10 One-on-One Matchups to Watch in Week 8
With many exciting games on tap this weekend, Week 8 presents several interesting one-on-one matchups.
Top-ranked quarterbacks will take on some of the nation’s top secondaries while elite running backs will try to break through some of the best defensive lines. In the weekend’s marquee matchup, quarterbacks will duel with one another while defenses will try to outdo each other.
It all makes for a quite eventful weekend of college football.
Here are 10 matchups to keep an eye on for Week 8.
QB Maty Mauk (Missouri) vs. Florida Secondary
Week 8 Matchup: No. 22 Florida (4-2) at No. 14 Missouri (6-0), Oct. 19, 12:21 p.m. ET
The excitement over the Tigers’ 41-26 upset win over then-No. 7 Georgia was short lived. That’s because The Associated Press reported earlier this week that starting quarterback James Franklin would be out for three to five weeks.
It quickly threw Missouri’s 6-0 record into the hands of untested, redshirt freshman Maty Mauk.
With just six career pass attempts to his name, Mauk should find things rather difficult this weekend. Especially given that he’ll be going up against a stout Gators defense.
Through six games, Florida ranks No. 4 in scoring defense (13.0 PPGA), No. 3 in total defense (235.3 YPGA), No. 3 against the pass (152.0 YPGA) and No. 2 in pass efficiency defense (85.5 QBR). Furthermore, the unit hasn’t allowed a single opposing quarterback to throw for more than 165 yards while conceding just three scores through the air.
Even LSU’s Zach Mettenberger only managed 152 yards and was held without a touchdown.
This is a test even Franklin would have struggled with. With that said, it should be almost impossible for Mauk to put up productive numbers this weekend.
Then again, Missouri has been full of surprises this season.
QB Taylor Kelly (Arizona State) vs. Washington Secondary
Week 8 Matchup: No. 20 Washington (4-2) at Arizona State (4-2), Oct. 19, 6 p.m. ET
Quarterback Taylor Kelly has led the Sun Devils to a better start than many originally expected.
Through six games, the junior has racked up 1,965 yards through the air with 16 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He’s accounted for three scores in four straight games and thrown for over 300 yards in five of six contests this year.
The Huskies defense might have something to say about that.
Entering this weekend, the unit ranks No. 17 against the pass (183.0 YPGA) and No. 12 in pass efficiency defense (101.4 QBR). Furthermore, Washington has conceded just five touchdowns through the air while holding five of its six opponents under 160 yards passing.
Only Heisman favorite Marcus Mariota has had success against the unit—366 yards and three touchdowns.
This will be a good measuring stick game for Kelly.
QB Derek Carr (Fresno State) vs. UNLV Secondary
Week 8 Matchup: UNLV (4-2) at No. 17 Fresno State (5-0), Oct. 19, 10 p.m. ET
Quarterback Derek Carr has slowly put together one of the better campaigns of any signal-caller in the nation.
Through five games, the senior has thrown for 1,864 yards, 19 touchdowns and four interceptions on 70.7 percent passing. He’s accounted for at least three scores in every single contest while throwing for over 400 yards and four touchdowns in two of his last three games.
Furthermore, Carr’s 372.8 yards per game through the air ranks second in the country.
However, the Rebels’ defense won’t give up yards easily.
Thus far, the unit is ranked No. 8 against the pass (165.8 YPGA) and No. 10 in pass efficiency defense (100.0 QBR). Not to mention, UNLV has held opposing quarterbacks to less than 45.4 percent passing.
It’s going to be a tough day at the office for one of these two.
UCLA Rushing Attack vs. Stanford Run Defense
Week 8 Matchup: No. 9 UCLA (5-0) at No. 13 Stanford (5-1), Oct. 19, 3:30 p.m. ET
Through five games, the Bruins boast one of the nation’s best offenses.
The team ranks No. 5 in total offense, No. 17 in passing and No. 21 in rushing. UCLA also averages just a little over 45 points per game.
But while the team should have no real difficulty passing through a weak Cardinal secondary, the real battle will be in the trenches.
Entering this weekend, Stanford ranks No. 24 against the run allowing 123.3 yards per game on the ground. Furthermore, the team has allowed just five rushing touchdowns all season.
The Cardinal began the year impressively, holding opponents to under 60 yards on the ground in three of their first four games while never allowing a player to top 100 yards. However, over the last two contests, both Bishop Sankey (Washington) and Bubba Poole (Utah) have topped the century mark.
Which Stanford defense will show on Saturday?
Although the Bruins’ leading rusher Jordon James (74 CAR, 463 YDs, 5 TDs) may not be healthy to play, via The Los Angeles Times' Chris Foster, quarterback Brett Hundley (61 CAR, 260 YDs, 3 TDs) and freshman running back Paul Perkins (45 CAR, 228 YDs, 3 TDs) should be able to give the Cardinal fits.
Regardless, it should be an interesting matchup to watch.
QB Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) vs. UCF Secondary
Week 8 Matchup: UCF (4-1) at No. 8 Louisville (6-0), Oct. 18, 8 p.m. ET
On Friday, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (71.0 CMP%, 1,872 YDs, 18 TDs, 2 INTs, 191.8 QBR) will look to make up for a somewhat disappointing performance last Thursday against Rutgers.
Although the junior topped 300 yards through the air and tossed a pair of touchdowns, he also committed two turnovers. The Cardinals won 24-10 but relied mainly on its defense to carry them through.
That’s not the kind of performance that boosts Heisman campaigns or BCS title hopes.
Against the Knights, Bridgewater can’t afford those same mistakes.
Off to a 4-1 start, UCF is led by an impressive defensive unit. It’s one that ranks No. 11 in scoring (16.6 PPGA) and No. 42 against the pass (212.8 YPGA).
Furthermore, the team has only conceded two touchdowns through the air.
As the only FBS game on schedule, Bridgewater and Louisville have a perfect chance to show the pollsters that they are deserving of a spot in the BCS title game. On the other hand, it’s also a perfect opportunity to display why they are not.
Which will it be?
RB Carlos Hyde (Ohio State) vs. Iowa Run Defense
Week 8 Matchup: Iowa (4-2) at No. 4 Ohio State (6-0), Oct. 19, 3:30 p.m. ET
The Buckeyes are coming off a nice road win over a previously undefeated Northwestern team on the road.
A solid ground game was the foundation for that victory.
Appearing in just three games this season, running back Carlos Hyde has already ran for 294 yards and three touchdowns on 48 carries. That includes a career-high 168 yards and three scores during Ohio State’s 40-30 win over the Wildcats in Week 6.
The senior has also caught six passes for 43 yards and a touchdown.
However, the Hawkeyes pose the most formidable defense the Buckeyes have faced yet.
Through six games, the team ranks No. 12 in scoring defense (16.8 PPGA), No. 9 in total defense (290.0 YPGA) and No. 8 against the rush (88.5 YPGA). Furthermore, Iowa concedes just 3.07 yards per carry and is the only team to not allow a single rushing touchdown this year.
In four wins, the Hawkeyes have limited each opponent to less than 80 yards on the ground. However, in the team’s two losses, both opponents have racked up more than 130.
The run game could be the key to victory in this one.
QB Connor Halliday (Washington State) vs. Oregon Secondary
Week 8 Matchup: Washington State (4-3) at No. 2 Oregon (6-0), Oct. 19, 10 p.m. ET
Quarterback Connor Halliday has gotten off to a blistering start. So much so, that he has the Cougars ranked No. 8 in passing.
The junior has thrown for 2,241 yards, 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions on 63.4 percent passing. Furthermore, he’s already thrown for 340 or more yards in four games this season.
That includes a tremendous 521-yard, three-touchdown performance against Cal on Oct. 5.
Next up, Washington State will face its stiffest defensive test.
Over six games, the Ducks rank No. 6 in scoring defense (13.8 PPGA), No. 27 against the pass (201.0 YPGA) and No. 5 in pass efficiency defense (94.3 QBR). The unit has also intercepted seven passes while conceding just four scores through the air.
Given how Halliday is prone to turnovers—he has thrown an interception in every game—this could be a recipe for disaster.
It will be interesting to see if he can manage to produce while playing mistake-free.
RB Alex Collins (Arkansas) vs. Alabama Run Defense
Week 8 Matchup: Arkansas (3-4) at No. 1 Alabama (6-0), Oct. 19, 7 p.m. ET
Running back Alex Collins has had a sensational freshman campaign for the Razorbacks.
Through seven games, he’s rushed for 720 yards and four touchdowns on 123 carries. More impressively, Collins has averaged four or more yards per carry in all but one game this season.
However, after averaging at least 20 carries and 115 yards or more per game over Arkansas’ 3-0 start, he has failed to do as much over the last four games—all losses.
Against the Crimson Tide this weekend, the task shouldn’t become any easier.
Alabama’s defense only seems to get better each week. Thus far, the unit ranks No. 2 in scoring defense (11.3 PPGA) and No. 7 against the run (87.2 YPGA).
However, the unit has been downright nasty as of late.
Over the last four games, the Tide have conceded just 16 points and held each of their opponents under 100 yards rushing. In fact, three of those opponents couldn’t even top 60 yards on the ground.
Needless to say, if the Razorbacks have any chance of pulling the upset, Collins needs to breakthrough a defensive line that has played like a brick wall lately.
Florida State Defense vs. Clemson Defense
Week 8 Matchup: No. 5 Florida State (5-0) at No. 3 Clemson (6-0), Oct. 19, 8 p.m. ET
We expect this one to settle a lot of things for us.
Who is the most deserving Heisman Trophy candidate? Which team will have the inside track to reach the ACC title game? Are both teams as good as their resumes claim?
But more importantly, it’ll decide whether the Tigers or Seminoles will be left unblemished on their trek towards the BCS titles.
It all starts with the defenses.
Florida State enters ranked highly in several defensive categories. The unit ranks No. 3 in scoring defense (12.0 PPGA), No. 7 in total defense (276.8 YPGA), No. 27 against the rush (127.8 YPGA) and No. 2 against the pass (149.0 YPGA). Furthermore, the Seminoles have only conceded one touchdown on the ground and six scores through the air.
Clemson has been just as stout.
Through six games, the defense ranks No. 10 in scoring (16.2 PPGA), No. 20 in total defense (344.8 YPGA), No. 65 against the run (158.3 YPGA) and No. 18 against the pass (186.5 YPGA). Furthermore, the Tigers also rank No. 2 in sacks (24.0) and lead the nation in sacks per game (4.0).
Although both units have flexed their muscles coming into this contest, slowing down the opposing offense may just be too much to ask.
Regardless, it only takes one turnover to change the entire outcome of a game.
Will anyone step up?
QB Jameis Winston (Florida State) vs. QB Tajh Boyd (Clemson)
Week 8 Matchup: No. 5 Florida State (5-0) at No. 3 Clemson (6-0), Oct. 19, 8 p.m. ET
As mentioned in the previous slide, this matchup has a lot riding on it.
The battle between quarterbacks Jameis Winston (Seminoles) and Tajh Boyd (Tigers) will go a long way in settling it.
On one hand, Winston has been one of the best stories in college football so far. Just a redshirt freshman, he’s already thrown for 1,441 yards, 17 touchdowns and two interceptions on 73.2 percent passing. Furthermore, Winston’s 213.9 QB rating is second in the nation.
On the other hand, Boyd has been just as productive. The senior has racked up 1,990 yards of total offense while accounting for 20 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Both offer up two different games.
Winston has been the more consistent one, totaling at least three touchdowns and a QB rating of over 200 in all but one game. He’s also completed over 70 percent of his passes in three contests this season.
As for Boyd, he brings big-game experience. That much was displayed in his thrilling performance against then-No. 5 Georgia—312 total yards and five touchdowns.
This one should be nothing less than a heavyweight bout. It could really come down to who has the ball last.
Better get your popcorn ready.
All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of NCAA.com.