College Football Picks: Week 8 Predictions for Every Game
After a couple of weeks without any marquee pairings to draw in the casual fan, Week 8 of the 2017 college football season brings us USC vs. Notre Dame and Michigan vs. Penn State. If you can't get excited for those matchups, you might want to consult your doctor.
In addition to those two gems that the home teams should win, we've got predictions for all 56 games taking place this week.
There are quite a few games on the docket that should be blowouts. For instance, Kansas at No. 4 TCU ought to be rated TV MA with what the Horned Frogs are going to do to the Jayhawks. But nearly half of the Week 8 battles seem destined to be decided by one possession. So buckle up for your weekly quota of wild endings and AP Top 25-altering upsets—though it doesn't look like there will be anywhere near as much carnage in the polls as there has been the past two weeks.
Games are ordered based on kickoff time and broken into buckets to highlight the ones you're not going to want to miss.
Week 7 Results: 40-19 outright; 25-30-4 against the spread
Year-to-Date: 85-32 outright; 62-50-5 against the spread
Top Early Games
No. 10 Oklahoma State (5-1) at Texas (3-3), noon ET
Last Meeting: Oklahoma State beat Texas 49-31 last October
On paper, this looks like an Oklahoma State blowout. The Cowboys lead the nation in total yards per game (610.7) and they lead the Big 12 in total yards allowed per play (4.89). Texas, on the other hand, gives up more yards per play (5.85) than it gains (5.52), and it allowed both Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield to eclipse 300 passing yards with plenty of room to spare. But the Longhorns almost beat both USC and Oklahoma and it's a home game for Texas, so this one might be more interesting than it should be.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 40, Texas 35
Maryland (3-3) at No. 5 Wisconsin (6-0), noon ET
Last Meeting: Wisconsin beat Maryland 31-24 in 2015
Maryland has given up at least 238 rushing yards in three of its last four games, and Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor has rushed for at least 219 yards in three of his last five games. He already belongs in the Heisman conversation, but this could be the explosion that makes everyone else realize it. And with a third-string QB, the Terrapins don't have nearly enough offense to keep pace.
Prediction: Wisconsin 45, Maryland 17
Louisville (4-3) at Florida State (2-3), noon ET
Last Meeting: Louisville beat Florida State 63-20 last September
Once upon a time, this was going to be one of the best games of the season: The reigning Heisman winner against one of the best defenses in the nation. Instead of a battle for first or second place in the ACC Atlantic Division, though, it's almost a must-win game if Florida State still has designs of qualifying for a bowl game. The offense is starting to come together for the 'Noles, as they have gained at least 400 yards in each of the last two games. The Cardinals have allowed at least 520 yards in two straight.
Prediction: Florida State 32, Louisville 28
Iowa (4-2) at Northwestern (3-3), noon ET
Last Meeting: Northwestern beat Iowa 38-31 last October
This is one of those matchups where you can crunch the numbers all you want, but it just feels like a low-scoring game destined for overtime. Here's one interesting nugget, though: In three wins against teams that probably will not become bowl-eligible, Northwestern has averaged 39.0 points and 6.7 yards per play. In three losses to likely bowl teams, the Wildcats have averaged 16.0 points and 3.4 yards per play. Iowa should get to six wins, so...don't expect much from Northwestern's offense?
Prediction: Iowa 27, Northwestern 23
Iowa State (4-2) at Texas Tech (4-2), noon ET
Last Meeting: Iowa State beat Texas Tech 66-10 last November
Beating Kansas rarely moves the needle, but if you were worried about Iowa State suffering some sort of letdown after beating Oklahoma two weeks ago, that couldn't have been further from the case. The Jayhawks entered that game averaging 458.0 yards and 29.6 points. The Cyclones held them to 106 and zero, respectively. That isn't to say they're going to do the same thing to Texas Tech, but this could be a rarely seen Big 12 defensive struggle.
Prediction: Texas Tech 24, Iowa State 21
Other Early Games
Temple (3-4) at Army (5-2), noon ET
Last Meeting: Army beat Temple 28-13 last September
In three games against opponents that are worth a darn (Notre Dame, South Florida and Houston), Temple gave up a combined 896 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. And now that defense gets to face an Army team that ranks top five in the nation in yards per carry, rushing yards per game and rushing touchdowns. Army's defense might actually be worse than Temple's, but it's hard to imagine the Owls keeping the Black Knights from scoring on any given drive.
Prediction: Army 52, Temple 35
Purdue (3-3) at Rutgers (2-4), noon ET
Last Meeting: First matchup between these programs
Rutgers showed signs of life in last week's win over Illinois, picking up its first Big Ten victory in nearly two full calendar years. But the Illini are a train wreck and Purdue should be a bowl team for the first time since 2012. Look for the Boilermakers to move the ball through the air at will.
Prediction: Purdue 38, Rutgers 14
Akron (4-3) at Toledo (5-1), noon ET
Last Meeting: Toledo beat Akron 48-17 last November
In six games against FBS opponents, Akron's average margin in total yards is negative-155.3. And Toledo has not yet been held below 399 yards in a game this season. The winning records make it look like this should be an interesting game, but Toledo could have this one in the bag by halftime.
Prediction: Toledo 49, Akron 13
Tulsa (2-5) at Connecticut (2-4), noon ET
Last Meeting: First matchup between these programs
If you're looking for a game that's going to have points upon points, here you go. Both Tulsa and Connecticut average between than 6.0 yards per play on offense, and they rank second-to-last and third-to-last, respectively, in yards allowed per game on defense. It is worth noting, though, that the strengths and defenses don't quite line up for maximum scoring. Tulsa loves to run the ball, but Connecticut is kind of OK at defending the rush. And while Tulsa allows 319.0 rushing yards per game, Connecticut only runs for 143.2 yards on average. Look for a big day from Connecticut's Bryant Shirreffs and Arkeel Newsome.
Prediction: Connecticut 45, Tulsa 38
Idaho (2-4) at Missouri (1-5), noon ET
Last Meeting: Missouri beat Idaho 24-0 in 1963
What a bizarre inter-conference Week 8 matchup, but will it even be a pick-me-up for Missouri? In terms of yards allowed (162.3), Idaho has one of the best pass defenses in the nation. Meanwhile, Missouri's rush game has been far from special outside of the season opener against Missouri State. And goodness knows Missouri can't stop anyone from scoring, as the Tigers are giving up more than 42 points per game. Give me the Vandals in a road shocker that results in even more heads rolling in Missouri's coaching staff.
Prediction: Idaho 31, Missouri 27
Pittsburgh (2-5) at Duke (4-3), 12:20 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Pittsburgh beat Duke 56-14 last November
After opening the season 4-0 and creeping to within a few votes of the AP Top 25, Duke has lost three in a row. Hosting Pittsburgh should be the cure for what's ailing this offense, though, as the Panthers have been torched both through the air and on the ground multiple times this season.
Prediction: Duke 40, Pittsburgh 19
Boston College (3-4) at Virginia (5-1), 12:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Boston College beat Virginia 17-13 in 2010
In its first three ACC games, Boston College was outscored 91-27. Out of nowhere, the Eagles exploded for 45 points in a road upset of Louisville. But that was more of a testament to the badness of the Cardinals defense than a sign that this BC team is suddenly going to be a force on offense. Virginia has one of the nation's stingier defenses and has held its last two opponents below 260 yards. It should be a much different story for Boston College's offense this week.
Prediction: Virginia 31, Boston College 14
Cream of the Midafternoon Crop
Tennessee (3-3) at No. 1 Alabama (6-0), 3:30 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Alabama beat Tennessee 49-10 last October
If Twitter controlled hirings and firings, Butch Jones would have already lost his job about 157 times this season. However, he's still Tennessee's head coach for one more game. The cries for his head grew particularly loud right after last week's home loss to South Carolina, but why would you want an interim coach's first game to come against Alabama? That's about as cruel as making someone pinch hit against Aroldis Chapman as an MLB debut. Alabama runs for 300 yards and Jones gets canned by the time he gets back to Knoxville.
Prediction: Alabama 49, Tennessee 10
Indiana (3-3) at No. 18 Michigan State (5-1), 3:30 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Indiana beat Michigan State 24-21 last October
Michigan State has mastered the art of winning ugly, beating Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota by a combined margin of just 14 points in the past three weeks. But the Spartans should be able to open things up a bit against an Indiana defense that has allowed at least 242 rushing yards in half of its games this season. This could turn into a track meet for Brian Lewerke and LJ Scott.
Prediction: Michigan State 31, Indiana 16
No. 20 UCF (5-0) at Navy (5-1), 3:30 p.m ET
Last Meeting: First matchup between these programs
Navy's Week 7 loss to Memphis removed some of the luster from this gem, but it's still easily one of the five most intriguing games of the week. UCF leads the nation in scoring offense at 50.6 points per game—even though one of its games was called in the third quarter because of inclement weather. The Knights have won each game by at least a 27-point margin. And, most importantly for this contest, they have one of the top rushing defenses in the country, allowing 110.2 yards per game. That number will go up by the time Navy is through, but they'll be able to slow down the Midshipmen often enough for a pivotal win.
Prediction: UCF 40, Navy 27
Syracuse (4-3) at No. 8 Miami-FL (5-0), 3:30 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Miami beat Syracuse 17-10 in 2003
How wild would it be if Syracuse ended the perfect seasons for Clemson and Miami in back-to-back weeks? It's not going to happen, but it's a fun hypothetical to consider. People were worried that Miami's offense might taper off after losing star running back Mark Walton to a season-ending ankle injury, but even in a torrential downpour, the 'Canes got huge performances from Travis Homer and Darrell Langham to amass nearly 500 yards against Georgia Tech. They're going to be just fine, and they should cruise to victory against the Orange.
Prediction: Miami 41, Syracuse 20
No. 9 Oklahoma (5-1) at Kansas State (3-3), 4 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Oklahoma beat Kansas State 38-17 last October
So much of Kansas State's offense revolved around Jesse Ertz that the Wildcats were just plain hapless against TCU without him. The dual-threat QB is expected to miss a few more weeks with a knee sprain, which will make it mighty difficult for the Wildcats to pull off this potential upset. As has been the case for the past three weeks, Baker Mayfield and the Sooners will jump out to an early multiple-possession lead. But, for a change, this time they won't give it all away.
Prediction: Oklahoma 38, Kansas State 17
Solid Midafternoon Matchups
Troy (4-2) at Georgia State (3-2), 2 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Troy beat Georgia State 31-21 last October
Putting this one in the "solid" bucket might be a stretch, but it's one of 14 games this week in which both teams have a winning record, which means it deserves better than the "other" designation. Troy has to bounce back from last week's debacle against South Alabama, though, right? The Trojans aren't an elite team, but they should never get held to one score by a Sun Belt foe. They might have flown a bit too close to the sun after the monumental win over LSU, but this win should restore order.
Prediction: Troy 31, Georgia State 18
North Carolina (1-6) at No. 14 Virginia Tech (5-1), 3:30 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Virginia Tech beat North Carolina 34-3 last October
This is one of those games where Vegas almost couldn't set the line high enough to make the underdog a tempting pick. North Carolina is a walking hospital ward of injuries that has allowed more than 250 rushing yards per game in its six losses. On offense, the Tar Heels have pieced together just five scoring drives in the past three games, amassing 265 yards or fewer in each of those contests. And then there's Virginia Tech, fresh off a bye week and ready to remind folks that Miami still has one heck of a hurdle to clear before it can win the ACC Coastal Division.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 44, North Carolina 10
Arizona State (3-3) at Utah (4-2), 3:30 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Utah beat Arizona State 49-26 last November
Arizona State just shut down Washington's offense while Utah darn near messed around and won a road game against USC. What are the chances that lightning strikes twice for the Sun Devils, though? Utah has gained at least 5.17 yards per play in every game this season, and prior to beating the Huskies, Arizona State allowed at least 5.77 yards per play in each game. Factor in the final four games of last season and ASU had allowed 7.59 yards per play over its last nine games. Stifling Washington's offense was a one-in-a-hundred proposition. Doubling down and keeping Utah under wraps would be more like a one-in-ten-thousand two-week stretch.
Prediction: Utah 38, Arizona State 24
Kentucky (5-1) at Mississippi State (4-2), 4 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Kentucky beat Mississippi State 40-38 last October
Save for the road games against Georgia and Auburn, Mississippi State's defense has been sensational. The Bulldogs' other four opponents averaged fewer than 200 yards per game and just 3.4 yards per play. And Kentucky's offense hasn't been stellar—last week's 40-point performance against Missouri's "defense" notwithstanding.
Prediction: Mississippi State 28, Kentucky 7
Oregon (4-3) at UCLA (3-3), 4 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Oregon beat UCLA 42-30 in 2014
Oregon's offense has been atrocious since losing QB Justin Herbert to a broken collarbone, but if there's one team in the country that could inadvertently fix the Ducks, it's UCLA. The Bruins rank second-to-last in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game (313.0) and have allowed at least 400 yards in two of the past three weeks. Josh Rosen will be able to move the ball against this Oregon secondary to keep things interesting, but Oregon might run the ball 70 times in a win.
Prediction: Oregon 35, UCLA 31
North Texas (4-2) at Florida Atlantic (3-3), 5 p.m ET
Last Meeting: North Texas beat Florida Atlantic 31-10 in 2014
In its last four games, Florida Atlantic has rushed for 1,406 yards and 20 touchdowns. North Texas is better than average against the run, but are the Mean Green good enough to slow down Lane Kiffin's runaway freight train? Probably not, but they are good enough to put up a sizable chunk of points against FAU's below-average D.
Prediction: North Texas 45, Florida Atlantic 37
Other Midafternoon Games
Western Michigan (4-3) at Eastern Michigan (2-4), 2 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Western Michigan beat Eastern Michigan 45-32 last October
It has been "close but no cigar" for Eastern Michigan for the past month, losing four consecutive games to current five-win teams by a one-possession margin. Aside from failing to slow down Army's run game—a fate that befalls many teams—the Eagles have been well above average on defense and are better than their 2-4 record would have you believe. Western Michigan is solid in its own right, but this is where EMU finally gets off the schneid.
Prediction: Eastern Michigan 28, Western Michigan 24
Kent State (2-5) at Ohio (5-2), 2 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Ohio beat Kent State 14-10 last October
This one's going to get ugly. Ohio averages 230 rushing yards and 3.4 rushing touchdowns per game, and Kent State has given up at least 150 rushing yards in each game this season. And when the sides are flipped, Ohio has a respectable rushing defense, while Kent State is second-to-last in the nation in yards per play.
Prediction: Ohio 35, Kent State 3
Northern Illinois (4-2) at Bowling Green (1-6), 2 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Northern Illinois beat Bowling Green 45-20 last November
Northern Illinois and Bowling Green are comparable on offense, but their defenses aren't even in the same galaxy. In yards allowed per play, Northern Illinois ranks third in the nation (3.93), while Bowling Green ranks 126th (6.76). BGSU would probably need to win the turnover battle by a margin of at least four to somehow win this game.
Prediction: Northern Illinois 42, Bowling Green 20
Buffalo (3-4) at Miami-OH (2-5), 2:30 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Miami-OH beat Buffalo 35-24 last November
Seven of their combined nine losses have come by a one-possession margin, so a blowout in either direction seems unlikely. However, Buffalo's losses have come against quality opponents, while Miami has lost back-to-back games to Bowling Green and Kent State. Look for Buffalo's suddenly potent passing attack to be the difference.
Prediction: Buffalo 27, Miami 21
Central Michigan (3-4) at Ball State (2-4), 3 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Central Michigan beat Ball State 24-21 last October
After a hot start, Central Michigan's offense has become anemic. The Chippewas scored 75 points in their first two games and have scored an equal total of 75 over the past five. Ball State hasn't been any better, though, held to just a field goal in each of its last two contests. This game likely boils down to which lackluster offense commits fewer back-breaking turnovers, which is a proposition that favors CMU.
Prediction: Central Michigan 20, Ball State 13
Illinois (2-4) at Minnesota (3-3), 3:30 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Minnesota beat Illinois 40-17 last October
Power Five games don't usually end up in this "other" bucket. However, both of these teams are woeful on offense, and it has been more than a month since either one won a game. The Golden Gophers have at least been competitive, though. The Fighting Illini just lost a home game against Rutgers by a double-digit margin. Yikes.
Prediction: Minnesota 31, Illinois 10
Coastal Carolina (1-5) at Appalachian State (4-2), 3:30 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Appalachian State beat Coastal Carolina 55-14 in 2012
Coastal Carolina's offense has transitioned nicely to the FBS ranks. In terms of yards per play, the Chanticleers are tied with Washington State for 58th in the nation. The defense has been a mess, though, allowing at least 51 points in three of the last four games. This is far from the best iteration of Appalachian State that we have seen in recent years, but the Mountaineers should run away with this victory.
Prediction: Appalachian State 45, Coastal Carolina 27
Georgia Southern (0-5) at Massachusetts (0-6), 3:30 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Georgia Southern beat Massachusetts 38-21 in 1999
For as bad as these teams are, this might be an entertaining game. Georgia Southern's triple-option offense has been solid the past few weeks, and Massachusetts has given up nearly 200 rushing yards per game. But the Minutemen average better than 300 passing yards, and the Eagles secondary has been torched in each of their past two games. There may be more total points than you might expect to see when two winless teams square off.
Prediction: Massachusetts 35, Georgia Southern 24
SMU (4-2) at Cincinnati (2-5), 4 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Cincinnati beat SMU 41-3 in 2014
SMU has at least 463 yards of total offense in each game this season, and Cincinnati has given up at least 33 points in five of its last six games. Couple that with a Bearcats offense that ranks among the worst in the nation in a bunch of categories and the Mustangs ought to win comfortably.
Prediction: SMU 37, Cincinnati 20
Louisiana-Monroe (3-3) at South Alabama (2-4), 5 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Louisiana-Monroe beat South Alabama 42-35 last November
Even after last week's shocking 19-8 win over Troy, South Alabama remains below average on defense and just plain bad on offense. Take out the 45-0 win over FCS school Alabama A&M and the Jaguars are averaging 18.4 points per game. Even after factoring in inflation against Louisiana-Monroe's atrocious defense, there's little chance of South Alabama keeping pace with a Warhawks offense averaging 47.3 points over the past four weeks.
Prediction: Louisiana-Monroe 34, South Alabama 25
Cream of the Evening Crop
No. 24 LSU (5-2) at Ole Miss (3-3), 7:15 p.m ET
Last Meeting: LSU beat Ole Miss 38-21 last October
After losing a home game against Troy, LSU knocked off No. 21 Florida and No. 10 Auburn to jump back into the AP Top 25. Sure, why not? The Tigers pass defense has been outstanding, allowing just five touchdowns all season and limiting six of seven opponents to 180 yards or fewer. Ole Miss QB Shea Patterson has been great, but he's going to struggle in this one. And perhaps this is where Derrius Guice finally starts living up to all that preseason Heisman hype, facing an Ole Miss defense that allows 238.5 rushing yards per game.
Prediction: LSU 31, Ole Miss 17
No. 11 USC (6-1) at No. 13 Notre Dame (5-1), 7:30 p.m ET
Last Meeting: USC beat Notre Dame 45-27 last November
USC has given up at least 20 points in six of seven games, while Notre Dame has yet to allow more than 20 points this season. That could be the story here. Each of these long-time rivals is prolific on offense, averaging better than 470 yards per game—Notre Dame primarily with the run and USC mostly via the pass. But the Fighting Irish have home-field advantage and have been a bit better on defense. Also, the Trojans offense has had more than its fair share of turnover woes, and it would be an appropriate microcosm of the 2017 season if USC's CFP dreams come to an end because of a late Sam Darnold interception.
Prediction: Notre Dame 27, USC 23
No. 19 Michigan (5-1) at No. 2 Penn State (6-0), 7:30 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Michigan beat Penn State 49-10 last September
Say what you will about Michigan's offense, but its defense is phenomenal. The Wolverines have allowed 85.8 rushing yards and 138.0 passing yards per game, and they rank No. 1 in defensive QB rating. However, they have yet to face anything close to a Trace McSorley or a Saquon Barkley, and the Nittany Lions are going to be well-rested after a bye week. Penn State's defense (9.0 points allowed per game) isn't too shabby either.
Prediction: Penn State 28, Michigan 10
Arizona (4-2) at California (4-3), 8 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Arizona beat California 49-45 in 2014
It's a shame it took Arizona a month to figure out what it had in Khalil Tate because he would be the Heisman front-runner if he had been doing this for six games. Over the past two weeks, the Wildcats QB has rushed for 557 yards and six touchdowns while completing 21 of 26 pass attempts for 302 yards and two more scores. Can he keep that going against a California defense that just held Washington State to 23 rushing yards on 26 carries? We think he'll take a slight step backward from this unsustainable pace, but he'll still do enough to defeat the Golden Bears.
Prediction: Arizona 38, California 30
Solid Evening Games
No. 16 South Florida (6-0) at Tulane (3-3), 7 p.m ET
Last Meeting: First matchup between these programs
For all the talk about South Florida's scoring at least 30 points in 23 consecutive games, the defense is the story here. The Bulls have held their opponents to 77.8 rushing yards per game, and running the ball is Tulane's entire offense. Meanwhile, South Florida has rushed for more yards per game (293.0) than Tulane has (278.0), is at least capable of doing damage with its passing game and faces a rushing defense that allows 206.0 yards on average. The quest for perfection continues. So does the scoring streak.
Prediction: South Florida 38, Tulane 17
No. 21 Auburn (5-2) at Arkansas (2-4), 7:30 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Auburn beat Arkansas 56-3 last October
With Austin Allen likely out again, Cole Kelley should get the start at QB for Arkansas. As far as stat lines for freshmen against Alabama are concerned, Kelley was solid last week, throwing for 200 yards and a touchdown. But things aren't getting much easier against an Auburn team that holds opponents below 300 total yards per game. And considering Arkansas has had a world of trouble slowing down opposing rushing attacks, Auburn may well run for 400 yards.
Prediction: Auburn 44, Arkansas 21
Wake Forest (4-2) at Georgia Tech (3-2), 7:30 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Georgia Tech beat Wake Forest 24-20 in 2010
Wake Forest leads the nation in tackles for loss per game and has held five consecutive opponents below 200 rushing yards and 4.0 yards per carry. It's impossible to completely stop Georgia Tech's triple-option offense, but the Demon Deacons ought to at least keep things interesting. If John Wolford (shoulder) looks anything close to full strength at QB, they could score the upset. Given Georgia Tech's poor luck, it'll probably happen on a last-second scoring drive.
Prediction: Wake Forest 24, Georgia Tech 22
Kansas (1-5) at No. 4 TCU (6-0), 8 p.m ET
Last Meeting: TCU beat Kansas 24-23 last October
TCU is one of the five best teams in the country, and Kansas might be the worst Power Five team. If you're looking at this game and thinking, "Well, Iowa State did shock Oklahoma a few weeks ago," please stop it. TCU just smoked Kansas State on the road, and Kansas has given up at least 42 points in all five games against FBS opponents. This is going to be unwatchably gruesome.
Prediction: TCU 62, Kansas 13
No. 23 West Virginia (4-2) at Baylor (0-6), 8 p.m ET
Last Meeting: West Virginia beat Baylor 24-21 last December
Like so many other teams that can't seem to beat anyone, Baylor is above-average on offense and stupendously bad on defense. The Bears allowed more than 10 yards per play against both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and West Virginia's Will Grier has thrown for at least 300 yards and multiple touchdowns in all six games. Baylor should put some points on the board, as WVU has allowed 30-plus in three straight weeks. But, per usual, poor defense will doom the Bears.
Prediction: West Virginia 49, Baylor 35
Other Evening Games
Utah State (3-4) at UNLV (2-4), 6 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Utah State beat UNLV 34-20 in 2014
For UNLV, everything runs through the rush, as the Rebels have averaged about one point for every 8.5 rushing yards in each game—and Utah State has given up at least 200 rushing yards four times this season. With the exception of a couple of games against hapless Idaho State and San Jose State, the Aggies have not been impressive on offense this season, so 200 rushing yards might do the trick.
Prediction: UNLV 28, Utah State 20
UAB (4-2) at Charlotte (0-7), 6:30 p.m ET
Last Meeting: First matchup between these programs
Don't look now, but UAB is 4-2 with games remaining against 0-7 Charlotte, 0-7 UTEP and 1-5 Rice. Sports on Earth's Matt Brown, SB Nation's Bill Connelly and College Football News all had UAB ranked 130th out of 130 FBS teams during the offseason, yet the Blazers are likely headed for a bowl game. Got to love college football. As far as this game is concerned, Charlotte has scored 14 points or fewer in five games this season and hasn't been competitive against competent foes. UAB's rushing attack (212.7 yards per game) will be more than enough.
Prediction: UAB 28, Charlotte 17
Southern Miss (4-2) at Louisiana Tech (3-3), 7 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Southern Miss beat Louisiana Tech 39-24 last November
When not facing SEC opponents, both Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech have been moving the ball at will on offense. For the most part, though, the Golden Eagles have been much stingier on defense than the Bulldogs, including a pair of shutouts against Southern and UTEP. This is a tough call, but we're going with a slight edge for Southern Miss because it should fare considerably better in the ground game.
Prediction: Southern Miss 34, Louisiana Tech 30
Rice (1-5) at UT San Antonio (3-2), 7 p.m ET
Last Meeting: UT San Antonio beat Rice 14-13 last October
With the exception of a Week 2 victory over still-winless UTEP, Rice has been held to 12 points or fewer in every game. On average, the Owls are giving up 125.8 more yards than they gain. UTSA is plus-156.8 in that category and has had little difficulty scoring regardless of the opponent. We don't anticipate a nail-biter.
Prediction: UTSA 45, Rice 10
BYU (1-6) at East Carolina (1-6), 7 p.m ET
Last Meeting: BYU beat East Carolina 45-38 in 2015
East Carolina averages 5.29 yards per play and 393.9 yards per game on offense. BYU's defensive numbers are 5.37 and 393.4, respectively. Seems reasonable to expect something in that vicinity when ECU has the ball. When BYU has the ball? Insert shrug emoji here. The Cougars rank 129th in total offense, and ECU ranks 130th in total defense. But if BYU is going to turn things around and capitalize on a weak second half of the schedule to get to six wins, it needs to start here.
Prediction: BYU 31, East Carolina 26
Wyoming (4-2) at Boise State (4-2), 10:15 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Wyoming beat Boise State 30-28 last October
It's hard to believe one of these teams is going to get to five wins considering neither quarterback has been anything close to what was expected. Josh Allen and Brett Rypien combined for 52 touchdowns and nearly 7,000 passing yards last season. Halfway through this season, they're at nine and 1,803, respectively. Neither team is moving the ball well, but Boise State has been marginally better, has home-field advantage and is riding high from last week's win over San Diego State.
Prediction: Boise State 28, Wyoming 17
Fresno State (4-2) at San Diego State (6-1), 10:30 p.m ET
Last Meeting: San Diego State beat Fresno State 17-3 last October
All three of these late-night games should be entertaining, but this one stands out. Had this game been played one week ago, we might have picked San Diego State to win by three touchdowns. But after the Aztecs no-showed against Boise State and Fresno State slaughtered New Mexico 38-0, this seems like one that could go down to the wire. Of particular note, Fresno State has held its last four opponents to 92.5 rushing yards and 0.8 rushing touchdowns, including New Mexico, which usually runs quite well. The Bulldogs should be able to stifle Rashaad Penny, and that would be a major problem for SDSU's offense.
Prediction: Fresno State 30, San Diego State 23
Colorado (4-3) at No. 15 Washington State (6-1), 10:45 p.m ET
Last Meeting: Colorado beat Washington State 38-24 last November
Colorado's three-game losing streak came to an end, but defense remains a major concern for the Buffaloes after that 36-33 victory over Oregon State. A far cry from the team that held Colorado State and Texas State to a combined six points in its first two games, Colorado has allowed at least 400 yards and 27 points in four straight. As long as Washington State doesn't turn the ball over seven times for a second straight week, the Cougars should get back on the winning path.
Prediction: Washington State 38, Colorado 20
Louisiana-Lafayette (3-3) at Arkansas State (3-2), 7:30 p.m ET Thursday
Last Meeting: Louisiana-Lafayette beat Arkansas State 24-19 last November
After getting gutted in the rushing game by the likes of Southeastern Louisiana, Tulsa and Louisiana-Monroe early in the season, Louisiana-Lafayette has unexpectedly buckled down on defense, holding Idaho and Texas State to a combined 23 points and 3.6 yards per carry over the past two weeks. And Arkansas State averages fewer rushing yards per game than either of those teams. However, the Red Wolves still have Justice Hansen, who has thrown for 10 touchdowns and no interceptions in home games this season.
Prediction: Arkansas State 38, Louisiana-Lafayette 27
No. 25 Memphis (5-1) at Houston (4-2), 8 p.m. ET Thursday
Last Meeting: Memphis beat Houston 48-44 last November
For the third time this season, Memphis is playing in a coin-flip game involving the AP's No. 25 team. In Week 3, the Tigers won as 2.5-point underdogs against No. 25 UCLA. Last week, they were favored by 3.5 points for a win over No. 25 Navy. But now they have to travel to Houston, where the Cougars are a slight favorite. It should be a close, high-scoring affair, but after laying an egg in the second half against Tulsa last week, look for Houston to get back on the winning track against the Tigers.
Prediction: Houston 42, Memphis 38
Western Kentucky (4-2) at Old Dominion (2-4), 6 p.m. ET Friday
Last Meeting: Western Kentucky beat Old Dominion 59-24 last October
It took six weeks, but Western Kentucky QB Mike White finally remembered how to destroy opposing teams. After throwing 37 touchdowns in 2016, he had just two through the first five games of this season. He made up for lost time by torching Charlotte for 398 yards and five TDs last week. Meanwhile, Old Dominion's defense isn't exactly setting records for stopping opponents. It has allowed at least 35 points in four straight games.
Prediction: Western Kentucky 37, Old Dominion 17
Marshall (5-1) at Middle Tennessee (3-4), 7 p.m ET Friday
Last Meeting: Marshall beat Middle Tennessee 42-17 last November
Per Erik Bacharach of Daily News Journal, MTSU QB Brent Stockstill will not play in this game, marking his sixth consecutive absence for the Blue Raiders. This offense is still struggling to find its way without him and has lost three of the last five games. Meanwhile, Marshall has held three of its last four opponents without a touchdown. Granted, those opponents were Kent State, Charlotte and Old Dominion, but MTSU isn't much better than those teams without Stockstill.
Prediction: Marshall 19, MTSU 16
Air Force (2-4) at Nevada (1-6), 9:30 p.m. ET Friday
Last Meeting: Air Force beat Nevada 45-38 in 2014
Did you know that Air Force leads the nation in passing yards allowed per game? The Falcons secondary has had the luxury of predominantly facing (and struggling with) rush-heavy offenses, but it has not allowed more than 180 passing yards in a game this season. On the other side of the field, Nevada's defense can't stop anyone. It has allowed nearly 500 total yards per game—and Nevada has gotten steadily worse in yards allowed per play in each of its past five games.
Prediction: Air Force 35, Nevada 24
Colorado State (5-2) at New Mexico (3-3), 10:15 p.m ET Friday
Last Meeting: Colorado State beat New Mexico 49-31 last November
This late-night affair has the potential for a lot of points. Both Colorado State and New Mexico average well over 6.0 yards per play on offense. The Rams do most of their damage through the air, while the Lobos would prefer to run the ball 50 times per game. But despite a game against Alabama that could negatively skew any team's numbers, Colorado State is capable of stopping the run. We can't say the same about New Mexico's pass defense.
Prediction: Colorado State 42, New Mexico 24