College Football Week 8 Preview: Biggest Stories and Games to Watch

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College Football Week 8 Preview: Biggest Stories and Games to Watch
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Week 8 is not loaded with high-profile matchups, but there are still plenty of juicy nuggets for fans to sink their teeth into. That action all starts on Thursday night when Oregon, No. 3 in the BCS Standings, travels to play Arizona State, and it will carry right through the weekend. 

This week will go a long way towards clearing up the picture in conference races, and in a couple of instances, it will help us sort out the contenders from the pretenders. 

 

Biggest Storylines 

South Carolina has to try to rebound from a heartbreaking loss against LSU, and the Gamecocks are going to have to do it in "The Swamp" against No. 2 Florida in an enormous SEC battle. 

Over in the Big 12, there is a similarly key matchup as West Virginia tries to recover from the shocking beatdown it received last week, as the Mountaineers host No. 4 Kansas State. 

And speaking of that West Virginia beatdown, the Heisman race, which Geno Smith was about to run away with, is now suddenly back up for grabs. Will someone like Ohio State's Braxton Miller or Kansas State's Collin Klein, who just so happens to be going head-to-head with Smith, come up with a huge week to jump into the lead? 

There is going to be plenty to watch this week, more than one person could realistically handle. To help ease that burden, here are three games you'll want to make a point of catching. 

 

Key Matchups

 

No. 7 South Carolina at No. 2 Florida

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.

When: Saturday, Oct. 20 at 3:30 p.m. ET

Watch: CBS and CBSSports.com

Analysis

 

And the winner is?

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It is going to be a blast when these two elite, battle-tested teams take the field. This figures to be a low-scoring affair with these two defenses, and for my money, this game will be decided by the success of Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore. 

This Gamecocks' offense needs Lattimore to set the pace. As we saw last week, he was unable to do so against the LSU defense, and the offense increasingly struggled as a result. 

Florida has an excellent rush defense, but it's not as intimidating as LSU's. The Gators are allowing 3.3 yards per rush, which is an excellent number, but one that will be tested mightily this week. 

Meanwhile, Florida's offense isn't overpowering, but the Gators do have several ways to get production, and quarterback Jeff Driskel has a knack for making plays when he has to, and I see him doing just that in this one. 

Prediction: Florida 17, South Carolina 13 

 

No. 4 Kansas State at No. 13 West Virginia

Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Where: Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia

When: Saturday, October 20 at 7 p.m. ET

Watch: FOX

Analysis

The victor will be?

Submit Vote vote to see results

This could prove to be the most important game in the race for this year's Heisman. Smith is looking to rebound from a relatively poor performance last week, and he better do just that because Klein is showing no signs of slowing down. 

Ultimately though, the real ramifications of this game are in the outcome. This will not only alter the race for the Big 12, but possibly the national title. 

This game will be won or lost in the trenches. Both of these defenses must get pressure on the QB, or they are in for a long day. 

The Wildcats have 13 sacks and have allowed just six. West Virginia has 15 sacks and has allowed eight. So their differential is the same. What a great game this should be. 

Ultimately, I look for Smith to use the energy of the home fans to help fuel him to a huge rebound game and lead his team to this huge win. 

Prediction: West Virginia 42, Kansas State 35

 

No. 3 Oregon at Arizona State

Jim Z. Rider-US PRESSWIRE

When: Thursday, Oct. 18 at 9 p.m. ET

Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.

Watch: ESPN or stream on Watch ESPN

Analysis

Arizona State is playing very solid football. The Sun Devils are 17th in points scored and ninth in points against. They have been dominating time of possession with an efficient offense, and they are getting the opposition off the field with the nation's fifth-ranked pass defense. They are also only allowing 3.2 yards per carry. 

That said, they have yet to play a team that is close to being on Oregon's level, and the Ducks can destroy the hopes of a team in the blink of an eye.

Another thing to watch here is that this is Oregon's first real road game of the season. The Ducks played one at a neutral site earlier in the year, but they will be right in the middle of enemy territory here. 

That won't be enough to stop Oregon though. Look for this one to go like many of Oregon's games. It will be close in the first half, and the Ducks will pull away late for a convincing victory. 

Prediction: Oregon 42, Arizona State 24

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