When making this pick, the first thing Eight-Time World Champion and Color Analyst for the Great American Country broadcast Joe Beaver asked was, “How far back is Luke?”

No matter where he enters the fray, Luke Branquinho is a factor in the steer wrestling at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. This year, though, he’s over $50,000 behind the leaders. He’ll win his share, and winning the world title is not out of the realm of possibility, but it’d be one for the ages if he did.

The steer wrestling has been dominated for so long by Branquinho, Dean Gorsuch, (and Jason Miller) that picking outside that trio is treacherous.

However, this may be the year it happens. Last year, only two men earned more than Casey Martin at the NFR (Les Shepperson and Bray Armes). This year, if he repeats his $74,000 performance, he’ll be hard to stop.

Trevor Knowles, however should certainly be a player. He’ll be riding Lee Graves’ Jesse, the black gelding that has probably carried his riders to more money in the Thomas and Mack than any other steer wrestling horse.

“Trevor Knowles isn’t going to get as good of a chance to win one as he has this year,” Beaver said. “But I think it’s Martin’s to win. He’s been hot all year. He had a really good Finals last year. Luke just has too much ground to make up. I think the title will go back to Louisiana with Casey Martin.”