Week 8 Predictions – 2023
Last Week: There was a lot of talk last week about how Ross-Aide has been a tough place for the Buckeyes to win. This year’s team was having nothing of it, the only thing Purdue was beating was that large bass drum. OSU took care of business, winning 41-7 and setting up for the big showdown with Penn State this coming Saturday. Our staff predictions were just as solid as Vaughn, John and Gregg all went 5-0, moving Gregg to the top of the leader board. But only 4 games separate first place from last so the Predictions title is certainly still up for grabs.
This Week’s Games: Big Game 1-Big Ten: As big as the OSU-Notre Dame game was a few weeks ago, the Buckeyes facing Penn State is even bigger. Will Ryan Day find a way to remain unbeaten as he prepares to face the Nittany Lions? …. Big Game 2-ACC: Florida State hopes to remain unbeaten themselves as the welcome to town Duke. Will the Blue Devils spoil FSU’s perfect season? …. Big Game 3-SEC: 11 unbeaten teams remain in the country but only one from the SEC. Both Tennessee and Alabama come into this weekend with one loss so this will be a playoff elimination game. Will it be the Vols or the Tide that become nothing more than a team fighting to get to the conference championship? …. Big Game 4-Pac 12: Utah and USC match-up in LA in a rematch of last year’s Pac-12 title game. Will the Trojans be remembering that 47-24 loss?
Buckeye Greats: As in the past, we will continue to include former Buckeye players in our prediction fun and we are thrilled to have Vaughn Broadnax back with us as a regular participant for the ninth straight year.
Here we go with our Week 8 Picks – Good Luck to All – Gregg
(7)Penn State @ (3)Ohio State
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Penn State is primed to end its futility against the Buckeyes during the James Franklin Era. Penn State comes in with the leading defense in the country and could cause problems for OSU’s lackluster offense. Ryan Day will stubbornly attack the teeth of PSU’s defense with a less than average running game instead of attacking with his strength down the field.
Coach Rick: The last couple of years Ohio State has had Penn State’s number. I am led to believe it will continue this year. I have OSU winning by 10.
Cory: Ohio State has been improving every week. No, the Buckeyes aren’t blowing teams out and, no, Kyle McCord doesn’t look like a first-round pick, but to see the Buckeyes dominate Maryland in the second half two weeks ago, and control the Boilermakers on the road last week is nice. These are games that have given Ohio State trouble in the past. That said, this week represents the Buckeyes’ biggest challenge of the season thus far, and I say that meaning no disrespect to Notre Dame. Penn State has looked fantastic this season – this might be James Franklin’s finest team in Happy Valley. This will be the best offense Ohio State has seen, and the best defense they’ve seen, all season. Quarterback Drew Allar hasn’t thrown an interception. Five different players have rushing touchdowns. No team has scored more than 15 points against Penn State. Yes, the schedule for the Nittany Lions has not been too difficult so far, but they’ve been dominant. What scares me about Ohio State is that the Buckeyes have not started games strong. Coming from behind when you’re one score down is not difficult, but playing when you’re down two or more scores is different, and that is what concerns me here. If Penn State gets out to a good lead the Buckeyes might not have the pace to mount that comeback. I’m also concerned about the injuries Ohio State is currently facing. Penn State 24 Ohio State 21
Dave: Ohio State 42 Penn State 28
Gregg: I have huge concerns about this game. Ohio State has had a very inconsistent offense all year, and they are likely missing some of the starters against the best defense in the country. Penn State is giving up less than 200 yards a game. The defense is going to really have to step up their play this week for the Bucks to win. Rumored as many as 80 recruits will be at this game, need to put on a great show for them. I think if they use a short passing game, give the recievers the ball in space, that will do the trick. Open open the flats with a long ball every once in a while, and it will open up a few holes for the running game as well. If McCord cannot handle this game at home, he will not survive Ann Arbor at the end of the season. Ohio State 31 Penn State 24
John: The injury bug has bitten OSU hard, especially in the running back room. Fortunately so far, the Buicks have enough talent on the bench to play “next man up”. Hopefully, sitting guys the last two weeks against lesser opponents will pay dividends on Saturday. PSU looked good beating Iowa, which is the only team they have played to date with a pulse. This will be their first real road test of the season. Assuming the Bucks are, and stay, healthy I like OSU for the win. Ohio State 27 Penn State 21
Josh: This is the game of the week, and this is the type of game that can define a season. Ohio State has won the last 6 games against Penn State, and only have lost to them 5 times this century to the Nittany Lions. For Penn State, like Michigan, this is their best version of their team with a more competent quarterback, and for them this year is the best chance to defeat Ohio State. On the field, we are going to see two of the best defenses in the country, and it will be a matter of who can make the most plays on offense. Ohio State has been battle tested already with their game against Notre Dame, and for Penn State, this will be their first test of the season, but I think they dont have the offense that can make the plays against this years Buckeye defense. This one will be close, but the Buckeyes last 6 quarters of football I think is showing they are finally evolving into the offense they were expected to be at the start of the season. Ohio State 24 – Penn State 14
Steven: Penn State comes into the ‘Shoe undefeated coming off wins against perennial juggernauts such as Iowa, Northwestern and UMass. While they have dominated these contests, the Nittany Lions have built their defensive numbers, (top in the nation in total defense and 2nd in scoring D) against some pretty dreadful teams. The average rank of offense across the 5 FBS schools Penn State has played is over 100, with the best offensive squad they have met being West Virginia at 79th, the worst being, of course, Iowa dead last at 133rd. One stat that may be a little concerning is PSU is top 5 in the nation in sacks allowed. Lion quarterback Drew Allar is hardly being touched. Of course, the bad offenses Penn State has played are paired to pretty poor defenses as well. But just because Penn State has played garbage doesn’t mean they are garbage. Quarterback Drew Allar is putting up numbers comparable to Kyle McCord without the advantage of having the best wide receiver in the country. Like most Big Ten games, this should be won in the trenches. Whoever can win the line of scrimmage wins. The game looks like it could be a bit of a split between Maryland and Notre Dame. Penn State runs better than Notre Dame and Maryland, and surprisingly passes less than both. Ohio State’s defense has been stingy against the run, (top 25 nationally) and lights out against the pass. The new bend but don’t break defense of DC Jim Knowles has really limited opponents’ ability to get going. Ohio State has yet to allow a play of 30+ yards. I’m not sure if you would call them the Silver Bullets again, but how about the Scarlet Boa Constrictors? Buckeyes keep the pressure on, wait for the Lions to make a mistake and swallow them whole. OSU 38-27.
Trout: I am picking Ohio State, but much like many of the most recent matchups between these two teams, this game will go down to the wire. Penn State is always a tough outing for the Buckeyes, and that is especially the case this year. The Nittany Lions have upgraded their quarterback, and also have the top ranked defense in the country. This game will be a major test for Kyle McCord and the Buckeye offense. I do believe they are up for the challenge, but they will need to play best. I can see this game being somewhat lower scoring, with both teams taking the lead at different points. This may be homerism, but I think the Buckeyes are able to get a last minute score that Penn State can’t respond to. Kyle McCord gets his second signature win over PSU and the Buckeyes remain unbeaten for another week. (Ohio State 24-21)
Final Score: Ohio State 20 Penn State 17
(16)Duke @ (4)Florida State
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Duke has lost its starting QB and FSU is humming in a subpar conference. The fact that they are playing at Doak Campbell makes this an easy win. FSU 30-17 over Duke.
Andy: This game should be interesting to watch. If Florida State can win this game they should be able to make it to the ACC championship game without issue. Duke has been a very stingy team in particular they do an excellent job with special teams and defense, they limited teams like Notre Dame and Clemson to scoring 21 points between the two teams. No team has scored more than 14 points against Duke all season, in fact Duke’s defense has held 4 of their 6 opponents to 7 points or less. If the Blue Devils had a healthy Riley Leonard for this game I’d be more optimistic about their chances to win because of the difference he makes as a leader and passer combined with their special teams and defense. Florida State’s success starts and ends with their offense as their defense really isn’t that good. The Seminoles are led by Jordan Travis and their trio of excellent receivers.. Keon Coleman, Johnny Wilson and Jaheim Bell (tight end). Duke has one of the best pass defenses in the country only allowing 3 passing touchdowns on the year and giving up on average only 164 passing yards per game. Largely they haven’t played many good passing teams and I do think Florida State is going to get some against this otherwise stingy Blue Devils defense. Florida State 27 Duke 23
Cory: I’m not sure Duke is all that good despite the fact that they were ranked earlier this season. The Blue Devils struggle to move the ball – their quarterback was supposed to be one of the strong points of the offense but he’s only got three touchdowns so far. Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis is the difference in this game. He looks so much more poised this season. He’s got 13 touchdowns to just one interception, and that lone interception came in the season opener against LSU. Duke’s defense is better than people give it credit, however, that won’t be enough for the Blue Devils to pull the upset this week. Florida State 31, Duke 14
Dave: Florida State 32 Duke 28
Gregg: Florida State continues their dominance in the ACC, they are going to win their championship game slot early and will appear on every playoff poll in the top 4. Duke could pull off the upset but I don’t see it happening. Florida State 40 Duke 20
John: It’s looking like the only thing standing between Florida State and an unbeaten regular season my be this weeks opponent. I’d love to be able to pick the #16 Blue Devil to pull off the upset, but with the game in Tallahassee I just don’t see it. Florida State 34 Duke 17
Josh: The Florida State Seminoles feel a lot like the USC Trojans of last year, a really good offense, but a defense that is lacking. Florida State needed extra time to be Clemson, while Duke was able to dispatch the Tigers behind their defense in the first game of the season. I see this one being closer than the Florida State fans would like, but I think the home field advantage will play a big part, and Duke is playing only their second road game of the season. Florida State 31 – Duke 24
Steven: Duke lost to the only really good team they have faced, (Notre Dame). The Blue Devils have also beaten the Wolfpack of NC State, but the rest of their schedule so far has been garbage. While the ACC as a whole and Florida State’s schedule hasn’t been great, it is overall better and does include a signature win against LSU. If Duke is to have a chance, they will have to make their own luck. If they can lean into the run to control the clock, they may be able to keep FSU QB Jordan Travis, and the high-power Seminole offense off the field. Looking for this one to be a lot closer than it may seem. FSU pulls off the win late 33-28.
Trout: I think the Seminoles win, but it should be somewhat close. Florida State is clearly the better team, but I think Duke will make them work for the win. I can see the game being very close for a while, and then the Seminoles’ superior talent eventually allows them to pull ahead. Although I am not completely sold on Florida State, they have shown to be a better team than previous years. With signature wins over LSU and Clemson, they are at least headed in the right direction. A lot of that can also be said for the Blue Devils. This program is starting to show its talents. They aren’t worldbeaters, but they can cause some disruptions in the college football landscape. And that’s what I think they will do for a while. They will challenge FSU for a majority of the game, and then the Seminoles will take it over and win by a couple scores. Florida State wins, in a hard fought battle. (Florida State, 34-21)
Final Score: Florida State 38 Duke 20
(17)Tennessee @ (11)Alabama
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Tennessee has an offense, but nothing near last year’s squad. Alabama is finding ways to win and will find a way to beat the Vols. Alabama over Tennessee 28-17.
Andy: A year ago this was the best game in college football. A back and forth tussle on the field between two of the best passing offenses in the country at night in prime time under the lights in Rocky Top. The volunteers eventually prevailed in a shootout that led to the Tennessee fans tearing down the goal post and throwing it into the river next to the stadium. This Tennessee team is very different from last year,s team, so too is this Alabama team. Both teams had elite quarterback last year, the Vols with Hendon Hooker and the Tide with Bryce Young. Tennessee this year has not been as dynamic on offense, also having to replace two elite wide receivers and an elite offensive tackle. The Tide have reverted back to Saban’s early years where we saw him beat up opposing teams with their imposing rushing offense and then smother their opponents with a super salty defense. Alabama has the best secondary in the country and their defense overall is likely the best in the country as well, despite not having the best team stats. With this game being in Tuscaloosa I don’t see Tennessee having a chance in this game, the Tide will take away their best asset on offense which is their passing game. I expect Tennessee to struggle in this game. Alabama 31 Tennessee 13
Cory: It was weird to see Tennessee struggling with Texas A&M last week. I know the Aggies have some talent, but overall that is not a team I fear. Last year’s game between these two teams was one of the best games of the season. This year, well, it won’t be as entertaining. Hendon Hooker and Bryce Young have both moved on the NFL, and both teams have seen their offenses struggle this year. I think Alabama is going to win this game – it’s hard to see the Crimson Tide losing to Tennessee two years in a row. However, if there is one area of concern for Alabama it’s quarterback Jalen Milroe and his hesitation in throwing the football. He’s taken 26 sacks this year, and Tennessee has a good defensive line. It will be close, but expect Alabama to prevail. Alabama 21, Tennessee 13
Dave: Alabama 28 Tennessee 14
Gregg: I have no idea how this game will go. Normally I would lean that Tennessee will win this game but for some reason, I think Saban and Alabama find a way to win it in front of the home crowd. Alabama 20 Tennessee 17
John: Another game that my rooting interest will conflict with who I think wins the game. Alabama has shown weakness this season and is far from being in normal “Death Star” mode. Unfortunately, I don’t think that Tennessee is consistent enough on either side of the ball to take advantage of what, for Alabama, is shaping up to be a somewhat down season. Maybe if this game was in Knoxville instead of Bryant-Denny Stadium I could pick the Vols, but as it is I look for the Tide to roll. Alabama 30 Tennessee 17
Josh: Can Tennessee beat Alabama for the second straight season? This one should be an interesting match up, and will be about if the Volunteers can move the ball like they did last season. Alabama has a solid defense with a lot of young players that are making an impact, and dont have to defened anyone who was as fast as Jalin Hyatt. i see this one being a closer game, but Alabama escapes at home with a win, and the sky of Tuscaloosa will be filled with cigar smoke. Alabama 17 – Tennessee 14
Steven: The Crimson Tide have strung along a couple of nice wins after being pretty shaky coming out of the gates. After taking a lot of heat from the media, (me included), and a games benching by Coach Saban, quarterback Jalen Milroe seems to have hit his stride. Still, this is not the Alabama of old. Funny enough, much of the SEC is beginning to look like old school Big Ten ball. Every game is a grind. Tennessee is the more balanced of the two squads with most of the difference coming in rushing yards. Neither team is giving up much on the ground with both clocking in at a bit over 100 yards per game, (OSU’s is in the same ballpark for reference). It could very much come down to quarterback play. While Volunteer QB and Michigan transfer Joe Milton is not the most efficient in the nation, the guy has a cannon for an arm. They don’t call him Bazooka Joe because e likes bubblegum. Milton can easily put enough pressure on the Tide defense to bring home a win. It could be close, but gonna call this for the Vols 28-24.
Trout: I am picking Alabama, but I could also see it going the other way. The Crimson Tide is still a good team, but the cracks are definitely showing. It just seems that this year, they have to work for their victories. They have struggled with lesser competition, like South Florida and Arkansas. This program just isn’t the “King of College Football” anymore. Having said that, they should beat Tennessee. I had a feeling that the Vols would come down to Earth a little bit this year. Much like what I said with Alabama, Tennessee has struggled in some of their games. Most notably in their loss to a mediocre Florida team. So both teams seem to be underachieving this year. And in having to pick a team, I am going with the one I see being more talented. And even with all their faults, Alabama is still the better team. It will be close. Tennessee will have every opportunity to counter. But in the end, the Crimson Tide will pull off a last minute drive, and sneak away with the victory. Alabama wins a close one, and keeps their outside playoff hopes alive. (Alabama, 31-28)
Final Score: Alabama 34 Tennessee 20
(14)Utah @ (18)USC
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Alex Grinch has been guilty of impersonating a DC since he was at.Ohio State and getting well paid. Some might ask if he has pictures. However, even a Grinch won’t have to have a big heart. Fortunately for USC Utah is still without its Cam and will get the shaft from USC. The Trojans out score the Utes 42-35
Coach Rick: If Utah’s defense could stop USC’s offense they would win. I do not see this happening as USC will score plenty in this game. I have USC by 21.
Cory: Did USC get completely exposed last week? The Notre Dame defense not only shut down Heisman winner Caleb Williams, they made him look terrible. Notre Dame did a good job of preventing Williams from scrambling and forced him into bad throws when he did try to improvise. Famously, Utah beat USC both times they played last season so a lot of people might be picking the Utes again this year. Not so fast my friend. Utah is still without their top quarterback, Cam Rising, as well as tight end Brant Kuithe. The Utes have done a good job maneuvering the schedule so far, but they have a hard time moving the ball and scoring points consistently. The defense will do its job against Williams and USC, but will that be enough? I see the Trojans rebound in this one. USC 30, Utah 17
Dave: USC 32 Utah 28
Gregg: Another week, another round of “Will Cam Rising play?” I think Caleb lost his chance last week to win a second Heisman, you are safe another year Archie! USC is a solid team with a great coach. But they struggle against teams that have a strong aggressive defense. Utah has the #9 defense in country and I think they will use the same game plan the Irish used last week. The Trojans have the great offense Coach Riley is known for but the Utes will pressure Williams until he makes mistakes. Utah goes on the road and gives USC their first conference loss. Where the Pac-12 looked like a strong conference a couple weeks ago, they have now started to knock each other out and if Washington does not stay unbeaten, the conference will be at risk of not getting a team into the playoffs. Utah 24 USC 21
John: USC finally ran up against a team with both an offense that could expose a bad Trojan D and a defense that could contain Caleb Williams in Notre Dame last Saturday night. The result was that USC was exposed in a blowout loss. Now the Trojans go back to conference play in the “defense is optional” Pac 12. I think Utah can keep this one close. It wouldn’t stun me if the Ute’s pull of the upset, but I’m not bullish enough on UU to pick them. USC 38 Utah 31
Josh: USC still can compete for the PAC-12 Championship, as the Notre Dame loss was a non-conference loss, but Lincoln Riley is now 0-2 against Utah since taking over USC, and thr Trojans are trying noe to have a repeat of last year. I think Utah defeats to Trojans for a third straight time behind their defense, and Caleb Williams might be looking ahead to the NFL draft. Utah 35 – USC 28.
Steven: I’m pretty sure that Utah is on par with the skill of Notre Dame. As we saw last week, the Domers took the Trojans to the woodshed. If Cameron Rising was back from injury playing QB for the Utes this would be a slam dunk, as he could match Caleb Williams’s offensive firepower. Without Rising, Utah has split time between Bryson Barnes and Nate Johnson. Both have been pretty underwhelming, but also, neither have been asked to do too much. With the lack of a decent passing attack, the Utes have leaned on a stout running game led by Ja’Qinden Jackson. Expect Utah to lean on the rush and keep the Trojan offense off the field. USC may have the 2nd ranked scoring offense in the nation, but they couple that with the 96th rated defense (out of 133 FBS teams). The Trojan defense stinks on ice. As a comparison, Purdue has a better defense than USC. If the Utes defense can harass USC quarterback Caleb Willimas like the Irish did, that could put it all together and bring home a win. It may be recency bias, but if they study the tape, they hand USC a second loss. Utah 31-24
Trout: The Trojans win this game, but it will be a hard fought battle with the Utes. Utah is a really good team, and if they had their starting quarterback I would consider picking them. However, they will most likely be without Rising, so that is why I am. giving the edge to USC. As bad as they looked at Notre Dame, they are still the better team. Caleb Williams is still a Heisman level quarterback. The shine has definitely worn off this Trojan team because of last week, but they are still a dangerous team offensively. However their defense will allow the Utes to stay in this game for a while. The game should be close up until the end, then Caleb Williams does some last minute heroics and USC will narrowly escape with the victory. (USC, 45-42)