By Zack Schlegel

Oregon really does have a top-10 defense — and you can thank Cristobal’s recruiting and Andy Avalos for that. 

Friday night games are usually prime opportunities for the underdog to catch a more talented team sleeping. These are spots in the regular season that football bettors typically refer to as “trap games”, especially when the team that is favored has a much larger and more important game coming up the following week.

In Oregon’s case, they left nothing to chance. The Ducks defense stepped up once again in moments where they needed to, and held their opponent to single digits for the 5th straight week — first time since 1958. Oregon’s defense has now allowed just one touchdown in their opponent’s last 63 drives.

Their 45-3 win over Colorado really sealed the deal for me — the most experienced offense that the Ducks have faced this season. Buffs senior QB Steven Montez had sliced up the Oregon defense for nearly 500 yards and four touchdowns back in 2016, but the guy we saw Friday night didn’t even look like the same player. Montez was bullied all game long, resulting in him throwing a career high four interceptions.

Oregon’s defense by the numbers (national ranks):

  • Points allowed per game – 8.7 (3rd)
  • Yards allowed per play – 3.94 (4th)
  • Touchdowns allowed – 4 (1st)
  • Red Zone TD percentage – 16.7% (1st)

Things are looking a lot different in Eugene with Cristobal leading the program, and Avalos orchestrating the defense. It was just three seasons ago when the Ducks finished the 2016 campaign with the third to worst defense in all of college football. The 2016 Ducks defense allowed 518.4 yards per game, and 41.4 points per game (via ESPN).

Oregon finished with the 6th ranked 2019 recruiting class, locking down one five-star recruit (the nation’s no. 1 prospect, DE Kayvon Thibodeaux), 14 four-stars, and 10 three-stars. Also included in that class was the no. 2 overall CB prospect, and the no. 5 overall OLB prospect. Looking at the 2020 class, the Ducks are currently ranked 16th with seven four-star commitments, including the the no. 1 overall S prospect Avantae Williams, and the no. 9 overall CB prospect Luke Hill.

The Oregon football program has taken on a completely different identity over the last couple seasons under Mario Cristobal. They are bigger, tougher, more physical, aggressive on defense, and patient on offense. They want to run downhill at you and bully you at line of scrimmage. In short, this team is taking on an SEC mentality in a conference that has been known for speed and finesse. Maybe this is what the Pac-12 needs… maybe this is what will push Oregon over the hump and earn them the respect they’ve long desired.


I expect value on the Jets with Sam Darnold’s return, but not the week after upsetting the Cowboys. 

Through the Jets first four games, their offense ranked dead last in yards per game, and averaged just 9.75 points. It didn’t help them that they lost their starting and back-up quarterback not even midway through their second game of the season. The offense led by third stringer Luke Falk put up a total of nine points through three games.

The Cowboys came into the game against the Jets having lost back-to-back games, and feeling a sense of desperation to get themselves back in the win column and silence the critics who have been blasting them for two weeks straight. Dallas was 7-point favorites on the road in New York, and Sam Darnold was back from his four-week absence due to mononucleosis.

Darnold wasted no time helping the Jets jump out to a 21-3 lead on the Cowboys, throwing two first half touchdowns. He finished the game with 338 yards passing, and rediscovered the connection between he and his favorite WR target, Robby Anderson. Darnold and Anderson connected on a 92-yard touchdown bomb late in the first half.

With the Jets holding on for a 24-22 win over the Cowboys, it feels like this team may be able to get things back on track. However, don’t expect a repeat performance next week against the Patriots on MNF. New England has opened as 9.5-point favorites on the road at New York, and they will have extra time to rest and prepare as they are coming off of another double-digit win against the Giants last Thursday night.

The Patriots defense has also been as impressive as any defense in the NFL this season. They haven’t allowed more than one offensive touchdown in any game so far. If you take away the defensive touchdowns scored on the Patriots, the most points they’ve allowed in a game is 10 to the Buffalo Bills in week 4. On top of all this, the Jets may be without starting LT Kelvin Beachum who had an MRI done for an injured ankle.

Following the Jets’ MNF match-up with New England, they will have a fairly soft second half of the season. The Jets will go on the road to Jacksonville, and then five of their next six games are against teams with a combined 3-20 record this season (playing the Dolphins twice). Heck, we may even see the Jets get to .500 at some point this season. Look for value on them with Sam Darnold back under center, but wait until a humbling loss to the reigning Super Bowl champs.


Halfway through the college football regular season, here are the remaining teams who are winless against the spread. 

This is the list you do not want to be on, and it is also the list of teams that you should probably avoid risking any coin on.

Georgia Tech (1-5, 0-6 ATS)

The Yellow Jackets under first year head coach Geoff Collins, have struggled adjusting to a new offensive system. After 11 years of running the triple-option attack under previous head coach Paul Johnson, Collins has installed a new fast-paced pro-style offense that looks more like modern day football. Their offense currently ranks 122nd in yards per game. They have just one win, and an ugly 27-24 loss at home to The Citadel.

Akron (0-6, 0-6 ATS)

The Zips have yet to win a football game, and they have one of the worst defenses in the country, surrendering 36 points per game. They have only been the betting favorite once, and that was to UMass whose defense is even worse… allowing 50 points per game! Akron was favored by 7.5 points and lost the game outright by 8. At least the state of Ohio has the Buckeyes.

Vanderbilt (1-5, 0-6 ATS)

I honestly expected more out of Vandy this season. Senior RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn (who is from Nashville, TN), was supposed to lead this team to a respectable season. Sixth-year head coach Derek Mason was supposed to get this program over the hump and finally finish with a winning season for the first time since he took over in 2014. Unfortunately, it looks like it may be time for Vanderbilt to ponder their future under Mason. After an embarrassing 34-10 loss at home to lowly UNLV, I am honestly surprised that they haven’t fired Mason already.


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