College Football Weekend: Week Eight Preview and Predictions
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
The leaves change colors, the air gets a little crisper, and college football fans around the country start pulling out their hair and screaming for their sanity.
Yes, that’s right, it’s BCS season.
On Monday, the first BCS rankings of the season were announced and, as usual, all hell broke loose among coaches, fans, and media members.
How could Cincinnati be all the way at No. 5? How could USC (No. 7) be so low? How is Miami (No. 10) so much higher than Virginia Tech (No. 14)?
Well, ladies and gentleman, the good news is that there is still plenty of football to be played.
The bad news, of course, is that there is still plenty of football to be played.
The chaos has just begun.
Sure, the situation could easily resolve itself if Florida (No. 1) and Alabama (No. 2) face each other (undefeated) in the SEC title game, with the winner getting unbeaten Texas (No. 3) in the BCS title game. That resolution would be fairly easy to stomach.
But is anyone expecting that to happen?
If either Alabama or Florida stumbles in the regular season, the “one-loss-SEC-team-debate” will begin again. Should one-loss Florida or Alabama get in over an undefeated Iowa (No. 6) or Boise State (No. 4)?
And speaking of Boise State, is it even possible for the Broncos to get into the championship game from the WAC? And what if TCU (No. 8) wins this week at BYU (No. 16)? Could the Horned Frogs jump over the Broncos in the BCS standings?
Then there’s Cincinnati. The Bearcats have been impressive, but they play in the Big East, which gets about as much street credit as the WAC or Mountain West. Maybe even less.
So if the Bearcats run the table, should they get in over a one-loss SEC or Big 12 team? Should Iowa get in if it runs the table in the Big Ten?
It’s enough to make your head spin.
If you’re the type that loves the drama, 2009 should not disappoint .
But if you’re hoping for a nice, orderly, sane finish to the college football season, you better stock up on the Alka-Seltzer.
Because this has the makings of the wildest BCS race yet.
To Week Eight we go…
Five games you can’t miss this weekend
This game features two teams on the cusp of the Top 25, needing a win this week to keep a major bowl as a possibility. This game holds particular significance for Notre Dame, which comes off a heartbreaking loss to USC.
If the Irish win here, they have winnable home games on the horizon against Washington State and Navy. But if they lose, it could send Clausen and Co. into a tail-spin that may just land them in a very small, and very forgettable bowl game.
Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Boston College 21
Who would have thought that Auburn would be playing for second place in the SEC West at this point of the season? The Tigers have been one of the league’s biggest surprises this year, though two straight losses have brought them back down to earth a bit.
This game should be a classic SEC slug-fest. Can Auburn put points up on the LSU defense? LSU has had two weeks to seethe over its loss against Florida. You better believe they’d love taking it out on Auburn.
Prediction: LSU 20, Auburn 12
Penn State-Michigan always has a certain excitement to it. This season should be no different, as the Nittany Lions try to keep their Big Ten title hopes alive, and the Wolverines try to stay in contention for a major bowl.
The Wolverines have shown they can put up points, including last week’s 63-3 fireworks display against Delaware State. Penn State is not Delaware State, though, and the Lions have plenty to play for. Look for a close game to be decided by the arm of Penn State’s Daryll Clark.
Prediction: Penn State 28, Michigan 26
Texas’ reward for beating its rival Oklahoma in a tooth-and-nail battle on Saturday? Missouri. In Columbus. This game is the first of two highly dangerous tests for the Longhorns (who play at Oklahoma State next weekend).
Missouri has been a hard team to figure out this season, storming out to a 4-0 start, but losing its past two to ranked opponents. This game is the Tigers’ last shot at a hallmark win before the season finale against Kansas. They will make this a close game.
Prediction: Texas 33, Missouri 28
Yes, you’re reading that right. This week’s marquee game is from the Mountain West. TCU and BYU meet in what could be the de-facto Mountain West championship game. This game also has enormous BCS implications. The Horned Frogs are currently ranked eighth in the BCS, BYU 16th. The winner gets a huge jump in those rankings on Monday.
The story here will be the Cougars’ high-powered offense against the Frogs’ staunch defense. But don’t count out TCU’s offense, either. Led by quarterback Andy Dalton, TCU put up 44 last week against Colorado State. But BYU has won 13 straight at home, and the Cougars have Max Hall on their side.
Prediction: BYU 31, TCU 23
Virginia over No. 12 Georgia Tech (Sat. 12:00 EST)
Georgia Tech comes into this game off of an emotional high, beating Virginia Tech last weekend. It would be easy to look past the Cavaliers, who have suddenly figured out a porous defense in winning three straight games, two of which were on the road. Virginia would love nothing more than to de-rail Georgia Tech’s impressive season. Al Groh cannot be stopped right now.
Prediction: Virginia 24, Georgia Tech 21
For your viewing pleasure
Indiana at Northwestern (Sat. 12:00 EST, Big Ten Network): Northwestern 35, Indiana 23
Minnesota at No. 19 Ohio State (Sat. 12:00 EST, ESPN): Ohio State 38, Minnesota 20
Connecticut at No. 23 West Virginia (Sat. 12:00 EST, ESPNU): West Virginia 42, UCONN 23
No. 15 Oklahoma State at Baylor (Sat. 12:30 EST, VS): OSU 27, Baylor 17
No. 11 Oregon at Washington (Sat. 3:30 EST, ABC): Oregon 31, Washington 26
Tennessee at No. 2 Alabama (Sat. 3:30 EST, CBS): Alabama 24, Tennessee 10
Oklahoma at No. 25 Kansas (Sat. 3:30 EST, ABC): Oklahoma 33, Kansas 30
Clemson at No. 10 Miami (Sat. 3:30 EST, ABC): Miami 35, Clemson 19
Air Force at No. 18 Utah (Sat. 4:00 EST, VS): Utah 34, Air Force 27
No. 6 Iowa at Michigan State (Sat. 7:00 EST, Big Ten Network): Iowa 26, MSU 21
No. 1 Florida at Mississippi State (Sat. 7:30 EST, ESPN): Florida 38, Miss. St. 23
Oregon State at No. 7 USC (Sat. 8:00 EST, ABC): USC 31, OSU 14
Arizona State at Stanford (Sat. 10:15 EST, Fox Sports): Stanford 21, ASU 20
Jimmy Clausen (QB—Notre Dame)
Clausen has been getting plenty of Heisman attention this season, and this week gives him an opportunity to shine in a must-win game for his team. Clausen was solid against USC last week, but he needs a breakout game to take over as the Heisman front-runner. Boston College has shown it will give up points at time this season, and Clausen is the best quarterback the Eagles have faced yet.
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