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Non TCU Game of the Week: Week 8

There are top 25 matchups in 4 of the Power 5 conferences this Saturday.

Oregon v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Headliner:

#9 UCLA at #10 Oregon (-6.5) Saturday, October 22nd 2:30 pm Fox

Bo Nix and the Ducks host Dorian Thompson-Robinson and the Bruins for a big game between two top 10 Pac-12 teams. Former Oregon and current UCLA head coach Chip Kelly has the Bruins playing very well right now with back-to-back wins over ranked opponents in Washington and Utah. The Bruins are led by a very physical running game with senior running back Zach Charbonnet averaging over 7 yards per carry this season. Charbonnet has 615 yards and 6 touchdowns on 87 carries this season and ran all over the Utah defense last Saturday. He finished with 198 yards and a touchdown on 22 rushes good for a stunning 9 yards per carry. Charbonnet is a strong receiver out of the backfield as well with 11 receptions for 143 yards in 2022. Charbonnet is joined in the backfield by an excellent athlete at quarterback in Dorian Thompson-Robinson who is always a threat to run. Thompson-Robinson has 231 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground this season. He had a touchdown on the ground against Utah last week to go along with almost 300 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air. This is Thompson-Robinson’s 5th year at UCLA and it has been his best one so far as he has thrown for 1,510 yards and 15 touchdowns with just 2 interceptions through 6 games. The top target for Thompson-Robinson this season has been senior Jake Bobo. Bobo has excellent size standing at 6’5” and has been very effective this season with 385 yards and 5 touchdowns. Bobo has 2 touchdowns in each of the last two games including a huge game against Washington with 142 yards on 6 receptions in the upset win. The defense for UCLA has done a solid job forcing turnovers averaging two per game this season. They have forced and recovered 5 fumbles and have 7 interceptions as a team this season. The Bruins are led on defense by junior linebacker Laiatu Latu who has 6.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles this season. The quarterback Latu and the Bruins will be facing is former Auburn Tiger Bo Nix. After a tough start to the season against an excellent Georgia defense, Nix has bounced back nicely as he has 1,526 yards and 12 passing touchdowns with 3 interceptions. Nix has had the benefit of working behind a great offensive line this season as he has been sacked only once through six games. The offensive line has done a good job opening up holes in the running game for Nix who has over 300 yards and 8 touchdowns on the ground already this season. Running back Bucky Irving has taken advantage of the strong offensive line play as he has rushed for 429 yards and 2 touchdowns on 60 attempts this season. The ground game has been very good for the Ducks with the offensive line dominating the line of scrimmage and ball carriers taking advantage as the Ducks are averaging 6.2 yards per carry as a team. The Ducks have a solid receiving corps as well, led by sophomore Troy Franklin who has 429 yards and 3 touchdowns on 27 receptions. Tight end Terrance Ferguson has been very effective in the red zone with 4 touchdown catches and 153 yards on 16 catches. The Oregon defense is led by its linebackers with two extremely athletic players in Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell. The Ducks have done a solid job getting to the quarterback as well with 13 sacks as a team through 6 games. This is a matchup between arguably the two top rushing offenses in the Pac-12 and will be decided largely at the line of scrimmage. I think the Oregon linebackers slow down the UCLA rushing attack just enough for a close win at home.

My pick: Oregon wins (-250) UCLA covers (+6.5) Full game under (70.5)

The Undercard:

#14 Syracuse at #5 Clemson (-14) Saturday, October 22nd 11:00 am ABC

Syracuse travels to Clemson this Saturday for a matchup between unbeaten ACC teams. Clemson has looked dominant as of late, beating a very good Wake Forest team, an NC State team that was good with Devin Leary healthy, and a much improved Florida State team in the last 4 weeks. DJ Uiagalelei appears to have turned the corner and made a huge jump forward from last season as he has 1,665 yards and 17 touchdowns through the air this year. He has also been much more involved in the running game this year with 337 yards and 4 touchdowns on 81 attempts already surpassing his total yardage on the ground in 2021. Running back Will Shipley has been very effective on the ground this season as well with 567 yards and 8 touchdowns on 96 carries. Uiagalelei has done a good job spreading the ball around in the passing game with 3 receivers and a tight end all with over 200 yards receiving in 2022. Antonio Williams has been especially effective with 334 yards and two touchdowns on 24 catches this season. The Clemson offense is very effective and part of the Syracuse game plan will likely be to get the ball in the hands of Sean Tucker and control time of possession through the running game. Tucker is an excellent running back for the Orange and sees a huge workload every game. He has 644 yards and 6 touchdowns on 124 carries this season as well as 23 receptions for 198 yards and a touchdown. Tucker has 46 more carries than anyone else on the team this season and is second on the team in receptions, only 8 behind the leading receiver for the Orange. That leading receiver is sophomore Oronde Gadsden II who has 31 catches for 507 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2022. Gadsden has a significant height advantage on almost every cornerback he lines up against standing at 6’5” and had a huge game last week against NC State with 141 yards and 2 touchdowns on 8 catches. His quarterback, Garrett Shrader, has been very efficient in 2022 with a completion percentage of almost 70% through 6 games in 2022. Shrader has 1,434 yards and 12 touchdowns with just 3 interceptions. He will need to play an excellent game on Saturday for Syracuse to pull off the upset on the road this weekend.

My pick: Clemson wins (-600) Clemson covers (-14) Full game over (50)

Upset Alert:

#20 Texas (-6) at #11 Oklahoma State Saturday, October 22nd 2:30 pm ABC

The Cowboys host the Longhorns in a top 20 Big 12 matchup after suffering their first loss of the season last week in Fort Worth. Texas is coming off of a very close win at home against Iowa State where the Cyclones made a few crucial mistakes down the stretch to help out the Longhorns. Even with last week’s game being closer than it should have been, the Longhorns have looked very good with Quinn Ewers at quarterback. Steve Sarkisian has had the ability to get creative with his offense with Ewers at quarterback with the arm to make every throw Sarkisian could ask for. Ewers has a plethora of weapons at his disposal including star running back Bijan Robinson. Robinson is projected to get picked high in the 2023 NFL draft and rightfully so with 780 yards and 10 touchdowns on 138 carries this season already. Robinson is a broken tackle machine and has the speed to take any run the distance. He is also a great receiving threat with 16 receptions for 239 yards and a touchdown in 2022. His backup Roschon Johnson is a very capable runner as well with 294 yards and a touchdown on 56 rushes this season. Johnson is an excellent pass protector and receiver making him a very useful back on third downs. He has 12 catches for 123 yards this season and has a strong ability to make defenders miss in space as well. Xavier Worthy is another one of those weapons Ewers can get the ball to with 432 yards and 6 touchdowns on 32 catches this season. Worthy is very explosive and commands over-the-top help whenever he is on the field. The defense for UT has taken a significant step forward from last year and the Longhorns have done a solid job rushing the passer this year with 15 sacks as a team through 7 games. They will need a strong performance on the road this Saturday as they face an explosive Cowboy offense led by quarterback Spencer Sanders. Sanders is in the middle of his best season as a Cowboy with 1,639 yards and 13 touchdowns through the air. He is in his fourth year playing for Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State and that continuity in the system has been paying off this year as Sanders has cut down on turnovers significantly with only 3 interceptions through 6 games. Sanders is very mobile and can beat defenses with his legs totaling over 300 yards and 8 touchdowns on the ground. His mobility plays well with Gundy’s love for trick plays as the Cowboys run a lot of creative plays that move the launch point around for Sanders. Braydon Johnson and Brennan Presley have been the two top targets yardage-wise for Oklahoma State this season with 398 and 353 yards respectively. Johnson is very explosive with the ball in his hands, racking up those yards as well as 3 touchdowns on just 20 receptions. I think this will be a very high scoring, close game that Oklahoma State wins.

My pick: Oklahoma State wins (+192) Oklahoma State covers (+6) Full game over (60)