2017 Week 8 NCAAF Weekend Preview

October 19, 2017

I’ll recap last weekend with a comment made by my Dad via text:

The film of October plus the pressure of November leaves very few intact.

In fact, I’m not sure I could have summed it up much better myself (thanks, Dad). In all, three teams previously in the Top 10 went down in Week 7, and no state was hit harder than Washington, which saw both the Cougars and Huskies lose a shot at running the table. For those of you that pay particularly close attention to the blog, you’ll find this as yet another example of how the written word of K. Becks truly is the kiss of death. I’ve been pumping up the Apple Cup for a few weeks now.

After last weekend’s craziness, the ears of the college football fan have perked up and now everyone is on edge expecting to see the next major upset. And since we’re talking about 18-22 year olds playing this game, it’s bound to keep happening.

That will only make things tougher in the head-to-head prediction game. The Rugby Man increased the guests’ lead last week, correctly predicting that LSU would continue its turnaround after a horrible mid-September stretch. The overall standings now look like this:

K. Becks – 21-14

Guests – 24-11

This week, my buddy Sal will pause from his mourning following the news that our hometown soccer team may be moving after the 2018 season. I was quite impressed with his analysis of the situation, which makes me nervous about what may happen with regards to our picks this weekend. He’s has a quiet understanding of the world of sport.

Let’s take a look at the top games to follow in college football this weekend.

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

#10 Oklahoma State at Texas (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

It really does feel like the Longhorns are a few good breaks away from knocking off a top team this season. Tom Herman’s first year at the helm has not been one for the impatient, to put it lightly. The good news is that Texas is still very young at a lot of positions where you typically would prefer experience. The bad news is that many thought Herman’s track record would make up for that, at least on the offensive end. Unfortunately, that hasn’t really been the case this season.

Although the Longhorns average over 450 yards of offense per game, they are just seventh in the Big 12 in scoring offense. The reason this game may get interesting, though, is because of two strengths that will go head-to-head. Texas leads the conference with 9 interceptions on the season, and that opportunistic defense will be going up against the Big 12’s top passing offense. If experience wins the day, then the Cowboys will outpace the Longhorns. But don’t be surprised if Herman’s squad forces a few turnovers and this one is just as close as the Red River Shootout was a week ago.

My Pick: 41-34 Oklahoma State

Sal’s Take: Ok, I’m going to be transparent in terms of my biased emotions going into this game. I’m a big fan of Tom Herman and I wish him all the success because I want to see Texas football become powerful again with him at the reigns. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of the city of Austin at the moment and I wish them no joy (#SaveTheCrew). Feelings set aside, Texas has looked like a work in progress this year, putting up some good fights but Rudolph ‘N’ The Boys are going to smoke ‘em through the air. With Texas being a home, it should be close for the first half but I expect Texas’ defense to breakdown due to OK St.’s offensive attack.

Final Score: Oklahoma State– 45 Texas – 20

#20 Central Florida at Navy (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Navy had a good chance to make this game a battle between two Top 25 teams, and on the road against a now ranked Memphis last weekend the Midshipmen nearly pulled it off. This one won’t be any easier for Ken Niumatalolo’s squad, however, as the Knights don’t have weaknesses in the areas that Navy teams would historically exploit. UCF has one of the best run defenses in the AAC and is second in the conference in turnover margin, which will be huge in a game where possessions will be treated like gold. If Navy is to get back on the winning track, McKenzie Milton needs to be contained. The sophomore has burst onto the scene as a star in the making, leading the conference in QBR and completion percentage this season.

If Navy can force Milton into having a bad outing (he hasn’t had one yet this year), the Midshipmen can win this game. Although the pressure isn’t nearly as high on the Knights as it is for a team such as, say, Penn State, UCF is still gunning for a huge postseason reward if it keeps winning games. Navy is the last team one would expect to succumb to the distraction of high pressure, so I think they’ll be able to pull this one out at home.

My Pick: 27-24 Navy

Sal’s Take: Even though the polls don’t believe UCF is an actual contender with its 5-0 record, I think it is a solid outside-the-Power-Five team. They have ravaged their competition thus far, offensively and defensively. When comparing to Navy’s performances, it’s an obvious choice between these two. Knights win big.

Final score: UCF – 48 Navy – 10

#9 Oklahoma at Kansas State (Saturday, 4 PM ET)

It’s hard to say that the Sooners looked impressive against Texas following its loss to Iowa State two weeks ago (hangover effect, perhaps?), allowing some doubt to creep in about Oklahoma. Where is the defense that held Ohio State to just 16 points in The Shoe? The secondary has been a particular weak spot as of late, allowing over 275 yards through the air each of the last three games. Much of that may have to do with the opposition, but it is still a concern considering the preference of the majority of Big 12 offenses. Luckily for Lincoln Riley, that isn’t the case with Kansas State.

The Wildcats will always give 100% effort, but unfortunately there just doesn’t appear to be enough offensively for Bill Snyder’s team to shock the Sooners. No one has passed for fewer yards this season in the Big 12 than Kansas State, and it is no secret that Snyder doesn’t intend to try to catch up in that category. Jesse Ertz has 58 fewer passing attempts than the next closest QB in the Big 12. If this was a pass happy team, then maybe the Sooners would be in trouble. But the only thing that keeps Kansas State in this one is the crowd.

My Pick: 34-17 Oklahoma State

Sal’s Take: There’s not too much I like about Baker Mayfield but he’s a dangerous offensive threat to this inconsistent Kansas State defense and I find him generally offensive. My feelings towards another enemy-of-the-state, of Ohio, will not dissuade my analytical research regarding the outcome of this game. Oklahoma is the real deal coming out of the Big XII and they’re not losing another game for the rest of the regular season, but their defense has been looking Swiss-cheesy in the last three weeks against less than stellar teams. With all that said, enjoy playing in the Cotton Bowl again this season, Oklahoma.

Final Score: Oklahoma – 28 Kansas State – 17

#19 Michigan at #2 Penn State (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

On one hand, it looks like these are two teams headed in the exact opposite directions. Michigan has been struggling offensively and nearly dropped its second straight game against Indiana last weekend. Penn State has rolled the past two weeks after needing the final play of regulation to beat Iowa three weeks ago, and has been the benefactor of other Top 10 teams’ misfortune as of late. But while Penn State’s head coach is relatively normal by college football’s standards, Michigan’s is unusual, to say the least. It wouldn’t be surprising if his mantra this week has been “let’s beat Penn State so that Ohio State can’t be the one that took them out.”

The interesting thing is that this type of logic sometimes works in the college ranks. While Michigan has been getting blasted by the media as of late, Penn State are the darlings that can do no wrong. It was somewhat surprising in the game against Iowa that despite gaining 585 total yards of offense, the Nittany Lions were only able to post 21 points. If the Wolverines can keep the score low, then they have a chance to silence Happy Valley on Saturday night. Let’s not forget, however, how the Wolverines treated Penn State in the Big House last year. Coach Harbaugh can try all the mind games he wants, but the fact is that it won’t be enough to overcome a team that is angry and good.

My Pick: 28-14 Penn State

Sal’s Take: Boy, oh boy. Big time, prime time B1G matchup. Two B1G East heavy weights duking it out for the top spot in the only interesting division in the B1G. Too bad Michigan is an extremely mediocre team that has no quarterback and a less than stellar run game or this could have been a classic. Enjoy yourself some beer pong, corn hole, strip poker, charades, FIFA or whatever drinking game you participate in Saturday nights while you bask in the lulz of this over-hyped massacre. Michigan fans, you’re going to have Rich Rod PTSD flashbacks by mid-way through the 2nd. Penn State’s got some suppressed frustration to manifest itself in Happy Valley this Saturday and I think everyone in the B1G will openly support you this time.

Final Score: Michigan – 13 Penn State – 42

#11 Southern Cal at #13 Notre Dame (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

It’s been awhile since this game has had major implications for both teams depending on the result, but such is the case in the 2017 Battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh. Southern Cal has been hanging around the top 10 all season despite really only having one performance that befits a top 10 college football team. The offense has been quite underwhelming in a few games this season, and much of that has to do with the inconsistency of Sam Darnold. The decision making of the future NFL draft first rounder has been questionable to say the least, and downright unacceptable for a player of his caliber to be completely honest. Interceptions haven’t destroyed the Trojans’ season only because of the competition that many of those turnovers came against.

Notre Dame’s defense has looked strong all year and the only blemish on the record is a one point loss to Georgia, which has turned out to be much better than most people would have thought entering the season. Assuming that the Fighting Irish can force Darnold into some of the same mistakes that lesser defenses have already done, Brian Kelly’s team should be able to win this game. It isn’t often that this praise is bestowed upon Notre Dame on Around The Corn, but the Fighting Irish are the better football team in this one and will expose Southern Cal, which is a pretender.

My Pick: 33-24 Notre Dame

Sal’s Take: This’ll be a tight one. A legendary USC vs ND for the books. It’ll have everything: turnovers, blown secondaries, special teams game changers, and probably some controversy. It’s going to be a battle of, “who’s going to let their guard down first?” Who’s going to trip up? Sam Darnold. I’ve got nothing against this guy but he is about as impactful as Andy Dalton. “Wow, look at that play he did. Amazing! Heiman Watch!” Terrific! Look at that, another pick. Wow! Another sack. Maybe he’ll throw down a fumble just to keep this one interesting, cuz drama. Notre Dame’s not going to light it up or anything, I just think they’re going to make fewer mistakes. TOUCHDOWN JESUS FTW!

Final Score: USC – 21 Notre Dame – 24

5 Games to Flip To

Northwestern at Iowa (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Literally, this game is only on the list because the article wasn’t finished in time for the Memphis/Houston game on Thursday night. Don’t expect a lot of points in this one, but it will probably be close.

Iowa State at Texas Tech (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Both of these teams are missing something that would take them to the next level, but neither are bad teams. Compared with the Northwestern/Iowa game, this one will be a barn burner.

Boston College at Virginia (Saturday, 12:30 PM ET)

Don’t look now, but Virginia could be making its once-every-five-year run at an ACC title game appearance.

Syracuse at #8 Miami (FL) (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

It will be hard for the Orange to upset two top 10 teams in a row, but Miami is the 2017 version of Tennessee. At some point, the good luck is going to run out for the Hurricanes.

Colorado at #15 Washington State (Saturday, 10:45 PM ET)

We should have known better than to trust Washington State with a top 10 ranking. The Pirate prefers to fly under the radar, so the Cougars should probably right the ship against a decent Colorado team.

If you would like to become a guest prognosticator like Sal did this week, please let me know in one of the following ways: email me at kbecks@aroundthecorn.com, send me a message on Around The Corn’s Facebook page, post a comment under this article or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. Opportunities to become a guest prognosticator will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Thanks everyone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *