The No. 9-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks go into Gainesville to take on No. 3 ranked Florida. This is clearly the game of the week in college football.
It is an SEC battle featuring two teams whose BCS ranking is a bit higher than their spot in the AP poll. The Gators would be playing Alabama in the BCS title game if the season ended on Saturday, and the Gamecocks would be seventh.
Either way you look at it, this will be an epic clash. When the game is over, the Gamecocks will either be in prime position to become a serious challenger for a top two spot, or their BCS title hopes will be gone altogether.
It's a little more complicated for the Gators. They are still undefeated at this point, and a close loss wouldn't kill their chances, but it would certainly hurt them significantly. They still have Georgia and Florida State on their schedule, so they would have some opportunities to rebound.
Still, a loss would mean they would need others to slip up to play for a national championship.
Expect defense to rule the day in this one. Both teams are ranked in the top six in the nation in points allowed. Two fourth-quarter interceptions by Connor Shaw cost the Gamecocks the upset win over LSU in Week 7.
Turnovers will again play a key part in this battle. The Gators' defense has been so good, and the offense so efficient on the ground. It's hard to see them losing at home, but it certainly isn't unthinkable.
Here's how you can catch this epic contest:
Saturday, October 20, 3:30 PM ET on CBS
Here are three other key games on the Week 8 schedule:
No. 2 Oregon at Arizona State
Thursday, October 18, 9 PM ET on ESPN
How will the Oregon Ducks respond to being snubbed by the first BCS standings? Despite being ranked No. 2 by the AP poll, the Ducks took a backseat to the Gators according to the BCS.
They should be fired up, and ready to take their frustrations out on Arizona State. However, the Sun Devils aren't exactly an easy mark. They are 5-1 this season and 3-0 at home.
Their defense has been exceptional, as they've allowed only 14.2 points per game. They are surely in for test against the Ducks. DeAnthony Thomas is one of the nation's most dynamic players. He and Kenjon Barner have combined for 1104 yards rushing.
That's a big reason the team is averaging 52.3 points per game. Something has to give in this one, and it'll likely be that Sun Devils defense.
They're good, but the Ducks' attack is great.
No. 6 LSU at No. 18 Texas A&M
Saturday, October 20, Noon ET on ESPN
The Tigers are back in the BCS title picture, but they won't stay there if they lose to the Aggies on Saturday. Playing a tough schedule has its pros and cons, and LSU is living that reality. The Tigers are in the midst of stretch that sees them play five straight ranked opponents.
If they come out relatively unscathed, they will drastically improve in the eyes of pollsters and the BCS computer.
They already lost at Gainesville to the Gators. If they are to remain in the BCS title picture they can't afford another loss.
The Aggies have something in common with the Tigers: They also lost to the Gators this season. Florida has accounted for both of these team's only loss.
Freshman Johnny Manziel is a great game away from hearing some Heisman Trophy whispers. Not only has he thrown for 1,680 yards, 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He also leads the team in rushing with 676 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Can he run wild against one of the nation's top defenses?
I don't think so, not even at home. LSU is on a mission to get back in the top two of the BCS standings, and I don't see the Aggies derailing them.
No. 4 Kansas State at No. 13 West Virginia
Saturday, October 20, 7 PM on FOX
Geno Smith and the Mountaineers were sent crashing to earth on Saturday by the Texas Tech Red Raiders. They were victims of a 49-14 beatdown, and it dropped them from No. 5 to No. 13 in the AP poll.
The Wildcats benefited from the Mountaineers fall-off, and they are on the cusp of BCS title game contention. They still need some help, but they have four games remaining on their schedule against ranked opponents.
If Oregon, Florida or Alabama fall, the Wildcats are primed to pounce—if they take care of their own business. That is easier said than done, and the difficulty begins this week. The Mountaineers will be looking to rebound from their lackluster performance, and this team is always tough in Morgantown.
They are 9-2 at home since the beginning of the 2011 season.
This could be a high-scoring affair as both offenses are averaging over 40 points per game. The Wildcats defense surely has the edge over the Mountaineers. The latter hasn't shown the ability to shut down an opponent all season. When they needed to step up against the Red Raiders they couldn't, and thus they left a struggling Smith and the offense to drown.
The Mountaineers need a shootout to have a shot at winning, but I expect the Wildcats to get the key stops to pull out a tough and impressive road victory.
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