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College Football Picks 2018: Week Three

(#4) Ohio State Buckeyes vs. (#15) TCU Horned Frogs (neutral site)
J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State

After pounding Oregon State and Rutgers to begin 2018, fourth-ranked Ohio State gets their toughest test of the season in the form of TCU, who has also rolled in their first two games. The two teams will collide in AT&T Stadium, both with Playoff aspirations in the back of their mind. This will be the last game for the Buckeyes before Urban Meyer returns from suspension, and it will certainly be no breeze. TCU has plenty of explosive weapons to work with, headlined by do-it-all wide out KaVontae Turpin and young QB Shawn Robinson, who leads the team in passing and rushing. Robinson has looked good replacing last year's starter, Kenny Hill, but he faces an Ohio State defense with a ferocious pass rush and experience in the secondary. TCU's offensive line is solid, but can they keep Robinson upright against Nick Bosa and company? If not, the Horned Frogs could definitely struggle to find any offensive rhythm, especially for an offense not known for being very balanced. The hope is that a physical TCU defense can do the same thing to Ohio State's own signal-caller, Dwayne Haskins. Haskins has looked superb over the first two games, but this is the defense he has seen as the Buckeyes starter. Playmaking defenders like Ben Banogu will constantly hound Haskins, but this Buckeyes' O-Line seems to be in better shape than the TCU front. Yet, it may not be Haskins at all leading the way offensively for OSU, but instead their 1-2 punch at tailback, with Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins. The pair has looked unstoppable for much of the first few weeks, and the Horned Frogs defense is okay, but far from a strength. With TCU wary of Haskins' arm strength and the deep throw, this ground attack could have some major success. It will be intriguing to see what the environment ends up being like here. This is essentially a home game for TCU (College GameDay will be on their campus), but the Buckeyes always travel well, and they should be motivated for this game. Even if the "home" fans can give the Horned Frogs a lift, I still lean Ohio Stat here. They've looked nearly flawless early on, not missing a beat without Urban, and they can hurt you in so many ways. Unless Robinson can somehow manage the game of his life against a top-notch defense, the Buckeyes should be able to boost their Playoff resume with a victory here.
The Pick: Ohio State, 35 TCU, 21

(#12) LSU Tigers @ (#7) Auburn Tigers
While the Big Ten East may have something to say about it, the SEC West has looked like the best division in college football over the season's first two weeks. Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Mississippi State could all be Playoff threats, and Texas A&M and Ole Miss have impressed as well. The division will start to figure itself out this weekend, with LSU going into Jordan-Hare to meet Auburn in what should be a typical hard-hitting SEC battle. LSU opened up their 2018 with a surprisingly dominant showing against Miami, but they are still not without questions. Quarterback Joe Burrow, an Ohio State grad transfer, has impressed, but the passing game still doesn't exactly strike fear into opponents. Running back Nick Brossette has impressed in replacing the departed Derrius Guice, but he will have to run against an Auburn defensive front that is as good as anybody in the entire country. LSU must find a way to block a defensive line that includes guys like Derrick Brown and Dontavius Russell, two All-American talents. It will be an interesting challenge for this LSU offense, but their defense should be able to keep them in it no matter what. They are led by one of the country's premier linebackers, Devin White, along with a stingy secondary that knows how to force turnovers. Jarrett Stidham and the Auburn offense looked pretty good against Washington in their opener, but this LSU defense is a little bit more physical and slightly more experienced. Stidham has been known to get turnover-prone when you get in his face, so LSU DC Dave Aranda should bring the heat early and often here. Auburn's offensive line is still reloading after being hit hard by attrition over the off-season, so they could be in store for a tough week blocking LSU. It is still hard to get a read on just how good LSU is right now; there is no denying their talent and their season-opening win was as impressive as you can get. With that being said, I just can't imagine them going on the road and beating Auburn just yet. There are still too many questions about the LSU offense, and Gus Malzahn should be creative in how he attacks the other side of the ball, giving Auburn yet another impressive early-season victory.
The Pick: Auburn, 26 LSU, 20

(#17) Boise State Broncos @ (#24) Oklahoma State Cowboys
Despite playing in the WAC and Mountain West for years, Boise State is no stranger to facing big-time opponents in the non-conference and they get just that this weekend on the road against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are still figuring things out offensively without QB Mason Rudolph and wide out James Washington, but that hasn't stifled them too much, as they are still averaging 56.5 PPG, albeit against weak competition. Former walk-on Taylor Cornelius has had some ups-and-downs as the Cowboys' starter early, and he faces a challenge against a deep and veteran-laden Boise State defense. He'll need help from a rebuilding offensive line and one of the country's most underrated backs, explosive Justice Hill. Boise is a much more physical team than most of the teams Oklahoma State faces in the Big 12, so it should be an interesting challenge for Mike Gundy and this OSU staff. The Cowboys should still be able to put up points, but the long-time challenge for them has been stopping their opponent from doing just the same. The Broncos have not missed a beat offensively over the first two weekends, as veteran QB Brett Rypien has played terrific and a number of playmakers have emerged. This is an incredibly balanced Boise offense that doesn't turn the ball over, which is a major concern for an Oklahoma State defense that needs to force turnovers to have any chance. OSU will likely try to dial up the blitz to make Rypien off-balance, but the four-year starter doesn't get rattled by much. Even with UCF still undefeated and eager to prove last year was no fluke, I firmly believe Boise State is the top Group of Five team in the nation in 2018. Going into Stillwater to face a solid Cowboys team is no easy task, but the Broncos are so talented and so experienced. They should be able to come away with a huge road victory here, in a game sure to keep the scoreboard operators quite busy.
The Pick: Boise State, 45 Oklahoma State, 37

Other Picks
Vanderbilt @ (#8) Notre Dame: Notre Dame, 31 Vanderbilt, 17
(#5) Oklahoma @ Iowa State: Oklahoma, 44 Iowa State, 35
(#22) USC @ Texas: Texas, 28 USC, 24
(#1) Alabama @ Ole Miss: Alabama, 34 Ole Miss, 30
(#10) Washington @ Utah: Washington, 35 Utah, 33

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