College Football continues to give us some fantastic finishes week after week. Last week, Salute’s Dustin Brown went 4-1 with his picks for Week 9. After going 3-2 two weeks ago that brings my total to 8-2 overall. It’s time to make my picks from across the pond in England. There’s a great slate of games this weekend between ranked opponents, let’s get into it.
5. #2 LSU (7-0, 4-0) vs. #4 Alabama (7-1, 4-1)
Before the college football season started, experts and fans alike circled this game on their calendars. Year after year it seems that LSU and Alabama meet in primetime. In fact, this is the 5th straight year that both schools are playing each other in a night game.
Alabama has owned LSU by winning the last four matchups and LSU simply hasn’t had the ammunition in the past to get it done. Now they might just have that in the form of Leonard Fournette.
This is the classic case of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. On one side you have the best running back in the nation versus the 3rd best rushing defense in college football. This game is going to be incredibly close. Both teams have great running backs, average quarterbacks and elite defenses. LSU and Alabama will not disappoint.
Alabama is a 6.5 point favorite at home and the spread would be higher if LSU wasn’t ranked as high. This game is going to be a brawl and it would be a travesty if this game ended up being a blowout. Leonard Fournette and Derrick Henry are good enough to offset these running attacks and they should each rush for more than 100 yards. The player that rushes for more will likely lead their team to victory.
I think LSU finally breaks through and ends this torrid run against the Crimson Tide. The Tigers will win and firmly put themselves in the drivers seat for the SEC title and a spot in the College Football Playoff.
LSU 21 Alabama 17
4. Penn State (7-2, 4-1) vs. #21. Northwestern (6-2, 2-2)
Northwestern was flying high after starting out the season 5-0 but they came back down to Earth after getting demolished by Michigan and Iowa. The fact is neither one of these teams have beaten any tough competition. Penn State’s two losses are to two ranked teams, Ohio State and Temple.
This is another even matchup with Northwestern being 2.5 point favorites at home. Pro prospect Christian Hackenberg continues to look great, he’s thrown 13 touchdowns to 2 interceptions this season. He’ll have his work cut out for him against a Northwestern team that is 6th in the nation against pass allowing just 164.8 yards per game.
Expect this to be another close game in the Big Ten. Northwestern love to run the football and if they establish that then they’ll be able to keep Hackenberg off the field. However, Penn State head coach James Franklin will have his boys ready and Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats are actually 0-7 coming off of a bye week. I’ll be taking Penn State in a slight upset over Northwestern.
Penn State 24 Northwestern 21
3. #5 Notre Dame (7-1, 2-1 Away) vs. Pittsburgh (6-2, 2-1 Home)
Former Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi has already worked his wonders on this Pitt program that has been average for quite some time. His ability to recruit talent from the Midwest will help this team out down the line.
However, will they have enough firepower to take out Notre Dame? The only way that Pitt can stay in this game is if they can slow down the high octane Notre Dame offense that continues to score points in bunches.
Other than their loss to Clemson, Notre Dame has scored at least 30 points over the other four games. Pitt still has some weapons on offense. Freshman running back Quadree Ollison has filled in nicely for injured star James Conner, Ollison is averaging 7.9 yards per carry at home this season, plus they have Tyler Boyd, another Pitt receiver destined for the NFL.
If this was in South Bend then Pittsburgh really wouldn’t stand a chance on the road. Yet, I’ve got this feeling that Pitt might be bringing their A-game at this point in the season.
They’ll pick themselves up emotionally after a tough loss to North Carolina whereas Notre Dame hasn’t been as impressive in their recent wins. It might be a stretch but I’m gonna take Pitt to pull of the upset at home over Notre Dame.
Pitt 27 Notre Dame 24
2. #16 Florida State (7-1, 5-1) vs. #1 Clemson (8-0, 5-0)
Dabo Sweeney might finally have a team capable enough of winning the ACC and a National title. They’ve overcome every road block so far this season and have looked impressive while doing it. They are now the new team at the top in college football. The Tigers now face their toughest test of the season against Florida State who are primed and ready to compete for an ACC title as well.
Clemson are 11th in the country against the run but they haven’t faced a one-two punch like Dalvin Cook and Mario Pender all season. This is the perfect litmus test for Clemson to see how good they really are and if they get it done then they’ll silence everyone once and for all.
Everett Golson versus Deshaun Watson is going to be a great quarterback matchup and whoever takes care of the ball will put their team in a position to win.
Florida State should be insulted that they’re 12.5 point underdogs on the road against Clemson. If they didn’t lose on that last second field goal kick that was blocked and returned for a touchdown against Georgia Tech then the spread would obviously be less.
Florida State will definitely cover the spread in this game, and they’ll be ready for a Clemson team that scores just over 40 points per game.
However, I still think Clemson is a team of destiny and Deshaun Watson has made the plays that former QBs like Tajh Boyd and Kyle Parker didn’t make. Clemson will finally get over the hump and beat the Seminoles at home.
Clemson 42 Florida State 35
1. #8 TCU (8-0, 5-0) vs. #14 Oklahoma State (8-0, 5-0)
Two of the highest scoring teams in the nation square off in a huge game for Big 12 supremacy. Oklahoma State is coming off of a huge comeback win over Texas Tech after they dropped 70 points on the Red Raiders.
TCU is 2nd in the country in scoring and other than their first game this season, they’ve scored 40 points or more in each game. TCU is led by Heisman candidate Trevone Boykin who is close to 3,000 yards passing and has 28 touchdown passes to five interceptions.
Oklahoma State features a mutli-quarterback system to keep defenses off guard and that’s been very successful the last couple of seasons. Both of these teams haven’t had to play tough competition yet, so it’s tough to tell if these teams are really elite but TCU fits that description a bit more.
TCU didn’t get into to the playoff last year because of their weak schedule, but if they win out it’d be tough to deny them a spot. Surely Gary Patterson and his guys are thinking about getting snubbed last year and this team will be on a mission.
Boykin and TCU will have to be weary of Oklahoma State’s opportunistic defense that has 30 sacks on the season which is 2nd in the nation.
Oklahoma State’s defense will have to be lights out if they want to beat TCU but this game will be a shootout either way. Boykin and TCU are just too good with too many weapons to lose to the Cowboys. TCU stays unbeaten and they’ll cover the 4.5 point spread.
TCU 55 Oklahoma State 49