College Football Picks: Week 8 Predictions for Every Game

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2016

College Football Picks: Week 8 Predictions for Every Game

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    Ohio State, fresh off an overtime win at Wisconsin, faces another hostile road environment at Penn State.
    Ohio State, fresh off an overtime win at Wisconsin, faces another hostile road environment at Penn State.Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    All but two of 128 FBS schools have played at least six games so far, good enough to consider Week 8 the start of the second half of the season. That means it's the beginning of the stretch run for teams vying for the playoffs or division and conference titles. For others who have struggled, now is the time to make that push for bowl eligibility.

    The 57 games on tap this weekend all have something notable riding on them. There are matchups of ranked teams—all in the SEC West Division—and six others where a Top 25 school plays on the road, along with key games in the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA and Mid-American Conference that could bring clarity to those races.

    We've made predictions for every game, and as they go final we'll update with results so you can see how we did. As always, toss your picks in the comments section.

             

    Last week: 37-16 (.698)

    Season: 347-110 (.759)

    NOTE: All team rankings are from the Associated Press poll.

Thursday Night Games

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    Miami has dropped two straight since a 4-0 start.
    Miami has dropped two straight since a 4-0 start.Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Miami (4-2, 1-2 ACC) at Virginia Tech (4-2, 2-1), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Miami beat Virginia Tech 30-20 last October.

    The ACC Coastal Division is back to its wacky ways, with four teams tied in the loss column. Miami was at the top two weeks ago and then lost two straight one-score games at home, while Virginia Tech stubbed its toe at Syracuse a week after scoring 34 in a hurricane against North Carolina.

    Tech still controls its destiny—and avoids having to play any of the big boys on the Atlantic side. It'll win as long as the poor job it did on defense last week wasn't the start of a trend.

    Prediction: Virginia Tech 28, Miami 20

    FINAL: Virginia Tech 37, Miami 16

         

    Troy (5-1, 3-0 Sun Belt) at South Alabama (3-3, 0-3), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: South Alabama won 24-18 at Troy last October.

    The league's two Alabama schools have had some impressive nonconference results. Troy gave Clemson all it could and then beat Southern Mississippi, while South Alabama has wins over Mississippi State and San Diego State.

    Troy has feasted off the lower end of the Sun Belt to surpass last season's win total, while South Alabama has faced three of the more established programs and lost by only 30 combined points. A Troy victory will likely guarantee its first bowl bid since 2010.

    Prediction: Troy 26, South Alabama 23

    FINAL: Troy 28, South Alabama 21

         

    BYU (4-3) at No. 14 Boise State (6-0), 10:15 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: BYU beat Boise State 35-24 in September 2015.

    BYU has wins over the Big Ten (Michigan State), Pac-12 (Arizona) and SEC (Mississippi State) as it's navigated a ridiculous schedule. The power opponents are done, but the biggest challenge is coming: a Boise State team that needs to keep winning to secure the Group of Five bowl slot it claimed two years ago.

    Boise has surprisingly had its closest games on its blue turf, nearly blowing a 25-point lead last week against Colorado State and winning by an average of 6.3 points at home. That's right up BYU's alley, having had six of seven decided by seven or fewer, so don't turn it off until the clock hits all zeroes.

    Prediction: Boise State 31, BYU 28

    FINAL: Boise State 28, BYU 27

Friday Night Games

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    South Florida's Quinton Flowers has run for 655 yards, second to Louisville's Lamar Jackson among quarterbacks.
    South Florida's Quinton Flowers has run for 655 yards, second to Louisville's Lamar Jackson among quarterbacks.Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

    South Florida (6-1, 3-0 AAC) at Temple (4-3, 2-1), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: South Florida beat Temple 44-23 last November.

    South Florida can't officially clinch the East Division title this early, but an eighth straight league win will make it all but a certainty. The Bulls have the American's two best playmakers not named Greg Ward Jr. in quarterback Quinton Flowers and running back Marlon Mack, who have combined for 29 total touchdowns.

    Temple pulled out a last-second win at UCF last week, but its defense continues to allow big plays. South Florida's 14 plays of 40-plus yards are tied for fourth-best in the country.

    Prediction: South Florida 30, Temple 26

    FINAL: Temple 46, South Florida 30

          

    Oregon (2-4, 0-3 Pac-12) at California (3-3, 1-2), 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Oregon beat California 44-28 last November.

    Head coach Mark Helfrich took Oregon to the national championship game two seasons ago but now is staring at the Ducks' worst start in league play since 1996. Chip Kelly only lost three Pac-12 games in his four seasons, something Helfrich no doubt is hearing quite often from disappointed fans and boosters.

    Defense figures to be optional between teams that have allowed a combined 42 rushing touchdowns and had 10 of 12 games include at least 70 points. Cal has actually made a few stops, though, stuffing then-unbeaten Utah at the goal line three weeks ago.

    Prediction: California 54, Oregon 50

    FINAL: California 52, Oregon 49 (2 OT)

          

    San Jose State (2-5, 1-2 MWC) at San Diego State (5-1, 2-0), 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: San Diego State won 30-7 at San Jose State last October.

    San Jose State secretly strives to be what San Diego State has become, a winning college program in an NFL region that gets the most out of under-the-radar kids. But there's no one on the Spartans roster who is anywhere near as good as SDSU's Donnel Pumphrey.

    Pumphrey, who leads the FBS with 1,111 rushing yards, is now 10th all time with 5,383 career yards. He could be as high as sixth, passing the likes of Archie Griffin, Cedric Benson and LaDainian Tomlinson along the way, before this one is over.

    Prediction: San Diego State 34, San Jose State 14

    FINAL:  San Diego State 42, San Jose State 3

Top Saturday Early Games

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    Louisville QB Lamar Jackson is coming off a season-low 325 yards of total offense. That's still better than all but 13 FBS players' average per game.
    Louisville QB Lamar Jackson is coming off a season-low 325 yards of total offense. That's still better than all but 13 FBS players' average per game.Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

    North Carolina State (4-2, 1-1 ACC) at No. 7 Louisville (5-1, 3-1), noon ET

    Last meeting: Louisville won 20-13 at North Carolina State last October.

    Back-to-back road games against the league's two best teams is a bad draw for NC State. But if not for a missed field goal, it would have knocked off Clemson. Louisville got its own wake-up call against Duke last Friday and should be more focused, knowing it needs blowout wins to keep College Football Playoff hopes alive.

    Prediction: Louisville 40, North Carolina State 23

    FINAL: Louisville 54, North Carolina State 13

          

    No. 10 Wisconsin (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) at Iowa (5-2, 3-1), noon ET

    Last meeting: Iowa won 10-6 at Wisconsin last October.

    From a ranking standpoint, this counts as Wisconsin's easiest league game so far, following trips to Michigan State and Michigan and its home OT loss to Ohio State. Iowa hasn't won at home since Sept. 10 and has had its four Big Ten games (against unimpressive foes) decided by 35 total points.

    Prediction: Wisconsin 23, Iowa 20

    FINAL: Wisconsin 17, Iowa 9

          

    Indiana (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) at Northwestern (3-3, 2-1), noon ET

    Last meeting: Northwestern beat Indiana 44-29 in September 2012.

    Northwestern has turned into an offensive juggernaut, managing 92 points in wins at Iowa and Michigan State after scoring 65 during a 1-3 start. Indiana could be 5-1 if it could manage better than a 45 percent red-zone TD rate, second-worst among power teams.

    Prediction: Northwestern 27, Indiana 17

    FINAL: Northwester 24, Indiana 14

         

    Rutgers (2-5, 0-4 Big Ten) at Minnesota (4-2, 1-2), noon ET

    Last meeting: None

    Rutgers yielded 160 unanswered points during a four-game span before scoring late in last week's home loss to Illinois. Minnesota's current 30.5 points per game would be its best since 2005.

    Prediction: Minnesota 41, Rutgers 14

    FINAL: Minnesota 34, Rutgers 32

         

    Oklahoma State (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) at Kansas (1-5, 0-3), noon ET

    Last meeting: Oklahoma State beat Kansas 58-10 last October.

    Kansas remains a pseudo-bye week for nearly every Big 12 team, having lost 15 straight league games, with all 12 not against TCU coming by double digits. Oklahoma State's offense won't have to do all the work for once, as an 11-game streak allowing more than five yards per play against FBS teams is likely to end.

    Prediction: Oklahoma State 37, Kansas 21

    FINAL: Oklahoma State 44, Kansas 20

        

    Texas (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) at Kansas State (3-3, 1-2), noon ET

    Last meeting: Texas beat Kansas State 23-9 last October.

    Texas RB D'Onta Foreman has quietly put together a strong season, rushing for 100-plus yards in the five games he's played. But K-State is fourth-best against the run, which puts the onus on freshman QB Shane Buechele to do better than in his previous road starts.

    Prediction: Kansas State 27, Texas 24

    FINAL: Kansas State 24, Texas 21

         

    Syracuse (3-4, 1-2 ACC) at Boston College (3-3, 0-3), 12:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Syracuse beat Boston College 20-17 last November.

    More important for the future than the first signature win under head coach Dino Babers—which came last week against Virginia Tech—is not squandering it by being Boston College's first ACC victim since 2014. The Eagles have scored 97 points during an 11-game league skid.

    Prediction: Syracuse 26, Boston College 19

    FINAL: Syracuse 28, Boston College 20

Other Saturday Early Games

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    South Carolina is last in FBS in scoring at 14 points per game.
    South Carolina is last in FBS in scoring at 14 points per game.Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

    UCF (3-3, 1-1 AAC) at Connecticut (3-4, 1-3), noon ET

    Last meeting: Connecticut won 40-13 at UCF last October.

    Who's ready for some Civil Conflict, y'all!? The rivalry (and trophy!) that UConn head coach Bob Diaco created after his team beat UCF in 2014 is one of those things that make college football so awesome. UCF won its last two road games by 57 combined points, so the trophy might be heading to Orlando.

    Prediction: UCF 30, Connecticut 21

    FINAL: UCF 24, Connecticut 16

         

    Central Michigan (5-2, 2-1 MAC) at Toledo (5-1, 2-0), noon ET

    Last meeting: Toledo won 28-23 at Central Michigan last November.

    Central Michigan needed three overtimes to win at 1-6 Northern Illinois, but to beat Toledo it will have to figure out a way to slow down the Rockets. Toledo has scored 30 or more in nine straight and is third in the FBS at 7.49 yards per play.

    Prediction: Toledo 43, Central Michigan 31

    FINAL: Toledo 31, Central Michigan 17

        

    Miami, Ohio (1-6, 1-2 MAC) at Bowling Green (1-6, 0-3), noon ET

    Last meeting: Bowling Green won 45-3 at Miami in November 2013.

    Both teams are coming off their best performance of the season, but with differing results. Miami allowed a season-low 14 points but only managed 18 in winning for the first time. And Bowling Green played Toledo within one score yet allowed 40-plus for the fourth time in 2016. In matchups of struggling teams the one that can score more consistently usually wins.

    Prediction: Bowling Green 32, Miami 22

    FINAL: Miami 40, Bowling Green 26

        

    Massachusetts (1-6) at South Carolina (2-4), noon ET

    Last meeting: None

    UMass has played (and lost to) a trio of power-conference teams, allowing 26 points to offensively challenged Boston College. South Carolina would kill for a crooked number in the 10s column, its 20 points against East Carolina in Week 3 its best effort yet.

    Prediction: South Carolina 33, Massachusetts 13

    FINAL: South Carolina 34, Massachusetts 28

         

    North Texas (3-3) at Army (4-2), noon ET

    Last meeting: Army beat North Texas 24-0 in September 2010.

    A combined 3-21 a year ago, both teams may end up going to bowl games in 2016. North Texas is giving up a yard less per play than last season, while Army's option run game has climbed to No. 1 in the country at 366.8 yards per contest.

    Prediction: Army 34, North Texas 20

    FINAL: North Teas 35, Army 18

         

    Ohio (4-3, 2-1 MAC) at Kent State (2-5, 1-2), 1 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Ohio beat Kent State 27-0 last November.

    Kent managed 14 points and 260 yards in losing at winless Miami (Ohio), its sixth straight defeat to an in-state conference opponent. Ohio lost at home to upstart Eastern Michigan but is still tied for the East Division lead.

    Prediction: Ohio 25, Kent State 17

    FINAL: Ohio 14, Kent 10

         

    Hawaii (3-4, 2-1 MWC) at Air Force (4-2, 1-2), 2 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Air Force won 58-7 at Hawaii last October.

    Air Force's run defense has been exposed the last two weeks against Wyoming and New Mexico, while its own rushing attack has continued to slide. Hawaii will provide a good bounce-back opportunity for the Falcons, who will use altitude and an early kickoff to their advantage.

    Prediction: Air Force 41, Hawaii 23

    FINAL: Hawaii 34, Air Force 27 2 OT)

Top Saturday Midafternoon Games

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    Texas A&M RB Trayveon Williams leads all FBS freshmen with 704 rushing yards.
    Texas A&M RB Trayveon Williams leads all FBS freshmen with 704 rushing yards.Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    No. 22 North Carolina (5-2, 3-1 ACC) at Virgina (2-4, 1-1), 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: North Carolina beat Virginia 26-13 last October.

    A key to UNC's rise the last few seasons has been eight consecutive road wins, most recently at Florida State and Miami. Virginia looks much better than it did during its 0-3 start but hasn't shown enough on defense to warrant picking it to pull an upset.

    Prediction: North Carolina 37, Virginia 24

    FINAL: North Carolina 35, Virginia 14

         

    Colorado (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) at Stanford (4-2, 2-2), 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Stanford won 42-10 at Colorado last November.

    Bowl eligibility hasn't been a serious consideration for Colorado since 2010, when it was still in the Big 12, but it's a reality this year thanks to strong play on the road. The Buffaloes won at Oregon, were competitive at Michigan and USC and might get a Christian McCaffrey-less Stanford, per Michael Wagaman of the Associated Press (via the Denver Post).

    But the Cardinal managed to win without him at Notre Dame and will avoid a third straight Pac-12 loss.

    Prediction: Stanford 24, Colorado 21

    FINAL: Colorado 10, Stanford 5

         

    No. 6 Texas A&M (6-0, 4-0 SEC) at No. 1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Alabama won 41-23 at Texas A&M last October.

    Texas A&M ranks seventh in the FBS in rushing and has never lost a game under Kevin Sumlin in which it has run for at least 200 yards. Alabama last yielded that much on the ground in the 2015 Sugar Bowl against Ohio State, and this season the Crimson Tide have allowed 447 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

    Prediction: Alabama 30, Texas A&M 17

    FINAL: Alabama 33, Texas A&M 14

             

    Illinois (2-4, 1-2 Big Ten) at No. 3 Michigan (6-0, 3-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Michigan beat Illinois 45-0 in October 2012.

    It doesn't matter that it came against Rutgers, because picking up its first league win under Lovie Smith can do a lot for Illinois' confidence. And just as quickly that good feeling will go away with a trip to Michigan, which scored 78 points against the same Rutgers team the Fighting Illini managed 24 against. Make your reservations for the Ann Arbor Ruth's Chris before they fill up.

    Prediction: Michigan 57, Illinois 12

    FINAL: Michigan 41, Illinois 8

          

    Purdue (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) at No. 8 Nebraska (6-0, 3-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Purdue beat Nebraska 55-45 last October.

    Interim head coaches (Baylor's Jim Grobe, FIU's Ron Cooper and LSU's Ed Orgeron) are 11-0 this season, which bodes well for Gerad Parker in Purdue's first game since firing Darrell Hazell. Or it will prove statistics like that are pointless and don't take into account the Boilermakers' 130 points allowed in league play or Nebraska's best start in 15 years.

    Prediction: Nebraska 41, Purdue 21

    FINAL: Nebraska 27, Purdue 14

          

    TCU (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) at No. 12 West Virginia (5-0, 2-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: TCU beat West Virginia 40-10 last October.

    West Virginia stifled Texas Tech's explosive offense on the road last week and now gets another potent attack, but this time in friendly Morgantown. TCU, which has been a different team on an almost weekly basis, still might not have playmaker KaVontae Turpin (knee), per Jimmy Burch of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram. His absence has impacted QB Kenny Hill's play.

    Prediction: West Virginia 34, TCU 20

    FINAL: West Virginia 34, TCU 10

        

    Eastern Michigan (5-2, 2-1 MAC) at No. 20 Western Michigan (7-0, 3-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Western Michigan won 58-28 at Eastern Michigan last October.

    Eastern Michigan's start has been one of the best stories in the country, as it's matched its win total from the last three seasons combined. Not every chapter has been a good one, though, and with Western Michigan scripting its best season in 75 years, the potential for a setback is good.

    Prediction: Western Michigan 45, Eastern Michigan 21

    FINAL: Western Michigan 45, Eastern Michigan 31

         

    Memphis (5-1, 2-0 AAC) at No. 24 Navy (4-1, 3-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Navy won 45-20 at Memphis last November.

    Memphis leads FBS with 18 takeaways, while Navy has only turned it over six times and avoided a giveaway during its big win over Houston. The Midshipmen haven't played since that Oct. 8 victory, after last week's game at East Carolina was flooded out. And with a trip to East Division-leading South Florida looming, there's potential for a letdown if Navy's run game has any struggles.

    Prediction: Navy 26, Memphis 23

    FINAL: Navy 42, Memphis 28

         

    No. 19 Utah (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) at UCLA (3-4, 1-3), 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: UCLA won 17-9 at Utah last November.

    Utah's offense is being held together with duct tape, as it needed to unretire running back Joe Williams just to have some sort of run game against Oregon State. He responded with 179 yards, but the Utes need much more to beat a UCLA team on the brink of a lost season. Expect QB Josh Rosen to be a difference-maker after missing the Bruins' last game.

    Prediction: UCLA 27, Utah 20

    FINAL: Utah 52, Utah 45

Other Saturday Midafternoon Games

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    Missouri QB Drew Lock has thrown for 1,714 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. The Tigers had 1,986 passing yards and 10 TD all of 2015.
    Missouri QB Drew Lock has thrown for 1,714 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. The Tigers had 1,986 passing yards and 10 TD all of 2015.Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Akron (4-3, 2-1 MAC) at Ball State (4-3, 1-2), 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Ball State beat Akron 35-21 in October 2014.

    Akron broke and set fire to an oar to mock Western Michigan's "Row The Boat" mantra and proceeded to lose 41-0 at home to the Broncos. No word if the Zips are planning anything Cardinal-related before losing to Ball State, which has steeled itself through six games decided by 10 or fewer points.

    Prediction: Ball State 34, Akron 27

    FINAL: Akron 35, Ball State 25

        

    Buffalo (1-5, 0-2 MAC) at Northern Illinois (1-6, 1-2), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Northern Illinois won 41-30 at Buffalo last November.

    Northern Illinois' six-year run as West Division champs is all but over, as is its school-record eight-year bowl-appearance streak. If the Huskies fall to hapless Buffalo, it may also spell the immediate end of coach Rod Carey's tenure.

    Prediction: Northern Illinois 36, Buffalo 17

    FINAL: Northern Illinois 44, Buffalo 7

         

    Idaho (4-3, 2-1 Sun Belt) at Appalachian State (4-2, 2-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Appalachian State won 47-20 at Idaho last November.

    Idaho has won its last two road games, but those were against sub-.500 UNLV (3-4) and Louisiana-Monroe (2-4). Appalachian is a little closer to the power-conference foes (Washington, Washington State) the Vandals lost to by a combined 115-20 score back in September.

    Prediction: Appalachian State 31, Idaho 14

    FINAL: Appalachian State 37, Idaho 19

         

    Prairie View (4-2) at Rice (0-6), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    Rice is the last winless team in FBS and may well remain that way if it can't beat the Panthers, who have never beaten an upper-level school. The Owls are the worst defensive team in the country and are near the bottom on offense, so this victory isn't a sure thing but they should have enough to get the job done.

    Prediction: Rice 33, Prairie View 24

    FINAL:  Rice 65, Prairie View A&M 44

         

    Tennessee-Martin (4-3) at Georgia State (1-5), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    Georgia State led in the second half at Sun Belt leader Troy before remembering it wasn't that good. The Panthers went on a late-season tear to make a bowl in 2015, but a similar run doesn't look likely. However, it'll avoid a fifth loss to an FCS school since moving up in 2013.

    Prediction: Georgia State 27, Tennessee-Martin 20

    FINAL: Georgia State 31, Tennessee-Martin 6

        

    Tulane (3-3, 0-2 AAC) at Tulsa (4-2, 1-1), 3:45 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Tulsa won 45-34 at Tulane last November.

    Tulsa was a few late miscues from winning at Houston last week. Tulane is vastly improved from a year ago but still can't put together a consistent enough offense to compete in the West Division.

    Prediction: Tulsa 38, Tulane 19

    FINAL: Tulsa 50, Tulane 27

        

    Middle Tennessee (4-2) at Missouri (2-4), 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Missouri beat Middle Tennessee 41-40 in September 2003.

    Mizzou QB Drew Lock was putting up ridiculous passing numbers (1,508 yards, 14 TD in a 2-2 start) before the Tigers started playing good SEC defenses (21-of-55, 206 YDS, 0 TD, 3 INT at LSU and Florida). Middle Tennessee gave up 47 points to Vanderbilt, if you're wondering how it fares on D.

    Prediction: Missouri 50, Middle Tennessee 33

    FINAL: Middle Tennessee 51, Missouri 45

Top Saturday Evening Games

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    Auburn will play as a ranked team for the first time since September 2015.
    Auburn will play as a ranked team for the first time since September 2015.Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

    No. 17 Arkansas (5-2, 1-2 SEC) at No. 21 Auburn (4-2, 2-1), 6 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Arkansas beat Auburn 54-46 last October.

    Auburn's bye week came just as the Tigers were figuring themselves out on offense. But that also means a burgeoning run game could be healthier if Kerryon Johnson, who rolled his ankle Oct. 8, is able to return. Arkansas allows 5.57 yards per rush, sixth-worst in FBS.

    Prediction: Auburn 31, Arkansas 21

    FINAL: Auburn 56, Arkansas 3

         

    Oregon State (2-4, 1-2 Pac-12) at No. 5 Washington (6-0, 3-0), 6:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Washington won 52-7 at Oregon State last November.

    Oregon State's top two quarterbacks are hurt, and it might not have leading rusher Ryan Nall. Yet even with all its normal weapons, the chances of its slowing down Washington weren't good. The Huskies' streak of nine straight games scoring at least 35 points, which started at Oregon State last November, could be extended by halftime.

    Prediction: Washington 47, Oregon State 13

    FINAL: Washington 41, Oregon State 17

          

    No. 11 Houston (6-1, 3-1 AAC) at SMU (2-4, 0-2), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Houston beat SMU 49-28 last October.

    Houston's normally ironclad defense has allowed 77 points the last two weeks. Yet that unit produced a scoop-and-score and goal-line stop to secure last week's win over Tulsa. SMU is too mistake-prone on offense and doesn't have anyone to deal with Cougars QB Greg Ward Jr.

    Prediction: Houston 43, SMU 23

    FINAL: SMU 38, Houston 16

         

    Michigan State (2-4, 0-3 Big Ten) at Maryland (4-2, 1-2), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Michigan State beat Maryland 24-7 last November.

    Quarterback uncertainty abounds in this matchup of losing-streak riders, with MSU unable to find a consistent thrower and Maryland dealing with injuries. MSU is on a four-game skid for the first time since 2006, and Maryland has managed 24 combined points in losses to Penn State and Minnesota. The Terrapins gave up 601 rushing yards in those contests—just what MSU's sputtering run game needs to get back on track.

    Prediction: Michigan State 26, Maryland 21

    FINAL: Maryland 28, Michigan State 17

           

    Mississippi State (2-4, 1-2 SEC) at Kentucky (3-3, 2-2), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Mississippi State beat Kentucky 42-16 last October.

    Kentucky's improvement on defense since giving up 131 points in its first three games has saved its season. The Wildcats can get to six wins without having to take one on the road, as long as they don't squander matchups like this one against an MSU team averaging 20.3 points and 348.0 yards in SEC play.

    Prediction: Kentucky 27, Mississippi State 19

    FINAL: Kentucky 40, Mississippi State 38

Other Saturday Evening Games

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    Vanderbilt is trying to win consecutive games for the first time under coach Derek Mason.
    Vanderbilt is trying to win consecutive games for the first time under coach Derek Mason.Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    Charlotte (2-5, 1-2 C-USA) at Marshall (2-4, 1-1), 5:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Marshall won 34-10 at Charlotte last October.

    Marshall snapped a four-game skid by scoring in the final minutes to beat a bad Florida Atlantic team that Charlotte knocked off the week before. Marshall's 3.18 yards per carry is down 1.25 yards from last season, contributing to its struggles. But Charlotte has allowed 17 rushing scores.

    Prediction: Marshall 30, Charlotte 20

    FINAL: Charlotte 27, Marshall 24

         

    Colorado State (3-4, 1-2 MWC) at UNLV (3-4, 2-1), 5:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Colorado State beat UNLV 49-35 last November.

    Quarterback issues have plagued both teams, with Colorado State shuffling through three passers and UNLV turning to redshirt freshman Dalton Sneed after Johnny Stanton hurt his knee four weeks ago. The Runnin' Rebels' youth movement is starting to take shape.

    Prediction: UNLV 33, Colorado State 23

    FINAL: Colorado State 42, UNLV 23

         

    East Carolina (2-4, 0-2 AAC) at Cincinnati (3-3, 0-3), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Cincinnati won 19-16 at East Carolina last November.

    Four straight losses (and a flood-induced postponement) has East Carolina trending downward. Cincinnati's high-risk passing game has produced 10 interceptions against eight touchdowns and only one score in the last three games. But its defense has picked off 12 passes and has the secondary depth to triple-cover ECU wideout Zay Jones (84 catches) if needed.

    Prediction: Cincinnati 34, East Carolina 25

    FINAL: Cincinnati 31, East Carolina 19

          

    Louisiana Tech (4-3, 2-1 C-USA) at Florida International (3-4, 3-0), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Louisiana Tech beat Florida International 27-17 in September 2015.

    FIU is 3-0 since replacing Ron Turner with Ron Cooper, albeit against opponents who are a combined 4-16. Louisiana Tech's three-game win streak, in which it's scored 139 points, includes a win over defending league champ Western Kentucky.

    Prediction: Louisiana Tech 38, Florida International 21

    FINAL: Louisiana Tech 44, Florida International 24

         

    Old Dominion (4-2, 2-0 C-USA) at Western Kentucky (4-3, 2-1), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Western Kentucky won 55-30 at Old Dominion last October.

    Old Dominion is third in the FBS with a plus-nine turnover margin, and it will need offensive perfection to keep up with Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers have averaged 48.7 points in their last three, including 44 in last week's double-OT win at Middle Tennessee.

    Prediction: Western Kentucky 46, Old Dominion 24

    FINAL: Western Kentucky 59, Old Dominion 24

         

    UTEP (1-5, 0-3 C-USA) at UTSA (3-3, 2-1), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: UTSA won 25-6 at UTEP last October.

    The alphabet soup game of the week should keep a few active streaks alive. UTEP has dropped five straight, scoring only 56 points in that span, while UTSA is looking to win three consecutive games for the first time since 2013 when it was a transitional FBS member. The Roadrunners average 36.3 points at home compared to 15.7 outside the Alamodome.

    Prediction: UTSA 30, UTEP 16

    FINAL: UTEP 52, UTSA 49 (5 OT)

          

    Louisiana-Lafayette (2-4, 1-2 Sun Belt) at Texas State (2-4, 0-2), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Louisiana-Lafayette beat Texas State 49-27 last October.

    Texas State has allowed 40 or more points to all five FBS opponents this season, a total Louisiana-Lafayette hasn't managed since last year's game against the Bobcats. The Ragin' Cajuns have dropped six of their last seven league games.

    Prediction: Texas State 37, Louisiana-Lafayette 28

    FINAL: Louisiana-Lafayette 27, Texas State 3

         

    Tennessee State (5-1) at Vanderbilt (3-4), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Vanderbilt beat Tennessee State 38-9 in September 2006.

    It would be so Vanderbilt to follow up a breakthrough win at Georgia by laying an egg against an FCS school. Tennessee State is no slouch, ranked 25th in FCS, but the Commodores are a perfect 16-0 against the lower divisions and will go into their bye brimming with confidence.

    Prediction: Vanderbilt 48, Tennessee State 16

    FINAL: Vanderbilt 35, Tennessee State 17

Saturday Night Games

9 of 9

    Ohio State is 20-0 in true road games under coach Urban Meyer.
    Ohio State is 20-0 in true road games under coach Urban Meyer.Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    No. 2 Ohio State (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) at Penn State (4-2, 2-1), 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Ohio State beat Penn State 38-10 last October.

    Following a second-half rally and overtime win at rowdy Camp Randall in Wisconsin, Ohio State will see the six-figure whiteout crowd in Happy Valley as pedestrian. Penn State is 0-7 under James Franklin against ranked teams, losing by an average of 21.6 points.

    Prediction: Ohio State 34, Penn State 20

    FINAL: Penn State 24, Ohio State 21

          

    No. 16 Oklahoma (4-2, 3-0 Big 12) at Texas Tech (3-3, 1-2), 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Oklahoma beat Texas Tech 63-27 last October.

    Oklahoma's biggest flaw has been its pass defense, allowing 17 touchdowns with only two interceptions. Every part of Texas Tech's defense is bad, particularly against the run, but the Sooners don't have Samaje Perine because of a muscle pull. Tech QB Patrick Mahomes' sore shoulder will feel no pain against the Sooners secondary.

    Prediction: Texas Tech 44, Oklahoma 42

    FINAL: Oklahoma 66, Texas Tech 59

        

    Georgia Southern (3-3, 2-1 Sun Belt) at New Mexico State (2-4, 1-2), 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Georgia Southern beat New Mexico State 56-26 last October.

    Whoever put together Georgia Southern's schedule might have had a vendetta against the Eagles, who are playing their fourth straight road game. They lost the first three to unbeaten Western Michigan, defending league champ Arkansas State and Georgia Tech. But only travel fatigue will prevent the skid's end against NMSU's weak defense.

    Prediction: Georgia Southern 43, New Mexico State 21

    FINAL: Georgia Southern 22, New Mexico State 19

         

    No. 23 Ole Miss (3-3, 1-2 SEC) at No. 25 LSU (4-2, 2-1), 9 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Ole Miss beat LSU 38-17 last November.

    Ole Miss has led after halftime against all three ranked teams it has fallen to but doesn't have that same stout defense to overcome the seven turnovers in those games. LSU has transformed into an offensive juggernaut since Ed Orgeron took over, averaging 8.8 yards per play without Leonard Fournette (ankle) in uniform. And he's expected to return this weekend, per USA Today's Glenn Guilbeau.

    Prediction: LSU 40, Ole Miss 26

    FINAL: LSU 38, Ole Miss 21

        

    Louisiana-Monroe (2-4) at New Mexico (3-3), 9 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    New Mexico's second-ranked rushing offense plus Louisiana-Monroe's fourth-worst run defense equals lots of big plays on the ground. And with New Mexico soft on defense as well, this is a candidate for highest-scoring game of the night.

    Prediction: New Mexico 51, Louisiana-Monroe 41

    FINAL: New Mexico 59, Louisiana-Monroe 17

         

    Washington State (4-2, 3-0 Pac-12) at Arizona State (5-2, 2-2), 10 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Washington State beat Arizona State 38-24 last November.

    Someone has secretly replaced Wazzu head coach Mike Leach with someone slightly less anti-run, his Cougars rushing 30-plus times in each of four straight wins after doing so five times in their previous 52 games. But against ASU's last-place pass defense, quarterback Luke Falk might top his career high of 601 yards from 2014 (which was against ASU).

    Prediction: Washington State 40, Arizona State 35

    FINAL: Washington State 37, Arizona State 32

        

    Fresno State (1-6, 0-3 MWC) at Utah State (2-4, 0-3), 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Utah State won 56-14 at Fresno State last October.

    This was the pairing for the 2013 Mountain West title game, which Fresno State won before proceeding to lose 24 of its next 34. Utah State's dropped three in a row, but those came against some of the league's better teams. That's something we can't say about Fresno.

    Prediction: Utah State 33, Fresno State 17

    FINAL: Utah State 38, Fresno State 20

          

    Wyoming (4-2, 2-0 MWC) at Nevada (3-4, 1-2), 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Wyoming beat Nevada 28-21 last October.

    Wyoming needs 30 points to surpass last year's scoring total, but it still leans too heavily on workhorse RB Brian Hill. Nevada has failed to score 20 points in four games this season but averages 31.7 in Reno.

    Prediction: Nevada 28, Wyoming 24

    FINAL: Wyoming 42, Nevada 34

          

    All statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com, unless otherwise noted. All series history information courtesy of CFBDataWarehouse.com, unless otherwise noted. Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.