Week eight of college football doesn’t have a slate of high profile games. There are only two games in which both teams that are playing are ranked. However, there are some interesting matchups and a slew of trap games for the top teams which could prove to be vital in the playoff race. Here are three games that I see as locks for the week along with my previews and picks for each game.
Oregon @ Washington
Current Spread: Oregon -3
This is one of the two matchups of two ranked teams this week, with Oregon being ranked 12 and Washington at 25. The Ducks have won five straight since their opening week last-second loss to Auburn and have looked almost flawless in the process. Quarterback Justin Herbert, who will almost positively be an early first-round pick in next year’s draft, been very efficient so far this year. He has thrown for over 1600 yards with 17 touchdowns and only one interception. CJ Verdell leads a steady running game as well. Perhaps, the Ducks’ greatest strength is their defense. This is surprising as defensive struggles have been what has hindered Oregon in the past. They are ranked eighth in the nation in total defense, only giving up 267.7 yards per game. Washington, on the other hand, has been inconsistent especially on the defensive end. Quarterback Jacob Eason and running back Salvon Ahmad have played well, but their supporting cast simply doesn’t match up with Oregon. Last year, the Ducks beat a much stronger Washington team in overtime. With the Huskies losing many of their star players last year, including safety Taylor Rapp, cornerback Byron Murphy, and tackle Kaleb McGary, and the Ducks locking the strongest they have since Marcus Mariota’s departure, I see Oregon winning by at least a touchdown.
My Pick: Oregon -3
LSU @ Mississippi State
Current Spread: LSU -19.5
The second-ranked Tigers have arguably been the most dominant team in the country so far this year, so it is no surprise that they’re the clear favorites away against a struggling Mississippi State team. Quarterback Joe Burrow has gone from a game manager last year to a Heisman favorite and a top draft prospect. He has thrown for 2157 yards and 25 touchdowns this season, and has shown no sign of slowing down. Between Burrow, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase, Terrace Marshall Jr., and Justin Jefferson, LSU has one of the most prolific offenses in the country, scoring over 52 points per game. Not only do they dominate on offense, but the Tigers possess a stout defense. Led by All-American safety Grant Delpit, they have only led up 21 points per game this season despite playing great competition, such as Texas and Florida. Mississippi State is 3-3 and hasn’t recovered from the losses of quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, and edge rusher Montez Sweat. Last week, they looked awful against a poor Tennessee team in which they were kicked around on both sides of the ball en route to a 10 point loss. With LSU having the clear, sizeable edge in talent and the desire to impress the playoff committee, look for them to win and run up the score.
My Pick: LSU -19.5
Missouri @ Vanderbilt
Current Spread: Missouri -21
This is the pick I feel the most comfortable about, mainly because of how bad Vanderbilt is. The Commodores are currently 1-5 and haven’t really shown any sort of promise. Last week, they were crushed by UNLV (who also had only one win at the time) 34-10. Vandy doesn’t have a decent offense, but their defense is what really kills them. In every game besides their one win, they have given up 30 or more points. This won’t be good for them on Saturday as Missouri is quite the opposite. The 22nd ranked Tigers have a stellar offense and one of the highest scoring in the SEC. They haven’t scored less than 34 points in a game this year. Kelly Bryant, the transfer quarterback from Clemson, has started to revitalize his career after a year on the bench behind Trevor Lawrence. The dual-threat quarterback has thrown for over 1500 yards and 12 touchdowns so far this season. Surrounding Bryant on the potent Missouri offense is star tight end and leading receiver Albert Okwuegbunam and running back Larry Roundtree III. Okwuegbunam and Roundtree have scored 12 touchdowns combined this year. The Tigers will win big and probably score over 50 points in the process.
My Pick: Missouri -21
As always, let me know what you think. Do you disagree with any of my picks? Are there any that I missed or that you would’ve included in your locks for the week?
*Photo: USA Today