N2K CFB Pick ‘Em – Week 9

Last week held some interesting matchups that our writers did not see coming. None of us thought Ohio State would lose in Happy Valley. None of us thought that SMU would find their feet against a dynamic Houston team. Though some of us though Auburn would beat Arkansas, none of us thought they’d wipe the field with the Razorbacks. But that’s what makes college football, and sports in general, so great. Unexpected things happen all the time.

After 8 weeks of picking games, our writers’ records look like this:

Tyler: 14 – 5 (115 – 24, 82.7%) Gabe: 12 – 7 (127 – 36, 77.9%) Sean: 15 – 4 (128 – 35, 78.5%) TJ: N/A (96 – 35, 72.5%) Will: 16 – 5, (125 – 38, 76.7%) Mikey: 15 – 4 (123 – 40, 75.5%) Kevin: N/A (73 – 25, 74.5%)

If you noticed, I started including winning percentages, just to give a gauge of how we’re doing since some of us have to take weeks off due to busy schedules. It’s a rather liberal approach, but it’s also my damn blog.

No Kev again this week, because of his own football season. Go BSU Bears. Let’s get into it.

BYE: #1 Alabama, #19 LSU #21 UNC, #23 Colorado

 

THURSDAY 

#25 Virginia Tech v. Pittsburgh

Tyler: Virginia Tech was able to beat The U because they dominated the ground game. Well, Pittsburgh has one of the best run defenses in the ACC. I think for Virginia Tech to win, they’ll need quarterback Jerod Evans to beat the Panthers through the air, where they have one of the worst pass defenses in the country. I typically go with the home team in toss-up games, but I think Pitt’s weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball will come back to bite them. VT by 3.

Gabe: Virginia Tech by 3.

Sean: James Conner coming back from his battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a great story, and he’s been very impressive for Pitt. He’s the bell cow for this Panthers team that has won five straight. Jerod Evans, who could find himself on the ACC First Team, with 19 touchdowns as opposed to just two interceptions, leads the Hokies. Evans is a dual threat QB, and last week against the U, ran for 98 yards and a TD, his third rushing touchdown on the year. This game will come down to the defenses, and Virginia Tech’s is miles ahead. Hokies by 16.

TJ: A bigtime home game for Pitt against a newly ranking Virginia Tech team. Some early weather reports say it’s going to be bad to throw the ball so I’ll run with Pittsburgh. Panthers by 3.

Will: Virginia Tech faltered two weeks ago in their loss to Syracuse. They came back hard this past week in a dominant win against Miami. They’ve got an undaunting (not a word? I don’t care) schedule the rest of the way, making them my dark horse pick in the ACC. Pitt will make it close. V-Tech by 10.

Mikey: Tech has quietly had a very good year under its new head coach, and they are one of the more underrated teams in the country. Pitt has had a good year in its own right, but VA Tech will pull this one out. Hokies by 14.

 

FRIDAY

#22 Navy v. South Florida

Tyler: Both teams can score, and both teams can run the ball effectively. However, only one team can stop the other guys from scoring consistently – that would be the Midshipmen. Navy by 10.
Gabe: USF by 10.

Sean: I picked against the Midshipmen last week and it cost me. This week, I really want to do the same because I’m stubborn and refuse to learn any lessons. South Florida has an explosive offense led by Quinton Flowers, who has 23 TD’s as opposed to just five turnovers. Navy got a couple of timely turnovers against Houston to fuel their upset. This game will come down to the turnover battle, and while both teams are even, Navy has been playing better football recently. Navy by 5.

TJ: South Florida could EASILY be ranked but unfortunately for them, they’re not. People are sleeping on Navy but not me, Go Midshipmen Go. Navy by 6.

Will: With the strong offense that USF brings to the table and having home-field advantage, it’s tough to go against them in this one. USF is also sneaky 6-2, making this game more of an even matchup than most would expect. USF by 3.

Mikey: Outside of the bad loss to Florida State, USF has had a great season, going 6-1 in their other competitions. Still, Navy is ranked for a reason, and they’ll show why on Saturday. The better team wins by a slim margin of victory. Navy by 7.

 

SATURDAY

#10 West Virginia v. Oklahoma State

Tyler: West Virginia isn’t like most Big XII teams – they play defense. The Mountaineers are firing on absolutely all cylinders, and the Cowboys haven’t played anyone exceptional in 3 weeks. Before their stretch of playing some of the worst teams in the conference, the Cowboys were giving up over 500 yards of offense per game. That spells trouble against the balanced attack of WVU. Take me home, country roads. Mountaineers by 17.

Gabe: West Virginia by 8.

Sean: Biggest surprise of the year? The West Virginia Mountaineers who find themselves in the top 10. Both of these teams have powerful offenses that love to air it out. The major difference between these two teams is their defenses. West Virginia gives up almost 50 yards less than OSU does. Going with my gut here, Pokes by 8.

TJ: If West Virginia can contain OK State quarterback Mason Rudolph they’ll have no issues coming out on top. The Cowboys should feel a little spurned since they were a powerhouse team entering the season. This matchup will be a great game. Mountaineers by 6.

Will: West Virginia has been dominating the Big 12 so far this year. The only team capable of stopping this run is Oklahoma or Baylor, which should both be high stakes games. Oklahoma State has a win against ranked Texas on their resume, but unlike the Longhorns, the Mountaineers are legit. West Virginia by 10.

Mikey: The Mountaineers are starting to get the attention they deserve. Having one of the better defenses in the Big 12 is paying big dividends, and it will help against a stout OK State offense in the upcoming matchup. WVU by 21.

#2 Michigan v. Michigan State

Tyler: Michigan was embarrassed at home last year because of one, single play. Michigan State simply hasn’t been the same type of program we’ve gotten used to expecting. I think that this game had way more hype at the beginning of the season because of how the Spartans have fallen off, but going on the road to East Lansing in a rivalry game is never easy. Michigan, but only by 3.

Gabe: Michigan by 10.

Sean: So much for being a national title contender, MSU has gone from ranked in the top 15 to going 2-5. Wolverines by 31.

TJ: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Michigan won’t make the same mistake two years in a row, also the fact that the Spartans are mediocre this year will help. Maize and Blue by 28.

Will: I imagine Coach Harbaugh has been looking forward to this before the season even started. Being THE team in Michigan, along with the best in the country, is the top priority for Harbaugh. If there were ever a time for Michigan to blow out M-State in their house, this would be the year to do it. Michigan by 30.

Mikey: MSU is 2-5; UM is 7-0. Case closed. Wolverines by 28. 

#5 Louisville v. Virginia

Tyler: Aw Virginia. Cardinals by 48.

Gabe: Louisville by 24.

Sean: Lamar Jackson continues his assault on the NCAA against the Cavaliers porous defense. Louisville by a decent amount.

TJ: Lamar Jackson is… well, he’s Lamar Jackson. It is going to be a tough week to be UVA. Louisville by 35.

Will: No one is going to stop Louisville in their quest for redemption against Clemson. Can’t wait for the ACC championship. Louisville by 24.

Mikey: Same narrative as September: Lamar Jackson vs. crap team = big wins. Cardinals by 45. 

#24 Penn State v. Purdue

Tyler: Penn State is flying high off of an emotional home win against one of the best teams in the country. He didn’t light it up, and he by no means is more than an average college quarterback, but I kind of like Trace McSorley and the way that he plays. I like him to lead his team to a win against a Purdue program that competed enough against Nebraska, but is still bad at football. Nittany Lions by 9.

Gabe: Purdue by 1.

Sean: Penn State surprised everyone last weekend with their win over Ohio State. They somehow managed to shut down J.T. Barrett and the rest of the Buckeyes for a full four quarters. Purdue isn’t good at football, and Drew Brees is definitely crying about it somewhere. Poor Drew. Poor Purdue. Nittany Lions by 17.

TJ: Penn State shocked Ohio State last weekend and find themselves ranked for the first time in a long time. Unless Drew Brees takes the field for Purdue in an impromptu alumni game, the Nittany Lions should walk out with the win. I’ll be looking forward to the matchup between Penn State and Indiana in a few weeks. Penn State by 17.

Will: Penn State shocking the world last week. I’ll be honest, Ohio State had that “unbeatable” swag about them Alabama has had for years. Well, turns out Urban Meyer can’t even sniff Saban’s jock strap. Good for Penn State because they have Purdue this week and have chance to continue their climb back to relevance. Penn State by 10.

Mikey: Coming off the upset of the CFB season, the Nittany Lions are out to prove they are for real. Against a sub-.500-opponent, that should be easy. Penn State by 20. 

Georgia v. #14 Florida

Tyler: True freshman quarterback + road game + excellent defense = sadness for the Dawgs. Florida by 17.

Gabe: Florida by 7.

Sean: Florida has the best defense in college football and will confuse Jacob Eason from start to finish. Gators by 19.

TJ: Florida did defeat UMass so they can beat pretty much any team, maybe except for Alabama. Gators by 7.

Will: Georgia lost to Vanderbilt last week?!?! That’s a bad look for a Georgia team that just parted ways with their long time coach Mark Richt. Florida just had their bye week, so they should be more than healthy for this game against Georgia. Florida by 17.

Mikey: The Gators are phenomenal defensively and have every right to be a top-ten team. A win against a tough Georgia team would certainly help. Florida by 10. 

#8 Baylor v. Texas

Tyler: I don’t think Baylor’s an elite team, but I can’t knock their offense. I can also knock Texas’s defense, which is putrid. Bears by 22.

Gabe: Texas by 4.

Sean: TBT to when we all said Texas football was back. Those were much simpler times back then. Good for Baylor for playing so well following a horrendous offseason.  Charlie Strong’s seat is even hotter than Texas in the summertime. Baylor by 23.

TJ: I have no reasoning behind this pick but I’m going with an upset. Longhorns by 2.

Will: Love me a Texas matchup. I’m sure before the season started, both teams had this game circled as one that would have huge implications. Unfortunately, the only team that has anything to lose is Baylor. Charlie Strong is more than likely on the way out already, so I don’t think losing this game would make much of a difference. Baylor by 20.

Mikey: No one thought coming into this season Baylor would be undefeated at this point, myself included. Texas has been mediocre at best, so they should get another W. Baylor by 28. 

Northwestern v. #6 Ohio State

Tyler: Ohio State lost, but they did not lose their spot in the College Football Playoff. They’re going to need to win, and win big, from now until they play Michigan. There isn’t a better coach at running up the score when it matters than Urban Meyer, so expect that against a solid Northwestern team. Bucks by 33.

Gabe: Ohio State by 9.

Sean: Ohio State will show no remorse following last week’s loss to Penn State. J.T. Barrett will get back on track and find Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel all day long. OSU is still one of the most talented teams in the country and can claw back into the CFP race if they win out. Buckeyes by 39.

TJ: The Buckeyes are going to take out some aggression on Northwestern after getting upset by Penn State last weekend. I’d anticipate JT Barrett to light up the scoreboard and the stat-sheet. Buckeyes by 27.

Will: Northwestern is going to feel Ohio State’s wrath this week. Ohio State by 30.

Mikey: That loss last week is tough, but the Buckeyes need to stay focused if they still want to make a New Year’s Six Bowl this year. That begins with a win against Northwestern on Saturday. OSU by 31. 

#4 Washington v. #17 Utah

Tyler:  This is Washington’s first test against a legit team; not a home game against Stanford, who have proven to not be that good. Not a road game against a bad Oregon team. This is. I think Utah is a tough place to play. The Utes were able to get to Jake Browning last season, and they lead the PAC-12 in takeaways, with 22. If there’s an upset this weekend, I think this will be it. Utah by 3.

Gabe: Washington by 9.

Sean: Washington had some pretty high expectations, but have blown them all away with their play this season. Meanwhile, Utah just keeps finding ways to win. Both teams have tough defenses that bend sometimes but never break. Washington might have the best offense in the country, and if Jake Browning can avoid making a back breaking mistake, Washington might punch their ticket to the College Football Playoff before November. Washington by 25.

TJ: Washington is slowly becoming less and less of a Cinderella story since they have been rolling. I really have been rooting for the Huskies after the defeated Stanford in a convincing fashion a few weeks back. I’ll continue to pick Washington until they give me a reason not to. Huskies by 3 in an Instant Classic.

Will: A solid Pac-12 matchup that could completely shift the conference standings or keep Washington firmly in the top spot. Utah having this as a home game will motivate them to play at the highest level they have this season. Jake Browning for Washington has been playing at borderline Heisman level and that is going to be the difference for me. He’s clearly the leader for Washington, and having leadership wins big games like this one.  Washington by 10.

Mikey: The Huskies’ biggest test of the season comes this Saturday when they travel to Utah. While I think they’ll pick up the win, the Utes are not going to go down without a fight, and it would not surprise me one bit if this resulted in an upset. UW by 3. 

Kansas v. #16 Oklahoma

Tyler: Basketball season is around the corner. Sooners by a multitude of points.

Gabe: Sooners by 31.

Sean: Kansas is also a state that has a horrible football team. Oklahoma has a good football team. Sooners by 45.

TJ: For some reason I really like Kansas, I just have a feeling. Jayhawks by 2. Just kidding Sooners by 400.

Will: I realize their dominance in basketball for the conference, but Kansas should strongly consider a move from the Big 12 for football. Oklahoma by 40.

Mikey: It’s Kansas – please. Sooners by 49.

 #7 Nebraska v. #11 Wisconsin

Tyler: I like the way that Nebraska has played all year long. I’m a fan of Tommy Armstrong, and I don’t think that this team has gotten the respect that they deserve. They’re like Iowa was last year; they just win, nothing flashy. And as great as the Badger defense is, they took a blow by losing linebacker and leading tackler Jack Cichy for the rest of the season. Most signs point to Nebraska except this – Wisconsin OWNS them. Armstrong is 0-2 against them, and they have beaten them in every way possible since joining the Big 10. At home, that’s enough for me to say, “On Wisconsin”. Badgers by 14.

Gabe: Nebraska by 10.

Sean: Nebraska is one of the most surprising teams in the nation at 7-0 and inside the top 10. Wisconsin bounced back nicely against Iowa after two losses to Michigan and Ohio State. Nebraska still hasn’t played anyone of notice, while Wisconsin has fought every team tough this season. Wisconsin’s offense is nothing special, but their defense is a top five unit in the country. At Camp Randall Stadium, I think Wisconsin pulls this one out. Badgers by 9.

TJ: This one will probably be the best game of the weekend. And I think it will be a battle of two very efficient rushing offenses. Wisconsin has gone through a really tough schedule and they are still standing. After this one, I think they will be the last one standing. Sorry Cornhusker fans, but I’m going with the Badgers by 9.

Will: Wisconsin is getting a lot of love in this game. They have had some close games against Michigan and Ohio State, but Nebraska is also a legit team. I don’t see a lot of points being scored in this game, both teams have strong defenses. Nebraska has the stronger and more consistent offense, which will be the decider of this game. Nebraska by 6.

Mikey: The Badgers’ brutal schedule continues with a visit from the undefeated Cornhuskers. This time, they’ll beat their undefeated opponent by double figures and expose Nebraska as being a product of a softer schedule. Wisconsin by 14. 

#13 Boise State v. Wyoming

Tyler: Boise State is straight up escaping upset losses. It’s got to catch up with them at some point. Wyoming by 3.

Gabe: Boise State by 21.

Sean: Wyoming is state with a population around 600,000. #TheMoreYouKnow. Boise State by 25.

TJ: Boise State is back? Nah, I’m not convinced just yet. Give me Wyoming in an upset. Cowboys by 14.

Will: It’s looking more and more like an undefeated season for Boise State. Always a fun team to have in the mix. Boise State by 20.

Mikey: Wyoming may be 5-2, but the undefeated Broncos are having a renaissance season. IMO, they won’t lose the rest of this calendar year. BSU by 25.

 #15 Auburn v. Ole Miss

Tyler: Ole Miss lost to an LSU team that I’m still not sold on. Auburn just SMACKED Arkansas out of the Top-25. They’re rolling. War Eagle. Auburn by 22.

Gabe: Auburn by 10.

Sean: Chad Kelly (swag) and Ole Miss have fallen flat on their faces this year. Auburn has rebounded from a less than good start to win four in a row, including a dominating performance against Arkansas. The Tigers are clicking right now. Auburn by 16.

TJ: Chad Kelly has really been having a great year, but I’m not convinced that they are ready to go toe-to-toe with Auburn. Although I’ll be rooting for Auburn, I really think that it will be a really close game. Auburn by 4.

Will: Having a strong schedule is often considered a good thing, especially if you have a couple of losses during the season. For Ole Miss, it was their downfall. Auburn has been taking advantage of their tired SEC opponents, which is definitely paying off in their favor. Auburn by 14.

Mikey: Ole Miss may be the best 3-4 team in the country, but like Wisconsin, they have had a ridiculous schedule. Unlike Wisconsin, they won’t beat their ranked opponent this week, as Auburn will keep rolling. Auburn by 10.

 #18 Tennessee v. South Carolina

Tyler: The 3-4 Gamecocks have beaten UMass, East Carolina and Vanderbilt all by one score each. While they haven’t gotten blown out by anyone, they’ve lost at home to the likes of Texas A&M and Georgia this season. I think Tennessee will be able to pull this one out, and I expect Jalen Hurd to get back into the swing of things against one of the weaker teams the SEC has to offer. Vols by 16.

Gabe: Volunteers by 9.

Sean: Tennessee’s luck has finally run out of magic, and now they’re not heading to the Playoff. South Carolina is down in the dumps right now. Tennessee is still very much alive in the SEC- East and have a lot riding on this game. I think Josh Dobbs shows up, as does the defense, and puts on a show against the Gamecocks. Volunteers by 28.

TJ: South Carolina is terrible but knowing Tennessee they’ll wait until the fourth quarter to start scoring points. Vols by 17.

Will: If beating UMass by six points is their best win of the season, South Carolina has no shot about Tennessee. Tennessee by 20.

Mikey: After a couple of tough losses, UT needs an easy opponent to get back on track. Fortunately for them, the Gamecocks are just the team. Volunteers by 14.

 New Mexico State v. #9 Texas A&M

Tyler: Last week was a tough one for the Aggies, who stayed with ‘Bama for as long as they could. This is a nice chance to take out some frustration. A&M by 30.

Gabe: Aggies by 38.

Sean: For a few minutes last weekend, it looked like Texas A&M might have been able to upset Alabama, but they fell apart in the second half. According to ESPN, the Aggies have a 99.5% chance at winning this game. I’ll go with the overwhelming favorite. TAMU by 50.

TJ: New Mexico State quarterback Tyler Rogers is in for a rude awakening going against an SEC team. A&M by 47.

Will: Pick up game for Texas A&M. Texas A&M by 30.

Mikey: They played Alabama; now they’re playing New Mexico State. This is going to happen. A&M by 42.

 #3 Clemson v. #12 Florida State

Tyler: Florida State will not be in the College Football Playoff, but they can do some damage to Clemson’s season. The ‘Noles are hard to project, as they’ve been beaten soundly by the likes of Louisville and UNC. They’ve obviously been able to rebound based on their #12 ranking because Dalvin Cook has come on like the Heisman-caliber player he is. Dabo Swinney is one of the best down-the-stretch coaches in football, and his guys are the best in the business at winning close games. Tigers by 5.

Gabe: Clemson by 6.

Sean: This is make or break for both teams. If Clemson loses, they’ll likely be knocked outside the top four in the CFP race. If FSU goes down, they won’t make it to a New Years Six bowl. Clemson was lucky against NC State, and Deshaun Watson and the rest off the offense has to be a lot sharper against a Seminoles defense that will be backed up by the rowdy crowd at Doak Campbell Stadium. Watson has played on the biggest stage before, while Deondre Francois has not. If Dalvin Cook can take some of the pressure off the freshman QB, FSU has a shot. I like Clemson’s experience going up against a banged up defense for Florida State. Tigers by 13.

TJ: Another Battle of the Titans in a great week of college football. Florida State isn’t deserving of a #12 seed in my opinion, but Clemson is deserving of at least a #3 seed. The Seminoles will need to get off to an extremely hot start to have a chance against the Tigers. I just don’t see Florida State being able to keep up with Clemson based on their games against Louisville. Clemson by 14.

Will: Easy win right here for Clemson and this is why. After this game, they play Syracuse, Pitt, Wake Forest, and South Carolina. I imagine Clemson will go all out for this game because after FSU is basically a cake walk to the ACC championship. The defense just needs to come out better than they have all the season, and then DeShaun Watson will have no problem leading Clemson to victory. Clemson by 7.

Mikey: The annual ACC clash of the powerhouses happens this Halloween Weekend. While Clemson has won all of its games thus far, they haven’t had a road challenge quite like the Seminoles. I like the home team in this matchup, and I think Deondre Francois rises to the occasion. Florida State by 7.

 BONUS – Boston College v. North Carolina State

Tyler: Boston College’s defense is still pretty solid, but they’re not going to go on the road against NC State and win, especially when the Wolfpack are itching to put some respeck back on their names after Louisville did Louisville things to them (Bobby Petrino didn’t even take the Pack out to dinner first). NC State by 7.

Gabe: NC State by 7.

Sean: After playing so well against Clemson, NC State was embarrassed last week at home by Louisville. Neither of these teams plays pretty football, but the Wolfpack are just a little bit better. NC State by 10.

TJ: The Wolfpack have been playing well this year, not necessarily having the wins to back that up but they are definitely giving some really good teams a tough time. Boston College is not a good team, it kills me to say but they’re not. NC State by 18.

Will: At this point, BC really doesn’t have much of a competitiveness in the ACC. Easy decision choice whenever they have an ACC matchup. NC State by 14.

Mikey: They’re at home, and BC sucks this year. NC State by 45.

 BONUS – Miami (FL) v. Notre Dame

Tyler: While the talent isn’t there, the Irish defense has statistically improved since firing Brian VanGorder, giving up only 10 points and 8 points in their last two games respectively. But that was against a team playing in a hurricane and a team that didn’t have their best player. The U is significantly better than both teams.  If they’re going to win, they need to limit their turnovers, something they haven’t done the last two weeks. I’ve been trying to convince myself that ND will go win this for Brian Kelly, who they all seem to love, and rivalry games do bring a different type of atmosphere. But, I think this simply comes down to who has more talent. Sadness ensues. * groans*. Convicts by 10.

Gabe: Miami by 13.

Sean: The U has made me sad the last three weeks, while Notre Dame has made Tyler sad all season long. This is a matchup of two historic teams desperately needing to get back into the win column. I like the Hurricanes in a close one. The U by 4.

TJ: Notre Dame is not good this year, I’m sorry Tyler but they are not. Miami on the other hand could be ranked if they got a bounce here and there. I’m rolling with the Hurricanes by 6.

Will: Miami was in the top 10 one week and so quickly they are not even ranked anymore. Sad to see that happen, but Notre Dame is a pick-me-up to get them back on track. Miami by 14.

Mikey: They have both sucked of late, but I had to pick a winner. The U by 10.

 BONUS – Wagner v. UMass

Tyler: BC beat Wagner. I’m going to go out on a limb and say UMass is capable too. Minutemen by 3.

Gabe: UMass by 3.

Sean: This might be the first time I pick the Minutemen all year long. Go. Go U. Go U Mass. Go UMass, by 12.

TJ: Say what you will about UMass but they did give themselves a very tough schedule and they have been playing well so far. Wagner was not put on the schedule to be a tough game, this will be a cakewalk for the Minutemen and on the last home game on campus for UMass, the crowd should be rowdy (weather pending). UMass by 20.

Will: With it being the last home game of the year, nothing would make me happier than going out in style. UMass by 3.

Mikey: They’re at home. UMass by 10.

 

TUESDAY

 #20 Western Michigan v. Ball State

Tyler: I’m inclined to pick against Western Michigan for scheduling a game on a damn Tuesday. But they are playing Ball State… WMU by 20.

Gabe: Western Michigan by 13.

Sean: Western Michigan by 17.

TJ: Western Michigan and Ball State will face off on Tuesday because MACtion is a little odd but WMU likes the MAC because they find themselves 8-0. I don’t see Ball State posing too much of a challenge for Western Michigan so going to have to go with the WMU Broncos by 22.

Will: Western Michigan by 17.

Mikey: Why not? WMU by 24.

 

Cover Photo from cleveland.com.

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