College Football Preview: Week 8
Including conference championship weekend, there are 15 Saturdays of college football during the 2008 regular season.
With this being Week 8, we are officially at the halfway point of the campaign, and things are really starting to heat up across the country.
At the halfway point of a NASCAR race, the crossed flags are displayed. Halfway home in Clemson, S.C., and they are waving the white flag (of surrender) following the firing of Tommy Bowden earlier this week.
I really think the administration had to make this move. The Tigers were in the preseason top 10 and picked to win the ACC, yet their highly-touted offense stinks, they have already been blown out by Alabama, lost to division leader Wake Forest, and sit a disappointing 3-3.
Plus, if Cullen Harper's comments were any indication, Bowden had lost much of his team, and that is never a good sign.
At the halfway point, your top three in both polls are Texas, Alabama, and Penn State. I don't think anyone could have forecasted that when the season commenced seven Saturdays ago (as all three were in the bottom half of the preseason top 25), but that is college football for you in a nutshell: unpredictable. How can you not love it?
Florida State at NC State, 7:30 (ESPN)
BYU at TCU, 8 (Versus)
Hawaii at Boise State, 8 (ESPN)
Georgia Tech at Clemson, 12 (ESPN)
Purdue at Northwestern, 12 (ESPN 2)
Connecticut at Rutgers, 12 (ESPN U)
Texas Tech at Texas A&M, 12 (FSN)
Wisconsin at Iowa, 12 (BTN)
Nebraska at Iowa State, 12:30 (Versus)
Kansas at Oklahoma, 3:30 (ABC)
Ohio State at Michigan State, 3:30 (ABC/ESPN 2)
North Carolina at Virginia, 3:30 (ABC/ESPN 2)
Ole Miss at Alabama, 3:30 (CBS)
Pittsburgh at Navy, 3:30 (CBS College)
USC at Washington State, 3:30 (FSN)
Miami (FL) at Duke, 3:30 (ESPN U)
Michigan at Penn State, 4:30 (ESPN)
Arkansas at Kentucky, 7 (ESPN U)
Oregon State at Washington, 7 (Versus)
Missouri at Texas, 8 (ABC)
LSU at South Carolina, 8 (ESPN)
Virginia Tech at Boston College, 8 (ESPN 2)
Indiana at Illinois, 8 (BTN)
UTEP at Tulsa, 8 (CBS College)
GAMES OF THE WEEK:
Missouri at Texas
The Big 12's turning into the SEC! Monster games every week! If you would have told me a week ago one team would enter coming off a loss, I never would have guessed it to be Missouri, but OK State simply outplayed them and Chase Daniel had accuracy issues.
Texas really took over in the second half against Oklahoma. The question now beckons if they have enough left in the tank after that exciting game for what is shaping up to be another classic showdown?
The Tigers are going to play like a desperate team, and rightfully so. Even in the weaker Big 12 North, losing a second conference game this early could hamper any chances of making the conference title game.
What should we expect Saturday night? I believe much of the same as what we saw in the Red River Shootout. Big plays, great quarterbacks, lots of points, and Brent Musberger making it appear as if he wasted beyond belief.
I'll take the Longhorns based on the home-field advantage offered by Darrel K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, but this is really a toss-up game (as many of them are these days).
Vanderbilt at Georgia
Unless you live in the southeast or have GamePlan, you have to miss out on this major SEC East tilt on Saturday. I can't believe CBS and/or ESPN did not pick this game up when they had the opportunity.
I guess Gary Danielson was more interested in going back to Alabama so he could ooh and aah over John Parker Wilson's MILF of a mom again.
Anyways, Vandy's offense really cost them against Mississippi State. 107 yards is not going to get it done against anybody.
Therefore, Mackenzi Adams will take over full-time duties under center for this game in Athens.
UGA rebounded nicely against Tennessee after their beatdown against the Crimson Tide, but cannot overlook this Homecoming game in anticipation of showdowns that follow in Baton Rouge and Jacksonville.
This will be a hard-fought, defensive battle. Georgia is the more talented team, and should take home a close victory.
Ohio State at Michigan State
I see where the team of Brad Nessler, Bob Griese, Paul Maguire, and Stacey Dales will be working this game on Saturday, and let me say: this is one of my favorite group of announcers if for nothing more than comic relief.
Nessler and Maguire appear drunk most of the time (and as a result are often ridicule of fans for their various off-the-wall remarks), Griese is the token quarterback who tries to keep things under control, and Dales is the sideline reporter who seems to get hotter every week.
As for the actual game, this will be a great measuring stick for the Spartans to determine if they are a real threat in the Big 10 championship battle or not.
Ohio State may be looking ahead to Penn State next Saturday night, so the apples are ripe for picking in their chances for an upset.
The Buckeyes will key on Javon Ringer, and if they are able to slow the early Heisman contender, Ohio State should head back to Columbus with a hard-nosed W.
Kansas at Oklahoma
I have a feeling Oklahoma is going to come out angry on Saturday afternoon. After dominating the first half against Texas, it fell apart in the third and fourth quarters.
The offense struggled, the defense struggled, and star linebacker Ryan Reynolds went down with a season-ending knee injury.
KU is 2-0 in league play, but in both contests against Iowa State and Colorado, it took the offense a good half before they finally got rolling.
The Jayhawks can't allow that to happen in Norman, or they will be fighting back from a three-or four-touchdown deficit quickly.
Sam Bradford and the Sooners offense rebounds from losing their No. 1 ranking by taking care of business fairly easily, in what could still end up being a preview of the Big 12 title game.
Michigan at Penn State
Michigan is 2-4 and couldn't even beat Toledo in the Big House. Penn State is No. 3 in the land and has been impressive during a 7-0 start.
So why is this one of my games of the week? Well, you probably know that Big Blue has pretty much been a pre-Halloween spook for the Lions ever since Penn State joined the Big 10 in the early 90s.
Three years ago, PSU was in a very similar position as they will be this weekend, and lost in Ann Arbor on a last-second touchdown that ended up sending them to the Orange Bowl instead of potential national championship game.
I know Michigan is down, and Penn State is flying high, but I would be remiss not to give the Wolverines a slight chance in this game.
History is on their side, and they have shown flashes of brilliance at points during Rich Rodriguez's first season (i.e. the second half against Wisconsin).
Michigan does not have enough offense to keep up with the Nittany Lion offense, and while they may keep it close for a half or so, they will lose big, thus ending their long-standing dominance in this rivalry.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH:
BYU at TCU
If the Rays-Red Sox game gets out of hand tomorrow night, switch over to this game, which should prove to be BYU's toughest test on their way to an 11-0 start and showdown with Utah in six weeks.
The Cougars got their biggest scare yet a week ago at home against New Mexico, benefiting from a controversial block in the back penalty that negated a Lobos score, which would have cut the BYU advantage to 14-10.
New Mexico ended up not punching the ball in, and BYU held on 21-3. TCU should give the Cougars yet another quality test, and the boys from Provo will have to prove they are the best in the MWC.
Hawaii at Boise State
With Fresno State and East Carolina faltering, it appears as if the Flies in the Ointment picture has fixated on Boise State, BYU, Utah, and potentially Tulsa.
I think one of them will crash the BCS party. This isn't the same Warriors team that was blown out of New Orleans on New Year's Day, but they did make the trip to the mainland a couple weeks back and defeated Fresno State.
Traveling to the blue turf of Boise is a whole different animal, and the Broncos high-powered offense, which has led the team to a 5-0 start and No. 15 ranking, leads the way in a convincing victory.
Georgia Tech at Clemson
It will be interesting to see how the Tigers respond to interim head coach Dabo Swinney. Will it yield more disappointment or will Clemson start living up to the high expectations?
Out of the gate, Swinney's challenge is tall, as the Tigers will have to defend Georgia Tech's effective triple-option offense.
The offense will likely struggle to get back on track against a Rambling Wreck defense that has shut down opponents all year long.
Tech should be worried, however, that they only beat Gardner-Webb 10-7 a week ago, putting up just 199 yards of offense.
Ole Miss at Alabama
The Rebels went into the Swamp and won, so it is certainly possible that they can do the same when they visit Tuscaloosa on Saturday.
This game features no shortage of offensive playmakers on both sides of the ball, meaning we could see a 23-20 SEC shootout (whereas 23-20 would be a low-scoring day in the Big 12).
Amazingly, Ole Miss has won just nine of the previous 55 meetings in this longtime SEC rivalry, but that can probably be partially attributed to all of those years of Bear Bryant leading an elite Bama program.
News flash: the Tide are amongst the nation's elite once again.
LSU at South Carolina
I really don't think anyone, including Florida fans, expected LSU's defense to give up 51 on Saturday night. This week, they have to go up against Steve Spurrier's offensive antics in another tricky road game.
I don't think the Gamecocks are capable of scoring that many points, but they should give the Tigers some difficulty.
LSU's offense has to be more effective moving the ball, and seeing how SC is in the top three in total defense, that could lead to the Tigers falling further behind Alabama in the SEC West race prior to their Nov. 8 showdown.
Virginia Tech at Boston College
Bitter Big East fans, look away. Va Tech and BC renew their rivalry on Saturday night in Boston. Due to the ACC's weakness this year, both teams have flown under the radar, but are very much in their respective divisional races.
Tech's offense won't set the world on fire, but they have won five in a row since losing their opener to East Carolina.
BC's offense has really come around the past couple weeks with QB Chris Crane, but none of their opponents have been on the talent level of the Hokies.
California at Arizona
It's been a down year for the Pac-10, so for a league already battling an East Coast bias, garnering attention for any game not involving USC has been difficult. That is where I come in.
While this game will not air on national television, keep an eye on it. Cal and Arizona may be the two teams best suited to give the Trojans difficulties down the homestretch.
If not for a one-point loss by Zona to Stanford a week ago, both teams would enter this game undefeated in league play. In true Pac 10 fashion, the balanced offenses on each side should shine and turn this into a shootout.
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