It’s hard to imagine we’re going to experience quite as much chaos in college football Week 8 as we did last weekend, but there’s still plenty to look forward to.
The biggest game this week will be nationally televised on ABC Saturday night when the Penn State Nittany Lions host the Michigan Wolverines. We’re diving into that matchup and more looking ahead to the 10 biggest storylines of college football Week 8.
South Carolina has another chance for legendary upset
One weekend after going into Athens and handing No. 3 Georgia a stunning upset loss, the Gamecocks have another opportunity at home against No. 9 Florida. Not surprisingly, the Gators come into Week 8 as nearly a touchdown favorite to win. Then again, Georgia was heavily favored last weekend and got bullied in its own house.
Ryan Hilinski is expected to play for the Gamecocks, which is really awesome news considering how bad his knee injury looked last Saturday. What the game is going to come down to is two things: South Carolina has to be able to run on Florida’s defense, and the Gamecocks need to rattle Kyle Trask and make the Gators into a one-dimensional offense. They did it a week ago against Jake Fromm. Is the magic still there?
Clemson needs to make a statement
Beating up Florida State at Clemson was not really a huge accomplishment for the Tigers, and they need to make a statement in Week 8. In fact, in just the past couple of weeks, Clemson has fallen from No. 1 overall to No. 3 as voters clearly see their weak schedule as a detriment.
Hitting the road for a conference battle against a suddenly exciting Louisville team is the perfect opportunity for Dabo Swinney’s program to flex. If the mighty Clemson defense can shut down the high-octane Louisville offense in the same fashion we saw a week ago against FSU, then perhaps the Tigers will gain a bit more clout for their efforts.
Prime opportunity for Jonathan Taylor to pad stats
The Wisconsin Badgers must be licking their chops at their tasty Week 8 matchup against Illinois. In particular, Johnathan Taylor and the big guys on the offensive line are in for a monster day. The Illini rank 107th in the nation, allowing nearly 202 rushing yards per game.
Saturday’s road game is the perfect opportunity for a Heisman candidate in Taylor to add to his already stunning stat line on the season. He should have the kind of day we saw against Kent State a couple weekends ago when he scored five touchdowns in the game’s first 31 minutes.
Huge Pac-12 clash in Seattle
Husky Stadium is going to be rocking Saturday afternoon when No. 25 Washington hosts No. 12 Oregon. The Huskies are already out of the playoff hunt, having lost two games. But the Ducks are still in the mix if they can finish the season without losing again following their Week 1 nail-biting loss to Auburn. There’s nothing Washington would love more than to play spoiler against its Pac-12 rival.
The quarterback battle between Jacob Eason and Justin Herbert will be highly entertaining. Both possess NFL-caliber arms, though Herbert is on another level.
We know Oregon’s defense is up to the task of stopping any offense, having allowed just five points per game in the last five contests. The big question is whether Washington’s defense can do enough to disrupt the future first-round pick.
SMU looking to stay perfect
The No. 19-ranked Mustangs enter Week 8 with a perfect 6-0 record and a real shot at coming out of the AAC with an undefeated record. Though, the road isn’t an easy one to travel. This weekend, SMU is hosting Temple, which has already knocked off two ranked teams this year, including Memphis last weekend.
The Mustangs bring a high-powered offense to this fight. Led by former Texas starter Shane Buechele, they can move the ball at will and average nearly 500 yards per game. We’re eager to see if the Owls can once again summon the defensive magic that thwarted Memphis last weekend.
Baylor is, too
The Bears came within a blown call (on a butt-fumble, no less) of losing their first game last weekend. The football gods smiled upon them as they eked out a double-overtime win over Texas Tech. Chances are, they’ll have to be much better on the road against Oklahoma State in Week 8.
Stillwater’s going to be rocking, and Baylor’s defense will have its hands full against an offense that puts up nearly 40 points per contest. In particular, the Bears will be hard pressed to contain superstar running back Chuba Hubbard, who already has 1,094 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground this year.
Though, if Denzel Mims and Charlie Brewer can keep making sweet music like this, then the Bears have a real shot to stay undefeated.
Can the Bulldogs bounce back?
Georgia plummeted from No. 3 to 10th overall in one fell swoop after getting upset in shocking fashion at home against South Carolina. Jake Fromm came into the weekend without an interception on the season. He left Saturday’s game with three, including a ghastly pick-six. Needless to say, he’ll need to be sharp in Week 8 against Kentucky if the Bulldogs are going to avoid another upset loss.
The good news for Fromm and Co. is that the Wildcats are not as formidable this year as they were a year ago. Georgia is favored to win by nearly four touchdowns (-25.5) and absolutely must bounce back with a blowout win to avoid seeing its national stock slip even further.
Huge road test for the Sun Devils
The last time Arizona State played in the Rocky Mountains, they fell to Colorado, 34-31. That loss is the sole blemish on the Sun Devils’ record this year, and since then, they’ve beaten Cal and Washington State, the latter in epic style with an insane game-winning touchdown by freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels.
Despite being ranked No. 17 in the nation, Herm Edwards and his young team are two-touchdown road dogs. Given the team’s experience in Boulder, it’s not surprising. Now with another chance to win on the road against a darn good Utah team in Salt Lake City, the Sun Devils will make a statement, one way or another.
Boise State looks to keep New Year’s Six hopes alive
Of all the Group of Five teams still alive to make it to a New Year’s Six bowl game, Boise State appears to have the best shot to make it happen. The Broncos enter Week 8 with a perfect 6-0 record, and as well as they’ve played it seems like they have yet to hit their stride.
Boise State will be in Provo this weekend for a late-night game against BYU. The Cougars started out the year hot but lost quarterback Zach Wilson to a hand injury and feature a defense that’s paper thin — especially against the run. We’d be stunned if the Broncos didn’t have another monster game offensively like they did at home against Hawaii last weekend en route to another big win to stay perfect on the season.
Season-defining game in Happy Valley
Have the Michigan Wolverines done enough improving the past few weeks to compete with the best teams in the nation? We’ll soon find out. Following their embarrassing blowout loss to Wisconsin, the Wolverines have won their last three games, though it’s worth pointing out they were lucky to escape with a win against Iowa.
The scene in Happy Valley Saturday night is going to be absolutely wild. Penn State comes into the game undefeated. The Nittany Lions feature the nation’s second-ranked scoring defense and its No. 9-ranked scoring offense. Yet they have just one truly impressive win on record, last weekend’s 17-12 win over Iowa.
We’ll find out plenty about both of these Big Ten powerhouses on Saturday night when they duke it out on national television (ABC at 7:30 p.m. ET).