Week 8 is here. Hard to believe the season has passed the halfway point but we get another solid slate of matchups to calm the nerves. After seeing LSU continue to right the ship in the Battle of the Tigers last weekend and USC and OU win their conference tilts, each week becomes more and more crucial to the College Football Playoff so buckle up for another great week!
No. 10 Oklahoma State at Texas, Noon (ABC); OKST -7.0
Question: Can Oklahoma State keep the offense rolling?
Texas gets another shot at the nation’s top ranked offense when Oklahoma State visits Austin. The Longhorns lost a close 29-24 Red River Showdown against Oklahoma who had the top ranked unit as of last weekend. Texas and Oklahoma State each have a conference loss and look to keep pace with the undefeated TCU Horned Frogs who’ve rocketed up to No. 4 in the country. A second loss would all but shatter dreams of playing in the Big 12 Title game.
The Cowboys offense continued to dazzle last week in its 59-16 win over Baylor. Quarterback Mason Rudolph threw for 459 yards and four total touchdowns. Probable Biletnikoff finalist James Washington had 235 yards and two touchdowns on just six receptions. Throw in wide receiver Marcell Ateman and running back Justice Hill and you have a scary amount of talent to defend that only TCU’s been able to figure out.
Texas on the other hand is trying to smooth things out defensively after losing two games down the stretch against USC and last week against the Sooners. Freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger should be back under center for the Longhorns after a 278 yard and one touchdown performance last week. The run game needs to step up as Ehlinger is second on the team in rushing yards despite not playing in two games this season.
I think Oklahoma State has too many weapons for Texas’ young defense to stop. The Longhorns will keep it close for a half but look for Cowboys coach Mike Gundy to come out firing in the second half on the way to a 10-point win.
No. 24 LSU at Ole Miss, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN); LSU -6.5
Prediction: LSU continues their turnaround
The LSU Tigers were on the brink of disaster after losing two games in three weeks against Mississippi State and a home loss against Troy. Instead of folding, the Tigers have defeated back to back ranked teams in No. 20 Florida and No. 10 Auburn and will look to continue their turnaround in Oxford, Mississippi Saturday night. The Ole Miss Rebels have had their own troubles this season as the turmoil around former Coach Hugh Freeze left a lot of lingering questions prior to the first kickoff. The Rebels were able to put together a great game last week versus Vanderbilt and will look for a statement win against the Tigers with the help of the conference’s top ranked passing offense.
The Rebels are throwing for 357.2 passing yards per game led by big time quarterback, Shea Patterson. Patterson will be a player at the next level and was thrown into the mix last season having to burn his redshirt. This season, he’s thrown 17 touchdowns and only six interceptions to go along with a 65.8 completion percentage. He’s got two reliable wide receivers to depend on in A.J. Brown and DaMarkus Lodge. Both Brown and Lodge have six touchdown receptions. Patterson and company will be going up against a Tiger pass defense that’s allowed only one team to go over 180 yards so look out for that story line.
LSU gets a chance for a breakout run performance Saturday night. Ole Miss has allowed the 13th most rushing yards per game in the country with 238.5. Running backs Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams continue to battle injuries, so look to see quarterback Danny Etling and offensive coordinator Matt Canada to spruce things up offensively. Wide receiver D.J. Chark has been a spark plug in the receiving game as well as the return game. He’ll continue to be an X factor for the Tigers as they look to fight their way back into the SEC West picture.
LSU Coach Ed Orgeron gets a chance to play his old team and with the chance for a third straight win, expect a showing from the Tigers defense. Patterson can sling the rock but LSU’s corners are some of the best in the country and will be ready for the challenge. The Tigers offense will get a chance to run the ball and open up their own passing game. LSU will win in Oxford by 13.
No. 11 USC at No. 13 Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m. (NBC); ND -3.5
Question: Can ND get back into the Top 10?
The Battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh again takes center stage in the first matchup with both teams ranked since 2009. A combined 22 National Championships and 14 Heisman Trophy winners should tell you this is a big rivalry game with a lot on the line this Saturday night in South Bend. USC came into the season with high expectations and have performed fairly well with only one blemish on the record to Washington State. Notre Dame, on the other hand, was coming off a season most Irish fans wanted to forget after going 4-8.
Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush will be back under center to lead the Irish. He’s got a nice complement of talent around him including running back Josh Adams. Adams’ 129.3 rushing yards per game ranks seventh in the country. Adams and Wimbush help lead the nations’ fifth ranked rushing offense with 308.0 yard per game. The offense will face their toughest defensive opponent Saturday in USC. Coach Brian Kelly has also revamped a defense that’s only allowed rushing touchdown and after surpassing last year’s win total, expectations are back in South Bend.
USC’s offense was the more hyped coming into the season but it’s been the defense that’s made the Trojans 6-1 start possible. Linebacker Cameron Smith leads the defense and after a 16-tackle, 1 interception performance against the Utes, will look for a statement win in South Bend. Quarterback Sam Darnold and his receiving corps will need to make the most of their opportunities in what looks to be a back and forth battle.
Notre Dame will make this a game. After a very difficult season for the Golden Domers, Wimbush and Adams have given the fans something to cheer for. USC doesn’t want to be the team that gives them that shot. I think we’ll be looking at a shootout. Both defenses will make some adjustments and whoever gets the last stop, will win this one. USC by three in South Bend.
Enjoy Week 8 everyone!
Other Saturday games of note:
No. 25 Memphis at Houston, 8 p.m. (ESPN); HOU -3.0
Syracuse at No. 8 Miami, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN); MIA -16.0
Indiana at No. 18 Michigan State, 3:30 p.m. (ABC); MSU -7.0