Phil Steele (Phil Steele’s College Football Preview) – Louisville vs. Baylor
Brett McMurphy (ESPN) – Duke vs. Kansas State
Mark Schlabach (ESPN) – Duke vs. Oklahoma
David M. Hale (ESPN ACC Blog)/Jake Trotter (Big 12 Blog) – Duke vs. Oklahoma
Jerry Palm (CBSSports) – Duke vs. Baylor
Stewart Mandel (Fox Sports) – Duke vs. West Virginia
Bill Bender (Sporting News) – Duke vs. Baylor
Brant Parsons (Orlando Sentinel) – Louisville vs. Oklahoma
For the third consecutive week, Duke is the most popular pick to play in this year’s Russell Athletic Bowl. Six of the eight featured media members projected the Coastal Division-leading Blue Devils to be ACC’s representative this week following their third consecutive win. All four teams remaining on Duke’s schedule currently have a losing record.
Baylor and Oklahoma are the most-highly projected teams out of the Big 12 with each team receiving three picks. The Sooners have one-more loss than the Bears, but the two teams will meet this weekend in Norman.
Louisville received two picks in this week’s projections with Phil Steele taking the Cardinals for the third week in a row, while Brant Parsons traded in his Blue Devils pick for Louisville. The Cardinals took an early 21-0 lead against Florida State last weekend before the Seminoles closed out the game on a 42-10 run to remain undefeated.
Brett McMurphy switched his pick from West Virginia to a Kansas State team that has quietly made its way up the rankings and into playoff consideration following an undefeated start in conference play. The Wildcats only setback came on a six-point loss to No. 3 Auburn early in the season. Fox Sports’ Stewart Mandel took West Virginia in his first projections of the season following the Mountaineers’ loss on a last-second field goal to TCU last weekend.
Five of the six projected teams are ranked in this week’s College Football Playoff Poll, with Louisville being the lone outsider. Kansas State leads all projected teams this week, coming in at seventh with Baylor and Oklahoma following in at 13th and 15th respectively. Duke moves up two spots to No. 22 this week and West Virginia rounds out the group at No. 23 following their close loss to TCU.