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College Football Picks 2017: Week Two

J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
College Football Picks 2017: Week Two
Current Record: 5-3

(1-0) 2 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. (1-0) 5 Oklahoma Sooners
@Ohio Stadium (Columbus), 6:30 PM Saturday on ABC

After getting dominated by Ohio State in this matchup last year, Oklahoma is eager to get vengeance on the Buckeyes as the two square off in a big primetime battle. The Sooners looked nearly flawless in their opener, pummeling UTEP 56-7, as QB Baker Mayfield threw just one incompletion. On the other side, the Buckeyes opened up slow against Indiana before turning on the jets and winning easily in Bloomington. The Buckeyes struggled to defend the pass in that victory against Indiana, and they could be in store for a tough showing against Mayfield and the impressive weapons OU has on the perimeter. The good news is that their defensive front may be the country's best, which they certainly demonstrated in their opener. The D-Line of Tyquan Lewis, Dre'Mont Jones, Sam Hubbard and Nick Bosa is as athletic and versatile as you can get in the country, so expect Lincoln Riley and the rest of the Sooners' staff to lean almost exclusively on the pass. Ohio State didn't perform quite the way they wanted to offensively for much of their opener, so there may be some pressure on new OC Kevin Wilson to produce even more in this one. J.T. Barrett received a ton of hype throughout the off-season, but didn't look overwhelmingly great in the first game. The veteran can understand any defense, but he is still hesitant with many of his throws and still struggles to extend the field. He'll hope some more receivers can step beyond Parris Campbell and rock-solid tight end Marcus Baugh to counter a solid Oklahoma secondary that includes shutdown corner Jordan Thomas. In the backfield, true freshman J.K. Dobbins impressed in his debut, showing incredible burst and wiggle. He should see plenty of action in this one, but Ohio State may also get sophomore Mike Weber back, the season's projected starter who missed the opener with hamstring problems. That gives OSU a scary 1-2 punch at the position, going up against a Sooners' defense not known for being very adept at stopping the rush. Since it is so early in the year, it's pretty hard to know exactly how good these two teams are, but their openers gave us enough indication that both should be quite dangerous. I think it should be a very evenly matched game, and one that should include plenty of points. I think Oklahoma has the advantage at quarterback, but Ohio State has more depth throughout their roster and considering that it is in Columbus, I like the Buckeyes in a thriller.

The Pick: Ohio State, 37 Oklahoma, 34

(1-0) 3 Clemson Tigers vs. (1-0) 13 Auburn Tigers
@Memorial Stadium (Clemson), 6 PM Saturday on ESPN

Clemson and Auburn both rolled in their respective openers, as Auburn spanked Georgia Southern 41-7, while Clemson had no issues with Kent State, winning by over 50. After getting warmed up, the two teams will now collide in what could be a very important game in the Playoff chase. Clemson got a terrific debut from quarterback Kelly Bryant, who looked confident and ready to dominate. Bryant may not have the clutch gene that Deshaun Watson had (although we don't know that for sure yet) but his explosive speed and solid accuracy should keep this offense dangerous. Backs Tavien Feaster and C.J. Fuller, along with wide outs Deon Cain and Hunter Renfrow should also give Auburn headaches trying to contain. Auburn is a decent defensive football team, but it's hard to imagine them having a successful game if they can't contain Clemson's ground attack, which racked up big plays against Kent State like they were nothing. On offense, Auburn's unit looked quite lethal in the opener, but obviously Clemson is a major step-up from Georgia Southern. Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham looked good in the opener, but the Tigers are the best defense he has probably ever faced. He'll not only have to contend with a secondary that isn't elite, but good, and a front seven that is among the best in collegiate football. Dexter Lawrence, Clelin Ferrell and Christian Wilkins love wreaking havoc on opponents, and it will be interesting to see how Auburn's O-Line handles the trio, along with the depth that Clemson can also bring to the table. Clemson's rush defense is strong as well, and it presents a challenge for Gus Malzahn, who is well-known for his love of running the ball and the read-option. Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson are quite the load to handle, however, and Malzahn can be creative with how he gets them the ball. As long as the O-Line does hold up for the most part and Stidham can make some plays down the field, Auburn's offense shouldn't have too much problems keeping up with Clemson. Both of these teams entered the season with high expectations, and the winner should put themselves in very good Playoff position early on. Once again, it seems like a pretty evenly-matched game, and I expect it to be very competitive. However, I feel much more confident about Clemson's defense, and their ability to win big games than I do at this point for Auburn. Clemson should be able to do just enough to keep the fans quite happy in Memorial Stadium this Saturday.

The Pick: Clemson, 34 Auburn, 27

(1-0) 15 Georgia Bulldogs vs. (1-0) 24 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
@Notre Dame Stadium (South Bend), 6:30 PM Saturday on NBC

Georgia's start to the 2017 season started off with a victory over a very dangerous Appalachian State team, but it also started off with a notable loss. Sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason, who many expected to have a breakout second year in Athens, will be out for an undisclosed amount of time due to a sprained knee. Since it is only a sprain and not anything more serious it likely shouldn't cost him too much time, but there is a good chance he'll miss a couple weeks, including this one against a Notre Dame team that looked much improved in their opener, beating Temple easily. Georgia will turn to true frosh Jake Fromm now, a guy with talent but obviously little experience. The Bulldogs will almost certainly lean on their ground game for the for-seeable future, as backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel should lead the way. Notre Dame has taken steps in the right direction on the defensive side of the ball following a disastrous start to 2016, but this is still a unit that can be bullied. If the Bulldogs keep it on the ground and play physical, they should be able to put up points. The Irish are still figuring out things offensively, but they looked great in the opener. QB Brandon Wimbush is a better runner than DeShone Kizer, even if he doesn't have his arm strength. That gives the unit a much different dynamic that it had last year, and it should have plenty of success. But, they must also operate against a Georgia defense that is looking wonderful, and is among the most experienced in the country. The group brought back 10 starters prior to 2017 and it has studs on every single level, especially the linebacker corps and the secondary. Georgia has had a Top 10 pass defense the past two seasons and the way they played against App. State indicates that they should be stout once again. That should put quite a bit of pressure on Wimbush, who doesn't really have a great group of receivers to work with. Junior running back Josh Adams will also have to play a large role after managing 161 yards in the opener, but Georgia's speed and quickness at linebacker enables them to have one incredibly stingy unit. Going on the road with a true freshman at quarterback is disheartening, particularly at a place like Notre Dame. Even so, the Bulldogs' stocked backfield and strong defense should put them in very good position to win the game. As long as Fromm does what is asked and doesn't turn the ball over, I like Georgia's chances to come out on top in what should be a hard-fought game.

The Pick: Georgia, 27 Notre Dame, 17

Other Picks
(#1) Alabama, 49 Fresno State, 13
(#4) Penn State, 38 Pittsburgh, 33
Arkansas, 31 (#23) TCU, 28
Oregon, 35 Nebraska, 30
Iowa, 26 Iowa State, 17

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