t bring myself to do that. Texas Tech brings a top-30 defense to Norman this weekend to try to stop what has been a largely disappointing Sooner offense this year. The prolific Red Raider passing attack will be challenged by an Oklahoma defense that gives up the least amount of aerial yardage in the country to this point in the season. Here’s guessing a couple of freshman can handle the atmosphere south of Oklahoma City and dish another upset to Big Game Bob. PICK: Texas Tech


South Carolina Gamecocks at Missouri Tigers (-3)

Missouri_helmetMitchell: I got burned last week when I picked against Missouri in their matchup with Florida. I didn’t think Maty Mauk would fair well against the vaunted Gators defense, and I was wrong. He performed admirably, and the Tigers took a stranglehold lead in the SEC East. They could essentially clinch a spot in Atlanta with a win over South Carolina at home. This spread feels a little bit low, with Missouri only getting the requesite three points for being the home team, even with the status of South Carolina’s Connor Shaw in doubt for the game. Dylan Thompson has proven to be a steady replacement, but he is a bit of a step down. For the purpose of an interesting Eastern Division race, I’m going to take South Carolina. The Gamecocks are desperate after last week’s loss to Tennessee, and know they have to win to keep their hopes alive of making it to Atlanta for the first time since 2010. PICK: South Carolina

Strobl: South Carolina is really struggling, coming off of a surprising loss in Knoxville.  The defense is having difficulties and Connor Shaw is expected to sit after tweaking his knee last week.  Backup QB Dylan Thompson isn’t such a downgrade, but this is the third straight road game for a beleaguered SC team.  Missouri, meanwhile, is on a roll.  Henry Josey’s injury scare is just that — a scare.  The tailback looked to be hurt in the lopsided win over Florida, but all signs point to him being good to go this Saturday.  I expect South Carolina to rebound at some point, but with the Tigers giving only three points, I can’t go against them. PICK: Missouri

Bigalke: Maty Mauk answered a few questions last weekend against what we thought was one of the strongest defenses in the country. He’ll get another tough test this weekend, but he’s also playing with house money after putting the Tigers up two games over everyone else in the SEC East standings. South Carolina needs a win or they’re effectively eliminated from the conference race. Missouri’s stout defense and skilled offense aren’t going to allow that to happen. PICK: Missouri


Duke Blue Devils at Virginia Tech Hokies (-13.5)

Duke_helmetMitchell: Will Duke’s offense be able to put up points against the stingy Virginia Tech defense? That’s the question of the game, and it will likely decide it. We all know how much Logan Thomas and the Hokies struggle to move the ball offensively, regardless of opponent, so we can make an educated guess that they will score around 20-24 points at best. I trust Duke’s offense, which is averaging nearly 36 points per game this season, to put up a couple of touchdowns in this one to cover the spread. I don’t think they’ll be able to pull the upset in Blacksburg, but the Blue Devils will keep this one closer than you might think. PICK: Duke

Strobl: This is the toughest selection of the week for me.  Duke has been playing extremely well, with three consecutive wins including a comeback smackdown at Virginia.  Granted, there’s a considerable difference between the Cavs and the Hokies, but is a nearly two touchdown spread really warranted here?  Over its past five games, Virginia Tech has won by an average of eight points, and never by more than 10.  Is Duke hampered by its reputation as an ACC doormat, or do oddsmakers legitimately believe that the Hokies will bust out this week?  My first reaction was Hokies by 10.  Then doubt started to creep in because VT is certainly the better team, and has a stingy defense.  But the Blue Devils stood up for me as my Upset of the Week Pick last week, so I’ll return the favor here. PICK: Duke

Bigalke: Hmmmm… this certainly is a line that makes you wonder what’s up Vegas’s sleeves. Duke has a competent offense, something we can’t necessarily say about Logan Thomas and the Hokies. Then again, the Blue Devils have a marginal defense, while VT fields an otherworldly unit when they don’t have the ball. The real question is why the Gobblers are playing the Bluebloods in the sunshine… Tech hasn’t played a night game yet in Blacksburg, which has significantly thinned the home-field advantage of Lane Stadium. That’s got to be worth at least three points Duke’s direction. So I concur, this should be around ten rather than two touchdowns; but, then again, don’t be surprised if the Devils win outright. PICK: Duke


UCLA Bruins at Oregon Ducks (-23)

oregon_helmetMitchell: This is a huge spread, and shows how much respect Vegas has for the Ducks. Marcus Mariota is putting together an unbelievable season and Oregon is bludgeoning everything in sight so far. Brett Hundley and UCLA had done much of the same, until they ran into the Stanford buzz saw last week as the Cardinal defense suffocated the Bruins in a 24-10 win. UCLA’s offense should get back on track a bit this week, but it likely won’t matter, because they aren’t stopping the Ducks, who look to be on a mission to get to Pasadena for the BCS title game. PICK: Oregon

Strobl: As I’ve said numerous times this year, I’m done picking against Alabama and Oregon until either proves to me that it can’t handle itself.  The betting public seems genuinely torn on this matchup; the distribution is a nearly perfect 50/50 split between the two teams.  And for the Bruins, this is essentially a must-win game after they lost to Stanford.  Obviously that’s a terrible position to be in.  I don’t see how UCLA is going to keep things close on the road, much less pull the stunner. PICK: Oregon

Bigalke: What can the Ducks not do well? (Well, other than being magnanimous in victory and allowing the opposition a moment to celebrate an obscure though relevant record?) Don’t let the final score of that Washington State game fool you… Oregon is going to be ready for UCLA this weekend. Brett Hundley and the Bruins don’t rate quite as well offensively either in the air or on the ground, while Anthony Barr and the UCLA defense are good but not statistically as stout as the Ducks. Add the fact that this game is in Autzen, and a 24-point victory suddenly sounds quite manageable. PICK: Oregon



NEXT PAGE: The Last Picks & Upsets of the Week

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