And just like that, week 8 is here. As I discussed earlier this week, all we really have learned this year is that Alabama is unworldly good, the rest is all wide open.
This isn’t nearly what I would call a fantastic slate of games. However, with the first College Football Playoff rankings just over a week away, this week is one last chance to impress the committee before we find out what they think of the teams this season.
Without further ado, here is your guide, by conference, to college football week 8.
Matchup of the week: (16) NC State +17.5 vs. (3) Clemson O/57.5
I personally think this line is absurdly high in favor of the Clemson Tigers. They have been good, but at many points throughout the season, have looked underwhelming. QB Trevor Lawerence has shown flashes of absolute brilliance but has lacked the level of offensive consistency we’ve come to expect from the Tigers. Clemson will need to find a happy medium between QB Lawrence and riding RB Travis Etienne if they are to cover in this game.
On the flip side, Wolfpack Quarterback Ryan Finley, one of the top 3 in the ACC, will be trying to put up a lot of points against a defense not nearly as good as the past 2 years. However, Clemson’s defense is holding opponents to a choking 2.5 yards per carry. If NC State is to win this game, they will have to take advantage of a very skilled wideout group, and run complex route combinations in order for Finley to get the ball out quickly. While this defensive line might not be as strong as last year, they are very capable of bringing down the QB if the Secondary can lock down wide receivers for and extra second. Look for NC State to take advantage of their weapon at Tight End, 6’7″ Cary Andeline, and get him into 1 on 1 coverage with a linebacker.
I expect Clemson to win this game, but the Wolfpack will keep it close enough to cover. Lots of points all around, should be a fairly easy Over in my opinion.
Matchup of the Week: (6) Michigan vs. (24) Michigan State +6.5 U/41.5
This is a very big rivalry game for the Wolverines, as they come off arguably their first big, primetime, top-15 win under coach Jim Harbaugh. He will have to shake off some demons however, as he is currently a combined 1-5 vs rivals Michigan State and Ohio State.
There is no question that both defenses we see in this game are top-tier in the country. But the biggest matchup to watch in the game will be Michigan’s running game against the Spartan’s defensive front.
Sparty enters the game boasting the #1 Rush defense in the country, while the ground attack for the wolverines is in the top 30 nationally. However, if State can manage to shut down the Michigan running game, you can expect the passing offense for UM to also take a major blow. As shown in their win last week, the Michigan offense is almost exclusively effective if they have a running attack; because this allows former No. 1 player in the country, QB Shea Patterson to run play action and throw on the run. This provides his wideouts and tight-ends more time to get open and makes the offense more efficient. If they are unable to do this, the offense will look a lot like their early season loss to Notre Dame, very congested and slow.
I fully expect Sparty to contain the run, thus holding UM to minimal scoring. While Michigan State does have its problems on offense, I do believe they will score enough to outright win the game. Very low-scoring affair.
2 For the Road:
(2) Ohio State -12 vs Purdue O/64.5
(18) Penn State -14.5 vs Indiana O/62
Matchup of the Week: (9) Oklahoma -7.5 vs TCU O/61
* Joey’s Lock of the Day*
There’s a lot to like about this game, and I think it will be very fun to watch. TCU has shown a lot of promise this season, however, it has lacked the consistency it needs to finish out a lot of their games.
Horned Frog Freshman QB Shawn Robinson is almost a lock to be a future star. He is a former Texas high school football legend, and his persona has carried over nicely to the next level. He has a good arm and the ability to extend plays with his feet, a trait that comes in handy since he has a lot of Elite speed in his wideouts. Unfortunately, at times he has tried to do too much and it has led to careless turnovers and forcing passes, something you canning afford to do against this fast defense in OU.
On the flip side, the Sooners have a High School legend of their own commanding the offense, a man by the name of Kyler Murray.
This man is absolute electric. The 1st round MLB draft pick is the best athlete on the field at all times, and will make plays to drop your jaw. When push comes to shove, there’s not much you can do to try and stop him defensively. The Horned Frogs will only hope to contain him if they have any shot.
In the end, too much Kyler Murray and a flurry of offensive firepower will put OU on top in this one. Should be a ton of offense all around, so I think they will clear the Over handily.
Matchup of the Week: (12) Oregon +3 vs (25) Washington State O/66
This is going to be a huge game for the Washington State football program. For starters, it is the first time College Gameday has ever made the trip up to Pullman for a game.
If the Cougars can pull this one off, it could spring board their program up to a top-tier amongst the Pac-12. So, I fully expect Coach Mike Leach to throw everything and the kitchen sink at the Ducks.. especially considering the Cougs have had 2 weeks off to prepare for this game.
There will be 2 main components to this game:
1) State’s ability to generate pressure on Oregon Star QB Justin Herbert. He is extremely talented, and a very real candidate to be the first quarterback off the board in April’s NFL draft. He is averaging close to 10 yards per completion, and the Offensive line has given him plenty of time to go throughout his progressions. If the Cougs are able to generate pressure, it will take away some of his big play ability, and cause the Ducks to get their yards gradually instead of in chunks. Something the Ducks are not accustomed to doing. The pressure would also cause Herbert to force throws and possibly commit turnovers, which he has been stellar at preventing up to this point.
And 2) Ball Control. If the ducks are able to do as they please, and retain the ball, Wazzu has no shot. As elaborate as leach’s offense might seem, it is really just about going fast and picking up medium yardage over and over. QB Gardner Minshew has been great at finding open receivers fast on short routes. If they fall behind and begin to run short on time, he too will be forced into throws he does not want to make.
In the end, Herbert will just be too much for the Cougars, and the Ducks will just score more than Wazzu. Very, very easy Over in this one.
1 for the road:
Colorado vs (15) Washington -17 O/50
Matchup of the Week: (22) Mississippi State vs. (5) LSU -6.5 O/45.5
LSU is for real.
To do what they did against that Georgia team last week, a team with as much talent as anyone in the country, is a statement to say the least.
A lot of their new found offensive success is thanks to Senior, transfer Quarterback Joe Burrow. The former Buckeye has been sensational, and resurrected a LSU offense that has been stagnant over the past few years. The scary thing is, he has a lot of room to improve. His completion percentage is just over 50%, so he has had to lean on the running game at times. If he can manage to get more efficient in his passing, than forget Miss. State. The Tigers would be National Title contenders for real.
The only thing the Bulldogs have going for them, is rest. They are coming off a bye, and will be getting QB Nick Fitzgerald back off after being banged up and not himself the past few games. In order to win, the Bulldogs will have to be able to throw the football. Plain and simple. They have leaned on the run game much too heavily in the past few weeks, and LSU’s defensive front eats running backs for breakfast.
I think this game might be close early. But in the end, the Tigers depth and physicality will prove too much, and they will pull away in the second half. I also think the Over is the way to go in this one, but it is one of the closer overs of the week.
2 for the Road:
Tulsa +7 vs. Arkansas O/55
Auburn -4.5 vs Ole Miss U/63.5
* Disclaimer *
I do not actually bet money on these games. I simply enjoy paying attention to spreads and O/U’s because they make every game more interesting. So if you ever come after me @NCAA, you can take this and shove it.