Last week’s record: 4-2
I told you that an undefeated team from Oklahoma would go down in Week 8, but I certainly didn’t think it would be Texas Tech doing the damage. I am picking all of the road teams this week, and I expect to go at least 5-1. It is time for the contenders (Michigan State) to stand apart from the pretenders (Penn State).
1st Pick: #11 Michigan State at #14 Nebraska
(Saturday @ 12 p.m. ET on ESPN)
- The Spartans pulled another rabbit out of the hat last week as they completed the Hail Mary to halt Wisconsin’s quest for an undefeated season. Now they have to travel to Lincoln where their new conference opponent is looking to unseat them as the hottest one-loss team in the nation. This game will undoubtedly set the tone for the rest of the day as I expect great defense in front of an outstanding atmosphere. While Taylor Martinez’s performance will determine the outcome, that stingy Spartan defense will contain him on the road and squeak out a 24-20 victory early Saturday afternoon.
Rivalry Pick: #22 Georgia vs. Florida (in Jacksonville)
(Saturday @ 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS)
- While it has been very easy to pick against the Gators this season, Georgia may be the other prominent SEC team that I would have gone away from had they played in any big games. I have not seen much of the Bulldogs since their loss to Boise State, but I know that they have a good defense and they are 3-0 on the road. While this is technically a neutral site game, the blue will outweigh the red in the stands in Jacksonville. The Gators will have their starting QB John Brantley back behind center and they will need him to be sharp. The Bulldogs’ defense will target his healing ankle and limit the punch-less Florida offense to a low number. Georgia continues its winning streak with a 31-13 win.
Marquee Pick: #9 Oklahoma at #8 Kansas State
(Saturday @ 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN)
- This game was supposed to be a stepping-stone for Oklahoma’s journey to its battle against the Cowboys from Stillwater, but now they find themselves behind Kansas State in the rankings. The Sooners are still in striking distance of the BCS title game, but this game will prove to be the biggest in Manhattan, Kansas since Bill Snyder’s last stint as the Wildcats’ head coach. His QB Collin Klein is a monster, and his 22 total touchdowns should definitely stand out on the stat sheet. While I would love to pick K-State in this game, I have to go with the team that has been battle-tested and is used to the limelight. Oklahoma takes an early lead and then matches scores until the very end, winning 38-31.
Upset Pick: Illinois at #19 Penn State
(Saturday @ 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC)
- This is the least sexy game of the 2011 season. Illinois is in a slump and they need a win in the worst way. Penn State has been forgotten since its early loss to Alabama. They should win in front of a raucous crowd that is ready for its team to announce itself as a Big Ten frontrunner, but I just don’t see the Illini losing three games in a row. Penn State’s only to chance to win this game is by shutout. While that is not out of reach against a team that has been abysmal the last two weeks, I think that Ron Zook will out-coach the much, much older Joe Paterno and lead his team to the ugliest 6-5 win that you will ever see.
Bandwagon Pick: #5 Clemson at Georgia Tech
(Saturday @ 8 p.m. ET on ABC)
- My Tigers just keep on winning and have been looking somewhat shaky the last two weeks. That shakiness will be pushed to the brink as the fifth-ranked team heads to Atlanta, hoping to stymie one of the scariest running games in all of college football. How scary is it? The Yellow Jackets average 321 rushing yards per game and Orwin Smith is running for 12 yards on every carry. On top of that, the Tigers are giving up 25 ppg. All in all, Clemson will have to find a way to slug this one out for a great road win. They need to force fumbles and get the ball to Sammy Watkins 20 times to stay unbeaten. I see a whopping score line here with the Tigers ending up on top, 55-49.
Revenge Pick: #6 Stanford at USC
(Saturday @ 8 p.m. ET on ABC)
- Does anyone else remember back when Jim Harbaugh led the Cardinal over the almighty Trojans at The Coliseum in a Saturday night shocker? This match-up looks very similar in a flip-flopped fashion. Stanford continues to roll on its way to a clash with Oregon as USC has only lost one game to this point. If Stanford is going to have a letdown game, there will not be a bigger stage for it than the one set tomorrow night. Matt Barkley must be tired of hearing about Andrew Luck, and this is his best shot at proving his draft stock to be anywhere near the Stanford signal caller. I am going with the best player in next year’s draft and I think that his defense will kill Barkley’s shot for supremacy of California. Stanford continues to circle its date with Oregon after a 45-31 win over Lane Kiffin.