College Football Picks Week 8: Highlighting Saturday's Top Matchups

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistOctober 16, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 02:  Jameis Winston #5 of the Florida State Seminoles celebrates after rushing for a five yard touchdown in the first half against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the game on September 2, 2013 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The college football season continues to heat up with more premier bouts between ranked adversaries.

Five of this week's many games pit two ranked opponents against one another, setting up an intense week of football that holds major implications over the ranks. The AP Top 25 is unlikely to look the same after Saturday.

Major bouts in the SEC, Pac-12 and ACC could shake up each conference. Here's a look at some of Saturday's best bouts.


No. 9 UCLA at No. 13 Stanford

Stanford has stolen much of the limelight from UCLA all season, but the Bruins enter as the higher-ranked squad.

UCLA held its ground once again with another quiet victory, topping California by a score of 37-10. Sophomore Brett Hundley dominated with 410 passing yards and three touchdowns as a tune-up for this week's showdown.

Meanwhile, Stanford's title hopes took a dramatic hit with a 27-21 loss to Utah. A week after narrowly defeating Washington, Stanford fell on the other side when Bubba Poole ran for 111 yards for the Utes.

UCLA has outscored its opponents by 27.6 points per game, having compiled 323.6 yards through the air and 223.4 yards on the ground. With running back Jordon James supplementing Hundley with 6.3 yards per carry, the Bruins have all the tools to enter hostile territory and escape with a colossal victory over the Cardinal.

Prediction: UCLA 30, Stanford 23


No. 24 Auburn at No. 7 Texas A&M

How far can Johnny Manziel carry the Aggies?

The sophomore has completed a dazzling 73.2 percent of his passes for 1,835 passing yards and 14 touchdowns. Throw in his 438 rushing yards and five additional scores and Manziel is a prime candidate to win his second Heisman Trophy in as many years.

But can the dynamic quarterback continue to mask a struggling defense that has surrendered 32 points per game? Against SEC competitors, Texas A&M has yielded 120 points through three games, all of which delved into shootout territory.

Despite scoring 62 points last week against Western Carolina, that's not a game Auburn wants to play. The Tigers, who failed to keep up with LSU, rely on controlling the ground game and keeping opponents in the low 20s. If the Aggies put up their usual 47, it will obviously be a long day.

Look for Manziel to do enough against Auburn to keep his school ranked in the top 10.

Prediction: Texas A&M 38, Auburn 30



No. 5 Florida State at No. 5 Clemson

SYRACUSE, NY - OCTOBER 5:  Tajh Boyd #10 of Clemson Tigers lines up a first down reception in the first quarter against Syracuse Orange on October 5, 2013 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.  Clemson defeated Syracuse 49-14.  (Photo by Brett Carlse
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

In Saturday's game of the week, two top-five squads clash with possible BCS title implications at stake.

Another win against a major adversary would push Clemson closer to the doorstep of Alabama and Oregon, while another victory for Florida State would move the rising club up at least one more spot. 

This matchup has everything to make it essential watching for any football fan. Clemson sports a well-balanced team that ranks 10th in FBS in offensive passing yards and opposing points scored. Florida State has earned a plus-208 point differential.

Most importantly, it has the star quarterbacks. Tajh Boyd and Jameis Winston will both strut their stuff on prime time, trying to convince scouts of their pro potential while leading their college squads to the promised land.

Boyd, in his senior year, has completed 66.5 percent of his passes for 1,783 passing yards, 15 passing touchdowns and two interceptions. Winston's completion percentage resides at a sparkling 73.2 alongside 17 passing scores and two picks. So, these guys are really good.

This one is close, but Clemson gains the slight edge since it is battle tested with a season-opening win vs. Georgia. Clemson also sports the home-field advantage, which could rattle the opposing freshman quarterback.

Prediction: Clemson 41, Florida State 35