College Football Predictions Week 8: Identifying Winners of Biggest Games

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IOctober 16, 2013

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 22:  Sammy Watkins #2 of the Clemson Tigers during their game at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 22, 2012 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The college football season delivers us a gem in the ACC this week, as No. 5 Florida State travels to take on No. 3 Clemson. 

This is a game that has not only big conference implications but also national championship ones, and the good news for college football fans is that isn't the only big-time matchup. 

Out west, No. 13 Stanford will try to get back on track against No. 9 UCLA. Stanford suffered a shock loss to Utah and is now facing a Bruins team that is playing better than it has in years. 

Keep reading to see how I predict these games will play out. 


Florida State vs. Clemson

It's been a while since a game of this magnitude has happened outside of the SEC, but there is no denying the enormity of this one.

Not only does this game feature two serious national title contenders, but it also features two of the nation's best quarterbacks.

Freshman quarterback Jameis Winston has been magnificent for Florida State, but he's also never dealt with a setting like this. This will be only his third road start and his first against a ranked team. 

Meanwhile, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd has ample experience and plenty of weapons. Sammy Watkins is one of the best receivers in the nation, and he already has 36 catches for 582 yards. 

This will be just enough to earn Clemson a thrilling victory. 

Prediction: Clemson 42, Florida State 39.


UCLA vs. Stanford

STANFORD, CA - NOVEMBER 30:  Brett Hundley #17 of the UCLA Bruins in action against the Stanford Cardinal during the Pac-12 Championship game at Stanford Stadium on November 30, 2012 in Stanford, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Stanford's season took an unexpected turn last week when the Cardinal fell 27-21 to Utah. It was their first loss of the year. That came just a week after the Cardinal survived a scare against the Washington Huskies while playing at home. 

Now, Stanford must try to save its season against a surging UCLA team. The Bruins are undefeated and are working their way into the national title conversation. UCLA has looked fantastic, but the Bruins have only beaten one team that was ranked at the time they played. 

If the Cardinal are going to turn around their season, the defense must improve. 

Stanford's defense is looking more vulnerable by the week. Last week, the Cardinal allowed Utah to gain over 400 yards. This is especially problematic for a team that relies on a ball-control offense to wear opponents down. That is hard to do if the defense isn't getting off the field.

UCLA will control possession in this game and escape with a huge win.  

Prediction: UCLA 27, Stanford 20


Florida vs. Missouri 

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 03:  Gahn McGaffie #3 of the Missouri Tigers is tackled by Josh Evans #9 of the Florida Gators during the game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 3, 2012 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Missouri is coming off an epic 41-26 win over Georgia and faces another huge contest against the Florida Gators. 

Meanwhile, Florida will be trying to rebound after a 17-6 loss to LSU last week. 

This is an intriguing matchup, as it pits Missouri's high-powered offense against Florida's stout defense. The Tigers are eighth in scoring, and the Gators are fourth in points allowed. 

Unfortunately, Missouri quarterback James Franklin won't be able to play in this game due to a shoulder injury. The Gators defense is not a good place to break in a new starting quarterback. Redshirt freshman Maty Mauk will take the starting spot. 

He looked good in his limited duty last week, but it wasn't the most extensive workload. He went 3-of-2 for 23 yards. Mauk will enjoy playing at home, and that will help. However, it still won't be enough. 

Prediction: Florida 17, Missouri 10