College Football Week Eight Picks
An old rivalry will have a new chapter as the undefeated Seminoles take on Everett Golson and the Fighting Irish. FSU started the year a little bit slow and was outplayed against both Clemson and Oklahoma State before a comeback victory against NC State. The last two weeks, though, it appears they have clearly figured things out, beating Wake Forest by 40 and beating Syracuse by nearly three scores. While Jameis Winston has been so up-and-done this year, there is no denying how great of a player he is in big games. His poise for being so young is truly amazing and he makes the big plays at the big moments that the Seminoles. He is going to be supported by an offense that has been grooving lately. Karlos Williams and Dalvin Cook form a scary combo at running back, Rashad Greene is among the nation's most reliable receivers and the offensive line is starting to play a lot better after a shaky start to 2014. While Winston is an impressive 19-0 as starter, Golson is undefeated as well in the regular season. He is a legit Heisman candidate, though he has cooled down significantly as of late and turnovers have become a real issue. He will need the running game to take some pressure off of him, and some serious help from sophomore Will Fuller and the rest of the Irish's talented receivers. While the Seminoles' secondary certainly has talent, with corner P.J. Williams and safety Ronald Darby, it has been exposed at times this season. Fuller is a deep threat and could be making some big plays game. The Fighting Irish won't get anything easy on the ground, as the 'Noles rush defense appears to be quite stout, with the likes of tackle Eddie Goldman and an experienced linebackers corps helping out. Meanwhile, the Irish defense will hope to keep up their impressive hot streak, pretty surprising considering the amount of sheer talent they are missing. Still, their secondary has looked exposed at times and Winston could pick on it with Greene and sure-handed tight end Nick O'Leary. The winner of this game has an inside track to the Playoff chase, along with the Mississippi schools. While Winston and FSU have been extremely inconsistent so far this year, they can turn it on in big games, that is clear. If they can force Golson into mistakes and capitalize on those, they should pull out a victory in front of their home folks.
Florida State, 34 Notre Dame, 23
11 Oklahoma vs. 14 Kansas State
While Baylor has emerged as the clear favorite inside the Big 12 following their victory over TCU, the rest of the conference is wide open, making these games matching one loss teams extremely important. While K-State played extremely sloppy in their only true test this season, against Auburn, the loss doesn't look terrible on their resume, keeping them in the Playoff race. They will be led by dual threat quarterback Jake Waters. The last time Oklahoma saw a dual threat at the caliber of Waters was against TCU and their dual threat Trevone Boykin, who really embarrassed the Sooners' defense. Linebacker Eric Striker and end Geneo Grissom will have to work extremely hard to tame Waters and a strong Wildcats' rush offense. The Sooners will also have to contend with receiver Tyler Lockett (who is also a special teams demon) and Curry Sexton, who had a coming out party against Auburn in Manhattan. The Oklahoma offense has been prolific at times this year; they obviously need a big day from their QB, Trevor Knight. While Knight will turn the ball over at times, his huge arm and ability to make plays with his legs will certainly give K-State some problems. True freshman Samaje Perine had a huge game earlier in the year against West Virginia and the Sooners will certainly rely heavily on his production. Kansas State's defense also has to worry about wide receiver Sterling Shepard, Knight's favorite target, who is among the nation's most dangerous receiver when on his "A" game. While both offenses have some playmakers that can change games, the biggest X-factors in this game are each other's kickers. Jack Cantele missed three field goals (K-State lost by six) against Auburn, and that was at home. It will be even more difficult for the inconsistent veteran on the road against the hostile folks in Norman. This game could while turn into a typical Big 12 shootout, but the Wildcats will need some help from Cantele and their special teams(hello Tyler Lockett!) to pull off an upset and push themselves firmly into the Big 12 and Playoff race.
Oklahoma, 37 Kansas State, 28
12 TCU vs. 15 Oklahoma State
The Horned Frogs and Cowboys will square off in a game that is also extremely important in the Big 12 race. Both offenses have shown elite explosiveness, and both offenses will attempt to propel their teams to a big victory. TCU QB Trevone Boykin has really figured things out and he is putting together a pretty impressive 2014 campaign. He will be joined by running back B.J. Catalon, an extremely powerful runner, along with big play receiver Kolby Listenbee, who had some huge moments against Baylor. The Cowboys secondary misses Justin Gilbert and a number of other pieces still, and it could be in store for a wake up call in this game; it has not seen an offense anywhere near TCU's since the season's first week, against Florida State. Though, it does have massive defensive linemen James Castleman, who will plug some holes, along with underrated pass rusher Emmanuel Ogbah, who played really well in that game against FSU and has had a great year. Those massive linemen will have to stop Catalon and put pressure on Boykin, who still struggles with defenders making him move around. On the other side for the Pokes of Oklahoma State, they have put together huge numbers, not surprising for a Mike Gundy offense, with Daxx Garman at quarterback who has taken over for J.W. Walsh. Garman is a huge armed gunslinger who can also move around extremely well. He is joined by an excellent mix of backs in the strong, powerful Desmond Roland, who is a short yardage runner, and do-it-all speedster Tyreek Hill. If you can tame Hill, the Cowboys offense is not nearly as scary but there are still playmakers everywhere. The TCU defense had a brutal day against Bryce Petty and Baylor, but they are ready to come back and recover. Defensive tackle Chucky Hunter is among the best the nation has to offer, and linebacker Paul Dawson is absolutely superb in run support. While both offenses have the talent and scheme to also make this one a shootout, my bet is the Horned Frogs' defense will get things going again and Garman won't get anything easy. While they now have one loss, the Horned Frogs could easily be undefeated (in fact, they should be) and they have convinced me. They push themselves back into the chase and likely really hurt any chance Oklahoma State still has left, with a massive home victory.
TCU, 30 Oklahoma State, 24
10 Georgia, 24 Arkansas, 14
7 Alabama, 35 Texas A&M, 28
23 Stanford, 27 17 Arizona State, 21
9 Oregon, 45 Washington, 27
4 Baylor, 50 West Virginia, 34
13 Ohio State, 37 Rutgers, 24
Current Picks Record: 39-16