College Football Games to Watch: Week Eight
Week Eight kicks off the second half of the college football season and after seven weeks, there are only seven undefeated teams. All of them will be in action this week.
The first BCS standings were released last weekend and the Florida Gators are in the lead, for now. Every team in the BCS Top 25 is in action but two, which are Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.
This week features one Top 25 matchup, a revenge game, a trap game, and one or more home teams could be upset. Here is a look at the games college football fans should watch.
Florida State Seminoles vs. North Carolina Tar Heels
The Tar Heels bounced back from two straight losses with a win over Georgia Southern last week. North Carolina comes into this game looking for their first ACC win.
Florida State has had two weeks to prepare for this game after getting pounded in the second half by Georgia Tech. The Seminoles have lost three straight and are 0-3 in ACC play.
Who needs the win more: Florida State.
Butch Davis and the Tar Heels could use a win to get back into the ACC race, but the Seminoles need it more. For the first time in his tenure, Bobby Bowden is under major fire.
North Carolina is a basketball school first, so Davis does not have to worry about losing his job. Bowden has put Florida State on the map nationally. A 0-4 ACC start would spell the beginning of the end for Bowden.
A win would take some of the heat off of the Seminoles' embattled coach. A loss could mean Florida State would miss a bowl for the first time since 1981. This is a must-win for the Seminoles.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Army Black Knights
Rutgers steps out of conference to get a non-conference win for the Big East. The Scarlet Knights look to bounce back after a loss to Pittsburgh last week.
Army comes into this game after a loss to Temple last week. The Black Knights are one of three college football independents; the other two are Notre Dame and Navy.
Who needs the win more: Army.
The Black Knights enter this game with a 3-4 record and with five games to go, need to get some wins to become bowl eligible. A win over Rutgers would keep Army’s bowl hopes alive.
The four remaining games against Air Force, VMI, North Texas, and Navy leave the Black Knights no room for error if they lose this game. A win and a split in the final four games would give Army the six wins need to go bowling.
Saturday and Saturday Night
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Virginia Cavaliers
The Yellow Jackets got a big win at home last week against Virginia Tech. Georgia Tech now has to avoid a letdown and lose a chance at an ACC Coastal title.
Virginia started the season at 0-3, but has reeled off three straight wins to pull to 3-3. More importantly, the Cavaliers are 2-0 in ACC play and control their own destiny.
Who needs the win more: Both.
Georgia Tech’s win over the Hokies last week allowed the Yellow Jackets to pull into a tie with Miami and the Hokies. Assuming Virginia loses a conference game, these three teams would be in a three-way tie.
Josh Nesbit has carried this team on his back since the loss to Miami and the so-so season by Jonathan Dwyer. Depending on the ACC tie-breakers, this team could play in a BCS bowl or a championship.
No one did more to save their job after a slow start than Al Groh. He was just about out the door when this team turned things around to pull back to .500.
Virginia is the only team in the ACC without a conference loss, and if they win out, would play for a spot in the BCS. A Cavaliers win over a Top 15 team would make Groh’s job safe no matter what happens the rest of the year.
Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
The Gophers are coming off of a shutout loss to Penn State last week. Minnesota has not been able to win back-to-back games since the start of the season, but has not lost two in a row.
Ohio State is trying to bounce back after a bad loss to Purdue on the road last week. The Buckeyes are facing criticism of their coach, Jim Tressel, and their star quarterback, Terrell Pryor.
Who needs the win more: Ohio State.
The Gophers could surely use a win, but a second Big Ten loss would hurt the Buckeyes more. After the USC loss, Tressel's play-calling and offense has come under fire.
After the loss to Purdue, Pryor’s passing and playmaking ability has drawn ire. A loss against Minnesota will make the dissent in Columbus a lot louder. Even with all Tressel has done, a few more losses could put a fire under his seat this season.
South Florida Bulls vs. Pittsburgh Panthers
The Bulls tasted defeat for the first time this season in a loss to Cincinnati last week. They have done well after Matt Grothe went down and they had to turn to B.J. Daniels.
Pitt won a big game against Rutgers last week to stay undefeated in the Big East. The Panthers control their destiny as far as a conference title goes.
Who needs the win more: Both.
South Florida still has a chance to win the conference title and play in a BCS game with a win. The Bulls would have to win out and hope Cincinnati gets beaten twice. With Daniels at quarterback it might be a little harder, but in the crazy world of college football, nothing is impossible.
Pitt would only have three big games if they can escape with a win this week. One against Notre Dame is out-of-conference. The other two would be West Virginia and Cincinnati.
The Panthers will need a strong showing from freshman running back Dion Lewis and quarterback Bill Stull if they want a Big East title. Dave Wannstedt is in position to have his best season since taking over at his alma mater.
Connecticut Huskies vs. West Virginia Mountaineers
The Huskies were able to get a big win last week to stay in the conference race. After the win, tragedy struck as cornerback Jasper Howard was stabbed to death. UConn will head into this game with a very heavy heart as a team.
West Virginia was able to take care of C-USA foe Marshall last week. The Mountaineers are on a three-game winning streak. They have not lost since a road game to Auburn.
Who needs the win more: Connecticut.
While the Mountaineer fans will honor Howard and feel for this team, they will still want to see the home team win. The rest of the country will be pulling for the Huskies.
While a win will not heal the pain this team is going through, their teammate will be there with them in sprit. A win will be their way of honoring a fallen teammate.
The Mountaineers have won the last five meetings between these schools, but the Huskies have more than enough motivation to end that streak.
Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Mississippi (Ole Miss) Rebels
The Razorbacks look to rebound after a heartbreaking loss to Florida last week. Many think Arkansas was robbed by the officials.
Ole Miss has struggled in big games this season. This game will be the biggest game so far if the Rebels hope to get back into the SEC West race.
Who needs the win more: Mississippi.,
The Rebels entered this season as a favorite in the SEC West. Jevan Snead was a Heisman candidate. Ole Miss had BCS dreams. That was before a trip to South Carolina and a home game against Alabama.
The key to this game will be if the Mississippi offense can come alive. The Razorbacks offense, led by Ryan Mallett, face a test in the great Ole Miss defense.
The Arkansas defense will get its chance to look like one of the best in the country this week against the horrible Ole Miss offense. That is unless Snead can get things turned around.
Mississippi needs to win this game or this will be a lost season.
Tennessee Volunteers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
The Volunteers dismantled the Georgia Bulldogs two weeks ago to get Lane Kiffin his first SEC win. Tennessee quarterback Jonathon Crompton had his best game of the season shredding up Georgia for a career-high 310 yards and four touchdowns.
Alabama continued its quest for a national championship with a win over South Carolina last week. Mark Ingram carried the load for the Tide as he rushed for 246 yards.
Who needs the win more: Alabama.
Tennessee has had two weeks to prepare for this game. Do not be surprised if the Volunteers pull the upset. Monty Kiffin will have the defense ready for Ingram and the Tide. The Key for Tennessee will be which Crompton shows up.
Alabama has to keep winning if they want a second date with the Gators in the SEC championship game. While a loss does end a chance ay a West title, it would make it harder to achieve and could end a national championship run.
Alabama has to win out to reach all their goals they set in the preseason. The Tide also looks to win three straight over Alabama.
Clemson Tigers vs. Miami Hurricanes
The Tigers got a big win over Wake Forest to get back to .500. Clemson is still just as inconsistent under Dabo Swinney as they were under Tommy Bowden. The rout over the Demon Deacons broke a two-game losing streak.
After three-straight non conference games, Miami returns to ACC play. The Hurricanes are in contention for a spot in the ACC title game. Jacory Harris is slowly becoming a Heisman contender with each Miami win.
Who needs the win more: Miami.
Clemson could use a win to help get bowl eligible. Miami has a lot more to play for. The Hurricanes still have a chance to play for a national title.
A loss could cost Miami an ACC Coastal title. Clemson will need a big game from C. J. Spiller if they hope to pull off the upset.
Oregon Ducks vs. Washington Huskies
Oregon has bounced back nicely after an opening game debacle at Boise State to start the season. The Ducks have not lost since that game. Oregon cannot get caught looking ahead to next week’s game against USC.
Washington has gone from a team that did not win a game last season to three wins already this season. The Huskies have been in every game except for the Stanford matchup. The credit for the turnaround has to go to a healthy Jake Locker and new coach Steve Sarkisian.
Who needs the win more: Oregon.
Washington has already surpassed all expectations before the start of this season. Oregon, on the on the other hand, has a chance for big things this season.
The Ducks have a chance at a Pac-10 title and an outside shot at a national championship. Oregon must not overlook the Huskies, since Washington is the only team to beat USC this season.
The biggest question heading into the game will be if Jeremiah Masoli or backup Nate Costa plays. Seattle has become a dangerous place to play once again this season.
Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Michigan Wolverines
Penn State has had little trouble with any team this season except for Iowa. The Hawkeyes have been the only team to beat the Nittany Lions this year. Last week, Penn State embarrassed Minnesota, beating the Gophers 20-0.
Michigan has already won more games this season than last season. The Wolverines are like a crazy ex-girlfriend. Once you think you're done with them, they come right back. Michigan is a team you just cannot put away.
Who needs the win more: Penn State.
Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson will have plenty of other chances at a Big Ten title. Penn State still has a shot at the conference title and an outside shot at a BCS title.
The Nittany Lions will need to win out and have Iowa lose twice. Penn State cannot afford another loss if they want to reach their preseason goals. They will also have to find a way to win at Michigan, something they have not done since 1996.
Oklahoma Sooners vs. Kansas Jayhawks
The Sooners lost to their arch-rival, Texas, for the second year in a row last week. The loss was made worse in the fact 2008 Heisman winner Sam Bradford is gone for the season. This team has been racked by injures and its only goal should be a bowl game and to make it to the end of the season healthy.
Kansas started the season with five straight wins. That was until last week’s unexplainable loss to Colorado. The Jayhawks might have been caught looking ahead to this game.
Who needs the win more: Kansas.
Landry Jones and the Sooners get to spend the rest of the year playing spoilers. Kansas has its best shot to win the Big-12 North this season with quarterback Todd Reesing.
Another loss could put the Jayhawks chances of winning a North title in jeopardy. Kansas has its best chance to beat the injury-plagued Sooners this year. They need to make the most of it.
Boston College Eagles vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Boston College spanked North Carolina State last week to improve to 5-2 on the season. The Eagles come in to this game with a six straight wins over the Irish. Last season, the Eagles beat the Irish 17-0.
Notre Dame has played nearly every game this season down to the wire. The two losses by the Irish have come in the final seconds. The first was a late drive by Michigan for a touchdown and the second was Notre Dame’s inability to score at the end of the game against USC.
Who needs the win more: Notre Dame.
There is no question the Fighting Irish have lived up to their name. There is also no question that Notre Dame needs to win this game.
Charlie Weis needs at least nine wins this season to keep his job. If the Irish do not lose another game this season, it will give them 10 wins, with a chance at an 11th in the bowl game.
A 10-win Notre Dame team also keeps quarterback Jimmy Clausen in the Heisman race. Plus breaking a six-game losing streak against Boston College cannot hurt Weis’ chances of keep his job.
Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Michigan State Spartans
The Hawkeyes do not win pretty, but they do win. They have beaten every team they have faced so far this season. As long as Iowa keeps winning, they will have a shot at more than just a Big Ten title. They will be playing for a national title.
Michigan State has already ended one perfect season at home against a ranked team. The Spartans beat a ranked Michigan team at home in East Lansing. With only one conference loss, Michigan State still has a chance at a Big Ten title.
Who needs the win more: Iowa.
Iowa has a chance to play for a national title but cannot afford a loss. The Hawkeyes have been questioned by everyone and everyone expects for them to lose.
Iowa will only have one more major hurdle after this game if they can win. A date with Ohio State in the second-to-last game of the year could be the last major test before a BCS or BCS title game for this team.
Florida Gators vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs
The Bulldogs broke a three-game losing streak last week with a win over Middle Tennessee State. Mississippi State has played well this season and if anything has cost the Bulldogs wins, it has been turnovers.
Florida has been able to narrowly get by both LSU and Arkansas in back-to-back weeks. Tim Tebow of the Gators could be on his way to a second Heisman if he can lead this team to an undefeated record.
Who needs the win more: Florida.
Does this game set up like a trap or what? Florida has not won in Starkville since 1985. Mississippi State’s new head coach, Dan Mullen, was the former Florida offensive coordinator.
Since 2000, the two Mississippi SEC teams are 5-3 against the Gators. In the 2004 game, the Bulldogs featured a future pro running back, Jerious Norwood. This season, the Bulldogs will feature Antony Dixon.
The last number one-ranked team with the nation’s longest winning streak to visit Mississippi State was Alabama. That was in 1980 and the Tide had 28 straight wins, but left Starkville with a loss.
The Gators cannot afford another close game. They have to start showing they are the best team in the country.
TCU Horned Frogs vs. BYU Cougars
The Horned Frogs tuned up for this game by spanking Colorado State last week. TCU has a chance at a BCS game if they can win out.
BYU would have been in line for a BCS game, but a loss at home against Florida State ruined any chance at that. The Cougars get a second chance in a big game this week against TCU.
Who needs the win more: TCU.
The Horned Frogs need to win out if the Mountain West wants to send a team to a second straight BCS game. A loss in Provo will end any chance of an at-large BCS bid.
BYU and Max Hall now get to play spoiler since their blowout against Florida State. A win over TCU would almost make up for that loss.
TCU has to win this game and the rest of their games if they hope to play in a BCS match. The Horned Frogs are in an elimination game every week from here on out.
Auburn Tigers vs. LSU Tigers
Auburn started out the season with five straight wins, but they have lost the last two in a row. This team is looking to get back on track and get a sixth win to become bowl eligible.
Last time LSU was on the football field, they were defeated by the Gators. The offense could not move the ball. This team has had two weeks to work out the kinks in the offense and prepare for this game.
Who needs the win more: Both.
Auburn’s hire of Gene Chizik was not a popular choice. This team cannot afford a three-game losing streak or the heat under Chizik's seat will start to ignite. After this game, Auburn has only one sure win, and that would be against Furman.
LSU is not out of the SEC West race. They only have one conference loss and they still have all their divisional foes left to play. LSU can make it to the conference title game if they win out. This is a must-win for LSU if they want to stay in the conference title race.
Texas Longhorns vs. Missouri Tigers
The Longhorns took care of Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry last week. Texas now has to avoid a letdown after the emotional win. The Longhorns know if they keep winning, they do not have to worry about getting skipped over like last year.
Missouri was the surprise of the season until they dropped their last two games. The Tigers have not been the same team since Blaine Gabbert hurt his ankle against Nebraska and re-injured it in the loss to Colorado last week.
Who needs the win more: Texas.
Missouri, at 0-2 in the conference, could use a win if the Tigers want to get back into the Big-12 North race. The Longhorns, on the other hand, are playing for a conference title and a national title.
Colt McCoy has to be a Heisman contender if he can lead Texas to the title game. This game could be a trap after the win against Oklahoma and the Longhorns have to travel on the road. Texas cannot afford a letdown if they want to play for the title.
Oregon State Beavers vs. USC Trojans
The Beavers have bounced back from a two-game losing streak to start a two-game winning streak. Oregon State has been the one team in the Pac-10 that has been able to give USC some trouble.
USC has not tasted defeat since their loss in Seattle. The Trojans come into this game after a big win over Notre Dame. This team will have to avoid a letdown after the big win.
Who needs the win more: USC.
This is a revenge game for the Trojans since Oregon State kept USC out of the title game last season. The Trojans will have to stop both James and Jacquizz Rodgers if they hope to win this game.
USC quarterback Matt Barkley and running back Joe McKnight will have to have a big game if the Trojans are to win. A loss here and USC could be out of the Pac-10 race and will be out of the national title race.
Other Games to Keep an Eye On
Iowa State Cyclones vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers
The Cyclones have been much better than expected. Nebraska is not back yet, but is close to being the Cornhuskers of old. The loser of this game could be out of the Big-12 North race. The schedule does not get any easier for either of these teams.
Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Baylor Bears
The Cowboys have to keep winning to keep pace with Texas. Oklahoma State might be the only real test left for the Longhorns. Baylor is still playing for a bowl game, even after the injury to Robert Griffin. The Bears need to start pulling off some upsets if they hope to get the six needed wins.
Colorado Buffaloes vs. Kansas State Wildcats
Colorado got a big win over Kansas last week. The Buffaloes could be the Virginia of the Big-12 if they get on a winning streak and save Dan Hawkins' job. The Wildcats are the surprise leader of the Big-12 North. Bill Snyder’s return has made this team competitive again.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. Navy Midshipmen
Wake Forest steps out of conference in effort to bounce back from a beat down by Clemson last week. The wheels could come off quickly for the Demon Deacons with a loss here. Navy is a very good football team. A win in this game and the Midshipmen are bowl eligible.
Air Force Falcons vs. Utah Utes
This is a big show down in the Mountain West Conference. If not for the BYU and TCU game, this would be the game of the week in the conference. Air Force has to win to keep its hope for a conference title alive. Utah is still alive for the conference title, but have to keep winning with both TCU and BYU still left to play.
Vanderbilt Commodores vs. South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina looks to rebound after the loss to Alabama. A win over the Commodores would make the Gamecocks bowl eligible. Vanderbilt is still looking for its first conference win. A win in this game would keep their slim bowl hopes alive.
Texas A&M Aggies vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders
The Aggies season could be determined by this game. A loss could make it hard for Texas A&M to make a bowl game. Texas Tech is still in the Big-12 race and only needs some help to play in the conference title game. The Red Raiders become bowl eligible with a win in this game.
SMU Mustangs vs. Houston Cougars
The Mustangs are the surprise leader of the C-USA West division. A win in this game could pave the way for SMU to play in the conference title game. Houston cannot afford another loss after the UTEP game. The Cougars must win this game to stay in the division race.
Boise State Broncos vs. Hawaii Warriors
Boise State has to keep winning if they hope to play on a BCS game. A loss would end any chance to bust the BCS. Hawaii is looking for their first conference win. This could be a trap game for the Broncos.
Louisville Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Bearcats
Louisville is looking for its first conference win in this game. Cincinnati has to avoid a letdown after the big win over South Florida last week. The Bearcats have to believe if they keep winning they will be in the national title game.
UCLA Bruins vs. Arizona Wildcats
After a fast start, the Bruins have fallen back to earth. UCLA is still looking for its first conference win of the season. Arizona is still in the Pac-10 title chase. The Wildcats cannot afford a loss if they hope to steal the conference title.
Week Eight could provide some of the most exciting games of the season. While there are not a lot of great games, there could be a lot of interesting games.
Some teams’ seasons are on the brink and some of the favorites are facing potential upsets. The cream should rise to the top and the best teams should handle their business. Enjoy the week, but do not be surprised to see a wild one in college football.
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