Week 8 in college football features three Top 25 marquee matchups (according to our GridironGrit.com rankings), each of which are pivotal conference collisions that could shake up and also continue to clear up the cloudy college football landscape.
Alabama and LSU—only two of three 7-0 teams in the country that play on Saturday—face possible stumbling blocks against intense SEC rivals before finally reaching a bye and then meet for the game of the year on November 5th in Tuscaloosa, AL.
Here are my Week 8 College Football Predictions. Enjoy!
Last Week: 17-2 (125-18 Overall)
Teams Idle: No. 25 Arizona State (5-2), No. 21 Georgia (5-2), No. 19 South Carolina (6-1), No. 16 Michigan (6-1)
No. 24 Illinois (6-1) at Purdue (3-3) (12:00pm EST)
The Boilermakers better be entering this matchup with a full head of steam with the Fighting Illini coming to town. Illinois leads the tight-knit series 42-36-8. This is Purdue’s homecoming and the program collides with Michigan and Wisconsin on the road following this tough test. Look for Nathan Scheelhouse and company to bounce back with some conviction in this Big Ten Leaders collision. Prediction: Illinois 31, Purdue 14
No. 23 Georgia Tech (6-1) at Miami (FL) (3-3) (3:30pm EST)
A lot can be said about Miami (FL) QB Jacory Harris. But now, very good efficiency and excellent consistency is becoming part of his traits. In the past two games, he’s thrown for 267 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in back-to-back performances. The U is also showing an interesting stanch trend—loss, win, loss, win, loss, win…you get the idea. After an impressive victory over the Tar Heels, I look for this inclination to continue and for the Yellow Jackets to rediscover their offensive sweetness. Prediction: Georgia Tech 32, Miami (FL) 19
Boston College (1-5) at No. 20 Virginia Tech (6-1) (3:00pm EST)
Despite injuries piling up, Virginia Tech took care of business with conviction over Wake Forest 38-17 last week. The Hokies host the Eagles, a team that hasn’t scored more than 19 points against a Division I program yet this season. Virginia Tech remains right in the ACC Coastal mix. Prediction: Virginia Tech 38, Boston College 10
USC (5-1) at No. 17 Notre Dame (4-2) (7:30pm EST)
The Fighting Irish were punched in the face by the pollsters, no longer in the Top 25. This is the 83rd all-time meeting, but only the 10th time these teams face each other as non-ranked rivals. The Irish lead the Trojans with a 43-33-5 edge and broke USC’s four-game winning streak in the series last year, 20-16. This is also Notre Dame’s first home game at night since 1990. ND is 22nd in total offense; USC ranks 36th. The inspired Irish win an aggressive aerial assault. Prediction: Notre Dame 27, USC 20
No. 14 Kansas State (6-0) at Kansas (2-4) (12:00pm EST)
The battle-tested Wildcats have clawed and scratched their way to five wins by seven points or fewer. The Jayhawks have lost to three current Top 25 teams (Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma) and averaged 23 points (forced) to 61 points (allowed) in those three games. Oddly enough, Kansas has faced an undefeated team in every game this season. K-State wins the 109th meeting. Prediction: Kansas State 42, Kansas 21
No. 13 Nebraska (5-1) at Minnesota (1-5) (3:30pm EST)
Similar to Kansas State, the only way Nebraska blows this Week 8 cupcake challenge is if the team is focused too much on next week’s game against the Spartans. That shouldn’t happen. Prediction: Nebraska 45, Minnesota 7
No. 12 Texas A&M (4-2) at Iowa State (3-3) (3:30pm EST)
The Aggies are starting to get on a roll and are committed to departing the Big 12 with a bang. After carving the Bears in a 55-28 landslide, Texas A&M travels to Ames, IA. This is Iowa State’s homecoming, but the team will continue to turn the ball over like a cyclone. Prediction: Texas A&M 37, Iowa State 20
No. 11 West Virginia (5-1) at Syracuse (4-2) (Fri, 8:00pm EST)
The Mountaineers and Orange have met every year since ’55 and Syracuse leads the contested series, 31-27 (no strings or ties attached). Much like the ACC, the Big East has proven over recent years that anything can happen any week. West Virginia is the first team on upset alert. Look for a close game, especially considering Syracuse’s last three games have all been decided by three points each. I can’t envision Syracuse slowing down the “MountainAir” offense well enough, but the Orange won’t get beaten to a pulp. Prediction: West Virginia 33, Syracuse 23
Update: Syracuse won in a sure-fire statement game and in asymmetrical fashion, 49-23. You can bet this game makes my worst five picks of the week in my follow-up power rankings.
No. 10 Oregon (5-1) at Colorado (1-6) (3:30pm EST)
The Buffaloes have surrendered 1,115 total yards and 100 points in the past two weeks. Now they’re facing the high-powered, prolific Ducks. Prediction: Oregon 44, Colorado 16
No. 9 Arkansas (5-1) at Ole Miss (2-4) (12:20pm EST)
Houston Nutt goes toe-to-toe with his former team and current foe. The Razorbacks are hitting on all cylinders and have their designs set on making a run for the SEC title and making the big stage. They’ll draw a standing ovation…but not from the home crowd. The Rebels get gashed. Prediction: Arkansas 41, Mississippi 9
North Carolina (5-2) at No. 8 Clemson (7-0) (12:00pm EST)
Clemson leads the series 34-19-1 and has gone 5-5 in the last 10 meetings with North Carolina. The Tigers are also the second team this week listed on upset alert. Both of the Tar Heels’ losses have come by one score against ACC rivals (Miami and Georgia Tech). UNC has however won some pretty close games this season, beating Virginia by 11, East Carolina by 15, Rutgers by 2 and Louisville by 7.
The well-balanced and battles-tested Tigers are forced to rally to win games just about every other week. Even though this game’s at home, it looks to be a daunting challenge. The key for the Tar Heels to pull a potential upset is too start well early for a change. Prediction: Clemson 31, North Carolina 27
No. 7 Oklahoma State (6-0) at Missouri (3-3) (12:00pm EST)
Oklahoma State has given up 34 points (Week 1 vs. UL LAF), 14 points (Week 2 vs. AZ), 33 points (Week 3 at Tulsa), 29 points (Week 4 vs. TEX A&M), 28 points (Week 6 at KU), and 26 points (Week 7 at UT). The Cowboys are 100th in total defense and 2nd in total offense in the nation. Oklahoma State is the third team on upset alert.
Missouri’s offense is finally starting to hit its stride and the Tigers have won 42 of the last 52 home games. However, two of those came from OSU. Expect a crowd-pleasing thriller here. Defense still wins championships, folks. Prediction: Missouri 34, Oklahoma State 31
No. 22 Washington (5-1) at No. 6 Stanford (6-0) (8:00pm EST)
Well pull up a chair, Stanford. The Cardinal is the fourth team on upset alert. Washington has scored at least 30 points every week and Stanford has transcended 40 points in five games. No team has been able to chalk up 20 points against Stanford, but Keith Price will certainly get it done. He’s hands down the second best signal-caller in the Pac-12 behind only Andrew Luck. The Huskies are in for some rough sledding, but this should be very fun-to-watch, especially in the red zone. Prediction: Stanford 41, Washington 31
Air Force (3-3) at No. 5 Boise State (6-0) (3:30pm EST)
Kellen Moore and the Broncos host their first conference game as a part of the Mountain West. This also happens to be the first-ever get-together between Air Force and Boise State. Ground game galore! The Falcons boast the 3rd-ranked rushing attack in the country and the nation’s 119th run defense. The Broncos run away with this at Smurf Turf. Prediction: Boise State 55, Air Force 28
No. 4 Wisconsin (6-0) at No. 15 Michigan State (5-1) (8:00pm EST)
Michigan State leads Wisconsin 28-21 in the all-time series. The Badgers are seeking to end a three-game losing streak to the Spartans in East Lansing, MI. Wisconsin is the fifth team on upset alert.
The big boys from Madison have won nine consecutive conference games, which date back to last year’s loss on the road against Sparty. The Badgers have won by an average of 29.5 points per game during the winning streak. Wisconsin leads the nation in scoring offense and points allowed as well (Stanford is the only other team ranked inside the Top 10 in both categories).
While Russell Wilson is almost as beloved as dairy and Aaron Rodgers in the part of the country, Wisconsin’s only real completion this season was at home against Nebraska. Nevertheless, despite the Spartans having home-field advantage, the offensive line starting to really come alive and the defense playing out of its mind, I expect the road team to get reprisal. Prediction: Wisconsin 27, Michigan State 23
Texas Tech (4-2) at No. 3 Oklahoma (6-0) (8:00pm EST)
Texas Tech gave K-State a run for its money in shootout fashion. Oklahoma, with only two wins over winning teams and none against current ranked opponents, could be in a little bit of trouble.
The Sooners average 547.2 yards of total offense compared to 533.8 from the Red Raiders. Oklahoma scores 45.3 points per game, while Tech puts up 43.8 PPG. Texas Tech has an advantage in first downs nonetheless with 29.3 to OU’s 27.5.
On the other side of the football, it’s a whole different story. Simply put, the Sooners surrender 317.2 YPG and 15.8 PPG, while the Red Raiders allow an average of 406.7 total yards and 29.3 points every week. OU extends its lead to 14-5 in the series and 9-1 in Norman against TTU. Good game, though. Prediction: Oklahoma 40, Texas Tech 26
No. 18 Auburn (5-2) at No. 2 LSU (7-0) (3:30pm EST)
Auburn might have what it takes to give Les Miles and LSU fits. Football Nation’s Joe Finney explains what to watch for Saturday in Baton Rouge. The Tigers are the fifth team on upset alert this week.
The team with the home-field edge has won 10 of the last 11 meetings. Six of the previous seven collisions have been decided by seven points or less. With starting running back Spencer Ware, star cornerback Tyrann Mathieu (aka the Honey Badger) and the team’s 4th-leading tackler in defensive back Tharold Simon out of the lineup, this could go right down to the end of the wire, especially when you consider Auburn has a history of showing up better in big games. If you see Les come in with a clock around his neck like Flavor Flav, it’s to remember clock management. Tigers escape… Prediction: LSU 24, Auburn 20
Tennessee (3-3) at No. 1 Alabama (7-0) (7:15pm EST)
Alabama has limited Tennessee to 17 points or fewer in the past seven get-togethers. The Volunteers are banged up and their only shot to hang around is if the Crimson Tide is partially focused on the upcoming open date or November 5th date with fellow SEC West heavyweight LSU in the game of the year. The Tide rolls in the 2nd half. Prediction: Alabama 41, Tennessee 13
Verse of This Piece: “Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect.” —Romans 12:2