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College Football Picks: The Complete Week 8 Preview

I’ll go ahead and save you some time, avoid the banter and head straight for the Week 8 College Football Picks.

Just understand, that if last week taught us anything, that lesson would be that it’s just one of those years in college football. Where no one (expect maybe Oregon and Boise State) can be trusted, and anyone really can beat anyone else on any given Saturday.

Anyway, let’s get to the picks.

As always, the home teams are in CAPS, and the point spreads provided by our friends at BetUS.com.

Also, be sure to check back to AaronTorres-Sports.com on Sunday for the weekend recap, and Monday especially, where I’m kicking off an awesome giveaway that I know you’ll love.

Let’s get to the picks.

Notre Dame (-6 ½) over Navy (at the New Meadowlands Stadium): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. CBS

All I’ve got to say about this game is the following: Brian Kelly admitted this week that Notre Dame has spent the past several weeks peppering his scout team with Navy stuff. Think the Irish are fired up for this one?

(Random Side Note: You know how I’ve been telling you all since December that in my opinion Brian Kelly is the right man for the Notre Dame job? How unlike Charlie Weis and Tyrone Willingham he wouldn’t crack like an emotionally unstable American Idol contestant when things got tough?

Well, I think Kelly is finally starting to get comfortable in South Bend. At his press conference earlier this week, a reporter prefaced an injury question by saying, “Coach, I know you’re not a doctor, but…” to Kelly immediately cut him off and said, “I also didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night either.”

If that doesn’t tell you what kind of guy Kelly is, I don’t know what does. Think the pressure is getting to him? More importantly, would Charlie Weis ever answer a question like that? Unless he actually did stay at a Holiday Inn Express, I think the answer is no.)

ARKANSAS (-9 ½) over Ole Miss: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ESPN3.com

Here’s the thing about this game: Bobby Petrino picks on the weak the way that the prettiest, most insecure girl in a high school picks on her classmates. Therefore, when it comes to Saturday, I don’t really care what the line is, or who will be playing quarterback for Arkansas. Petrino is going to take out his frustrations from Auburn last week on Ole Miss this week, and the Hogs are going to win big. Like three touchdown big.

Speaking of Petrino, I’ve got a weird hunch (and before Arkansas fans jump down my throat, understand that it is, just a hunch) that if/when Ryan Mallett leaves for the NFL after this season, Petrino’s name is going to start magically “appearing,” with open coaching jobs. We’ve seen it before, and we’ll see it again. A leopard can’t change his spots. Even if he is getting paid handsomely at Arkansas.

The reason for my hunch is that I noticed during the Auburn game last week, that Petrino had this bizarre look of defeat strung across his face, almost like, “If I can’t win in the SEC with Ryan freakin’ Mallett as my quarterback, it’s never going to happen.”

Petrino’s always been the kind of guy to abandon a ship he perceives to be sinking, even if that’s not actually the case. And all I’m saying is to keep an eye out on this.

IOWA (-5 ½) over Wisconsin: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ABC

Really, I’ve got so many thoughts on this one, my head is about to explode. Here are a few of them in no particular order.

1. What the hell do we make of Wisconsin’s win last weekend? Are they that good? Was Ohio State just grossly overrated? Was it just the home crowd? I really don’t know what to think.

I still say that of everything, the most disappointing aspect was Ohio State being less prepared for Wisconsin than a hungover college kid taking a pop quiz. I mean honestly, did Wisconsin do anything that was so surprising for Ohio State? Can anyone answer that? Because it looked to me like the Badgers were using the same draw plays, counters and toss sweeps that won them the 1994 Rose Bowl.

2. On a totally different subject, the biggest story in college football that no one is talking about is the continued development of Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi. The kid is 40,000 times better than he was last year, which is saying something, considering that he won every game that he started and finished a year ago. It seems like every time I turn on an Iowa game right now, Stanzi’s throwing a 50 yard bomb to someone for another touchdown.

3. Back to Wisconsin, I just don’t see how it’s possible that they avoid a letdown this weekend. Could the schedule have played out any worse for them? Beat the No. 1 team at home, then you’ve got to go on the road and play Iowa? Come on Big Ten schedule makers, couldn’t you have let the Badgers play Minnesota the week after Ohio State?

4. I said prior to the Michigan-Iowa game last week that I thought Iowa had the best defensive front seven that the Wolverines would see all year. I feel the same way about Wisconsin this week. They’re not going to be ready for what hits them.

Iowa by two touchdowns.

Nebraska (-5 ½) over OKLAHOMA STATE: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ESPN

This is a bad week for Oklahoma State to be getting an angry Nebraska team. Especially, considering that, you know, Oklahoma State isn’t really that good to begin with. Honestly, who’s they’re best win? Texas A&M? Eww. Texas Tech? What is this 2008? Maybe even a better question is this: If you put together an “All-Star,” team of the best defensive players off all of Oklahoma State’s opponents so far, would it be better than the defense Nebraska puts on the field Saturday?
I say no.

(Also, here’s another random note that has nothing to do with anything, but I’m just going to throw it out there anyway: Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen looks like a registered sex offender. There, I said it. All the tell-tale signs are there; short stature, scraggly hair, man boobs. At this point I’m almost convinced he is working under an assumed name, and has warrants out in at least six states.

And yes, I know you have no idea what I’m talking about. But just watch Oklahoma State Saturday and you will. You also might call in an Amber Alert too.)

LSU (+6) over AUBURN: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. CBS

This is an interesting one, because I think that a lot of casual fans have probably seen Auburn the last few weeks, know a bit about Les Miles, and expect the home team to just go out and win big. The savvier fans know that Auburn’s defense has been lousy, and are probably picking LSU.

Me? I’m somewhere in the middle.

For the record Auburn fans, don’t worry, I’m picking your Tigers to win outright. Believe me, I’ve learned my lesson betting against Cam Newton this year, that lesson being, STOP DOING IT!!!! I picked Mississippi State, South Carolina and Arkansas all to beat Auburn straight up, and well, that didn’t really work out too well for me. Auburn will win this game Saturday in the same blood-clot forming, heart attack inducing way they win most of their games…by an uncomfortably close margin.

But I want to go back to Auburn’s defense for a second. Everyone’s calling them lucky, and really, they kind of are. The Knile Davis fumble return for a touchdown last week pretty much summed up the Tigers whole season. All the bounces- and calls- are going their way.

At the same, I thought that an Auburn fan who e-mailed me earlier this week, explained his team better than I ever could (And I apologize to that reader, because I can’t seem to find the e-mail and would like to give him or her credit). Either way, the Auburn fan described their defense by saying, “We don’t always make every play, but we always make the big play when we need it.”

I thought that just about summed up Auburn’s season about as well as anyone could. The numbers tell you this defense is bad. The national rankings say the same. Heck, just watching Auburn every weekend you’d probably think this team has no right to be ranked No. 4 in the country.

But they always make the big play when they need it.

Alabama (-16 ½) over TENNESSEE: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ESPN

From the, “Stuff I Never Thought I’d Say,” files, comes this: Are we overlooking Alabama right now?

I know they’re the No. 8 team in the country, so to a degree, they’re never going to be overlooked. But think about it. What are the stories we’re talking about nationally? Obviously there’s Oregon atop the polls and Oklahoma No. 1 in the BCS standings. And even within the SEC, Alabama is barely a blip on our radar. There’s Cam Newton going crazy at Auburn, Les Miles making America feel dumber by the week at LSU, and Florida setting the sport of football back a decade, every time their offense takes the field. So where does that leave Alabama? Barely being mentioned. As crazy as that sounds.

Either way, for those of us who stayed up late to watch the Tide last weekend, it wasn’t a pretty win, but it was a win none the less. And for my money it was a perfect segue into the second half of the season.

Alabama played what I suspect will be their worst game of the year, but were lucky enough to go against a team that couldn’t take advantage of their sloppiness. And because of the weird time slot (and really weird day of football before it), a lot of people weren’t tuned in. Which allowed the Tide to avoid a lot of the heavy ridicule they might have taken otherwise this week. Again, nobody is talking about them right now, which is crazy since…this is Alabama!!!

Anyway, I think the Crimson Tide bounce back this weekend and cruise into their bye week with a nice win. And oh by the way, that game with Auburn could be shaping up as the real SEC Championship Game.

Georgia (-4) over KENTUCKY: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ESPN

Here are my nominees for the two most overplayed story angles in college football right now:

1. What if Cam Newton hadn’t transferred from Florida? Ohhhhhhh, I get it! Newton is really good and Florida’s offense is really bad. How crazy would it be if they were still together?!?! Wacky, I know. But guess what, they’re not together, nor will they ever be. Let’s move on.

And with Newton, the bigger question anyway, is what if he ended up at Mississippi State instead of Auburn? It’s easy to forget, but Newton was really close to following his former offensive coordinator Dan Mullen to Starkville. What’s even crazier is that Mississippi State is 5-2 and ranked No. 24 in the country right now, with basically no quality quarterback play all year. Could Newton have swung the Bulldogs into the National Championship discussion if he’d decided to go there instead of Auburn? Enough on Florida, Newton to Mississippi State is the question we should be asking.

2. My second least favorite story comes from every Kentucky game, when every announcer plays up the whole, “Randall Cobb didn’t get recruited by any of the big schools and now he plays with a chip on his shoulder,” angle. Cool. We get it. It’s a good story. But stop stuffing it down our throats three times a quarter like we’ve never heard it before.

As for Saturday’s game, with both teams having played at such a high level these past few weeks, I suspect that this one will be sloppy for most of the first three quarters. Then Georgia will put up a few points late to make the final score look more one-sided than it actually was.

Too much A.J. Green. Too much of Todd Grantham’s defense. Too much Uga.

Air Force (+18 ½) over TCU: Saturday, 8:00 p.m.

Want the stat of the year? Well too bad, I’m going to give it to you anyway.

Here goes. In their last three games, TCU has given up three points. Total. As in, in their last three games, their last 180 minutes of football, they’ve allowed one field goal cumulatively. How is that even possible?

Despite that fun fact, I’m still taking Air Force. And the reason is simple. Both of these teams run the ball well. When TCU gets ahead, they’re going to keep running the ball. Even when Air Force gets behind, they’re going to have no choice but to do the same.

So while that all may be good news if you’re trying to make a 9:30 dinner appointment (seriously, this game might be done by then), it’s not good if you’re betting on TCU.

MISSOURI (+3) over Oklahoma: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ABC

A couple factors are in play here, the most important being that I just don’t think Oklahoma is very good. I don’t care what the computers tell me, I don’t care what the statistics say. I’ve watched this team with my own eyes enough, and I still contend they’re no better than the seventh or eighth best team in the country. Apparently Vegas agrees with me, because according to ESPN.com, Boise State would be a field goal favorite over them if they met on a neutral field today (And just for the record, the full list of teams that I think would beat Oklahoma includes all three of the teams atop the SEC West, Boise State, TCU, Iowa and maybe even Stanford and Ohio State. Oregon would absolutely lay waste to the Sooners.)

Either way, what I’ve noticed most with Oklahoma this year, is that they’re greatest strength directly correlates to their biggest weakness. It seems like every week they jump out to a big lead, but then as the game goes on, they can’t maintain it. I asked my buddy Allen Kenney- the biggest Oklahoma fan I know- if the stats backed me up, and he came up with this: The Sooners have had at least a 15 point lead in every game this year, and a 21 point lead in three of them. Yet they’ve won four of their six games by eight points or less.

In other words, if Missouri can weather that initial blow, they’ll win this game. Which I think they will.

I contend that Oklahoma will end the regular season with two losses. The first one comes Saturday.

ARIZONA (-6 ½) over Washington: Saturday, 10:15 p.m. ESPN

I know Nick Foles isn’t playing, but I don’t think it really matters. Matt Scott has plenty of experience at quarterback (he was actually the start to begin last year), and Arizona’s defense is playing out of their minds. Plus, I know Washington has the Jake Locker factor in their favor, but go ahead and look at Locker’s stats. The guy isn’t exactly running away with the Heisman. As a matter of fact, at this point, it’s think it’s just as likely that Locker is starting in centerfield for the Angels in five years as he is playing for any NFL team.

(One more side note before I let you go: Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott is an evil genius. I’m convinced of it. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was running the free world within a few years. I’m being serious.

Obviously Scott is best known as the man that almost blew up college football as we knew it last summer, and turned the Pac-10 into a 16-team, Dallas to Seattle juggernaut. Then Texas got cold feet and at the last second, backed out of Scott’s evil plan. Thank goodness for that.

Well anyway, Scott secretly struck again yesterday, when the Pac-10 (soon to be Pac-12) announced that their first ever conference championship game would be played at the home field of the higher ranked school. Wonderful news, right? Well that’s the way reporters made it seem, some combination of goodwill on Scott’s part, and as a great gesture to the fans, and the college football world as a whole.

Well I’m telling you, don’t buy it.

The reason Scott decided to put the conference championship game on the top ranked team’s home-field is simple: To make it as absolutely easy as possible for the best team from his league to make the BCS National Championship Game. Wouldn’t it be easier for say, Oregon, to get to a BCS title game if they got the conference championship at Autzen Stadium as opposed to a neutral field? Because I think it would be.

All I ask, is that sometime in 2016 or 2017, when everyone in the ACC, Big Ten and Big XII is complaining because we’re looking at our fifth straight Pac-12 vs. SEC championship game, just think of your old buddy AT. Will ya?)

(Love the article? Hate it? Disagree with Aaron’s picks? Let him know by commenting below, or e-mailing him at ATorres00@gmail.com.

Also, for his continued coverage on all things sports, and to get updates on his articles, podcasts and giveaways, be sure to follow him on Twitter @Aaron_Torres, Facebook.com/AaronTorresSports or by downloading the Aaron Torres Sports App for FREE for your iPhone or Android phones!)

About Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres works for Fox Sports, and was previously a best-selling author of the book 'The Unlikeliest Champion.' He currently uses Aaron Torres Sports to occasionally weigh-in on the biggest stories from around sports. He has previously done work for such outlets as Sports Illustrated, SB Nation and Slam Magazine.

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