I’m going to level with you. It’s not a great week. It may be the week with the least “important” matchups that we have left. Week 9 and especially the weeks after that will be hotter but it was not easy to find 10 games. A lot of games feature a really good team in a conference going up against a bad one (i.e. #3 Oklahoma @ Kansas). There ARE some good G5 games and a non-conference G5/P5 matchup. So (minus the Coastal Carolina @ Appalachian State game from Wednesday that ended with a App State thrilling win), here are the Most Meaningful Matchups of Week 8 (and why)>>>>
(All times EST)
10. #5 Ohio State @ Indiana – 7:30 on ABC: This game looked like it might be a lot bigger at the start of the year. The Hoosiers have been disappointing, sort of reverting to program mean a bit. However, Ohio State was uneven earlier this year and Indiana will have this at home at night. Stranger things have happened. Ohio State needs to continue winning impressively.
9. Nevada @ Fresno State – 7:00 PM on FS2: A key Mountain West battle between two of the best teams in the conference in contention for the title. The winner gets a real leg up. Should be an entertaining game for those who can watch on FS2. Two teams that may very well give a Power 5 team fits in their bowl games.
8. USC @ #13 Notre Dame – 7:30 on NBC: This is mostly meaningful because of the historic nature of this rivalry. However, Notre Dame – despite looking ugly at times this year – is not out of Playoff contention because their only loss is a quality one. And…that quality team, Cincy, needs the Irish to keep winning to make that win as impactful as possible with the Playoff Committee. USC meanwhile, is talented enough to give Notre Dame a game and very likely will.
7. #16 Wake Forest @ Army – Noon on CBS Sports Network: Another one of the real surprise/Cinderella teams so far, Wake Forest is undefeated and now one of the favorites in the ACC of all things. Army has not had a spectacular season but they’ve played teams like Wisconsin really tough. This is a “styles make fights” matchup with triple option Black Knights versus spread to run Demon Deacons. It’s also on the road. Have a feeling this could be a Waterloo moment for Wake…but they’ve survived New York State once already this season against Syracuse. Wake and Army both play a fun form of offense – Army has the better defense.
6. Clemson @ #23 Pittsburgh – 3:30 on ESPN: While not the top 25 matchup some might have predicted before the season (with Clemson being the one who unexpectedly didn’t hold up their end), this game has a big impact on who will be the ACC Atlantic Division representative. If Pitt wins this, it’s officially a BAD season for Clemson and the Panthers will be right there with N.C. State and Wake Forest fighting for the ACC Title Game appearance. A win by the Tigers and it’s back to “same old Pitt” and questions about Narduzzi’s long-term ability to get beyond 7 wins.
5. #22 San Diego State @ Air Force - 7:00 on CBS Sports Network: A very big game in the Mountain West Conference, between two of its other four top teams. I would anticipate a tough defensive struggle but a hard fought and fun game. These two coaches (Brady Hoke for SDSU – yes Brady Hoke – and Troy Calhoun for Air Force) are veterans who ought to be on Coach of the Year watch lists for what they’ve done this year.
3. Tie. LSU @ #12 Ole Miss - 3:30 on CBS: Ole Miss, after surviving in Knoxville last week in more ways than one, is still very much in the hunt for an SEC West crown and/or a Playoff birth (would need a lot to happen but it’s possible). LSU just fired their head coach AFTER a huge win over Florida. Can the team rally again? With injuries mounting it seems doubtful but if Ole Miss QB Matt Corral can’t play or is limited – as Lane Kiffin intimated – the Tigers can absolutely make this a game. Another subplot…is this an audition for Lane Kiffin for LSU brass? Hmm…
3 Tie. Tennessee @ #4 Alabama - 7:00 on ESPN: This classic rivalry, now played on the fourth Saturday in October, would have been REAL intriguing if the Volunteers had beaten Ole Miss last week in the “Golf Ball Game brought to you by French’s Mustard”. Unfortunately their loss, and the fact that starting QB Hendon Hooker – who’s been a revelation after transferring from Virginia Tech – is banged up. Still, this is an Alabama team that has been a little up and down. Can the Vols give them a game? I think Alabama wins pretty big but we’ll see.
2. #10 Oregon @ UCLA - 3:30 on ABC: Oregon is the only PAC-12 team still alive for the College Football Playoff…barely. They really haven’t put a complete game together since beating Ohio State in September. Meanwhile…will the real Bruins please stand up? They’ve had some remarkable wins and some real tough losses. ESPN’s College Gameday will be at this game which should add some juice. PAC 12 has to be rooting for the Ducks though.
1. #8 Oklahoma State @ Iowa State - 3:30 on FOX: After their impressive comeback win over Texas, the Cowboys are close to becoming Big 12 darlings – but they need to win this tough, “trappy” road game against a Cyclone squad that many expected to be in the Big 12 Championship game. Expect a close game and a defensive struggle.
Maryland @ Minnesota – 3:30 on ESPN2: Both of these teams are 4-2, the Gophers are a bit more triumphant in that 4-2 but they’ve had a bad loss to awful Bowling Green. Maryland started 4-0 then got absolutely trucked in two straight games by Iowa and Ohio State. Can the Terps get back on the winning track and restore the promise of their season? Or will Minnesota continue to grow in success?
Utah @ Oregon State - 7:30 on PAC12 Network: This is low-key an important cross-divisional battle in the PAC 12. Utah has started to find it’s stride after a tough and tragic start to the year with the loss of one of their players to a shooting – the second in as many seasons. Meanwhile, Oregon State is trying to keep momentum going on what has been a solid year of improvement.
UT-San Antonio @ Lousiana Tech – 7:00 PM: Can the Roadrunners keep their dream season going? The Bulldogs record is somewhat disappointing so far but their losses have been quality and close generally – plus they are at home. We’ll see! (Actually it doesn’t appear to be televised)
BYU @ Washington State – 3:30 on FS1: Lost in all the commotion of the firing of Nick Rolovich, the Cougars head coach, because of a refusal to get vaccine, was that Wazzu was on a three game winning streak. BYU, meanwhile, has lost two straight. This game is interesting because it will see if the WSU players can keep their playing momentum going in the confusion and adversity that over-intrusive government has caused or can the other Cougars (BYU) get back on winning track?
This may be the week to get some extra chores done – but of course that’s when a week’ll get you in college football. As always, follow me on @ReadyCFB especially on Saturdays for commentary and live tweeting as well as discussion of the coaching vacancies and hot seats that are getting more and more lit.