Week 8 picks: Seminoles make statement vs. Irish, WVU bums out Baylor

Editor’s note: Every Thursday during the season, Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel will present their picks for the week.

Below are Week 8’s selections (all times ET). Enjoy.


BAYLOR (-9.5) at WEST VIRGINIA (Noon, FOX Sports 1)

Mandel: I don’t think this will be quite as ridiculous as 2012’s 70-63 West Virginia win in Morgantown, but there will be points scored. Baylor’s offense doesn’t seem to click as well on the road. While QB Bryce Petty was fantastic against TCU, he may cool down a bit this week. The question is whether WVU’s shoddy run defense can slow down RB Shock Linwood enough to give its own offense more opportunities to score. I’m going with the upset. West Virginia 45, Baylor 38

Feldman: Bryce Petty and the Bears rolled up almost 800 yards on Gary Patterson’s D, but Baylor hasn’t been quite as crisp away from Waco, while QB Clint Trickett and an impressive group of WVU receivers should be able to do a lot of damage against the Baylor secondary. Baylor 48, West Virginia 42



Mandel: If this game were in Manhattan I’d probably pick the Wildcats. They’re well rested coming off a bye week, while the Sooners are coming off a tough rivalry win against Texas in which they didn’t perform particularly well. But OU is tough to beat at home (though K-State did it two years ago), and Sooners QB Trevor Knight is due for a rebound performance. He and Sterling Shepard deliver on a few big plays downfield. Oklahoma 27, Kansas State 21

Feldman: The Sooners struggled in a big way against Texas last week, but escaped with a victory as the Horns committed too many mental mistakes. They know the Wildcats probably won’t afford them such a luxury. KSU has only been on the road once this season and barely beat Iowa State. This will be a much tougher task. Oklahoma 27, Kansas State 17

TEXAS A&M (+11.5) at ALABAMA, 3:30 (CBS)

Mandel: Clearly this is not a vintage Nick Saban Alabama team, but don’t count me among those freaking out over the Tide’s one-point win at Arkansas and thus “pissing off” Saban. Expect QB Blake Sims, WR Amari Cooper and the offense to perform much better back at home for the first time since their Sept. 20 rout of Florida, especially against a struggling Aggies defense. A&M’s receivers will cause some problems for the Tide but the Aggies won’t be able to get their running game going. Alabama 34, Texas A&M 20

Feldman: It’s tough to get much of a read now on what Lane Kiffin and the Tide want to establish as their identity on offense. My hunch is they’ll try and rely on their talented RBs and pound the young Aggies defense while chewing up some clock. And that should be enough against an A&M team trying to restore some of its swagger in a really tough place to do so. Alabama 31, Texas A&M 23


Mandel: Michigan State has shown a bizarre penchant for letting opponents hang around, even lowly Purdue last week. But Indiana’s hopes of pulling off the upset took a big hit with this week’s news that QB Nate Sudfeld is out for the season. The Hoosiers will still rely heavily on stud RB Tevin Coleman, the nation’s leading rusher, but you can’t be one-dimensional against the Spartans’ offense. Michigan State 37, Indiana 20

Feldman: As outstanding as Tevin Coleman is, the Hoosiers are so shorthanded and will be so one-dimensional without QB Nate Sudfeld. Facing Pat Narduzzi’s D isn’t an ideal spot for Zander Diamont, the son of soap opera star Don Diamont, to make his college debut. Michigan State 35, Indiana 7

GEORGIA (-3.5) at ARKANSAS, 4 p.m. (CBS)

Mandel: It all lines up perfectly for the Razorbacks to finally get over the SEC hump this week. While Georgia is coming off an impressive 34-0 win at Missouri, it’s tough to go on the road back-to-back weeks, and it’s not likely to force another five turnovers. If anything this game goes the opposite way. Dawgs QB Hutson Mason makes a couple of mistakes and allows Arkansas to hang around. (Note: Pick subject to change if Georgia reinstates RB Todd Gurley.) Arkansas 20, Georgia 17

Feldman: I suspect the Dawgs are due for an emotional letdown on the second half of back-to-back road trips after shutting out Mizzou last week. The Hogs have lost back-to-back games but both were very close. I think the third time is the charm here especially for their improving D, which has held two of its last three opponents to 14 points. Arkansas 23, Georgia 17

OKLAHOMA STATE (+9) at TCU, 4 p.m. (FOX Sports 1)


Mandel: It will be interesting to see how TCU plays coming off such a gut-wrenching and draining loss at Baylor. Oklahoma State has the firepower to catch a defense sleeping (or a kick coverage team in the case of dynamite return man Tyreek Hill). But the Cowboys, who barely beat Kansas last week, have their share of flaws, too. The Horned Frogs bounce back, but maybe not quite as resoundingly as Vegas seems to think. TCU 34, Oklahoma State 30

Feldman: It’s hard to predict what kind of focus the Horned Frogs will have after last week’s crazy finish against Baylor. Trevone Boykin’s wrist didn’t need surgery but word is he’s a little banged up, but I still like TCU against a Cowboy team playing its second consecutive road game after barely surviving vs. lowly Kansas. TCU 27, Oklahoma State 21

TENNESSEE (+17) at OLE MISS, 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Mandel: Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace will surely cool off at some point. Maybe it’s this week against a better-than-expected Tennessee defense. Despite their inexperience, the Vols rank 15th nationally (4.62 yards per play). But the Rebels’ is even better, particularly against the pass, as opponents have managed just three touchdowns against 12 interceptions. Tennessee QB Justin Worley will struggle through an ugly game. Ole Miss 20, Tennessee 6

Feldman: The young Vols O-line doesn’t seem like it’s anywhere near ready for Robert Nkemdiche and a really fierce Rebels defense. The Vols are 0-2 on the road this season, having allowed 35 points per game. Ole Miss 30, Tennessee 7

NOTRE DAME (+11.5) at FLORIDA STATE, 8 p.m. (ABC)

Mandel: It’s the Irish’s first road game of the season. Who knows how they’ll handle it? But Brian Kelly’s teams aren’t generally fazed by hostile road environments, going 9-4 on the road against ranked teams dating to his Cincinnati tenure. The Irish’s problem is that while Everett Golson is a dynamic quarterback (when he’s not turning it over), they don’t have a lot of home-run playmakers around him. Jameis Winston and the ‘Noles will pull away in the second half. Florida State 30, Notre Dame 20

Feldman: This is the Irish’s first real road test and they’re going to face a fired-up bunch of Noles looking to make a statement. FSU D-lineman Mario Edwards says the ‘Noles dropping in the polls only made the chip on their shoulder bigger. FSU has won its last seven games against ranked opponents by an average victory margin of almost four TDs. Florida State 31, Notre Dame 14

WASHINGTON (+21) at OREGON, 8 p.m. (FOX Sports 1)

Mandel: Oregon righted itself last week at UCLA, but I still think this Ducks team lacks the killer instinct of recent years where you just knew that even if they started a game slow they’d eventually run wild on their opponent. Shaq Thompson and the Huskies defense rank in the Top 15 nationally against the run and will hold that part of Oregon’s offense in check. But it’s a much taller order containing Marcus Mariota. He’ll make the plays, and Washington’s offense can’t match his production. Oregon 31, Washington 20

Feldman: U-Dub has some difference-makers on defense but Marcus Mariota’s working behind a shored-up offensive line with Jake Fisher back. I’m also skeptical that a young QB (Cyler Miles) can go into Autzen now and keep up with Mariota and the Ducks offense when it’s at full capacity. Oregon 41, Washington 17


Mandel: Let’s not mince words; Arizona State’s defense is terrible. But Stanford’s offense is going to have to finally get out of its way if it hopes to take advantage. This will likely be a typical Cardinal game where the nation’s top-ranked defense (3.64) yards per play suffocates its opponent, repeatedly sacking Sun Devils QB Michael Bercovici. Stanford QB Kevin Hogan will be missing No. 2 receiver Devon Cajuste but can still convert plays downfield with star Ty Montgomery. Stanford 23, Arizona State 17


Feldman: The Cardinal’s big receivers should be too much for the inexperienced Sun Devils secondary and coach David Shaw’s defense (No. 1 in the nation in scoring D) should be able to slow down the ASU attack no matter who is the triggerman this week. Stanford 20, Arizona State 14


NEVADA (+10) at BYU, 10:15 (ESPN2)

Mandel: BYU clearly isn’t the same team without Taysom Hill, dropping its past two games to Utah State and UCF. Nevada has its own pesky dual-threat quarterback in Cody Fajardo, who’s helped the Wolfpack knock off Washington State and hang with Arizona and Boise State. BYU at full strength may well have crushed the Wolf Pack but it won’t be able to take advantage of Nevada’s leaky defense. Nevada 27, BYU 24


Feldman: After a crazy finish gave the Cornhuskers the win over the Wildcats last season, I think Northwestern, who beat Wisconsin at home two weeks ago, knocks off another Top 20 visitor thanks to its stout defense. Northwestern 24, Nebraska 23

Mandel through Week 7: 49-29 straight-up, 41-37 vs. spread

Feldman through Week 7: 48-29 straight-up, 33-44 vs. spread