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NCAA Football Week 8 Preview

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BC Tailgate is the official home on Blogcritics for college football news, rants, and riffs. Every conference is covered — we don't play favorites to the big boys.

ACC by Geeves
Big East by Dan McGowan
Big Ten by Geeves
Big XII by Ben Miraski
Conference USA by Matt Sussman
Independents by Benjamin Cossel
MAC by Zach Baker
Mountain West by Matt Sussman
Pac 10 by Steve
SEC by Josh Hathaway
Sun Belt by Jerkwheat
WAC by Brian Szabelski

So much for making predictions, as I am now 9-16 for the season. Can I help it that these teams can't win the games they're supposed to win?

Looks like another theoretically dull week. Boston College, North Carolina, Duke, and Virginia Tech all have the week off. N.C. State will probably get trounced by East Carolina of all teams. Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, and Clemson play games that look like good match-ups on paper (Army, Navy, and Central Michigan) but who knows what will actually take place. It'll all depend on whether these teams come to play, or play like Minnesota (one good quarter at a time, none of them consecutive).

The "marquee" game this week will be Virginia, fresh off a win against previously undefeated Connecticut, traveling up the road to Maryland and taking on the Terps. Maryland is coming off a bye week and looks to continue their momentum with a third straight victory. Virginia is looking for a seventh straight win since an ugly opening weekend loss to Wyoming, and another win is another step towards their final game against VT being a game for an ACC title game berth.

Winners: Wake, Army, Clemson, Virginia

–Geeves

Recap of previously unbeaten South Florida's 30-27 loss to Rutgers coming Friday.

Quick Hits:
West Virginia is obviously a favorite against Mississippi State this weekend, but Pat White is still hurting. I expect the Bulldogs, who might play the nation’s toughest schedule, to keep it close. Don’t be surprised if UConn begins its tailspin out of bowl contention this week against Louisville. Cincinnati should get back on track again Pittsburgh. Syracuse hosts Buffalo and is only a 3 point favorite. That's just sad.

–Dan McGowan

I've done a much better job here in the Big 10 than in the ACC, predicting at a nice 22-9 clip (though that's been helped by a much easier non-conference schedule).

You know life is getting bad for Minnesota when I start cracking jokes about them over in the ACC preview. Unfortunately, I don't think life is going to get any better for them this week. Sure, you see North Dakota State on the schedule and think 'easy win,' but this is the Gopher team that couldn't even beat Florida Atlantic versus the newly #1 ranked I-AA NDSU. Minnesota is allowing 185 yards rushing per game, North Dakota is averaging 217. Minnesota has yet to hold an opponent to less than 30 points, North Dakota has scored at least 40 points four times in their last five games. I wonder who will win.

Illinois and Michigan will battle it out to see which team will still play a meaningful game against Ohio State, while Penn State and Indiana will play to determine the best team outside the top three.

Wisconsin will hopefully right the ship against 1-6 Northern Illinois, and Ohio State looks to continue their roll against Michigan State.

Winners: Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State, and yes, North Dakota State. I feel bad for Gopher fans that I'm actually typing that.

–Geeves

Maybe I should start a chant: "1 – and – 2, 1 – and – 2!" I actually won a game last week, thanks to Missouri and 10.5 points. I really loved that little extra half point. It allowed me to stay at a stellar 33.3% winning percentage on the season. Total record: 5-10. What better way to celebrate than more predictions sure to blow up in my face.

”The Pink Slip Bowl”: Texas A&M (+2) at Nebraska – With all the developments of the past two weeks, it looks like Dennis Franchione and Bill Callahan are headed out the door come the end of the year. Winning this game is therefore crucial to determine which one gets the bigger severance package.

Okay, it isn’t like their seasons have been a total loss. There is a chance that both teams could still make bowl games. We will let the winner continue coaching when they are in some exciting locale, like Shreveport, Louisiana. Jorvorskie Lane, don’t hurt me two weeks in a row. You should be able to beat Kevin Cosgrove’s defense – everyone else has. Take A&M in the upset victory.

Oklahoma (-29.5) at Iowa State – If Texas can beat Gene Chizik by 53, I see no reason why Oklahoma can’t beat him by 30. Chizik was barely able to stop Oklahoma when he was at Texas. Why should things change now? Take Oklahoma to cover. (Sam Bradford for Heisman?)

Texas Tech (+3.5) at Missouri – Wait, this game is actually important?!? Michael Crabtree catches 4 more touchdowns. Red Raiders take this one on the road. (Crabtree for Heisman?)

Likely Winners: Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas (Baylor), Texas A&M, Texas Tech

Likely Losers: Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Baylor

Upset potential: Colorado over Kansas, Kansas State over Oklahoma State

–Ben Miraski

In a year such as this, perhaps chaos in every league isn't a good thing. So maybe it's for the best that the Rice Owls didn't start 2-0 in the CUSA West. In fact, it's good for America that Rice blew a 13-point fourth quarter lead against Houston, who won 56-48 last week. Patriotism reigns as UH running back Anthony Aldridge, who ran for 205 yards and four touchdowns, scored on runs of 33 and 50 yards in the fourth to complete the comeback. U-S-A! U-S-A!

This leaves three 2-1 conference teams in the West: Tulsa, UTEP, and Houston. Since Tulsa lost to UTEP, they're going to need help from someone, anyone, to take down the Miners. But not this week. UTEP's on a bye. For now, Tulsa will have to take care of business against the beaten and bruised UCF. Golden Knights and Golden Hurricanes. Everything's so shiny.

Houston might have another trap game in store for them against UAB. Last week, Rice had its highest score of the year (48) against the Cougars. So they won't want the same porous defense to show up against the Blazers, whose current high game this year is 30 points in a loss to Tulsa.

In the East division, though, I suppose it's only fair that the one school with the word "East" in its name is ruling the division. ECU is essentially rolling, with big wins over Houston and UTEP included in their current three game win streak. Another winnable game takes place out-of-conference at home against NC State.

But as hot a streak they're on, they're not in the driver's seat.

Competing with the Steelers-Broncos game on Sunday night will be the lopsided matchup of Southern Miss and the winless Marshall. A win for USM will not only put them at 3-1 in the conference (just like East Carolina), they will own the tiebreaker against ECU since they beat them earlier in the year.

SMU and Tulane are both 1-5 and 0-2 in the conference. Since they play each other, you immediately don't care.

–Matt Sussman

(Preview coming Friday evening)

–Benjamin Cossel

Miami University is emerging as a conference power again, and is coming off a convincing win over Bowling Green. The RedHawks are undefeated in the Mid-American Conference, and face Temple Saturday.

A few weeks ago, this game looked like a walk for Miami. But Temple, one of the country's worst Division I football programs not too long ago, is starting to cause trouble for opponents. Quarterback Adam DiMichele has thrown 10 interceptions, but has thrown 12 touchdown passes in seven games.

Miami's defense was stellar last week, holding the high-powered Falcons to 14 points. Linebacker Caleb Bostic leads the team with eight tackles for a loss, and the RedHawks defense should be the difference in this one.

Bowling Green's season took a major hit last week. The Falcons gave up 47 points. Kent State gave up 48, but that was against Ohio State, who's now the No. 1 team in the country.

BG's defense appears to be practically leaking, and don't think Eugene Jarvis, the Golden Flashes star runner (who has 935 net rushing yards) hasn't noticed. Look for KSU to score a lot of points.

I still think Central Michigan is the best team in the conference, but very few people in the country have noticed, because the Chippewas played such a tough non-conference schedule. Clemson should be an interesting test. In other non-conference games, Northern Illinois will sacrifice itself against Wisconsin, while Eastern Michigan should give Northwestern a tough game (as they did to Michigan a few weeks ago).

Buffalo plays Syracuse. You never know which of these teams will show up. Buffalo is not a strong team yet, but considering where it was a few years ago, the Bulls have made progress. They have scored points, behind James Starks, who has 611 yards and 10 touchdowns. The question is whether the defense can hang in there long enough to give the team a chance. In theory, a win over Syracuse would be huge for the program, which holds three league wins, including a surprising 43-33 win over Toledo.

Meanwhile, Toledo's season has to be seen as a disappointment. The Rockets are 0-3 in the conference, and are playing a team that was just as disappointing until last week. Ohio beat Eastern Michigan 48-42, the first win for last season's MAC East champs.

It should be a close game, if one that will give defensive coordinators nightmares.

Western Michigan is a botched call away from a perfect MAC record. Still, it was surprising to see the Broncos struggle against the winless Huskies. Ball State's Nate Davis has played well at quarterback, but WMU's defense should give him some problems.

–Zach Baker

With BYU reigning at the top, we have four one-loss teams in the conference. And next week, only two will remain.

The first game — we'll call it the overcard — is Air Force and Wyoming. The Cowboys love to run the ball. The AFA cadets love to let people run the ball. Wyoming might pull a mild upset here.

The second game is New Mexico and San Diego State. Last year, SDSU took it on the nose agains the Lobos with a 41-14 pasting down in Albuquerque. This year, the Aztecs will … well, they'll probably lose again. But maybe by not as much, they can only hope.

TCU and Utah both look to be out of the conference hunt, but much is on the line for both, because these 4-3 teams are still vying for a legitimate bowl game. The Horned Frogs will be without wide receiver Walter Bryant, who was eventually suspended for a domestic violence arrest.

This week's Odd Team Out is conference unbeaten BYU, who hosts an FCS game with Eastern Washington. Nothing of interest here, although I will admit that EWU is a hell of an acronym. Try saying it as a word.

Winless Colorado State against 2-5 UNLV? Man, even CSU coach Sonny Lubick doesn't want any that.

–Matt Sussman

For the second week in a row, the #2 ranking has been unkind to it's holder. Last week then ranked #2 California lost to an unranked Oregon State team when they were unable to get the clock stopped for a game tying field goal. And last night, South Florida became the third #2 team to fall.

USC barely squeezed out a win, and not surprisingly, Oregon put up a big 53 points on Washington State.

#13 USC @ Notre Dame (3:30pm EST)
While the Trojans can effectively be ruled out as a contender for the BCS title now, they still come into this week looking to get a win under their belt and try to move back up the standings for BCS bowl consideration. And while USC has faltered a bit lately, don't go getting any ideas about an Irish win. With the way the Irish have played and enough whiskey, I may take odds on a Pop Warner team being able to beat them.

#7 Oregon @ Washington (7:30pm EST)
This is my game of the week. We have two fast and exciting quarterbacks going head to head. By now we have seen Dennis Dixon run his offense like a future NFL draftee, but Washington's Jake Locker has some speed too. Locker has passed for 900+ yards and ran for 450+ yards this season. Oregon's real question mark this week is the fact that they lost Jeremiah Johnson last week, and replacement Andre Crenshaw will have some big shoes to fill.

The Other Games
#10 California @ UCLA (3:30pm EST)
Stanford @ Arizona (7:00pm EST)

–Steve

I'd like to begin by pointing out I was all over the potential for a Kentucky upset of LSU. I'm not taking credit for it, but I'd certainly like some.

We have three big matchups in the SEC this week. It's the third Saturday in October, and that means Alabama/Tennessee. Odds are good I'll be at this one, and Alabama's record in games I attend is excellent. Expect a Tide win. That's actually the only variable I can find to convince me they'll win.

Alabama has played progressively worse since I witnessed their amazing win over Arkansas. Meanwhile, the Vols seem to have recovered from getting crushed by Cal and Florida earlier in the season. Neither team likes to play defense. This is going to be a battle of the offenses and Tennessee's looks more balanced and efficient.

Florida and Kentucky square off in a game with huge implications for the SEC East title. Both teams have a single SEC loss. Two-loss teams have rarely won SEC divisions, so this could well be an elimination game for one of these two teams. Kentucky is hot and confident. I can't bring myself to say they'll win, but I can't bet against them either.

Alabama, Auburn, and LSU all have their SEC West destinies in their own hands, each with one SEC loss and games against one another. This week marks the first game between once-beaten SEC West opponents when Auburn travels to LSU.

Poor Auburn. It's all gone wrong for them. They were supposed to get crushed at Arkansas last week and LSU was supposed to crush Kentucky, setting up another "Tuberville Special." The opposite happened and LSU still has a very real shot at getting back into the National Championship picture, so bet on an LSU win.

–Josh Hathaway

Week 8 in the Sun Belt is chock full of conference intrigue. All four games are conference games and all four match-ups are pretty good.

The day's games kick off at Middle Tennessee State, where the Blue Raiders host the Arkansas State [Mascot Redacted]'s. Both teams are 1-1 in conference and are coming off of big wins last week.

At the same time, the league's best team, the Troy Trojans, will be putting their 3-0
conference record on the line against the Mean Green of North Texas. The Mean Green got their first win of the season last week, but they likely aren't going to be continuing their good fortunes against the Trojans this week.

The next game on the conference docket will be kicking off in Lafayette, Louisiana as the Ragin' Cajuns play host to the Owls of Florida Atlantic. FAU is 2-0 in conference thus far and the Cajuns have started off 1-2.

The evening's final game pits the winless Florida International Panthers against the 1-5 Warhawks of Louisiana-Monroe. Will Mario Cristobal finally get his first win as a head coach this week? My crystal ball says yes. It also says to place your Monopoly money down on MTSU, Troy, and FAU.

Jerkwheat

Last week in WAC Tailgating: Hawaii squeaked by San Jose State, Nevada and Boise State agreed before their game not to play defense, and Idaho and Utah State continued their losing ways. What will happen this week, when Hawaii is busy resting?

Nevada @ Utah State – Do I really need to even explain what's going to happen here? Nevada just put up 67 points in their last game and was able to hang with Boise State for all but a two-point conversion at the end of the game. Utah State has been getting killed
all season. This game is no different, and Nevada will collect their first conference win.

San Jose State @ Fresno State – The best game in the WAC this week between two of the conference's top teams. San Jose State proved they've got talent by taking Hawaii to overtime, but they go up against a talented Fresno State team looking to run the table. I don't
know if the Bulldogs can take down Boise State and Hawaii, but they'll win one at home over the Spartans.

Boise State @ Louisiana Tech – Louisiana State lets up 272 passing yards per game on defense. What's even worse is they're going up against an offensive juggernaut in Boise State. The Broncos will win this by at least three touchdowns as they try to march back into the Top 25.

Idaho @ New Mexico State – Like Nevada, New Mexico State is 0-2 in conference, but they are a much better team than that. Against Idaho, they'll get their first conference win easily, because they have a high-powered passing offense and Idaho can't stop the pass.

WAC Standings

#17 Hawaii – 4-0 (7-0)
Fresno State – 3-0 (4-2)
Boise State – 2-0 (5-1)
San Jose State – 2-1 (3-4)
Louisiana Tech – 1-2 (2-4)
New Mexico State – 0-2 (3-4)
Nevada – 0-2 (2-4)
Utah State – 0-2 (0-6)

–Brian Szabelski

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  • http://daslob.blogspot.com/ Pico

    Josh–

    I’m calling Tennessee over Bama, simply because they are playing better football overall.

    I see LSU winning, but it’s going to be a close, low scoring affair. Auburn is actually playing better defense than LSU lately, but Cox will get annialated.

    Florida has had two weeks to rest and will take advantage of a KY team coming off a huge win. No way Meyer loses three in a row. BTW, Florida has two SEC losses, not one. All the more reason the Gators will respond and not get themselves further into a hole.

  • http://www.confessionsofafanboy.com Josh

    Pico, you’re right. I had done my best to forget Florida’s chokejob against Aw-barn.

    I think Tennessee will win, too, sadly — sadder still because I’ll be in attendance when the game kicks off at dawn. My record is pretty good in games I attend, but I don’t know if I have enough mojo to bring us home a win.

    KY has to beware of the letdown effort. I can see this going either way.

    LSU smells blood. That South Florida loss was very bad news for the ‘barn.

  • http://daslob.blogspot.com/ Pico

    BTW, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Bama won; that’s a big rivalry game and they will be up for it. Hope you have a good time at the game :&)

  • http://confessionsofafanboy.com Josh

    That is now the greatest game I have ever attended and witnessed. Wow. Didn’t see THAT coming. A win, maybe. That? Stunning and thrilling.

    That one tops Florida and Tennessee two years ago and Arkansas this year. I love me some DJ Hall. May he wear Silver & Black next year.

  • http://daslob.blogspot.com/ Pico

    LSU/Auburn games are becoming instant classics almost every year, and this one’s no exception. I knew it was going to be close as they always are, but that’s about the only thing you can predict about these games. Flynn was…dare I say it…magnificent. Auburn brought their A game, too, and it just came down to who wanted it more in the end.

    I didn’t get to see the 2nd half of KY/Fla but the outcome wasn’t surprising. Looks like the ‘Cats hung in there, though. And Spurrier lost to Vandy??!!

    Congrats on the big win over Tenn. Good thing I hedged my prediction at the last minute, lol. The next game is going to be a little bit tougher for your boys ;&)

  • http://www.confessionsofafanboy.com Josh

    Tell you what, Pico, LSU was fortunate on a spot here and there and Les Miles is out to ruin this for you. I’m seriously questioning his mental competency.

    I’ll tell you something else… I’m not saying we’re going to win in two weeks, but I’m no longer in awe of LSU the way I was a month ago. This is a team that really should have lost their last three games, holding on by the skin of their teeth to win two of them and losing one. Good teams win the close ones, but these guys are living too dangerously. That defense hasn’t dominated in recent memory and the offense is merely good (Doucet could change that with another two weeks to get ready).

    You better hope the game doesn’t turn on a battle of wits between the two coaches. Unlike some Bama fans I don’t worship at the first church of Saban, but our guy is far less dense than Miles.

    It’s going to be fun to watch.

  • http://daslob.blogspot.com/ Pico

    Well, I don’t think you should be in awe of any team. There are no dominant teams this season. And the SEC, as usual, is highly competitive.

    Has Miles made the right calls? I could make a good defense for them but I think the results speak for themselves. Nick Saban is a very smart coach but I still don’t envy his having to guess what Miles will do in any given clutch situation. I think that gives LSU an advantage.

    That all said, Bama remains the Tigers’ last significant challenge of the regular season. It will indeed be fun to watch.

  • http://www.confessionsofafanboy.com Josh

    A blind nut sometimes finds a squirrel. That the “gambles” (being charitable) have worked out doesn’t mean they were smart calls. I think Miles is a nutjob and someone is going to make him pay for being clownshoes.

    I was in awe of LSU early. They looked so loaded and fired up. Some — some — of the bloom has come off that rose.

  • http://daslob.blogspot.com/ Pico

    A blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut. You’re saying Miles is always finding the nut. Maybe he isn’t blind, after all. ;&)

  • http://www.confessionsofafanboy.com Josh

    Oh, he’s nuts. That much needs to be clear.