College Football Picks: Week 8 Predictions for Every Game
If losses from eight ranked teams last Saturday didn't satisfy a thirst for chaos, Week 8 of the 2018 college football season might have enough rowdiness to do so.
Four AP Top 25 programs will challenge a ranked opponent, including three in the Top Six. The highest-profile matchup is between Big Ten rivals Michigan and Michigan State in East Lansing.
Additionally, Clemson hosts NC State and LSU takes on Mississippi State. Oregon's date with Washington State rounds out the marquee matchups between ranked teams. Throw in a handful of road games elsewhere, and things could get weird.
But hey, that's college football.
We've offered a prediction for every game involving a Football Bowl Subdivision program.
Note: AP Top 25 teams are highlighted first within a specific time slot.
Thursday and Friday Games
Georgia State (2-4) at Arkansas State (3-3), Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Last season, Arkansas State had a quietly explosive offense. That attack hasn't showed up in 2018, given the Red Wolves' streak of failing to reach 30 points in all four contests post-Alabama in Week 2. Still, they won't need much to dispatch the nation's No. 99 offense.
Prediction: Arkansas State 28, Georgia State 17
Stanford (4-2) at Arizona State (3-3), Thursday, 9 p.m. ET
If your first reaction is throwing up arms and shrugging shoulders, it's a reasonable one. Arizona State is 3-0 in Tempe but has three one-possession losses on the road, while Stanford's offense has looked outstanding, average and horrid this year. We'll ride the Sun Devils at home—and advise avoiding a wager.
Prediction: Arizona State 27, Stanford 20
Colorado State (3-4) at Boise State (4-2), Friday, 9 p.m. ET
Brett Rypien didn't throw an interception in his first four games. In the last two outings, he's tossed five. That recent slide is concerning, but Colorado State—which ranks 122nd with 8.9 yards allowed per pass—should provide a respite for Rypien.
Prediction: Boise State 38, Colorado State 24
Air Force (2-4) at UNLV (2-4), Friday, 10 p.m. ET
UNLV can't stop anyone through the air, so it's a good thing Air Force leans heavily on a triple-option attack. However, the Rebels' recent trend of an ineffective running game will be a decisive weakness opposite the nation's No. 15 rush defense.
Prediction: Air Force 24, UNLV 19
Top Saturday Early Games
No. 6 Michigan (6-1) at No. 24 Michigan State (5-2), Noon ET
According to OddsShark, the Spartans are 10-0 against the spread in the last 10 meetings with Michigan. That remarkable trend should continue Saturday when the Wolverines are seven-point favorites. But in what should be a defensive battle, MSU's inability to consistently drive on Michigan's elite unit will be the difference.
Prediction: Michigan 23, Michigan State 17
No. 9 Oklahoma (5-1) at TCU (3-3), Noon ET
Two weeks and a fired defensive coordinator later, Oklahoma will return to the field looking to move forward after its loss to Texas. Good thing the Sooners are taking on a TCU offense that hasn't cracked 17 points in three straight games.
Prediction: Oklahoma 34, TCU 21
Maryland (4-2) at No. 19 Iowa (5-1), Noon ET
Maryland took advantage of an abysmal Rutgers passing attack in Week 7, but the Terrapins will struggle to stop Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley. The junior tossed six touchdowns in a rout of Indiana last time out, and the Hawkeyes' fifth-ranked run defense will force Maryland to throw—something it's rarely done well this season.
Prediction: Iowa 33, Maryland 20
No. 20 Cincinnati (6-0) at Temple (4-3), Noon ET
Saturday begins a brutal stretch for Temple, which takes on the AAC's top four teams before the regular-season finale. Springing the upset will require a perfect day against Cincinnati's stingy secondary. As encouraging as Anthony Russo has played, Temple can't expect that from the sophomore quarterback.
Prediction: Cincinnati 26, Temple 21
Illinois (3-3) at No. 23 Wisconsin (4-2), Noon ET
Despite losing in blowout fashion at Michigan, Wisconsin hung on to a Top 25 spot. The Badgers won't rise quickly, but a victory over Illinois and its susceptible run defense will put Wisconsin back on a winning path.
Prediction: Wisconsin 38, Illinois 13
Buffalo (6-1) at Toledo (3-3), Noon ET
Buffalo has surrendered only nine gains of 30-plus yards—tied for 18th nationally—and Toledo tends to stumble when its explosive offense can't push the ball downfield. As long as Buffalo contains that passing game, it should eke out a tight win.
Prediction: Buffalo 31, Toledo 24
Auburn (4-3) at Ole Miss (5-2), Noon ET
Ole Miss is frustrating. The offense stinks against top competition, and Auburn has a top-30 defense. But will the Rebels' abysmal point-stopping unit allow a slumping Auburn scoring attack to look competent for a weekend? There's a chance, though we won't trust the Tigers on the road.
Prediction: Ole Miss 34, Auburn 27
Virginia (4-2) at Duke (5-1), 12:30 p.m. ET
Virginia's upset of Miami threw an unanticipated wrench into the Coastal Division, but the loser of this ACC matchup will be close to elimination. Although the Cavaliers deserve credit for that upset, the defense took advantage of a Miami offense that had no functional plan. Duke won't repeat the mistake.
Prediction: Duke 27, Virginia 22
Other Saturday Early Games
Northwestern (3-3) at Rutgers (1-6), Noon ET
Rutgers had two completions for eight yards with five interceptions in 17 attempts last week. That's a new level of atrociousness. Northwestern's pass defense isn't great at No. 73 overall, but let's be serious.
Prediction: Northwestern 35, Rutgers 10
Tulsa (1-5) at Arkansas (1-6), Noon ET
Should Arkansas fans be encouraged after 30-plus points in consecutive games? Injuries to several key players on offense may tame the optimism, but Tulsa has ceded 191-plus yards and two touchdowns on the ground in five straight outings. Slowly, steadily, the banged-up Razorbacks can pull away.
Prediction: Arkansas 31, Tulsa 17
Miami, Ohio (3-4) at Army (4-2), Noon ET
Failing to sustain drives is begging for trouble against Army. Miami has converted no more than 41.7 percent of its third-down attempts in any game. Despite a strong run defense, Army's high volume will break down the RedHawks.
Prediction: Army 28, Miami 21
North Carolina (1-4) at Syracuse (4-2), 12:20 p.m. ET
Remember when Syracuse was a thing? The Orange struggled offensively in consecutive road losses to Clemson and Pitt, falling out of the national conversation. However, their pace should fatigue UNC and create lanes in a suspect run defense.
Prediction: Syracuse 34, North Carolina 24
Idaho State (4-2) at Liberty (3-3), 2 p.m. ET
Flying well under the radar, this FCS vs. FBS clash is the defense-optional game of the weekend. Idaho State has scored 40-plus points three times and allowed 40-plus in three outings. Liberty has three and three as well. We'll give the edge to Flames quarterback Stephen Calvert, but it won't be a blowout.
Prediction: Liberty 48, Idaho State 38
Bowling Green (1-6) at Ohio (3-3), 2 p.m. ET
If you believe in the post-firing surge, Bowling Green is headed for a victory after parting with Mike Jinks on Sunday. Since Ohio has the No. 122 defense—one spot ahead of Bowling Green—it's at least feasible. But the Bobcats can outlast the Falcons if the running game regains its mid-September form.
Prediction: Ohio 38, Bowling Green 31
Utah State (5-1) at Wyoming (2-5), 2:30 p.m. ET
This one is simple: Only Alabama scores more than Utah State's 51.7 points per contest, and Wyoming has the lowest per-game average (15.4) save for Rutgers. The Aggies will have no issues on the road.
Prediction: Utah State 48, Wyoming 14
Florida Atlantic (3-3) at Marshall (4-2), 2:30 p.m. ET
Will the passing game travel? FAU quarterback Chris Robison is averaging just 145 yards on the road compared to 327 at home. Marshall's run defense ranks 12th in the country, so Robison's performance will shape the outcome. We think it'll be a good one.
Prediction: Florida Atlantic 34, Marshall 31
Charlotte (3-3) at Middle Tennessee (3-3), 3 p.m. ET
If your birthday wish was for Brent Stockstill to stay healthy in 2018, I'm sorry to disappoint. The senior is uncertain for Saturday because of a left ankle injury. Without him, the Blue Raiders won't have the passing game to overcome Charlotte's excellent run defense.
Prediction: Charlotte 27, Middle Tennessee 20
Eastern Michigan (3-4) at Ball State (3-4), 3 p.m. ET
After four straight one-possession losses, Eastern Michigan returned to the win column against Toledo last week. The Eagles surged to a 28-3 lead thanks to the mobility of quarterback Mike Glass III, whose early exit is a concern. There have been no indications he's out, so Glass can take advantage of a consistently average Ball State defense.
Prediction: Eastern Michigan 26, Ball State 21
Western Michigan (5-2) at Central Michigan (1-6), 3 p.m. ET
Central Michigan doesn't score enough to provide a threat. Perhaps the motivation of a rivalry in a lost season will propel the Chippewas, who are adequate defensively. But predicting that would be putting an awful lot of unwarranted faith in the country's fourth-worst offense.
Prediction: Western Michigan 30, Central Michigan 17
Top Saturday Afternoon Games
No. 1 Alabama (7-0) at Tennessee (3-3), 3:30 p.m. ET
Congrats on the SEC victory, Vols! Your reward is a date with Alabama. Unfortunately, you don't want top-ranked Bama—particularly if QB Tua Tagovailoa is available despite his knee injury.
Prediction: Alabama 44, Tennessee 17
No. 16 NC State (5-0) at No. 3 Clemson (6-0), 3:30 p.m. ET
NC State has mustered just 3.9 yards per carry, so don't expect much rushing production opposite Clemson's third-ranked unit. The burden of upset hopes rest on quarterback Ryan Finley. However, the Tigers had a bye and will be well-prepared for the efficient aerial attack.
Prediction: Clemson 38, NC State 27
Colorado (5-1) at No. 15 Washington (5-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
In Week 7, the Buffs encountered real resistance from an opposing defense for the first time. The result was a season-low 265 yards in a 31-20 loss at USC. A trip to Washington, which boasts the nation's No. 17 defense, will bring a similar result.
Prediction: Washington 32, Colorado 20
No. 18 Penn State (4-2) at Indiana (4-3), 3:30 p.m. ET
Wasted opportunities doomed Penn State in a stunning loss to Michigan State. Considering Indiana just surrendered six passing TDs to Iowa, the Nittany Lions should have plenty of scoring chances. This time, they'll take advantage.
Prediction: Penn State 41, Indiana 21
Houston (5-1) at Navy (2-4), 3:30 p.m. ET
Navy isn't close to matching expectations. Meanwhile, Houston has registered 41-plus points in every contest. Unless home-field advantage suddenly matters more for Navy, it should be another frustrating afternoon for the Midshipmen.
Prediction: Houston 44, Navy 24
Louisiana (3-3) at Appalachian State (4-1), 3:30 p.m. ET
Since it lost in overtime at Penn State to begin the year, Appalachian State has wrecked everyone. The Mountaineers have outscored their last four opponents 204-32. That demolition tour will continue against the nation's seventh-worst defense as measure by yards per play.
Prediction: Appalachian State 49, Louisiana 14
Other Saturday Afternoon Games
Wake Forest (3-3) at Florida State (3-3), 3:30 p.m ET
Florida State's offensive line is a disaster. That weakness cost the 'Noles in their 20-point collapse against Miami, but Wake Forest isn't necessarily suited to capitalize on it. The Demon Deacons only have 12 sacks this season. If QB Deondre Francois has time to throw, FSU can earn a much-needed win.
Prediction: Florida State 31, Wake Forest 20
Minnesota (3-3) at Nebraska (0-6), 3:30 p.m. ET
Minnesota has crashed back to reality following a dream 3-0 start. During this three-game skid, the Gophers have surrendered 8.7 yards per pass and eight touchdowns, and they have only one interception. Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez has three straight 250-yard showings, and he'll lead the Huskers to a long-awaited win.
Prediction: Nebraska 35, Minnesota 27
Kansas (2-4) at Texas Tech (4-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Despite playing without star freshman quarterback Alan Bowman (collapsed lung), Texas Tech clipped TCU on the road. The Red Raiders aren't the same prolific offense with Jett Duffey behind center, but Bowman might return. If he does, this won't be close.
Prediction: Texas Tech 37, Kansas 17
UTEP (0-6) at Louisiana Tech (4-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Before a bye, UTEP scored 20-plus points in three straight games and lost those by a combined 19 points. If nothing else, it's a positive step. But as long as the efficient Louisiana Tech aerial attack shows up, the Bulldogs will win comfortably at home.
Prediction: Louisiana Tech 31, UTEP 21
Akron (2-3) at Kent State (1-6), 3:30 p.m. ET
Akron's upset at Northwestern seems like a long time ago. The Zips have dropped three straight, averaging just 12 points in those losses. Kent State isn't in better shape with a five-game skid, but dual-threat quarterback Woody Barrett can be a game-changer in this battle of futility.
Prediction: Kent State 28, Akron 24
Coastal Carolina (3-3) at UMass (2-5), 3:30 p.m. ET
Oddly, UMass has dropped consecutive games 58-42. The bigger story is the Minutemen have ceded 55-plus points in four of their seven contests. Nevertheless, Coastal Carolina's defense is also a mess, and UMass' red-zone efficiency is seventh-best nationally.
Prediction: UMass 49, Coastal Carolina 37
SMU (2-4) at Tulane (2-4), 3:30 p.m. ET
Jonathan Banks has started every game at quarterback, but Tulane is entertaining the thought of switching to LSU transfer Justin McMillan. While that uncertainty is cause for concern, SMU's season-long road struggles (0-3) are too much to overlook.
Prediction: Tulane 34, SMU 26
Memphis (4-3) at Missouri (3-3), 4 p.m. ET
Missouri isn't playing much pass defense, allowing four quarterbacks in a row to toss three scores. Missouri's strength against the run must show up if it's going to contain Memphis star back Darrell Henderson. Even with home-field advantage, the SEC Tigers face a worrisome matchup.
Prediction: Memphis 38, Missouri 35
Cal (3-3) at Oregon State (1-5), 4 p.m. ET
In late September, Cal was ranked! Since then, opponents have outscored the Bears 103-48. If there's ever a moment to recover, it's against the nation's No. 128 scoring defense. Cal's season numbers are solid, but the run defense is trending in the wrong direction. It allowed 14 runs of seven-plus yards during the loss to UCLA. Oregon State's offense only does one thing well: run the ball.
Prediction: Oregon State 32, Cal 23
Georgia Southern (5-1) at New Mexico State (2-5), 4 p.m. ET
In five losses, New Mexico State has surrendered at least 260 rushing yards four times. Georgia Southern's typically efficient ground game sputtered in a tight victory at Texas State, but the Eagles will bounce back in a big way Saturday.
Prediction: Georgia Southern 42, New Mexico State 21
Top Saturday Night Games
No. 22 Mississippi State (4-2) at No. 5 LSU (6-1), 7 p.m. ET
LSU dominated its showdown with Georgia because it rarely allowed Jake Fromm open throwing lanes. Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is nowhere near being a passer of that skill, given his 5.8 yards per attempt overall and two straight games of sub-100 yards. It's exceptionally unlikely he'll break that trend in Death Valley.
Prediction: LSU 27, Mississippi State 17
No. 10 UCF (6-0) at East Carolina (2-4), 7 p.m. ET
During each of the last three weeks, East Carolina has surrendered at least 35 points. Unless the Pirates pull out a stellar game thanks to home-field advantage, UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton should pick apart a secondary that ranks 83rd in yards allowed per attempt and has given up 13 touchdowns against just two interceptions.
Prediction: UCF 41, East Carolina 20
UConn (1-5) at No. 21 South Florida (6-0), 7 p.m. ET
The next time Connecticut's defense shows up to play will be the first time in 2018. Opposing offenses have cracked eight yards per snap in every game. Whether it's signal-caller Blake Barnett or running back Jordan Cronkrite leading the way, USF will thrash UConn.
Prediction: South Florida 45, UConn 14
No. 2 Ohio State (7-0) at Purdue (3-3), 7:30 p.m. ET
This might be a tricky matchup for Ohio State. Only 11 teams have allowed more passes of 30-plus yards, and Purdue has the sixth-most such gains this season. Dwayne Haskins should be able to propel the Buckeyes through the air, but the blueprint for an upset is apparent.
Prediction: Ohio State 38, Purdue 28
No. 12 Oregon (5-1) at No. 25 Washington State (5-1), 7:30 p.m. ET
Washington State head coach Mike Leach won't waste possessions. Oregon has a decent run defense, but Wazzu quarterback Gardner Minshew should throw 50 passes and take advantage of a Ducks secondary that's allowing 8.1 yards per pass. Oregon's lack of explosiveness on the ground was already a concern, and losing standout guard Penei Sewell to a high ankle injury is a huge problem.
Prediction: Washington State 41, Oregon 34
Vanderbilt (3-4) at No. 14 Kentucky (5-1), 7:30 p.m. ET
Vanderbilt's season has taken an ugly turn since a hard-fought loss at Notre Dame. The Commodores have dropped four straight games to power-conference competition, converting only 25.5 percent of their third-down attempts. Kentucky, the No. 13 defense in the country, will be similarly stingy.
Prediction: Kentucky 31, Vanderbilt 20
Other Saturday Night Games
UTSA (3-4) at Southern Miss (2-3), 7 p.m. ET
Turnovers have plagued Southern Miss all season, and only 10 teams have recorded more takeaways than UTSA. Despite the Roadrunners' issues moving the ball, an opportunistic defense can put them in position to steal a road victory.
Prediction: UTSA 20, Southern Miss 17
Texas State (1-5) at Louisiana-Monroe (3-4), 7 p.m. ET
Texas State nearly took Georgia Southern to overtime, so what seemed like a potential blowout could be much closer than anticipated. The efficiency of quarterback Caleb Evans should propel ULM, but Texas State can hang around if it limits his mobility.
Prediction: UL Monroe 34, Texas State 20
Fresno State (5-1) at New Mexico (3-3), 7:30 p.m. ET
Over the last two weekends, Fresno State has allowed just six points. Although New Mexico's offense has exploded since quarterback Sheriron Jones took over as an injury replacement, the Lobos haven't contained any competent passing game this year. Fresno QB Marcus McMaryion ranks 21st nationally in yards per attempt.
Prediction: Fresno State 36, New Mexico 24
Rice (1-6) at Florida International (4-2), 7:30 p.m. ET
Losers of six straight games, Rice would need a dramatic reversal of performance to threaten Florida International. The Owls have ceded 40-plus points in five losses, and—excluding a clash with Miami—FIU has tallied at least 24 points in every game.
Prediction: FIU 38, Rice 17
North Texas (6-1) at UAB (5-1), 7:30 p.m. ET
Since UAB already has a victory over Louisiana Tech and North Texas is 2-1 in Conference USA, this is effectively 2018's decisive matchup in the West Division. North Texas QB Mason Fine is highly regarded, but UAB boasts the lowest completion rate allowed. If he's ineffective, the Mean Green probably can't lean on the running game to save them.
Prediction: UAB 27, North Texas 21
Old Dominion (1-6) at Western Kentucky (1-5), 7:30 p.m. ET
Since both rushing offenses are somewhere between terrible and horrid, whichever quarterback has a better day should lead his team to victory. Old Dominion's Blake LaRussa has been more consistent than the revolving door of signal-callers at WKU.
Prediction: Old Dominion 34, Western Kentucky 27
Saturday Night Games
USC (4-2) at Utah (4-2), 8 p.m. ET
Although the Trojans have rattled off three straight wins, they've committed nine turnovers in four Pac-12 games. Utah already has the nation's No. 9 defense in terms of average yards allowed, so USC's mistakes will be crippling if the defense's tremendous effort against Colorado doesn't travel.
Prediction: Utah 31, USC 24
Arizona (3-4) at UCLA (1-5), 10:30 p.m. ET
An ankle injury will sideline Khalil Tate, so Arizona is turning to Rhett Rodriguez at quarterback. While it's anyone's guess how the sophomore will perform in his first career start, the once-dreadful UCLA offense is slowly turning into a slight positive. This is a big opportunity for the Bruins before a challenging stretch run.
Prediction: UCLA 27, Arizona 22
San Jose State (0-6) at San Diego State (5-1), 10:30 p.m. ET
Ugly yet effective. That's the recent story of San Diego State, which has used overpowering defense to navigate major absences on offense. That trend should continue, since San Jose State has the fifth-least-efficient attack in the country.
Prediction: San Diego State 24, San Jose State 14
Nevada (3-4) at Hawaii (6-2), 11:59 p.m. ET
The return of quarterback Cole McDonald didn't go as hoped, as Hawaii fell 49-23 to a slumping BYU team. However, an outing with Nevada and a pass defense allowing 7.8 yards per attempt (96th) should be exactly what the Warriors need to recover from a disappointing loss.
Prediction: Hawaii 35, Nevada 28