College Football Picks Week 8: Predictions for Top 25 Games on Upcoming Schedule

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistOctober 16, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - SEPTEMBER 30:  Saquon Barkley #26 of the Penn State Nittany Lions carries the ball as he is brought down short of the goal line by Tegray Scales #8 of the Indiana Hoosiers during the first half on September 30, 2017 at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

There's still plenty to play for after Week 8 in the college football season, but there are some games featuring AP Top 25 teams that could shape how the playoff race ends up in December. 

Week 8 features two matchups of ranked teams, one in the Big Ten and another between longtime rivals, while a few programs could end up being on unexpected upset alerts throughout the day on Saturday. 

We don't expect Week 8 to be as volatile as Week 7 in terms of earth-shattering upsets, but a few surprises could throw a wrench in the rankings this weekend. 

Here are predictions for each of the games involving AP Top 25 teams. 

                      

Thursday, October 19

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No. 25 Memphis at Houston (8 p.m. ET) 

Memphis leveled the playing field in the AAC West in Week 7 with a 30-27 triumph over Navy, but it doesn't get any easier for the Tigers as they head to Houston.

The biggest concern for the visitors on Thursday night is their defense. Memphis has the most points against (203) of the top six AAC teams in both divisions. 

Thursday marks the start of an important two-game stretch for Houston that also features a trip to USF next Saturday. The Cougars are in need of a positive performance after being blown out by Tulsa 45-17 in Week 7. A home game at night against a ranked opponent provides the perfect bounce-back opportunity.

Prediction: Houston 34, Memphis 30

      

Saturday, October 21

Maryland at No. 5 Wisconsin (12 p.m. ET) 

Wisconsin has not jumped on to the radar of many people due to its weak schedule and the other big names in the Big Ten.

If you haven't watched the Badgers yet, keep an eye on freshman running back Jonathan Taylor, who has 986 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in six games. Unless something catastrophic happens to Wisconsin, it should roll over Maryland. 

MADISON, WI - OCTOBER 14:  Jonathan Taylor #23 of the Wisconsin Badgers runs with the ball in the first quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at Camp Randall Stadium on October 14, 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Predicton: Wisconsin 49, Maryland 10

      

No. 10 Oklahoma State at Texas (12 p.m. ET) 

At some point, there will be clarity in the Big 12 standings. Week 8 could be the weekend at least one contender for first is knocked out of contention. Although they're ranked 10th in the AP Top 25, the Oklahoma State Cowboys aren't a lock to win in Austin on Saturday.

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger is looking to build off a 278-yard showing against Oklahoma, after which Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was full of praise for the freshman, per Chris Hummer of 247 Sports: 

Of course, the Cowboys have a pretty good gunslinger themselves in Mason Rudolph, who has 2,368 passing yards and 19 touchdowns in the first six games of his senior season. 

Prediction: Texas 33, Oklahoma State 27

      

Tennessee at No. 1 Alabama (3:30 p.m. ET) 

To say the Tennessee Volunteers are stumbling into Tuscaloosa might be a compliment given how they've played in the SEC this year.

The Vols are 0-3 in conference play entering Week 8, and there's a strong chance they'll leave Bryant Denny Stadium with another defeat. Alabama is using the Tennessee game as a tune-up before the bye week and the clash with LSU on November 4.

Prediction: Alabama 56, Tennessee 10

      

Syracuse at No. 8 Miami (FL) (3:30 p.m. ET) 

Syracuse's trip to south Florida comes with a bit more intrigue after the Orange knocked off Clemson in Week 7 at home, but playing in the comforts of the Carrier Dome is a bit different than a four-quarter fight in humidity with a top-10 opponent.

Miami has won its last two games by a combined five points. The Hurricanes should feel comfortable by the third quarter on Saturday, even if the Orange enter with a ton of confidence. 

Prediction: Miami (FL) 37, Syracuse 10

     

North Carolina at No. 14 Virginia Tech (3:30 p.m. ET) 

Miami's biggest competition for the ACC Coastal title is an old rival that resides in Blacksburg, Virginia. The Virginia Tech Hokies have games against North Carolina and Duke to close out October before their clash in Miami with the Hurricanes on November 4.

Look for freshman quarterback Josh Jackson to build more confidence in his starting role against the 1-6 Tar Heels, whose only win came over Old Dominion on September 16.

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - OCTOBER 07:  Josh Jackson #17 of the Virginia Tech Hokies reacts during the game against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium on October 7, 2017 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

Prediction: Virginia Tech 34, North Carolina 6

       

Indiana at No. 18 Michigan State (3:30 p.m. ET) 

Indiana proved in Week 7 that it isn't a pushover for the giants of the Big Ten as it took Michigan to overtime.

Hoosiers head coach Tom Allen sounded confident after the defeat, per Zach Osterman of the Indianapolis Star

Michigan State can't afford to lose any games as it lurks behind Penn State and Ohio State, who it plays back-to-back in November, in the Big Ten East.

The Spartans have proved over the last two weeks they're capable of winning close games. After he exploded for 194 rushing yards against Minnesota, running back LJ Scott is looking to record consecutive 100-yard performances for the first time since November 2016.

Prediction: Michigan State 23, Indiana 14

     

No. 20 UCF at Navy (3:30 p.m. ET) 

Although Navy dropped out of the AP Top 25 after losing to Memphis last week, the clash in Annapolis with UCF could still be a potential look at the AAC Championship Game. The Midshipmen have to take better care of the ball on Saturday after they turned it over five times against Memphis. 

UCF boasts the best scoring defense in the AAC, as it has given up 84 points in five games. The UCF offense, led by sophomore quarterback McKenzie Milton, has put up 253 points. Milton has thrown over 300 yards in each of his last two games.

Prediction: UCF 27, Navy 23

     

No. 9 Oklahoma at Kansas State (4 p.m. ET) 

Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma Sooners started to get their swagger back in Week 7 with a win over Texas, but there's still a way to go before they can reclaim the top spot in the muddled Big 12. A tricky trip to Manhattan, Kansas, awaits on Saturday.

As we all know, Bill Snyder will at least have Kansas State ready to contend with a ranked opponent at home. 

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 14:  Baker Mayfield #6 of the Oklahoma Sooners waves the Golden Hat Trophy after the 29-24 win over the Texas Longhorns at Cotton Bowl on October 14, 2017 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Richard W. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Mayfield has a 2-1 record against Kansas State, and he's thrown for more than 275 yards in each of those three games. Kansas State, who has lost three of its last four, is trying to cope with the absence of quarterback Jesse Ertz. His replacement Alex Delton was 11-for-29 passing with 146 yards against TCU a week ago. 

Prediction: Oklahoma 55, Kansas State 17

      

No. 16 USF at Tulane (7 p.m. ET) 

South Florida has cruised through its first six opponents, and the Bulls only appear to be getting stronger. Charlie Strong's team head into Tulane on the heels of a 33-3 win over Cincinnati.

Quarterback Quinton Flowers has thrown for 1,118 yards and run for 475 more. Tulane's first game against a ranked opponent was a 56-14 loss to Oklahoma on September 16. It'll be tough sledding for the Green Wave with USF and Memphis in back-to-back weeks. 

Prediction: USF 41, Tulane 3

       

No. 24 LSU at Ole Miss (7:15 p.m. ET) 

LSU has gone from laughing stock of the SEC to a battle-tested ranked team in a span of three weeks. The Tigers knocked off Auburn to earn a spot in the Top 25 entering Week 8, and there's a good chance they could give Alabama problems in their annual meeting in two weeks. 

If there was ever a perfect time for an Ole Miss upset over LSU, Saturday is the day, LSU will be looking ahead to the bye and preparing for the Tide, while the Rebels are coming off a 57-35 win over Vanderbilt. Pulling off the upset won't be easy, but LSU has shown its susceptible to unexpected losses already. 

Prediction: Ole Miss 16, LSU 13

      

No. 19 Michigan at No. 2 Penn State (7:30 p.m. ET) 

The biggest game of the week in terms of College Football Playoff implications comes to us from State College, Pennsylvania.

The Penn State Nittany Lions have an immense amount of pressure on their shoulders as they come into Saturday's matchup with the Michigan Wolverines with their highest ranking since November 1999.

Michigan barely survived a scare against Indiana, and Jim Harbaugh is still looking to make a consistent impact in big games with the Wolverines. One positive the Wolverines can take into Saturday is their defense hasn't allowed 300 yards of offense in a game this season, per Nick Baumgartner of the Detroit Free Press: 

Prediction: Penn State 23, Michigan 20

       

No. 11 USC at No. 13 Notre Dame (7:30 p.m. ET) 

Both USC and Notre Dame have plenty to prove to the nation on Saturday, but they'll be doing so in the shadows of a big-name Big Ten tilt. A win against a ranked opponent on the road would do wonders for USC's resume, especially after its defeat at Washington State on September 29. 

If Notre Dame wants any chance of crashing the playoff party, it has to win all of its four remaining games against ranked opponents. In order to keep USC in check on Saturday, the Fighting Irish defense will have to pressure Sam Darnold early and not let Ronald Jones get loose past the line of scrimmage. 

Prediction: USC 34, Notre Dame 26

       

No. 21 Auburn at Arkansas (7:30 p.m. ET) 

Auburn couldn't afford losing to LSU in Week 7, and it can't stumble in Week 8 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, if it wants any chance of playing in the SEC Championship Game, especially with Georgia and Alabama still on the schedule. 

Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

The good news for Auburn is Arkansas hasn't given SEC opponents much of a fight in three games. The Razorbacks have given up 139 combined points to Texas A&M, South Carolina and Alabama. 

Prediction: Auburn 47, Arkansas 13

       

Kansas at No. 4 TCU (8 p.m. ET)

The chances of Kansas going into Fort Worth and leaving with a victory are slimmer than a week without controversy in Washington, D.C. The Jayhawks have been at the bottom of the college football totem pole for quite some time, and they'll stay right there after Week 8's trip to TCU. 

The Horned Frogs have the only unbeaten record in the Big 12, and they'll use Saturday's game to spruce up some things on both sides of the ball before playing three of their next four games on the road. 

Prediction: TCU 63, Kansas 7

        

No. 23 West Virginia at Baylor (8 p.m. ET) 

If Baylor wasn't playing at home, we'd give the Bears the same chance of winning as Kansas, but there's a small glimmer of hope lingering in Waco, Texas, that they could knock off a ranked foe at home.

But in order for that to happen, Matt Rhule's team has to play mistake-free football for four quarters, which has been difficult during their 0-6 start. 

MANHATTAN, KS - SEPTEMBER 30:  Head coach Matt Rhule (C) of the Baylor Bears looks on from the sideline against the Kansas State Wildcats during the second half on September 30, 2017 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas.  (Photo by Peter G.
Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

West Virginia is without a doubt the favorite in this clash, but crazier results have come out of college football—just ask Clemson, Washington, Washington State and Auburn. The Mountaineers have to make sure they aren't looking forward to next week's showdown with Oklahoma State. 

Prediction: West Virginia 45, Baylor 12

       

Colorado at No. 15 Washington State (10:45 p.m. ET) 

Only the college football diehards or those with money on the game will be staying up to see how Luke Falk and Washington State respond after losing to Cal on Friday. Falk has thrown for 1,718 of his 2,286 passing yards in Pullman, Washington, and with the sour taste of five interceptions still in his mouth, expect him to come out strong. 

Much like some of the underdogs we've mentioned above, Colorado can't be taken lightly. The Buffaloes are similar to Indiana, as they are looking to join the elite of their conference, but don't have a signature win yet. Colorado is 1-2 in its last three games, all of which have been decided by one possession. 

Prediction: Washington State 41, Colorado 21

        

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

All statistics obtained from ESPN.com

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