College Football Picks: Validation time for ‘Pokes, Michigan

File-This Oct. 24, 2020, file photo shows Oklahoma State lineman Logan Carter (87) grabbing the jersey of Iowa State linebacker Mike Rose (23) while Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard (30) attempts to sneak by during an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla. Rose, like everybody else in college football, had no idea last spring if there would be a season. Iowa State's junior linebacker wanted to be ready just in case, so day in and day out for three months he went to his high school in the Cleveland suburb of Brecksville, Ohio, to do workouts prescribed by the Cyclones' new strength staff.

File-This Oct. 24, 2020, file photo shows Oklahoma State lineman Logan Carter (87) grabbing the jersey of Iowa State linebacker Mike Rose (23) while Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard (30) attempts to sneak by during an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla. Rose, like everybody else in college football, had no idea last spring if there would be a season. Iowa State’s junior linebacker wanted to be ready just in case, so day in and day out for three months he went to his high school in the Cleveland suburb of Brecksville, Ohio, to do workouts prescribed by the Cyclones’ new strength staff.

AP

After the big game, comes the validation game.

Week 9 of the college football season — or maybe Week 8 depending how you count in this odd season — features several teams that made statements last week looking for strong follow-ups.

No. 6 Oklahoma State took control of the Big 12 with a staunch defensive effort against Iowa State last week. This week, the Cowboys get to back it up with Texas coming to town on Halloween.

No. 13 Michigan unveiled an imposing new quarterback, directing an explosive offense, in a road blowout of Minnesota as the Big Ten opened play. The Wolverines return home this week to face rival Michigan State. Let’s see how Joe Milton does in his first start in the Big House.

No. 17 Indiana had its most notable victory in more than three decades with a wild overtime upset of Penn State. The Hoosiers go to Rutgers on Saturday, which seems like a good place to build on a great start. Not so fast. The Scarlet Knights also won their opener, knocking off Michigan State to end a 21-game Big Ten skid.

After two weeks of Big Ten football, either Indiana or Rutgers will be tied for first place in the East, one of the toughest divisions in the country.

The picks:

SATURDAY

Boston College (plus 31) at No. 1 Clemson

Tigers have won nine straight in the series and the Eagles have only scored more than 17 points once during the streak … CLEMSON 42-14.

Mississippi State (plus 30) at No. 2 Alabama

First meeting as head coaches between Mike Leach and Nick Saban doesn’t look promising for the Pirate … ALABAMA 48-14.

No. 3 Ohio State (minus 11 1/2) at Penn State

Nittany Lions have only beaten the Buckeyes once since 2016, but no Big Ten team has consistently played them closer over the last six years … OHIO STATE 31-21.

No. 4 Notre Dame (minus 19 1/2) at Georgia Tech

Fighting Irish have a second straight road trip and Clemson on the horizon; only question is whether they have their full attention on Tech … NOTRE DAME 38-17.

No. 5 Georgia (minus 15) at Kentucky

Wildcats might make a quarterback change from Terry Wilson to Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood to boost struggling offense … GEORGIA 28-10.

Texas (plus 3 1/2) at No. 6 Oklahoma