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The 3 W’s of Week 8

by Donte Nystrom

The 3 W’s is a series I’d like to start to inform you of what’s going on in the upcoming week of college football. I want to let you know What are the biggest events going on, Who are the Heisman hopefuls, and Winners: Who you should pick to win for your College Pick’em, by the spread, of course.

WHAT?

No. 11 USC at No. 13 Notre Dame (6:30 PM; NBC): This top-15 matchup between old foes is the headliner going into this weekend and here’s why. On paper, they’re pretty equal, so what you need to do for this game is just throw the stat sheet in the garbage and then light the garbage on fire so you don’t go back to get it. Here’s something that I think society has a hard time doing that I think you should do for this game: just watch it. USC and Notre Dame have a long history and the tradition is incredible. This will be the 33rd year that both teams are meeting as ranked opponents (ND has best record in that category: 16-14-2). It’s gone back-and-forth between the two teams recently and even when they’re both ranked, it’s even closer. This year, there’s even playoff implications on the line, so both teams are going to bring the heat. So just sit back and relax and watch some good, old-fashioned football.

No. 19 Michigan at No. 2 Penn State: Another top-25 matchup. This one is just a little more bitter, as not only playoff contention is on the line, but a possible spot in the Big 10 championship too. Harbaugh’s Big Blue is coming into a very Happy Valley to try to ruin any hopes of a rejuvenation in the Penn State football program that has struggled with many heartbreaks over the last decade. As we know, and I’ll cover later, Saquon Barkley is arguably the best Heisman candidate today and will look to boost his already awesome resume against a very stingy Michigan defense. In fact, if there’s one thing that will stop Barkley, it’s going to be the number one total defense in the nation. Barkley, meet Big Blue wall.

No. 20 UCF at Navy: Okay so these teams have never met before. Ever. But they’re going to this week and it should be quite the treat. Navy, as most of us know, run the infamous and indigenous style of football we call the power option. On the other hand, Central Florida runs a very pass heavy offense and is not terribly reliant on defense. Navy struggled last week with a season-high five turnovers, the most in 15 years. But, UCF doesn’t face teams with this offense, let alone the highest ranking rushing attack in the country, which averages almost 400 yards (397) per game. But, to be one of those stat crunching, pattern-seekers, UCF has the highest margin of victory in the country behind the second highest efficient quarterback, plus, UCF coach Scott Frost, who played and won a National Championship with Nebraska while running an option-based offense, was the scout quarterback for the defense . . . pretty cool, hopefully it works for them.

WHO?

RB-Saquon Barkley, Penn State: You should know about this spectacular running behemoth already, but I’ll explain why he’s still number one. Saquon is consistent, for the most part. He’s 21st in yards rushing in the nation and averaging almost 7 yards a carry. He’s also in a tough Power 5 conference and practically carrying his team through the year, whether that’s running more than Forrest or keeping any defense he faces nervous and in the box, allowing Trace McSorely to throw anywhere he wants. And he’s like that volcano in Iceland that’s way too hard to pronounce or even spell, in other words, he can explode anytime he wants.

RB-Bryce Love, Stanford: He’s finally getting the limelight he deserves. Also carrying his team in a Power 5 conference. The difference between Love and Barkley is that he’s doing it entirely with his feet. He has 1,387 yards on the ground averaging over 10 yards a carry! He’s the number one rusher in the nation. Without him, Stanford might be looking at maybe not having any wins.

QB-Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State: Arguably the best QB in the nation. Yes, better than the Sam Darnold hype train, which lasted about as long as the clown thing that had the nation freaking out. For once, a pocket quarterback that isn’t from the over-heavy passing west-coast-type offense. Just to throw in those really cool stats everyone likes, here they are: he’s in the top-25 in passing efficiency in the nation, third in passing touchdowns, touchdowns responsible for, passing yards per attempt and second in passing yards. That’s a good resume, and quite frankly, the only hope the quarterbacks have in taking the Heisman.

Notables: RB Rashaad Penny, SDSU; QB Luke Falk, Wazzou; QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville; QB Josh Rosen, UCLA

WINNERS

Louisville at Florida State- Two teams that met as top-10 teams last year. Not so much this year. Louisville still has Lamar Jackson, who is still really good.

Winner: Louisville (+6)

No. 10 Oklahoma State at Texas- Texas just can’t really figure out what’s wrong with them, neither can I and neither can the rest of the country. Heisman hopeful Mason Rudolph is going to have a big day in Austin. That spread is entirely too easy to pick.

Winner: Oklahoma State (-7)

No. 20 UCF at Navy- I don’t even want to pick this game because it gives me a headache to try to break it down, so to avoid that I’m just going to say this; Navy runs the smoothest power option I’ve seen in a while and UCF runs the most entertaining offense I’ve seen in a while. UCF’s coach put on the cleats to help his team by being the Navy scout QB. Therefore, UCF takes the cake because you can’t pick against an intangible like dedication.

Winner: UCF (-7)

No. 11 USC at No. 13 Notre Dame- I know I said to not look at any paper or any stat for this game, but at least look at the spread if you’re counting on Vegas for your money this week. I know it sucks that they put the spread at the most awful number ever, but it is what it is. That is also the most annoying saying ever and I’m deeply sorry for using it. Kind of. Anyway, Notre Dame is at home and Darnold will probably throw three picks for Notre Dame to win by 4.

Winner: Notre Dame (-3.5)

No. 19 Michigan at No. 2 Penn State- My belief is that defense wins games. Since I have that belief, it’s hard for me to fathom that the number one defense in the country is going to get beat in any circumstance. But I am definitely doubting myself. I’m the rope in a tug-of-war between a train and the Fort Knox treasury safe. Saquon Barkley isn’t going to explode like that volcano in Iceland, but Trace McSorley is going to thrive in Michigan’s overcompensation by overloading the box for Barkley. Penn State wins close enough to take the points on Michigan.

Winner: Michigan (+9.5)

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