Breaking news, rankings, predictions and analysis all in one place.

College Football Picks 2017: Week Nine

Marcus Allen, Penn State
College Football Picks 2017: Week Nine
Current Record: 48-16

(7-0) 2 Penn State Nittany Lions vs. (6-1) 6 Ohio State Buckeyes
@Ohio Stadium (Columbus), 2:30 PM Saturday on FOX

Last season, Ohio State looked well on their way to another Big Ten title and possibly a National Championship berth before they headed to Happy Valley and were stunned by Penn State. For the Nittany Lions, it was the wakeup call they needed, as James Franklin's squad has gone 13-1 over their last fourteen games, and now themselves looks well on their way to a second consecutive conference title. Much like last year, Penn State will be led by their explosive offense, headlined by Heisman frontrunner Saquon Barkley, who can hurt defenses in so many ways. The junior can kill opponents on the ground with his cutting ability and breakaway speed, in the passing attack as a receiver, and on special teams, where he is a return demon. Barkley will give Ohio State their stiffest challenge in a long time, and it will be interesting to see how the Buckeyes' front seven, known as one of the nation's best, will deal with him. The Nittany Lions will also bring dangerous quarterback Trace McSorley to the table, along with a number of big-play receivers. Ohio State's secondary has struggled against good passing offenses (see Indiana, Oklahoma) so expecting a high-scoring game wouldn't be surprising. On offense, the Buckeyes have looked very good since a slow start to the season, but it has been against less-than-stellar defenses. Veteran quarterback J.T. Barrett is a proven dual threat who has looked better this year, but he has struggled in big games throughout his career, and will face a very aggressive and ferocious PSU defense. Barrett will be joined by dangerous running backs J.K. Dobbins, who is lethal in the open field, and Mike Weber, who excels between the tackles. Both running backs should be able to produce, but the Nittany Lions' defense is very skilled against the run. Ball-hawking defensive back Marcus Allen is one of the best in the country at getting into opponents' backfields and causing chaos, and underrated linebacker Jason Cabinda is an All-Conference stopper. Those two should be able to mitigate Dobbins/Weber enough to put Penn State in position to come away with a victory. Talent-wise this game appears to be very even, particularly if Barrett can keep playing the way he has over the past few weeks. That makes the finer points of the game very critical, including special teams, coaching and turnovers. Momentum and motivation should also be a huge factor. Both teams are extremely hot right now, but Ohio State wants revenge for last season. That, plus the fact that they are playing at home, puts the Buckeyes in a good spot to come away with a huge win. However, Barkley is a truly game-changing running back and I'm not sure an inconsistent OSU defense can deal with him. If he can take over this one (like he does all season long for Penn State) the Nittany Lions should once again be able to come out on top in another exciting finish.

The Pick: Penn State, 38 Ohio State, 34

(6-1) 9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. (6-1) 14 NC State Wolfpack
Notre Dame Stadium (South Bend), 2:30 PM Saturday on NBC

Prior to this season, who could have predicted that this meeting between Notre Dame, who went 4-8 in 2016, and NC State, a mid-tier ACC team, would have such a big impact on the College Football Playoff chase. But, the 6-1 Irish have been one of the nation's biggest surprises and appear well on their way to a double-digit win campaign, while NC State has a chance to overcome Clemson in the ACC Atlantic. Notre Dame's offense is predicated on their fabulous ground attack, which is led by explosive back Josh Adams, who has put his name in the Heisman conversation after a dominant showing against USC. First-year starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush doesn't kill you with his arm, but he is a terrific runner that can really open things up for this offense. On the outside, possession wide out Equanimeous St. Brown is going to be able to give NC State's secondary plenty of issues. It will be interesting to see how successful ND's ground game will be going up against the Wolfpack D-Line, which has four senior starters and one of the country's top pass rushers in end Bradley Chubb. NC State offensively doesn't quite have the big-play threats that Notre Dame possesses, but they still find ways to move the ball. Former Boise State transfer Ryan Finley is rock-solid and keeps the offense humming, but he doesn't really scare you as a defense. Back Nyheim Hines and do-it-all offensive weapon Jaylen Samuels will help him out, but the Wolfpack are going up against a much-improved Notre Dame defense. The Irish are well-coached and have great gap discipline, which should help prevent big plays from NC State. Linebackers Te'von Cooney, Nyles Morgan and Greer Martini aren't the most hyped-up group of linebackers, but they are as good and as effective as anybody across the nation. While Penn State-Ohio State could turn into a shootout with how talented both of those offenses are, I would not be surprised to see this become a defensive battle. Both of these teams are well-rounded on both sides of the ball, and enter this game with significant momentum. I worry about Notre Dame running the ball against the Wolfpack's defensive front, but I don't have much confidence in NC State moving the ball against the flaming hot Irish defense. It should be a low-scoring battle, but at home, Notre Dame should be able to come out on top.

The Pick: Notre Dame, 24 NC State, 17

(7-0) 4 TCU Horned Frogs vs. (5-2) 25 Iowa State Cyclones
@Jack Trice Stadium (Ames), 2:30 PM Saturday on ABC

Few teams have surprised as much this season as Iowa State, who enters a pivotal Big 12 matchup with TCU 5-2 and 3-1 in the conference. The Cyclones have looked significantly improved on both sides of the ball, and are getting big-time production from converted quarterback Joel Lanning, who now plays linebacker. TCU comes to town as the favorite in the Big 12 sitting at 7-0 and fourth in the nation, but things could get interesting. Iowa State has a long history of upsets, particularly against conference foes with National Title hopes (see Oklahoma State 2011). For TCU to avoid the upset they will need QB Kenny Hill to play like he has all season. After struggling through a turnover-prone 2016 Hill has improved tremendously in his senior season. He has cut down on his interceptions a ton this season and is making better decisions. When paired with running back Darius Anderson and the ultra-versatile KaVontae Turpin, this Horned Frogs' offense can be very potent. Iowa State is much better on the defensive side of the ball, thanks in large part to Lanning's play in the middle and an aggressive secondary. However, the defense is still prone to the big play and has struggled to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, which certainly does not bode well. The Cyclones' offense lost their starting quarterback, Georgia transfer Jacob Park, for the year a couple weeks ago but that has not slowed them down. Former walk-on Kyle Kempt engineered the big upset over Oklahoma, and has played with impressive poise and confidence. It also helps he has one of the conference's best receivers, veteran Allen Lazard, to throw to on the outside. TCU has long been a defensive-minded team under Gary Patterson, and that hasn't changed too much since their move to the Big 12. They may be slightly less stingy than they once were, but Patterson still does a marvelous job coaching up the defense and getting production from unlikely sources. This year's defense doesn't appear to be necessarily elite, but it could be the best in the conference. If the stout secondary can contain Lazard and make Kempt uncomfortable (something Oklahoma didn't do enough when they were upset), the Horned Frogs will be in a good spot. There is a ton of excitement about what Iowa State has done this season, and the fans should be out in full force for what could be a magical night in Ames. The Cyclones should be able to give TCU quite the game, but I don't see them pulling off the upset like they did against Oklahoma. TCU is a much more balanced team and if Hill plays well, they should stay undefeated.

The Pick: TCU, 35 Iowa State, 25

Other Picks
(#22) West Virginia, 37 (#11) Oklahoma State, 31
(#3) Georgia, 38 Florida, 20
(#7) Clemson, 34 Georgia Tech, 24
(#13) Virginia Tech, 30 Duke, 14
(#5) Wisconsin, 44 Illinois, 17

No comments:

Theme images by LUGO. Powered by Blogger.