Jerry Palm (CBSSports) – Virginia Tech vs. Kansas State
Phil Steele (Phil Steele’s College Football Preview) – Notre Dame vs. Kansas State
Brett McMurphy (ESPN) – Notre Dame vs. Kansas State
Mark Schlabach (ESPN) – Duke vs. Kansas State
Bill Bender (Sporting News) – Notre Dame vs. Kansas State
David M. Hale (ESPN ACC Blog)/Brandon Chatmon (Big 12 Blog) – Clemson vs. West Virginia
Brant Parsons (Orlando Sentinel) – Duke vs. Kansas State
The Kansas State Wildcats remain the favorite to compete in this year’s Russell Athletic Bowl, earning the choice of six of our seven featured media members this week. Mark Schlabach and Brant Parsons switched their Big 12 pick to Kansas State while all four members who picked the Wildcats last week did so again.
Despite suffering a 20-14 loss to Auburn at home, the Wildcats impressed many in the national spotlight on Thursday night last week. Kansas State caused problems for the high-powered Tigers offense all night, allowing only 20 points to the same Auburn team that scored 45 and 59 points in their first two games respectively.
Phil Steele, Brett McMurphy and Bill Bender all stuck with their Notre Dame picks following the Fighting Irish’s bye week. The Fighting Irish have a tough road ahead, with games against four ranked teams including top-ranked Florida State in Tallahassee.
Duke made its first appearance in the projections this season after starting 4-0 for the first time since the 1994 season. If selected, this would be the Blue Devils’ first bowl appearance in Orlando. Duke has gone to bowls in each of the past two seasons but they have not won a bowl game since their 7-6 victory over Arkansas in the 1961 Cotton Bowl Classic.
Jerry Palm stood by his preseason pick of Virginia Tech and Kansas State despite the Hokies losing their second-straight game last week, falling to Georgia Tech when the Yellow Jackets kicked a field goal as time expired. Virginia Tech does not currently have any ranked teams remaining on their schedule with eight games to play.
Clemson’s loss to Florida State (playing without Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston) dropped the Tigers to 1-2 on the year, prompting David M. Hale to send them to Orlando. The Tigers’ last appearance in Orlando came back in 2005 when they defeated the Colorado Buffaloes, 19-10. Hale kept West Virginia as his pick from the Big 12 following a tough loss to on the road against Oklahoma. The Mountaineers’ last visit to Orlando resulted in a 23-7 loss to NC State in 2010.