Ari Wasserman and David Ubben previewed the biggest games of college football rivalry week on the Until Saturday podcast. The duo made picks against the spread for Ohio State at Michigan, Alabama at Auburn, Oregon State at Oregon and more.
Below is an edited, abridged version of their discussion on several Week 12 games. The full episode includes discussion on Texas Tech at Texas (-12.5), Florida State (-6.5) at Florida, Arizona (-11.5) at Arizona State, Washington State at Washington (-16.5), USTA at Tulane (-3) and Texas A&M at LSU (-10.5).
You can listen to the full episode here.
Ubben: Ultimately, Oregon is just a really good team and I think they win this game, but that’s a lot of points. It started the week at 14.5. It moved to 13.5. It’s interesting they crossed a key number that easily, but Oregon State is too good to get punked this hard. They can control the line of scrimmage. They won’t control it in this game, but they’ll be good enough to put some points on the board, slow Oregon down a little bit. I think the under (62.5) is an interesting play, but give me Oregon State and the points here.
Wasserman: Here’s the question for Oregon. Do they have an obvious and identifiable weakness on this football team?
Ubben: No. That’s why I like Oregon! They’re best asset is their vertical passing game and the fact that they have a quarterback (Bo Nix) that since he’s left Auburn you can count the number of bad decisions he’s made on one hand. You look around and they’re physical, they cover, they’re good on the line of scrimmage, they have good speed, Bucky Irving is fantastic, they can rush the passer, they can slow down the run game. It’s wild.
Wasserman: The fact that you didn’t say this person’s name is the perfect segue to the point I want to make. I think Troy Franklin is one of the most underrated players in the entire sport. I don’t think people talk about him.
Ubben: I’m not a hater.
Wasserman: It sounds like it. The guy’s awesome.
Ubben: He’s very good. He’s very fast, but when I watch him play, for me, it looks like he got schemed open. It’s not like you’re Mossing people left and right or you’re this incredible route runner.
Great season, great player, but I don’t know that he’s on the same level as like (Rome) Odunze and (Marvin) Harrison and (Malik) Nabers. These guys that are just like ‘Oh my gosh.’
Wasserman: Where you can’t do anything to stop them?
Ubben: Yeah, basically.
Wasserman: That’s interesting. I never stopped to think about it that way, but I’m going to watch it closer now and try to dunk on you in a future show.
Ubben: I’ve watched a lot of Oregon this year.
Wasserman: I think Oregon is going to kick the crap out of Oregon State. I think people are falling into the trap of last year’s game. I think that Oregon has an answer that everything Oregon State can do. I think Oregon is better than Washington.
I think Oregon is going to win the Pac-12 and go to the Playoff so I think they’re going to cover this number and I might venture to say they might cover the original number, which would be by three scores instead of the two here. I’m a big Oregon Duck Kool-Aid drinker.
Alabama (-14.5) at Auburn
Ubben: This is going to be nervy. I think the biggest pratfall, Ari, in lines and all this stuff is the overreaction. Everyone thinks oh Auburn, they lost to New Mexico State, which is a good team it should be noted, last week.
Wasserman: Don’t make excuses.
Ubben: This is also the same Auburn team that beat an Arkansas team in Fayetteville 48-10 two weeks ago. Auburn is ok. They’re not very good, but they’re not that bad and this is a huge game. This is way too many points. Auburn pushes them. I think Alabama gets the job done here, but on the road at Auburn, I think people are just dismissing Auburn because of last week and laughing in their faces. Don’t get me wrong, that was very embarrassing, but I think you’re going to get a very motivated Auburn team and a team that is more competent than people think they are.
Wasserman: Are we sure that Alabama’s warts are 100 percent healed and gone?
Ubben: No, I’m not.
Wasserman: Because sometimes if they do have warts that we have forgotten about while they played awesome in other games, they tend to kind of rear their ugly heads in rivalry situations where you’re on the road.
I don’t think I would ever bet this in real life because it would just be a miserable experience, but if I have to pick it on the show I think I’m taking the points here.
Ohio State at Michigan (-3.5)
Wasserman: I think you can make the case that this is peak college football in its purest form.
Ubben: It’s got everything. Two legitimately great teams. The hilarity of the Connor Stalions sideshow. The actual malice and issue of the cheating that happened. Michigan trying to validate itself in that ‘Hey, we didn’t thrive the last two years because we cheated.’ Ohio State trying to get the cheaters out of the Playoff discussion and then also beat a rival. Also, Jim Harbaugh is not there to witness it.
It really is the levels upon levels upon levels upon levels of this game. I cannot wait to watch this game.
Wasserman: I find myself having the hardest time I’ve ever had picking a game because there are a lot of things in this game that I believe to be unquantifiable. I have no idea what the last two years meant. I have no idea whether Ohio State coach Ryan Day has a John Cooper Michigan program or if it was a result of having an unfair disadvantage. I don’t know how great J.J. McCarthy is going to be in a moment where he might need to be. I don’t know if Kyle McCord is ready for this. I don’t know how much of an impact Jim Harbaugh not being there is. I don’t know how much to read into the Maryland game.
I have no clue. I know on podcasts we’re supposed to give our best pick and we’re supposed to be the experts. I don’t know if it’s bad podcasting. I literally don’t know what’s going to happen.
Ubben: I do. My lock of the week is Ohio State-Michigan under 45.5.
Wasserman: We’re talking about who’s going to win, but that’s a funny segue.
Ubben: Who’s going to win? I’m with you, Ari. I don’t know. I really don’t know. I think this will be a close game.
Most of the first two months of the season I was pretty certain we were on the railroad tracks to another Ohio State beatdown and then I’ve watched the last month. Ohio State has looked pretty good. Michigan has looked shaky and weighed down by all of this. Does that go away when you can just play between the lines? How much does it matter that your head coach is not there although he is prepping you for the week? What does Sherrone Moore’s decision-making look like in a game like this? Can you just coach football or are you thinking about how magnified every decision you make is?
But I know that I can’t wait to watch this game. You’re right, Ari, this is college football at its absolute best.
Wasserman: So who do you think is going to win?
Ubben: My head says Ohio State. My gut says Michigan with all that’s at stake here, at home, it’s going to be tough to win that game. I guess I’m going to take Ohio State with the points because it’s 3.5. I think I’d probably going Ohio State moneyline. The under is still my lock of the week. This is going to be a game with not a lot of points.
Wasserman: If I had to make a pick, I would pick Michigan because they’ve earned that. Until Ohio State wins again I’m not going to pick them because all the reasons why I would want to pick Ohio State this year are the same things that existed the last two years and weren’t good enough. Now they’re going on the road and they’re playing a highly-motivated team that’s trying to win the Big Ten and make to the Playoff for the third consecutive year.
I think Ohio State is more talented and probably is as good, if not a better football team with dynamic athletes that can break open a game like this, but I can’t in good faith pick them to win right now. I think if I had to take a side, I would probably take the points because having 3.5 is comforting in a game that you think is going to go under and is an I-don’t-know scenario. If I had to log a pick, I’m going to say Michigan wins. But that said, I don’t know. I’m not going to pretend that I do.
(Photo of Mike Sainristil: Greg Fiume / Getty Images)