College Football Bowl Picks

Regular Season Record: 86-34       Conference Title Record: 8-0        Army-Navy: 0-1

This is going to get interesting. Bowl season is totally unpredictable but I’m going to do my damndest to try. I nailed the conference championship games but the task is a little more daunting this time around, as I’ve got about 40 games to do. For that reason, I’m going to keep this intro short. Let’s get to it.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Troy (-6) vs North Texas

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Troy is best remembered this season for beating LSU at their Homecoming but they really were a lot better than just that. These guys won the Sun Belt Conference this year and while that’s probably the least impressive conference in all of college football, it still says a lot about the success you’ve had this season. They face a tough offense in North Texas, led by quarterback Mason Fine, who could eclipse 4000 yards passing on the season in this game, which would be the first time in school history that has happened. He’s already CRUSHED the previous school record set back in 1994. I’m going with Troy in this one. They’ve shown they’re capable of winning the big game, North Texas hasn’t (their only win that can be deemed as quality is Army).

Projected Score: Troy 31 North Texas 27

Autonation Cure Bowl: Western Kentucky (-4.5) vs Georgia State

Despite losing former head coach Jeff Brohm to Purdue before the start of the season, Western Kentucky hasn’t lost much of a step in terms of the passing game. Hilltoppers quarterback Mike White should eclipse 4000 yards on the season barring an unbelievable performance from the Georgia State defense, which has been pretty inconsistent this season. They shut out Charlotte for their first win of the season but that came a week after losing to Penn State 56-0. Now yes, it’s Penn State, but that’s still not a good look to have a score like that on your resume. They also only barely beat god-awful Georgia Southern 21-17 towards the end of the season. I’ve got Western Kentucky big in this.

Projected Score: Western Kentucky 41 Georgia State 17

Las Vegas Bowl: #25 Boise State vs Oregon (-6.5)

I find the Las Vegas Bowl often has some pretty good matchups and this year is no exception. Boise State is the first ranked team to play their bowl game this year and they’re playing an Oregon team that’s just a couple years removed from appearing in the National Championship game. Now granted, a LOT has changed for the Ducks in that time, but there are still some players from that team on the current roster. However, not on the roster is head coach Willie Taggart, who was hired away by Florida State. His interim will be Mario Cristobal, who does have some head coaching experience, as he was the head man at FIU from 2007-2012. I don’t think it will help a whole lot, though, I think Boise State is going to come away with this one.

Projected Score: Boise State 28 Oregon 24

Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Marshall vs Colorado State (-5.5)

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If you do manage to catch this game, look out for Colorado State receiver Michael Gallup. He’s among the best there is in the country and doesn’t get a lot of exposure due to the fact he plays for Colorado State. 94 catches for 1345 yards and 7 TDs on the year for the senior from Monroe, GA. I don’t care what your level of competition was, that’s impressive. They face a Marshall team that is ice cold right now, losing 4 of their last 5 games, though 3 of those 4 games were decided by 5 or fewer points and the one that wasn’t was decided by 11. I’m giving the edge to Colorado State, I just think they have too many weapons on offense for Marshall to keep up with.

Projected Score: Colorado State 35 Marshall 28

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl: Middle Tennessee State vs Arkansas State (-4)

What’s Camellia? I’ve never heard that word in my life, but my autocorrect seems to think it’s fine. Seems like an odd thing to name your bowl game, but I’m sure Middle Tennessee State and Arkansas State aren’t complaining, as MTSU had to win their final game of the season to become bowl eligible while Arkansas State had their game against Miami (FL) cancelled due to Hurricane Irma and were put at a slight disadvantage in having to reach the required 6 wins in 11 games. Well they got 7 and will try and carry that season-long success into back-to-back bowl wins. I think they’ll do it, too. They’ve had a lot of success throwing the ball this season and I think MTSU will have some problems defending the plethora of receivers they have.

Projected Score: Arkansas State 38 Middle Tennessee State 27

Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl: Akron vs Florida Atlantic (-18.5)

I’m not going to get too deep into this one. Akron is a team that kind of lucked into a bowl appearance while Florida Atlantic has one of the best rushing attacks in the nation. I think they’re going to stampeded the Zips. This is one of the few bowl lines that is in double digits and there’s a reason for that, Lane Kiffin’s ground attack is too dominant.

Projected Score: Florida Atlantic 45 Akron 14

DXL Frisco Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs SMU (-5.5)

Louisiana Tech is a pretty average team and that’s going to be a problem when you face an offense as potent as SMU’s. Not only can quarterback Ben Hicks sling it, but he’s got two of the best receivers in the nation in Trey Quinn and potential first round draft pick Courtland Sutton. The Mustangs are going to score a ton of points as they also have an effective ground game, as Xavier Jones is over 1000 yards rushing on the season. I’ve actually got SMU in a blowout.

Projected Score: SMU 52 Louisiana Tech 24

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl: Temple (-7) vs Florida International

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. What a name for a bowl game. I’d argue it’s an even better name than the now-defunct Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. This game will also be played at my least favorite baseball stadium in Tropicana Field, so that’s about as perfect a combination of complete crap as you could ask for. Classic random-ass bowl games. Oh and there’s a football game that’s going to be played between Temple and Florida International. Temple has very little going for them offensively and defensively they’re not much better. Looking at their overall stats, I’m amazed they made it to 6-6. I think Florida International is going to come away with this one relatively handily.

Projected Score: Florida International 34 Temple 21

Bahamas Bowl: UAB vs Ohio (-8)

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What a journey it’s been for UAB. A few years back they got their football program cut despite going 6-6, which resulted in an exodus from many top players, including Jordan Howard to my Indiana Hoosiers, who as you may know is currently tearing it up in the NFL with the Chicago Bears. There was enough backlash from the UAB faithful that the school brought the program back. Now, in their first year back after a 2-year hiatus, the Blazers are bowl eligible for only the second time in school history. This is probably going to wind up being my favorite storyline of the college football season when the Blazers lift that Bahamas Bowl trophy in their victory over Ohio. Also UAB’s logo is a fire-breathing dragon and that’s awesome. Can’t not subconsciously root for them.

Projected Score: UAB 27 Ohio 21

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Central Michigan vs Wyoming (pick ’em)

This is going to be a battle between two talented quarterbacks. Central Michigan quarterback Shane Morris showed all the talent in the world at Michigan but just couldn’t put it together before transferring to the Chippewas while Wyoming features potential top-10 draft pick Josh Allen. Despite being as talented as he is, Allen didn’t really have that great of a season. That can be due in part to a lack of real talent around him and in part due to the fact that Wyoming didn’t throw it a whole lot. But it is also most likely due to the fact that Allen has been playing on a bum shoulder for much of the season, which of course is a pretty big deal for a quarterback. I’m still looking for that one big performance that tells me that Allen is going to be a successful NFL QB but I just don’t know if that’s going to be in the cards. That shoulder injury is going to hurt Wyoming’s chances.

Projected Score: Central Michigan 31 Wyoming 24

Birmingham Bowl: Texas Tech vs South Florida (-2)

This could be the highest-scoring game of the bowl season. We all know how much Texas Tech likes to throw the ball, it’s been pretty well-documented, but USF’s Quinten Flowers is one of the most dynamic players in the country and has the ability to score on anybody at any time. Add in the fact that the Red Raiders can’t defend for shit and you’ve got the makings of a 5-hour game that ends with both teams over 50 points. I think that’s what we’re going to get and I’ve got South Florida taking home the trophy.

Projected Score: South Florida 55 Texas Tech 52

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State vs Army (no line)

If Army’s going to have any shot at this game, they need to keep Rashaad Penny off the field. Penny is a monster with the ball in his hands and Army will need to dominate the time of possession if they’re going to stop him. If any team can do it, though, it’s the men at West Point. Their offense is built around the ground game and controlling the tempo. I think they’ll have some success early, but I think they will struggle to contain Penny and the Aztecs will pull away late.

Projected Score: San Diego State 31 Army 20

Dollar General Bowl: Appalachian State vs Toledo (-8)

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Toledo is among the best mid-major teams in all of college football. Quarterback Logan Woodside is one of the more underrated passers in the game today and while the Appalachian State Mountaineers have a pretty good defense, they’re going to struggle to contain all of Toledo’s weapons. Appalachian State won a share of the Sun Belt title with Troy and it was on the strength of an effective ground game. They’re going to struggle to keep up with Toledo, though.

Projected Score: Toledo 35 Appalachian State 30

Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State vs Houston (-2)

I don’t know why this game is a Christmas Eve tradition, but it is. Usually it’s kind of a shitty matchup but this year it pits two of the best mid-major teams in the country. Fresno State nearly won the Mountain West a year after going 1-11 and Houston has continued to play well despite losing Tom Herman to (arguably) greener pastures in Texas. It’s going to be a defensive battle as Fresno State has one of the toughest defenses in the nation while Houston features perhaps the nation’s best overall defensive player in defensive tackle Ed Oliver. I’m going to give the edge to Houston in this one, as it’s more of a gut feeling than anything at this point.

Projected Score: Houston 17 Fresno State 10

Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl: Utah (-5) vs West Virginia

Utah started out the season so nicely but then face-planted so hard. They started the year 4-0 but finished the season losing 6 of their last 8 and had to win the season finale over Colorado in order to even be bowl eligible. Normally, I would say they’re screwed for their game, but West Virginia isn’t sure if they will have quarterback Will Grier, who is nursing a broken finger on his throwing hand. Had it been his left hand, you could probably wrap it up with another finger and have him go out there, but not when it’s on your right hand where it will directly affect how you throw. But to be honest, his replacement, Chris Chugunov (what a name) didn’t play that badly against Oklahoma in his start. Was he particularly good? No, but he kept West Virginia reasonably in the game. They still ended up losing by 28, but that’s because Oklahoma scored 59 points. Leading your team to 31 points against the second best team in the country isn’t half bad. That’s why I’m going with the Mountaineers in this game, with or without Grier.

Projected Score: West Virginia 38 Utah 24

Quick Lane Bowl: Duke (-3.5) vs Northern Illinois

Duke’s offensive line is going to have their hands full with Northern Illinois. The Huskies have arguably the best pass rusher in the nation in Sutton Smith, who led all of college football with 14 sacks to go along with 28 tackles for loss. Duke started the year 4-0 before losing 6 straight and had to win their last two in order to become bowl eligible, but they were able to pull it off, beating two pretty good teams in Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. But I think Duke is going to struggle to protect quarterback Daniel Jones in this one. They were 80th in the nation in sacks allowed and they go up against the team that led the nation in sacks. I’ve got Northern Illinois taking this one.

Projected Score: Northern Illinois 20 Duke 17

Cactus Bowl: Kansas State (-3) vs UCLA

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Kansas State is going to struggle to throw the football in this one. They used three different quarterbacks this year and none of them were particularly successful. Despite this, they have one of the better defenses in the Big 12, which is saying nothing.  This team is going to get eaten alive by Josh Rosen, though. They simply can’t keep up with him on offense and I think this is going to be the game that solidifies him as the number 1 pick in the Draft.

Projected Score: UCLA 42 Kansas State 24

Walk On’s Independence Bowl: Southern Miss vs Florida State (-15)

Normally, I would wonder how in the Hell this matchup is even legal. But losing Deondre Francois in Week 1 derailed Florida State’s season so hard, Jimbo Fisher skipped town for Texas A&M. They’ve still managed to become bowl eligible, though and will look to try and pick up the win against Southern Miss. Southern Miss has one of the best rushing attacks in the country, led by Ito Smith and his 1300 yards on the ground. The defense has also been solid this year, as they’ve pitched two shutouts. But I’m going with Florida State here, but I don’t think it will be nearly as big a blowout as the line might suggest.

Projected Score: Florida State 27 Southern Miss 24

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa (-3) vs Boston College

This is the one bowl I’ve ever attended, when Indiana played Duke and Indiana lost in OT after a Griffin Oakes field goal was incorrectly called no good. It traditionally has some pretty good games in their Big Ten-ACC matchup. Iowa has perhaps one of the most damaging victories all season in that their 31-point win over Ohio State most certainly knocked the Big Ten out of the playoff picture. Boston College, meanwhile, has been one of the more up-and-down teams I’ve seen in a while. One week they’ll absolutely DESTROY Florida State and then the next they’ll lose to NC State (not a knock against the Wolfpack, but BC’s offense in particular can’t seem to find a consistent rhythm). I’m going with Boston College for this one, as aside from that one performance against the Buckeyes, Iowa hasn’t been that impressive this year.

Projected Score: Boston College 24 Iowa 20

Foster Farms Bowl: Arizona (-3.5) vs Purdue

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So as you may have read, Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate is my favorite to win the Heisman next season because of the dominant stretches he displayed. However he does need to improve as a passer if he’s going to reach those heights. Purdue is a pretty solid run defense, especially with Ja’Whaun Bentley at linebacker. Tate might need to whip out that passing ability if Arizona is going to keep pace, but I think they will. Tate is such a talented runner that I think overall he’s going to overpower Purdue and Arizona will get the win.

Projected Score: Arizona 28 Purdue 21

Academy Sports+Outdoors Texas Bowl: Texas vs Missouri (-1)

Both teams were quietly pretty solid this season mainly because it was below their traditional standards, but definitely better than the last couple years. Texas showed some promise under Tom Herman but it may be a couple of years before they return to the Longhorns of old. Missouri’s Drew Lock had a fantastic season throwing the football, as he led the nation in passing touchdowns this season. I’m going to give the edge to Texas in this one. It’s a toss up but the game is being played in Houston, where the Longhorns will essentially have a home field advantage, which is big in college sports.

Projected Score: Texas 30 Missouri 27

Military Bowl: Virginia vs Navy (no line)

Virginia actually had a pretty good season this year. After going 2-10 in Bronco Mendenhall’s first season at the helm, the Cavaliers turned it around nicely and find themselves in a bowl game. Also, quarterback Kurt Benkert is getting some looks from the NFL as a result of his successful season. They face a Navy team that lost a heart breaker to Army in the snow and I just don’t know if they have what it takes to take down this surprisingly talented Virginia squad. I’ve got the other Cavs in this one.

Projected Score: Virginia 24 Navy 14

Camping World Bowl: #22 Virginia Tech vs #19 Oklahoma State (-6.5)

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This is too good a matchup to be relegated to the likes of the Camping World Bowl, but at least in most cases by the time the game actually kicks off, you kind of forget which bowl you’re playing in. The number 3 scoring offense in Oklahoma State vs the number 5 scoring defense in Virginia Tech. Something’s gotta give. I think I’m going to give the edge to Oklahoma State here. Yes, I know, a matchup of this type usually ends up favoring the defense, but the Cowboys have far too many weapons that the Hokies have to compete with.

Projected Score: Oklahoma State 35 Virginia Tech 30

Valero Alamo Bowl: #13 Stanford vs #15 TCU (-2.5)

This is going to be a really close game as both teams have the ability to be really explosive on offense while also featuring some of the best defenses in their respective conferences. Heisman runner-up Bryce Love leads the Cardinal to face TCU and their duo of talented defensive ends in Ben Banogu and Mat Boesen. While I do think Love is going to have a big game for the Cardinal, I don’t think it will be enough to compete with the TCU offense. Kenny Hill’s been having a tremendous season for the Horned Frogs and I think he leads them to an Alamo Bowl victory over Stanford.

Projected Score: TCU 28 Stanford 23

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl: #18 Washington State (-2.5) vs #16 Michigan State

Like the Oklahoma State-Virginia Tech matchup, this game features one of the top offenses in the country in Washington State vs one of the top defenses in Michigan State. The Cougars are the second best passing offense in the nation, trailing only the aforementioned Oklahoma State while the Spartans allowed under 200 passing yards per game this season. It’s going to be a tough matchup but I think Washington State is going to come out on top. Michigan State has been too careless with the football offensively, as they’ve fumbled it more than any team in the country that doesn’t run a run-only offense, which I think the Cougars will find ways to capitalize on.

Projected Score: Washington State 31 Michigan State 24

Belk Bowl: Wake Forest (-3) vs Texas A&M

Wake Forest was quietly a pretty good team this season, as they went 7-5 this season, including wins over a Lamar Jackson-led Louisville team and a late-season win over then-#19 NC State. They take on a Texas A&M team that is getting a major face lift, as they fired Kevin Sumlin only to turn around and hire Jimbo Fisher away from the Florida State Seminoles. Fisher, however, will not be leading the Aggies in this game, as that task will fall on Jeff Banks. I’m actually going to go with the Demon Deacons in this game. There’s too much turmoil going on with the Aggies in this game and I think it could become a distraction, which is the last thing you want when you face a pesky team like this.

Projected Score: Wake Forest 24 Texas A&M 21

Hyundai Sun Bowl: #24 NC State (-6.5) vs Arizona State

Like Texas A&M, Arizona State also hired a new head coach in Herm Edwards, who has previously coached in the NFL with the Jets and Chiefs. It’s an odd situation because despite firing the incumbent Todd Graham, Graham will still be coaching this game for the Sun Devils. This could go one of two ways: Graham could be salty and sabotage this game for his former employer, or he could try and go out with a bang and give his best performance. I don’t think it’ll matter a whole lot what he ends up doing because I think NC State’s Bradley Chubb is going to give a similar performance to what we saw Solomon Thomas give for Stanford in their bowl game last year: a performance that will solidify him in the Top-5 pick discussion. I’ve got the Wolfpack in this game.

Projected Score: NC State 27 Arizona State 20

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Kentucky vs #21 Northwestern (-8.5)

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Kentucky is quietly a pretty good team this year as they went 7-5, including wins over South Carolina, Missouri, and Tennessee. Mark Stoops has done a Hell of a job with his team this year, but I think they’re going to run into some problems against Northwestern. The Wildcats had one of the best seasons in school history, as they went 9-3, including winning each of their last 7 games, including an OT win over Michigan State. Northwestern plays some really sound and fundamental football and I think they’re going to frustrate this Kentucky offense that is predicated on being able to run the football. I’ve got Northwestern in this game.

Projected Score: Northwestern 23 Kentucky 13

Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl: New Mexico State vs Utah State (-3)

The battle of the Aggies, this game might slip under the radar a bit because it’s not a matchup of household names. Which is a shame, because when they’re on, they can be two of the most exciting offenses in college football. New Mexico State’s Tyler Rogers ranked among the best passers in the game with his 3825 passing yards this season while Utah State preferred a more balanced attack that spreads the ball around to various different options. I’m going to go with New Mexico State for this game. Utah State’s defense has had its struggles this season and I think Rogers is going to have a field day.

Projected Score: New Mexico State 38 Utah State 27

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: #8 USC vs #5 Ohio State (-7)

So in an 8-team playoff format, this would be the 4 vs 5 matchup and dammit if I’m not pumped for it. Getting a chance to watch Ohio State live twice this season, I was able to see firsthand just how much better this team got over the course of the season. Their defense, which struggled to contain Indiana’s Richard Lagow and Simmie Cobbs, were lights out in the Big Ten championship, absolutely shutting down Heisman hopeful Jonathan Taylor. Their defense will put potential top pick Sam Darnold to the test, as this will be by far the toughest defense he faces all year. How he performs in this game will go a long way in determining whether he really is the top quarterback everybody projected him to be. I think he will have his struggles, though I don’t think it will necessarily be because of him. I think USC’s offensive line will struggle to protect him against the monster of a front that Ohio State has and they will wreak havoc on the Trojans.

Projected Score: Ohio State 30 USC 20

TaxSlayer Bowl: Louisville (-6) vs #23 Mississippi State

Lamar Jackson may have finished third in the Heisman voting this year, but I would argue that he actually played better in 2017 than he did in his banner 2016 season. Louisville wasn’t quite as good as they were last year and that’s really what hurt Jackson’s Heisman chances. They face a Mississippi State team that can be very dangerous, as they came the closest to beating Alabama before Auburn was able to pull it off in the Iron Bowl. But I think they will struggle to contain Lamar Jackson. Limiting Jalen Hurts is one thing, but Jackson is so much better a passer that it’s going to be too much for the Bulldogs to keep track of.

Projected Score: Louisville 38 Mississippi State 30

Autozona Liberty Bowl: Iowa State vs #20 Memphis (-3)

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Memphis’ Riley Ferguson can sling it with the best of them, as he showed in Memphis’ early-season win over Josh Rosen’s UCLA Bruins, where Ferguson was able to outduel the potential top draft pick. He’s also got a lot of weapons on offense that will cause Iowa State a lot of problems, however if anybody is up to the task, it’s the Cyclones. Iowa State is the only team to beat Oklahoma this season and they also were able to hand TCU their first loss of the season. Both teams ended up playing in the Big 12 title game, so Iowa State does a great job of playing up to their competition. However I think the combination of Ferguson and receiver Anthony Miller is going to be too much for Iowa State to handle and I think Memphis will come away with this one.

Projected Score: Memphis 42 Iowa State 38

Playstation Fiesta Bowl: #11 Washington vs #9 Penn State (-3)

This is a matchup made in heaven. Two teams that boast not only talented offenses, but talented defenses as well. They each had a couple of rough goes, Penn State likely would have played for the Big Ten Title game had JT Barrett not pulled off a miraculous comeback to knock off the then-second-ranked Nittany Lions. Then they lost to Michigan State after a 3-and-a-half-hour storm delay midway through the contest that likely threw off their groove. Washington also had a couple of ugly defeats, as they were upset by Arizona State midway through the season, then a loss to Stanford that effectively eliminated them from Pac 12 title contention. Both teams will be looking for a bit of redemption for their once promising seasons and I think this will go down to the wire. I’m going to go with Penn State to get the win, though. I think their offense is too explosive for Washington to keep up with for four quarters.

Projected Score: Penn State 31 Washington 28

Capital One Orange Bowl: #6 Wisconsin (-6.5) vs #10 Miami (FL)

The Turnover Chain is dead. Clemson buried it.

The Hurricanes are suddenly ice cold as they’ve delivered back-to-back duds to close out their schedule. They lost in embarrassing fashion to Pittsburgh, then got obliterated by Clemson in the ACC Championship game with a playoff berth on the line. Then Dabo Swinney’s bunch destroyed what had been the emblem of the Hurricanes’ season in the Turnover Chain and Miami fans can’t be feeling much lower right now. They take on a Wisconsin team that may have been exposed a little bit in their loss to Ohio State. While the Badgers did manage to keep the game close, it was mainly because Ohio State shot themselves in the foot on multiple occasions. That being said, I think this defense is going to cause a lot of problems for Malik Rosier and company and Wisconsin will come away with the victory.

Projected Score: Wisconsin 24 Miami (FL) 10

Outback Bowl: Michigan (-8.5) vs South Carolina

These two teams have met in the Outback Bowl before.

However South Carolina doesn’t have anybody who evenly remotely resembles JaDeveon Clowney this year. Michigan has had their struggles at the quarterback position this year but if they can get the ground game working, then I think they will be okay. Defensively they’re so good they can practically take over games. I’ve got the Wolverines winning this one.

Projected Score: Michigan 21 South Carolina 17

Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl: #12 UCF vs #7 Auburn (-10)

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Why Auburn is ranked 7th despite being a 3-loss team is beyond me, but it doesn’t really matter anymore as long as they aren’t in the playoff. They looked good to start the SEC Championship game, marching down the field and scoring a touchdown on their first possession. Then Georgia unraveled them and scored 28 unanswered. They face the lone unbeaten team in college football in UCF. Despite being hired by Nebraska, UCF head coach Scott Frost will coach the Knights in this game to close out the season, which I wish more coaches would do. It is for that reason that I think UCF will compete with Auburn, even give them a scare for most of the game, but I think the Tigers will outlast them. Eventually, talent often wins out, though if any team were to be on upset alert for this bowl season, I’d say it’s Auburn.

Projected Score: Auburn 20 UCF 17

Citrus Bowl presented by Overton’s: #14 Notre Dame vs #17 LSU (-2.5)

These are two teams that like to run the ball and play physical defense and on paper are pretty evenly matched. LSU has recovered really well after their homecoming debacle against Troy, as they’ve won 6 of 7 games since that loss, their one defeat being Alabama. The Fighting Irish, on the other hand, ended the season rather meekly, losing 2 of their last 3 after having been in the playoff hunt for much of the season. Granted, those two losses were Miami and Stanford, but both teams ended up getting beaten in their conference title games, Miami pretty soundly while Stanford kept it close. Notre Dame is capable of beating up on good teams, though, and I think the difference is going to be quarterback play. I trust Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush more than I do LSU’s Danny Etling and for that reason, I’m picking the Irish.

Projected Score: Notre Dame 31 LSU 27

Rose Bowl: #3 Georgia vs #2 Oklahoma (-1)

The first of the two playoff games, this will be Baker Mayfield’s first game after winning the Heisman Trophy. It will also be an opportunity for him to increase his draft stock even further, as he goes up against a really tough Georgia defense. If he can have a big game, then I think NFL teams will be far more intrigued by the possibility of drafting him high. As for Georgia, they look to break the 3-seed curse, as the team in that slot has yet to win a playoff game (Florida State, Michigan State, and Ohio State have all failed to get the job done). It’s going to be an uphill battle for them, as they will have to ask Jake Fromm to outduel the Heisman-winning Mayfield. It won’t be impossible, as Oklahoma will likely be without stud runningback Rodney Anderson as he faces domestic assault charges, but I don’t see that happening, and I’m picking the Sooners reaching the National Championship for the first time since the 2008 season, when Sam Bradford was outplayed by Tim Tebow.

Projected Score: Oklahoma 31 Georgia 26

All State Sugar Bowl: #4 Alabama (-2) vs #1 Clemson

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Part 3 of this CFP rivalry, though it’s the first matchup in this series that won’t be taking place with the National Championship on the line. Alabama will be very thankful it’s not Deshaun Watson under center for Clemson, as he absolutely lit them up in each of the previous matchups. Kelly Bryant will be tasked with taking on the Crimson Tide defense. He’s not Watson, but he has proven capable of winning big games, as he led Clemson to wins over the likes of Auburn, Virginia Tech, and a blowout of Miami for the ACC title. Offensively, Alabama will have to compete with the most efficient defense in the country in Clemson, as their defensive front that includes the likes of Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, and Clellin Ferrell will make it tough to move the ball. Having seen eachother each of the last few years, I think both Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney will have made the adjustments they will need to come away with the victory. In the end, I think Clemson will come away as the winner of this best-of-3 series and will take on Oklahoma for the National Championship.

Projected Score: Clemson 34 Alabama 31

*Exhales.* Finally, I’ve made all the picks and it only took me 5530 words, more than doubling my previous high word count (which I think was an NFL picks segment). I’m going to wait to do the National Championship game until the night before, as I don’t want to predict a matchup that hasn’t been set up yet. But based on what I’ve predicted, I think that Clemson will beat Oklahoma to win back-to-back championships. I just think they’re more well-rounded than Oklahoma is and I think the Sooners’ deficiencies on defense will come back to haunt them in this one. Agree with my picks? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

What Would an 8-Team CFP Look Like?

So for a while now, this year more than usual, people are calling for the heads of the CFP committee for their decision on who gets into the playoff. Last year people were upset that Ohio State got in despite not playing for their conference championship and this year the same thing happened with Alabama. Both teams have the same thing in common: they lost to the wrong team. Had both 2016 Ohio State or 2017 Alabama lost to somebody other than Penn State or Auburn, then they would have certainly been playing in their conference title games. I first heard a proposal by an SEC coach (I think it was Arkansas’ Bret Bielema, who is now their former coach, but I’m basing that on very little, don’t quote me on that citation) about an idea for an 8-team playoff. All Power 5 champs get in and 3 at-large teams. I’m actually a huge fan of that idea. While I am also a fan of the current format, I think an 8-team playoff would ease peoples’ bitching and take the whole “they didn’t win their conference” argument out of the picture, which I think is the biggest crutch facing the committee right now.

So for this blog, I’m going to take a look at what the Playoff picture would look like if we did have an 8-team playoff. As you may have seen, here is how the CFP voted in the current 4-team format:

1.Clemson

2.Oklahoma

3.Georgia

4.Alabama

5.Ohio State

6.Wisconsin

Of course, people are irate about the #4-#5 rankings. A lot of people are saying that you can’t leave the Big Ten champs out. Before I go into any more depth I got to get this off my chest: Ohio State is the fifth best team in the country. I’ve gotten a chance to watch them live twice this season: their first game of the year against Indiana and their last game against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship. Now both were Buckeyes victories, but one thing I noticed is that they got away with sloppy play in both games. Against Indiana, their secondary was swiss cheese against Richard Lagow, who was benched midway through the season for a redshirt freshman who can barely throw a ball 30 yards. Lagow threw for over 370 yards on them. I noticed SIGNIFICANT improvement between that game and the Big Ten Title game, particularly with cornerback Denzel Ward. Ward had a lot of hype going into the season and I was NOT impressed by his play against Indiana. However, I felt the exact opposite about him against Wisconsin, where he didn’t allow a single catch and won a jump ball against tight end Troy Fumagalli for an interception. But Ohio State won the game 27-21 and they should have won by a LOT more. Their defense had been shutting down Wisconsin’s offense all day, making Alex Hornibrook look like a D3 quarterback. Yet the Badgers were in this game to the very end because of self-inflicted wounds. JT Barrett threw a pick-6 when he stared down his receiver in his own endzone. Mike Weber fumbled inside their own 20 (however it’s debatable if his knee was down or not, the view the stadium jumbotrons gave us did not give conclusive evidence), and Barrett threw another pick on a ball that was dropped by his receiver into the arms of the Wisconsin linebacker. You don’t see these mistakes out of Alabama. When they’re better than you, they step on your throats. I know the CFP says they don’t consider margin of victory, but their leader in an interview with ESPN immediately after the rankings were released straight up said that they couldn’t in good conscience include Ohio State with a 31-point loss to an unranked team on their resume. If all losses are equal, then why the Hell would he say that? Alabama’s only loss came against an outstanding Auburn team at the worst possible moment. So I do believe the committee got it right with their selection of Alabama over Ohio State. Rant over.

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So here are the Power 5 conference champs that would automatically earn playoff berths in an 8-team system:

ACC: Clemson Tigers

Big 10: Ohio State Buckeyes

Big 12: Oklahoma Sooners

PAC 12: USC Trojans

SEC: Georgia Bulldogs

Those 5 teams are in and are likely the higher-ranked teams. I’m assuming that seeding would be determined based on each team’s position in the rankings. So based on that, it would be:

Clemson vs #3 At Large Team

Oklahoma vs #2 At Large Team

Georgia vs #1 At Large Team

Ohio State vs USC

The two lowest ranked conference champs, which in this case are Ohio State and USC, would square off while the top 3 are rewarded for their excellence by receiving the at-large teams. So who would their opponents be?

Georgia’s opponent would be the Alabama Crimson Tide, an SEC-on-SEC matchup, however these two teams did not meet in the regular season, so it’s basically like the other matchups on these lists. This very nearly was the SEC title game and if we had an 8-team playoff, we would get the matchup anyway.

Oklahoma’s opponent would be the Wisconsin Badgers, based on the committee’s rankings, though I wonder if they were voting on it, how much weight their loss in the Big Ten championship would carry. Would they still be in the playoff if their loss was so recent? My gut tells me yes, though that loss would likely change who they would face.

Clemson’s opponent would be the Auburn Tigers, a rematch from earlier in the season when Clemson won 13-6. Auburn is ranked 7th by the committee, yet they have 3 losses, so that would spark even further debate. The debate goes from “should a 2-loss get in” to “should a 3-loss get in,” which I think would be a lot more damning considering how many good 2-loss teams there are. Because here are a list of some notable 2-loss teams: Ohio State, USC, Penn State, Miami (FL), Washington, Memphis. You mean to tell me you’d prefer a 3-loss Auburn team to get in over these guys? The debate would be a lot fiercer and I think it would really affect the rankings because at this point, once you’re out of the Top 4, your ranking really doesn’t mean anything anymore.

So here is the seeding in a theoretical 8-team playoff based on the committee’s final rankings:

1.Clemson Tigers (vs #8 Auburn)

2.Oklahoma Sooners (vs #7 Wisconsin)

3.Georgia Bulldogs (vs #6 Alabama)

4.Ohio State Buckeyes (vs #5 USC)

5.USC Trojans (vs #4 Ohio State)

6.Alabama Crimson Tide (vs #3 Georgia)

7.Wisconsin Badgers (vs #2 Oklahoma)

8.Auburn Tigers (vs #1 Clemson)

And here it is in Bracket Form:

1 Clemson vs 8 Auburn

4 Ohio State vs 5 USC

3 Georgia vs 6 Alabama

2 Oklahoma vs 7 Wisconsin

Draw the brackets yourself, I don’t have an illustrator function on this WordPress thing. I seriously doubt that if we did have this format that Auburn would get in with 3 losses. The honor of the 8-seed would likely end up going to either Penn State, Miami, or Washington, or Hell, even the undefeated UCF. And if the Knights were legitimately in the playoff discussion, does head coach Scott Frost leave for Nebraska? We may never know. Personally, I’d love to see this format in action. I disagree with the argument that it would “devalue” the regular season. That’s bullshit, you need to perform in the regular season to get to these seeds. If anything, it amps up the importance.

You want to devalue the regular season? Do a 128-team playoff. Everybody gets in (though I think the NCAA is at 130 FBS football programs right now, could be wrong). Then the committee REALLY has to work and rank every single team and the lone two teams that don’t make the playoff have a fight to the death to see which program gets demoted to the FCS in favor of the FCS champion coming up to take their place. A Sacko Bowl, if you will. 128 teams play in the playoff and the 2 that don’t make it have to play in a bowl game for the right to stay in the FBS. I need to tone down my hypothetical excitement. And just so we’re clear, no, I’m not projecting that in a blog. I’ve only had a single dollar donated to my Patreon so unless I’m making that scrilla (I promise I will never use that word again), I’m not putting in all that effort.

Now yes, I know it is Monday, which I’m trying to make into my weekly story day. But this is too topical at the moment for me not to blog about it on Monday. Don’t worry, that blog is still coming this week, I do have a story in mind from my JV baseball days. Probably won’t be until Wednesday because based on what I’m reading, Tuesday’s blog may end up being another Giancarlo Stanton blog, because reportedly the Marlins have deals in place with the Giants and Cardinals and they just need to ask Stanton which one he wants to go to. So he could be traded at any moment now. If he’s not traded today, then Tuesday’s blog will be the story. I promise. So what do you think of the 8-team playoff? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

College Football Playoff: The Case for the 2-Loss Teams

I’m going to change things up a little bit this week. Normally I do how I would rank the College Football Playoff rankings, however based on this past week of games, I wouldn’t change a thing and I don’t think the committee will change anything either. It would basically be a copy/paste of last week’s blog, which I will link to here. Basically the same thing, except I would add that I don’t think the committee can totally ignore Wisconsin’s schedule anymore after a relatively convincing win over Michigan. It’s still not as good as the other teams in contention, but that zero in the loss column is huge. Instead, given the fact that teams are starting to lose more frequently, I thought it would be interesting to talk about the cases for each 2-loss team that has a realistic chance at the playoff. I’ve said in the past that 2-loss teams are basically eliminated, which was true at the time, but given the fact that we have so few 1-loss teams left I think a 2-loss team could feasibly make the playoff this year. So let’s get a look at five 2-loss teams I think have a realistic shot at the playoff.

Auburn Tigers

Record: 9-2 (6-1)

Losses: #3 Clemson 14-6 in Game 2, LSU 27-23 in Game 7

Notable Wins: #24 Mississippi State, #1 Georgia (both were blowouts)

Route to the Playoff: Win Out, preferably have Clemson beat Miami in ACC championship with Miami also losing to Pittsburgh

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Jarrett Stidham seems to have finally gotten into a grove in the Auburn offense (photo credit: Auburn Athletics)

Auburn’s got the easiest path to the playoff out of all the 2-loss teams because they essentially control their own destiny. If they defeat Alabama in the Iron Bowl then beat Georgia in the SEC Title Game, you can’t not have them in the playoff considering the resume they will have. When Auburn wins their games, they win HUGE. The closest any team has come to beating Auburn without actually beating them was actually Mercer in Game 3 (go figure) and Auburn beat them 24-10. Their losses were both by 1 score to good football teams; Clemson’s a playoff team and LSU, despite some of their problems, is still a good team at 8-3. If Auburn were to play either of those teams again, especially considering how hot they’ve been, I would feel pretty comfortable with their chances to win. Auburn is traditionally known as more of a defensive team but since losing to LSU, they have put up four straight games scoring at least 40 points. Their route to the playoff definitely starts with Alabama, who is without question the best team in football. But Auburn has done this before, just like with Chris Davis’ return on the short field goal. If they get to the SEC title game against Georgia, they’ll probably be good. They showed last week that they aren’t afraid of the Bulldogs, as they won 40-17 over then #1 Georgia. So I actually kind of like Auburn’s chances of being the first ever 2-loss team to make the playoff.

Chances Auburn Gets In: Pretty Good

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Record: 9-2

Losses: #15 Georgia 20-19 in Game 2, #7 Miami (FL) 41-8 last week

Notable Wins: #11 USC, #14 NC State, Michigan State

Route To Playoff: Miami needs to win out, including blowing out Clemson to win ACC, Clemson needs to lose to South Carolina, Wisconsin needs to lose to Minnesota but beat Ohio State in Big Ten Championship, Oklahoma needs to lose to West Virginia and probably TCU in Big 12 Championship, Georgia needs to lose to Georgia Tech and Auburn/Alabama in SEC Championship, Notre Dame needs to beat Stanford

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Mike McGlinchey and the Notre Dame squad have a tough road ahead if they want to make the playoff (photo credit: Notre Dame Insider)

Yeah that’s a lot that needs to happen for Notre Dame to get in. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. The thing that they have going for them is their losses, surprising enough. Both Georgia and Miami are Top-10 teams and the Irish have some impressive victories over the likes of USC, NC State, and Michigan State. Navy is also a challenging win. You could maybe cut out one or two of these and Notre Dame may have a chance, for example I think Miami could lose to Pittsburgh and Notre Dame still could still make the playoff, but I think things would be smoothest for the Irish if the U won out, making that loss look more impressive. But Georgia kind of needs to lose out in order to clear a path for Notre Dame.

Chances Notre Dame Gets In: Possible, But Need a Lot of Help

Ohio State Buckeyes

Record: 9-2 (6-1)

Losses: #5 Oklahoma 31-16 in Game 2, Iowa Hawkeyes 55-24 last Saturday

Notable Wins: #2 Penn State, #12 Michigan State

Route to Playoff: Alabama needs to win out, Georgia needs to lose to Georgia Tech, Wisconsin can lose to Minnesota (not sure if they NEED to as long as Ohio State beats them for the Big Ten, but it would certainly help), Clemson needs to lose out, Oklahoma could lose out (but it might be better for their resume if the Sooners won out), Ohio State needs to win out

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Will JK Dobbins’ fantastic freshman season be enough to help propel the Buckeyes to the playoff? (photo credit: 247 Sports)

Ohio State doesn’t have the worst route because the guys they need to lose don’t have the easiest schedules in the world. Georgia Tech is quietly pretty good and I can totally envision them sneaking up on Georgia. I don’t see Wisconsin losing to Minnesota, the Golden Gophers just don’t have the weapons that can put up points against that Badgers defense, but like I mentioned above, as long as Ohio State beats Wisconsin to win the Big Ten I think they will be okay. Clemson losing to South Carolina AND Miami would be huge, as I’m not so sure Ohio State leapfrogs them, unless that loss is South Carolina. If Clemson beats South Carolina but loses to Miami, then maybe Ohio State jumps them, but I’m not as confident in that. The Oklahoma loss is tricky because if the Sooners lose out, that would certainly put Ohio State ahead of them, but it might diminish the value of their loss to them at the beginning of the year. The Iowa loss is going to hurt. As much as voters say they don’t care about margin of victory, it’s really hard for the committee to justify a team being one of the four best in the country despite losing to an unranked team by 31 points.

Chances Ohio State Gets In: Decent

TCU Horned Frogs

Record: 9-2 (6-2)

Losses: #25 Iowa State 14-7 in Game 8, #5 Oklahoma 38-20 Last Week

Notable Wins: #6 Oklahoma State, #23 West Virginia, also worth mentioning the box score of the Kansas game

Route to Playoff: Alabama needs to win out, Oklahoma needs to lose to West Virginia, Clemson needs to lose out, Miami may need to lose to Pittsburgh, Wisconsin needs to lose to Minnesota, Ohio State needs to lose to Michigan then beat Wisconsin for Big Ten, Georgia needs to lose to Georgia Tech, TCU needs to win out.

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Ben Banogu’s explosion onto the scene has helped put TCU in a position to make the playoff (photo credit: Frogs O’ War)

TCU has a decent resume, as both of their losses are to ranked teams. They’re pretty much guaranteed to get their rematch with Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship. If they win out and get some help, I can totally envision them making the playoff. In fact, I think it’s totally okay if Notre Dame beats Stanford and TCU still gets in over them. No conference championship game will hurt the Irish whereas the Big 12 no longer has that issue and TCU could use it as a springboard into the school’s first ever playoff. That’s a lot of help, they need, though. I’m not sure if Miami necessarily NEEDS to lose to Pitt, but that would do a lot of favors for TCU. But everything else I mentioned above absolutely has to happen if TCU has a chance.

Chances TCU Gets In: Not Great

USC Trojans

Record: 10-2 (8-1)

Losses: #16 Washington State 30-27 in Game 5, #13 Notre Dame 49-14 in Game 8

Notable Wins: #14 Stanford, #22 Arizona

Route to Playoff: Notre Dame needs to lose to Stanford, Georgia needs to lose out, Alabama needs to win out, Oklahoma needs to lose out, TCU needs to lose to Baylor, Clemson needs to lose out, Miami needs to lose to Pittsburgh, Wisconsin needs to lose to Minnesota, Ohio State needs to either lose to Michigan or Wisconsin (preferably Michigan, especially if Wisconsin beats Minnesota), USC needs to win the Pac-12 championship game against either Stanford, Washington, or Washington State

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Ronald Jones II is playing the best football of his career at the perfect time for USC

Yikes, that’s a rough path. I probably missed a game or two as well because USC needs a LOT of help. One thing that hurts them is that their regular season is over. They don’t have that one more game that the 10 teams ranked ahead of them do. Their quality of losses are pretty good, so that will be helpful, especially if it’s Wazzu that the Trojans end up beating in the Pac 12 title game. That could potentially erase their loss earlier in the season in the minds of voters, though I’m sure they won’t mind beating Washington or Stanford for the title. The fact that the Trojans were ranked 11th in the latest CFP does them no favors, though, showing that the voters value the quality of Auburn, Ohio State, Notre Dame, TCU, and even Penn State over them.

Chances USC Gets In: Good Freaking Luck

I left Penn State out of this one because they will not be playing for a conference championship, as Ohio State has already won that honor in the Big Ten East. Their fate has pretty much been sealed and their remaining game is Maryland, which isn’t exactly the greatest resume builder in the world. But out of all these teams, I think Auburn has the easiest path. If they win out, I think they would be hard to keep out of the playoff. Let me know what you thought of my 2-loss evaluations in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

College Football Picks: Week 10

Last Week: 7-5                   Season Record: 52-20

Ouch, rough week for my college football picks. 7-5 might not look so bad but it was my worst week since I started doing this segment. The games I missed were Indiana against Maryland, Washington State against Arizona, Ohio State against Penn State, Iowa State against TCU, and Mississippi State against Texas A&M. Rough week. So before I drown my sadness in candy, let’s get picking. The rankings on this blog no longer represent the AP Poll, but now the CFP Rankings since those are the only rankings that matter.

#9 Wisconsin (-13.5) vs Indiana

I’m a little surprised Wisconsin is ranked this low despite being undefeated, but it just goes to show how a weak schedule can really hurt in the eyes of the voters. Indiana’s one of the better teams Wisconsin will face, even though their 3-5 record might suggest otherwise, but the Hoosiers play good opponents tough. They were hanging with Ohio State for most of the game, they held their own against Penn State after falling behind big early, and they nearly beat Michigan and Michigan State. The one bad loss for Indiana is Maryland and in that game they just repeatedly shot themselves in the foot. I think Wisconsin will win again, but this has the potential to be a trap game for the Badgers coming into Bloomington.

Projected Score: Wisconsin 27 Indiana 20

#7 Penn State (-10) vs #24 Michigan State

Penn State’s loss to Ohio State could be a killer. Despite both teams having the same records, OSU’s loss was to a non-conference opponent, which doesn’t hurt their chances at the Big Ten championship. Penn State, on the other hand, will need Ohio State to lose twice as well as win out themselves in order to have a crack at a repeat title. But they’re as good as any team in the country and it took an amazing performance by JT Barrett to beat them. Michigan State doesn’t have anyone near Barrett’s caliber so I don’t think their stingy defense will be enough to stop the Nittany Lions.

Projected Score: Penn State 35 Michigan State 20

#14 Auburn (-15) vs Texas A&M

Texas A&M really let me down last week against Mississippi State. I had high hopes for them in that game and they got throttled by the Bulldogs. Now they face a dangerous Auburn team that can not only score on anybody, but stop anybody as well. The Aggies are going to have their work cut out for them and I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t beat the spread in this one.

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Kerryon Johnson is part of a prolific backfield duo with Kamryn Pettway (photo credit: AL.com)

Projected Score: Auburn 45 Texas A&M 21

South Carolina vs #1 Georgia (-23.5)

I was a little surprised to see Georgia take the number 1 spot in the initial playoff rankings, even though I will admit they have the most impressive resume. But I thought Alabama passed the eye test better and I feel like if these two teams were to meet, Alabama would win 8 times out of 10. That’s not a knock against Georgia, that’s just how good I think the Crimson Tide are. They face a South Carolina team that I think is underrated. They beat NC State at the start of the season (a win that looks REALLY good right now) and I think Jake Bentley is one of the more underrated passers in the country. They won’t beat Georgia, but I do think they beat the spread (a rather large one at that).

Projected Score: Georgia 28 South Carolina 17

Wake Forest vs #3 Notre Dame (-14)

Notre Dame at #3 doesn’t really shock me. They have an impressive resume to go with their good record. My reasoning for putting them at #4 behind Ohio State in my playoff projections was because I felt that the Buckeyes would win in a head-to-head matchup. The voters felt differently, obviously, because Notre Dame is 3 and OSU is 6. The Fighting Irish take on a Wake Forest team that is pretty scrappy. They’ve been competitive in their three losses to Florida State, Clemson, and Georgia Tech and are coming off a 10-point victory over Louisville. I have Notre Dame in this, but I think the Demon Deacons make it interesting for a while.

Projected Score: Notre Dame 34 Wake Forest 20

#4 Clemson (-8.5) vs #20 NC State

I was a little surprised to see Clemson crack the playoff in the first rankings at #4. I figured their loss to a team like Syracuse and Kelly Bryant’s questionable health would scare the committee. But they seem to be okay with it because if the season ended today, Clemson would be facing Georgia in the first round of the Playoff. They have an opportunity to boost that resume this week against a good NC State team, who is coming off a tough loss to Notre Dame. Bradley Chubb continues to be a menace for the Wolfpack and I think he will give the Tigers a lot of problems. But Clemson’s also got some beasts on defense and I think theirs win out.

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If Kelly Bryant can return to full health, Clemson is a DANGEROUS team (photo credit: The State)

Projected Score: Clemson 38 NC State 30

#21 Stanford vs #25 Washington State (-1)

The key for this game is going to be the health of Bryce Love for Stanford. He missed last week’s game against Oregon State with an ankle injury and the Cardinal narrowly escaped with a 15-14 victory. Washington State is coming off a rough loss to Arizona in which the Cougars were TORCHED on the ground by Arizona dual-threat QB Khalil Tate. It has been announced that Love will be able to play in this game. It will be interesting to see how well he is able to make his cuts on that ankle. But I think he will be at enough strength where he will be able to do damage to the Wazzu defense.

Projected Score: Stanford 42 Washington State 35

#5 Oklahoma vs #11 Oklahoma State (-1.5)

The Bedlam Game has a lot more on the line this week than usual. Both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are 1-loss Big 12 teams vying for a playoff spot, the loser likely being eliminated. Oklahoma’s loss was to Iowa State (which looks better and better each week) and OK State got burned by TCU, whom Iowa State recently topped. It’s going to be a battle between two of the best quarterbacks in college football in Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph and I think whichever defense can make a stop will be the winner. I have more faith in the Sooners to get this done.

Projected Score: Oklahoma 49 Oklahoma State 45

Minnesota vs Michigan (-15)

Michigan is in a weird position right now. Sure the defense is terrific, but Wilton Speight won’t be seeing the field anytime soon and they just had to bench John O’Korn for their third string quarterback Brandon Peters. Sure, Peters looked good last week, but it was against Rutgers. That’s like saying he played well against folding chairs. Minnesota’s defense isn’t exactly the ’85 Bears, but they’ve been decent, not allowing more than 31 points this season. I think this will be a close game for 3 quarters but I think Michigan’s talented ground game will pull away in the fourth.

Projected Score: Michigan 31 Minnesota 24

#19 LSU vs #2 Alabama (-21.5)

Alabama head coach Nick Saban (whom I consider to be the greatest college football coach of all time) has often stated that he doesn’t care about the polls, but that’s easy for him to say because he’s always #1. However, the first CFP polls came out and Alabama is #2 for the first time in the regular season since 2015. Considering how badly they’ve beaten some teams, I’m sure the Crimson Tide players have to be asking themselves “what more do you want from us?” Well, decimating this LSU team would be a start. The Tigers have been playing well since getting embarrassed by Troy but I think they ran into Alabama at the worst possible time. We could be seeing Bama’s reserves long before this game ends.

Projected Score: Alabama 52 LSU 21

#13 Virginia Tech (-1) vs #10 Miami (FL)

Like Wisconsin, Miami (FL) is also undefeated yet finds itself barely within the top 10. This is mainly because not only have they not beaten anybody good (Florida State does not count as a good team this season), but they’ve barely beaten these not good teams. They face their first real test in Virginia Tech, whose only loss was to Clemson a few weeks ago. Since then, their defense has been absolutely DOMINANT, not allowing more than 10 points in any of their last 3 games (which includes a 59-7 drubbing of North Carolina). I think Virginia Tech wins this one and I think they’ll expose the Hurricanes’ shortcomings.

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Tremaine Edmunds and the Hokies defense have been unstoppable in their last 3 games (photo credit: 247 Sports)

Projected Score: Virginia Tech 48 Miami (FL) 24

#22 Arizona vs #17 USC (-7)

Khalil Tate was a MONSTER against Washington State, rushing for 146 yards and throwing for 275 more. He’s approaching 1000 yards on the ground this season and he has the Arizona Wildcats looking their best since 2014. They face a USC team that has been really inconsistent this season. Sam Darnold has been pretty good but he has underwhelmed given the expectations set for him at the beginning of the year (which were unfairly high, but 10 interceptions at this stage of the season isn’t where a top draft pick wants to be). Speaking of Darnold, he reportedly will return to school if the Cleveland Browns end up with the #1 overall pick, that’s how badly he doesn’t want to play for them. Hard to blame him, but I’m also not so sure he would be the top pick anyway at this point. But anyways, back to the game, I think Khalil Tate puts on another show and leads Arizona to the big win over USC.

Projected Score: Arizona 42 USC 39

Those are my picks for this week. If there are any other games you want my thoughts on, let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

College Football Playoff Projections: Week 10

So Tuesday is going to be the first release of the College Football Playoff Committee’s Top 25 of the 2017 season and we’ll finally get a look at how they value the performance of the top teams in college football. I like the format we have right now and it has given a lot of debate, especially as it pertains to the #4 seed. I figured this was going to be a really easy projection when I started thinking about this over the weekend, however there were so many upsets this past week that it has really muddied up the waters for this prediction. Before I get into my personal rankings, I want to get into some ground rules for this segment. I’m only doing the Top 6 teams: The 4 teams that make the playoffs and the two that just missed. I’m also doing this based on who would vote for in the playoffs, not what I think the committee will do. The factors that came into play were win-loss record, quality of opponents, and quality of victories and defeat (notice that “defeat” is singular and not plural. Two-loss teams can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye). So with that, let’s get into the rankings.

#1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Record: 8-0 (5-0)

Notable Wins: #3 Florida State, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas A&M

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Minkah Fitzpatrick and this Alabama team have been unstoppable this season (photo credit: RollTide.com)

This was probably the easiest team to place. Alabama has been doing Alabama things this season and they are clearly the team to beat in all of college football. Their closest game was their 27-19 win over Texas A&M. The next closest game was 24-7 over Florida State (who was ranked third at the time but lost quarterback Deondre Francois for the season in that game and has since gone into a tailspin) and a 41-23 win over Colorado State. Their margins of victory include scores of 59-0 (Vanderbilt), 66-3 (Ole Miss), 41-9 (Arkansas), and 45-7 (Tennessee). It’s not like these are Sun Belt teams that Alabama is destroying. All four of those teams I just listed are SEC opponents and some pretty decent ones at that (wouldn’t call any of them elite, but they’re good enough to put up a fight and beat a good team on any given day). Alabama doesn’t have that signature win against an elite team yet, but they’ve beaten the teams they have faced so handily that I think it evens out.

#2. Georgia Bulldogs 

Record: 8-0 (5-0)

Notable Wins: #24 Notre Dame, #17 Mississippi State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida

Georgia inside linebacker Roquan Smith (3)(Photo by Jim Hipple)

Roquan Smith is the leader of this dominant Georgia defense (photo credit: Gridiron Now)

Georgia at number 2 was another easy selection. Despite quarterback Jacob Eason being out, Jake Fromm has gotten the job done in his stead and the run game has been unbelievable. And don’t even get me started on the defense. They’ve only allowed 20 points in a game once all season (28 against Missouri) and in that same game they dropped a season-high 53 points. Roquan Smith has been an animal for this defense that matches up well with any team in the country. Probably the best all-around performance out of this team was when they went into Knoxville and embarrassed Tennessee 41-0. They also whipped Mississippi State 31-3 after the Bulldogs trounced LSU the week prior. It’s going to make for a very interesting SEC title game. What happens to the loser of an Alabama-Georgia SEC title game? Should the loser miss out on the playoffs? This is the fourth year of the playoff and we’ve never had two teams from the same conference make it. These two teams don’t face each other in the regular season so I’d say chances are good that both teams are undefeated heading into this matchup. If it were me, I think it would depend on the quality of the performance in the SEC Title game. If one team were to get blown out, then I’d be in favor of removing them from the playoff. If it’s a tightly-contested game, then I’d be all for having the loser be the 4 seed with the winner being the 1 (though I don’t know if the committee would do that, having two teams play each other in back-to-back games). The committee may have their first really hard decision on their hands with Alabama and Georgia.

#3. Ohio State Buckeyes

Record: 7-1 (5-0)

Loss: #5 Oklahoma 31-16 in Week 2 

Reason for Loss: Baker Mayfield was inhuman in that game

Notable Wins: #2 Penn State

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JT Barrett is closing out his college career with a bang this season (photo credit: Sporting News)

The notable wins category is a little light here for Ohio State, but the argument in their favor is similar to that of Alabama’s: while the schedule isn’t that great, they’re beating their opponents badly enough to where it evens out. They do have a loss on their record, however I consider it a good loss because they were competitive with an Oklahoma team that was fifth-ranked at the time (moved to #2 after beating OSU) and is currently sitting at #8 in the AP Poll. It was also the infamous Flag Game, where after Oklahoma won, Baker Mayfield (who was unbelievable in that game) ran out to the middle of Ohio State’s field and planted Oklahoma’s flag right on the logo. Like Alabama, Ohio State has wins of 38-7 (Army), 56-0 (Rutgers), 62-14 (Maryland), and 56-14 (Nebraska). Their win over Penn State was a huge signature victory, as they overcame a 21-3 deficit to steal a victory from the Nittany Lions with a minute to go. They only have 2 good opponents remaining on their schedule (Michigan State and Michigan) but I don’t see them losing to either team, allowing them to coast into the Big Ten Title Game.

#4. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Record: 7-1

Loss: #15 Georgia 20-19 in Week 2

Reason for Loss: Georgia just outlasted them in a defensive slugfest

Notable Wins: #11 USC, #14 NC State, Michigan State

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Josh Adams and the Fighting Irish have returned to form in 2017 (photo credit: Chicago Tribune)

So I have a 1-loss Notre Dame team getting into the playoff over an unbeaten Wisconsin team for one main reason: quality of wins. Wisconsin has faced nobody good while Notre Dame has beaten every team they’ve played by at least 20 points with the exception of their 1-point loss to the team that currently sits at #2 in the nation. I’ve been very impressed with how well Notre Dame’s defense has bounced back from their abysmal 2016 showing, where offenses could send out a pee wee team and still score 28 points. They’ve turned it into a smash mouth defense and the most points they’ve given up this season is 20 (Georgia and Boston College). A lot of credit has to go to first year D-Coordinator Mike Elko, whom they hired away from Wake Forest after last season, for turning this defense around. We may have one of the next top head coaching candidates when heads start rolling (Florida, anyone?). They’ve also had one of the top rushing attacks in the nation as Josh Adams has thrown his name into the Heisman mix while quarterback Brandon Wimbush has also added some good rushing yards into the mix.

First Team Out: Wisconsin Badgers

Record: 8-0 (5-0)

Notable Wins: Not Available

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Wisconsin hasn’t beaten anybody good, but Jonathan Taylor and this Badgers team have gotten the job done this season (photo credit: Madison.com)

Wisconsin’s schedule is the easiest I’ve seen since Baylor’s schedule while they still had a relevant football program. I looked down their remaining schedule and the only team left worth noting is Michigan, whose defense has been extremely impressive sans the Penn State game but has had no offense whatsoever. Though, Brandon Peters looked really good in relief of John O’Korn against Rutgers, which isn’t saying much. Wisconsin has a similar style to this year’s Notre Dame team in that they have a tough defense and a strong running game, led by true freshman Jonathan Taylor. The reason they’re this high for me with a cupcake schedule is that big goose egg in the loss column. Say what you will about their easy schedule, they’ve gotten the job done. Clemson lost to Syracuse, Oklahoma and TCU lost to Iowa State, and Washington lost to Arizona State. Wisconsin has gone in and done their job each time out. I think they get into the playoff if they win the Big Ten, which would have to include a victory over most likely either Ohio State, Penn State, or Michigan State.

Second Team Out: Penn State Nittany Lions

Record: 7-1 (4-1)

Loss: #6 Ohio State 39-38 in Week 9

Reason for Loss: Late comeback effort by JT Barrett in the final minute

Notable Wins: #19 Michigan

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Saquon Barkley and Penn State aren’t out of this yet, but their road to their first CFP appearance got a lot rockier (photo credit: SB Nation)

Penn State is a team I’ve been high on all season and had they been able to hang on against Ohio State last week, I think I would have them at #2 ahead of Georgia. But JT Barrett’s late-game heroics have put the Nittany Lions in a REALLY difficult spot to get back into the playoff discussion. They probably won’t get into the Big Ten title game because not only does Ohio State have a better conference record (5-0 vs 4-1), but they hold the tie-breaker in case they end up with identical conference records. Penn State would not only need to win out, but they would also need Ohio State to lose TWICE in the next four games. Not likely. My reasoning for putting them here even though I think their playoff chances are pretty much dead is because I do feel that they are the best team remaining. As I said, they are a late JT Barrett drive away from being #2 on these rankings. Saquon Barkley is still the Heisman frontrunner despite his stats not being great against the Buckeyes (there’s been a downward trend of late), but they can still put up points against any defense.

So that’s my playoff outlook right now. If you want my thoughts on other teams that you think have a shot at the playoff, let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

College Football Picks: Week 9

Last Week: 10-2                                 Season Record: 45-15

I once again had a strong showing in my picks last week. My two misses were Boston College against Virginia (which I missed BADLY) and Arizona State vs Utah, which I admitted in the blog was a big toss up. So with that, let’s get picking.

#11 Oklahoma State (-7.5) vs #22 West Virginia

This has the potential to be a shootout and quite frankly is the only 12:00 game I have any real interest in (hence it being the only 12:00 game on my picks today). Mason Rudolph and Will Grier have been two of the best quarterbacks in college football this season and we can expect them to put up a massive amount of points between them. It’s going to come down to which defense can make a stop and based on what I saw last week, I have to give that edge to OK State.

Projected Score: Oklahoma State 48 West Virginia 41

#2 Penn State vs #6 Ohio State (-6.5)

Ohio State is favored by almost a touchdown in this game? Seriously? I mean I know they’re good but have you seen Penn State this season? The last time I ripped a line was the Michigan State vs Iowa game and it came back to bite me in the ass. This is going to be a really tight game as both JT Barrett and Trace McSorley are having really strong seasons and are probably the two best quarterbacks in the Big Ten. Ohio State’s defensive line is arguably the most dangerous unit at any position in football, with two potential first round picks this year (Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard) and another next year (Nick Bosa). But after watching Saquon Barkley dice up the 2nd best defense in the nation in Michigan last week, I have to think that Ohio State’s defense will also struggle to contain the Heisman frontrunner. Penn State wins.

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Trace McSorley has Penn State in the hunt for a second consecutive Big Ten title (photo credit: PennLive.com)

Projected Score: Penn State 24 Ohio State 21

#3 Georgia (-14) vs Florida

I don’t know what to make of Florida. Their offense is so inconsistent it makes it nearly impossible to predict their games. The defense has been tough, though, and I think they’re going to keep this interesting because Georgia is clearly the better team. Their ground game is a sight to behold and their defense has been reminiscent of head coach Kirby Smart’s Alabama days. Georgia will win fairly handily but the scoreboard will suggest it was a closer game than it actually was.

Projected Score: Georgia 27 Florida 19

#4 TCU (-7) vs #25 Iowa State

TCU has been a juggernaut this season and it came to a head last week against Kansas. They won the game 43-0, outgained the Jayhawks 475-21, and held them to -25 rushing yards. You read that right. They’re going to face a much better Iowa State team, which in the past that wasn’t always the case, but Iowa State has played really well this season, highlighted by their upset victory over Oklahoma a few weeks ago. I actually think they will hang with TCU for a while in this game even though TCU has only played in a single one-score game all season (a 31-24 win over West Virginia). TCU will win, but Iowa State will put up a fight.

Projected Score: TCU 34 Iowa State 24

#14 NC State vs #9 Notre Dame (-7.5)

Bradley Chubb has been a MONSTER this season for the Wolfpack. He is second in the nation in tackles for loss and seventh in sacks and is a big reason why NC State has won 6 in a row after losing on the opening weekend. He’s going to face a tough offensive line in Notre Dame, as Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson are two of the best O-Linemen in the country that block for a top rushing attack. Brandon Wimbush and Josh Adams are about as explosive a QB-RB rushing duo as their is in the country and this NC State defense is going to have their hands full. I’m going to give this one to Notre Dame, as they get another big win to add to their playoff resume.

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Bradley Chubb has arguably been the best defensive player in the country this season (photo credit: Pro Football Focus)

Projected Score: Notre Dame 27 NC State 23

UCLA vs #12 Washington (-18)

Washington is coming off a stunning loss to Arizona State and they’ve had two weeks to sit on it. I think that works as motivation in their favor and I think the offense is going to come out guns blazing. However defensively they will struggle against Josh Rosen, who only trails Mason Rudolph by 30 passing yards for the national lead. I think UCLA easily beats the spread, but Washington still comes out on top in the end.

Projected Score: Washington 38 UCLA 34

#16 Michigan State (-2.5) vs Northwestern

This game is going to be miserable. It’s expected to be 46 degrees and raining for this tilt between to stout defenses. Ball security is going to be key here and that’s something that Michigan State has struggled with all season. Only Air Force, Georgia Southern, and San Jose State fumble more often than the Spartans and the former two run wishbone offenses that heavily feature the run. You can bet Pat Fitzgerald’s team is going to be gunning for that football and I think they will create the takeaways. I’ve got Northwestern with the upset.

Projected Score: Northwestern 14 Michigan State 10

Indiana (-4.5) vs Maryland 

Indiana has yet to win a game in the Big Ten this season but their schedule hasn’t done them any favors. They’ve faced Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State, all of which have been ranked at some point this season (they have a date with #5 Wisconsin next week) and 3 of them have been in the top 10. It gets easier against Maryland, a team that IU thrashed on the ground last season with the Big Bacon package (they subbed out Richard Lagow and Devine Redding for the speedy Zander Diamont and the 270 pound Tyler “Big Bacon” Natee). Maryland has been without quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome for most of the season and his backup Max Bortenschlager has completed fewer than 50% of his passes (was going to say “less than” but that would’ve been grammatically incorrect. Thanks, Stannis). I think Indiana’s stingy defense is going to have a field day and make Maryland completely one dimensional and get on the board this Big Ten Season.

Projected Score: Indiana 27 Maryland 17

Mississippi State (-1) vs Texas A&M

Both teams have been pretty good in the SEC this season and it’s going to be a tightly contested ballgame. Defensively, Mississippi State has been relatively consistent in that they’re bad against good teams (Auburn and Georgia) and good against bad teams and LSU. So it’s tough to say what we’ll get out of them when they take on Christian Kirk and the Texas A&M offense, which has been pretty solid all season to go with a defense which, aside from two outliers against UCLA and Arkansas, has been exceptional this season. I’m going to give the advantage to the Aggies for this.

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Christian Kirk is the biggest threat on the A&M offense (photo credit: Sports Illustrated)

Projected Score: Texas A&M 35 Mississippi State 24

Georgia Tech vs #7 Clemson (-14)

Clemson is coming off a SHOCKING loss to Syracuse, a game that saw Kelly Bryant leave with an injury. He’s expected to be ready to go for this game against one of the top defenses in the nation in Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets would likely be ranked had they been able to hold on late against the U and I think they’re going to give Clemson a run for their money. Clemson knows that if they lose this game, their bid for a third straight playoff trip is dead, so I think they come out with a little more intensity this week than they did against Syracuse.

Projected Score: Clemson 28 Georgia Tech 17

#15 Washington State (-7) vs Arizona

Washington State is coming off a big bounceback win over Colorado after getting wrecked by California. They shut out the Buffaloes 28-0 and will try and do something similar against a scrappy Arizona team. The Wildcats are 5-2 on the season and 3-1 in Pac12 play after very low expectations to start the season. Khalil Tate has been an animal, with 780 rushing yards on only 56 carries (10.2 ypc) and Wazzu is going to have their hands full with him. I think this will be a high scoring game and the Cougars are better built for those types of games than Arizona is.

Projected Score: Washington State 42 Arizona 28

#21 USC (-3.5) vs Arizona State

This could be a real trap game for USC. Arizona State has been playing spoiler all season, beating the likes of Washington, Utah, and Oregon despite a mediocre record (4-3). USC has yet to play up to its potential all season and if they aren’t careful they could find themselves dropping out of the rankings. I think they will win this one, but the Sun Devils will give them quite the scare.

Projected Score: USC 28 Arizona 27

Those are my picks for this week, I’m in search of that perfect week now after a pretty solid overall record on the season. Agree with my picks? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10

 

College Football Picks: Week 8

Last Week: 8-4                    Season Record: 35-13

So I took a few more chances last week than usual. I had two big upset picks, Indiana over Michigan and Georgia Tech over Miami (FL). Indiana took Michigan to OT but lost 27-20 and Georgia Tech was about to upset the U until Darrell Langham made a terrific catch on 4th down to keep Miami alive in time to make a game-winning field goal to win 25-24. I came close, but that doesn’t make my record look any better. My other losses were Auburn against LSU and Navy against Memphis, though both games were 1 score games. So I came THIS close to being 12-0 last week. My point is my picks for college football are really good and you should definitely listen to what I say. So with that, let’s get picking. Spoilers ahead.

#10 Oklahoma State (-7) vs Texas

The Cowboys have been really solid this season, especially on offense where Mason Rudolph and James Washington have been unstoppable. Their one loss was against an unbeaten TCU team in which they put up their lowest scoring output of the season. That would be 31 points. There is a ton of fire power on this offense that goes into Austin to take on the Longhorns who have to be feeling pretty good about themselves after taking Oklahoma to the limit. They’ve played well against good teams this season as they also looked good in a loss to USC. They aren’t quite back just yet but they will make this game with OK State interesting. I have the Cowboys winning.

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James Washington is second in the nation in receiving at 882 yards. (photo credit: Tulsa World)

Projected Score: Oklahoma State 45 Texas 35

Louisville vs Florida State (-6.5)

So looking at this game on the schedule in preseason, I’m sure a lot of fans circled this on their calendar as must-see TV. Here we are in Week 8 and these two teams have NOT had things go well this season. I talked in my Heisman blog, which you can read here,  about Louisville’s struggles this season so I won’t talk your ear off about that here, but Florida State has just imploded without Deondre Francois. Derwin James continues to be an animal but the rest of this Seminoles team has just kind of phoned it in this season and the underclassmen are looking towards next year. They’re favored in this game, but I like Louisville’s chances in this one. Lamar Jackson is still killing it this year and while he does struggle with turnovers, I think he puts up enough points where it doesn’t bite the Cardinals too hard.

Projected Score: Louisville 38 Florida State 28

Boston College vs Virginia (-5.5)

Traditionally these two teams are in the cellar of the ACC, but they’re both having some solid seasons. Boston College is coming off a BIG win at Louisville on the strength of AJ Dillon’s 270 yard performance on the ground, as well as this VICIOUS stiff arm.

Virginia is 5-1 on the year, their one loss being to Big Ten opponent Indiana in Week 2. The Cavaliers admittedly have had a pretty easy schedule to start the year, Indiana and Boise State being their best opponents until the end of the year, but they are getting the job done. Defensively they’ve been very solid. The most points they’ve allowed all year is 34 against Indiana and they are consistently between 10 and 21 points allowed each game. Boston College isn’t consistent enough an offense to do to Virginia what they did to Louisville and I think Virginia wins this game and becomes bowl eligible for the first time since 2011.

Projected Score: Virginia 21 Boston College 14

Arizona State vs Utah (-10)

Arizona State has been playing spoiler all season. They competed to the end with Texas Tech and Oregon and beat a good Stanford team and are coming off a huge upset over a top-5 Washington squad. Utah has been a similar type of team this season in that they make good opponents nervous. Their two losses are by a combined 4 points to Stanford and USC. So basically this is a game between two trap game teams. Both have been overall pretty inconsistent and this game is a pretty big toss up. I think Utah wins and that’s mainly on the strength that I trust them a little bit more because they are a play or two away from being 6-0.

Projected Score: Utah 30 Arizona State 24

Indiana vs #18 Michigan State

Indiana is coming off a near upset of the Michigan Wolverines and now they head to East Lansing to face a Michigan State team that actually did manage to beat Michigan in the Big House. The Hoosiers defense was really impressive aside from the fact they couldn’t stop Karan Higdon last week but they face a Michigan State offense that may be without runningback LJ Scott, who was arrested a couple nights ago for driving with a suspended license. It is unknown what his availability will be for this game. But both defenses are really tough and physical and I think this is going to be a dogfight. However I think Michigan State outlasts Indiana at the very end and gets some revenge for their loss last season.

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Simmie Cobbs Jr has been a problem for opposing defenses this season (photo credit: The Herald Bulletin)

Projected Score: Michigan State: 21 Indiana 17

#9 Oklahoma (-14.5) vs Kansas State

Kansas State is struggling right now. Their one win over a Power 5 team is Baylor and they’re winless right now. They’ve lost two in a row to a solid Texas team and an excellent TCU team. They’re home against Oklahoma, who has looked a little shaky the last couple of weeks. They lost to Iowa State and got taken to the brink against Texas. That one I’m not so sure would’ve been too different regardless of what happened the week prior against Iowa State, when Texas and Oklahoma play you can use any cliche imaginable and it’ll fit. But I think this is where Oklahoma re-enters the CFP discussion, as they put the smackdown to Kansas State.

Projected Score: Oklahoma 49 Kansas State 21

Kentucky vs Mississippi State (-13)

Kentucky is surprisingly 5-1 on the season, their one loss coming against the Florida Gators, but a botched coverage late in the game is what’s keeping them from being 6-0. They’ve had a weak schedule thus far but they played really well in their win against a pretty good South Carolina team, however they have let lesser teams like Eastern Michigan and Southern Miss keep it close, which would have me nervous about their ability to go into Starkville and get a win against Mississippi State. Mississippi State has been the bane of my existence when it comes to picking. I felt like they’d be competitive against Georgia and I thought they would beat Auburn in back to back weeks a few games ago. They got blown to kingdom come by both teams. Yet those came after thrashing a pretty good LSU team. They’re coming off a smacking of BYU and I think Nick Fitzgerald has them keeping up momentum against Kentucky, however Kentucky will beat the spread, as they’ve kept it close against good teams this season.

Projected Score: Mississippi State 27 Kentucky 23

Oregon vs UCLA (-6.5)

I’ve tried to pick Oregon to get big wins for the last couple weeks now and they’ve let me down each time. Royce Freeman is having a big season for the Ducks, with 797 yards on 133 carries with 10 TDs but they’ve been without quarterback Justin Herbert with a broken collarbone and freshman Braxton Burmeister has just simply not been good. He’s completed 52% of his passes with 172 yards with 1 TD and 4 interceptions and that won’t be enough to outscore Josh Rosen’s UCLA Bruins. Rosen has been terrific this season and although UCLA’s record hasn’t been where I’m sure Bruins fans want it to be, you have to feel really good about their chances this week.

Projected Score: UCLA 42 Oregon 17

#24 LSU (-7) vs Ole Miss

I have no idea what to make of this LSU team. They lose to Troy on homecoming then follow that up with back-to-back wins over ranked teams, Florida and a top-10 Auburn team. So really I haven’t the slightest clue of what to expect with Ed Orgeron’s team. Ole Miss got embarrassed about as badly as a team can get embarrassed against Alabama a few weeks ago (66-3) and it took until last week to show some life, beating Vanderbilt 57-35. Ole Miss doesn’t seem to show up when they face big time teams and I think they will struggle against a physical LSU defense. Whether LSU is able to put up big time points is another question entirely. I think LSU wins it but Ole Miss may make them nervous.

Projected Score: LSU 24 Ole Miss 21

#19 Michigan vs #2 Penn State (-9.5)

Michigan barely escaped Indiana last week after losing to Michigan State the week prior, which explains why they dropped from #8 to #19 in two weeks. The defense is EXTREMELY impressive, in fact Indiana was the first team all season to score 20 points on the Wolverine defense. They face a tough challenge in Penn State, but I think they will struggle to score against Michigan. Saquon Barkley has been held under 100 rushing yards each of the last two weeks and they go up against the toughest defense they’ll face all year, as Michigan has yet to ALLOW a hundred yard rusher this season. Michigan will also struggle to score, however, as the offense has no passing game with John O’Korn under center and they were struggling with a healthy Wilton Speight. I think Penn State wins a low scoring affair and Michigan’s tumble down the rankings will continue.

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Donovan Peoples-Jones has been one of the most impressive freshmen in the country this season (photo credit: The Michigan Daily)

Projected Score: Penn State 20 Michigan 13

#11 USC vs #13 Notre Dame (-3.5)

This is going to be a fun game. Both teams are vying for a playoff berth for the first time in either school’s history and the loser will likely be effectively eliminated from contention. There’s a lot on the line, needless to say. Sam Darnold has been inconsistent for USC but he’s always found a way to win with the exception of the Washington State game, however if he wasn’t strip-sacked on that final drive, who knows what a guy of his caliber could’ve done. Notre Dame’s one loss was against the current #3 team in the nation in Georgia and it was a narrow loss early in the season. The defense is significantly better than it was last season and while Brandon Wimbush has had some struggles, he has more than proven he is capable of leading this team on a big run. This game is a toss up but I trust Notre Dame a little bit more to get the job done as they’ve been a bit more consistent than the Trojans.

Projected Score: Notre Dame 28 USC 24

Colorado vs #15 Washington State (-10)

Yikes, doesn’t get much uglier than Wazzu’s performance against Cal. Though to be fair, nobody could’ve beaten the Golden Bears the way they played in that game and something looked really wrong with Luke Falk health-wise. Falk has had some injuries but Washington State doesn’t disclose injuries to the media in-game and we haven’t gotten a whole lot out of the Cougars’ locker room following up last week’s performance. If he’s okay, I’d consider Washington State a lock against Colorado. The Buffaloes have struggled mightily in conference play, their one win being last week against the lowly Oregon State Beavers. If he’s not okay, then I think it will be close, but I still think Washington State gets the win.

Projected Score: Washington State 41 Colorado 21

Those are my picks for this week. I noticed a lot of good teams are on bye this week, such as Georgia, Clemson, and Ohio State, so that makes the matchups a little more toss-uppy this week. If there are any other games you want my opinion on, let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.