Week Eight Predictions
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We are getting towards crunch time, now! Division races are starting to get heated, and those thinking national title know they have some huge games coming up. Once again the SEC leads the way, as the league features three games this weekend that have national title implications. Here are my predictions for the games of week eight...
* All rankings BCS, all times EST
#6 LSU at #18 Texas A&M - 12:00 - ESPN - Well, Texas A&M, you asked for it, and now you got it! The Aggies were begging to get into the SEC, and now that they are there, they get a dose of what they were looking for. Yep, after already getting a visit (and a big, fat L) from Florida in week one, LSU comes to town looking for trouble here in week eight...In the last fifteen years (maybe longer), I have yet to see A&M win a game that had any magnitude at all to it. They play in a lot of big games, but they don't win big games (sounds like another team I know pretty well). I see that happening once again. I think LSU will play hard-nosed defense and run-game on the Aggies and leave College Station with a W. LSU, 30-24.
Virginia Tech at #19 Clemson - 12:00 - ABC / ESPN2 - This game could mean upset city for Clemson for so many reasons, but I don't think the Death Valley crowd will allow it to happen. When teams are coming off of an open date, you never really know what to expect and that is why I am worried CU could be in for a fight. The Tigers last played two weeks ago, defeating Georgia Tech. Now, an unpredictable Hokie team comes in needing a big win to get their season on track. I see the Tigers' offense finding their groove later in the game, scoring a couple of big second half TD's to win a close one. Clemson, 37-29.
#24 Iowa State at Oklahoma State - 12:00 - FX - Well, Cyclones, I hope you enjoyed that nice little number beside your name, because next week you will not have one. In this one, I expect to see the Cowboys show ISU who belongs in the Top 25 and who does not. I see Oklahoma State posting around 50 points, sending Iowa State back to the likes of those ranked 26 or worse. Sorry to be so blunt, but until I see a perennially awful team really do something to change my opinion of them, I will pick the more proven program - especially when they are at home. Oklahoma State, 50-27.
#20 Stanford at California - 3:00 - FOX - The more I watch Stanford, the more I am impressed with their coach, David Shaw. He is a man of little words, and has guided Stanford to a solid year despite the loss of QB Andrew Luck to the NFL. The Cardinal are a tough, defensive-minded team, and I will pick them to take care of Cal and a coach that hangs on to his job despite being medicore year after year after year (Jeff Tedford). Stanford, 35-20.
BYU at #5 Notre Dame - 3:30 - NBC - Two independents go at it in South Bend as ND looks to stay unbeaten and in the thick of the national title hunt. If all goes as planned, ND is clearly the better team, has more at stake, and is at home. But college football is rarely a "go as planned" kind of sport. If I were not so far behind in the Pick'em Contest right now, I would pick an upset here. But I need to stick to the odds at this point and will thus choose the home Irish. But I am telling you right now, this one gives me a funny feeling! I mean, BYU is solid on D, and the opposite on O?? That in itself is weird. Notre Dame, 30-28.
NC State at Maryland - 3:30 - ESPNU - The Wolfpack could still have a big year despite an embarassing opening loss to Tennessee and a road loss to an average Hurricane team in Miami. If they beat Maryland, they have Clemson (away), UNC (away) and three gimme wins (home) to finish the regular season 10-2. For real. It is a tall task, but I have seen crazier stuff happen....All fantasizing aside, I see NC State winning the three home games and losing the three away games for a very Tom O'Brien like 7-5 season. Maryland, 35-31.
#17 Texas Tech at #23 TCU - 3:30 - ABC regional - Forget the Longhorns and the Aggies - the Frogs and Red Raiders offer up the big college football game in the Lonestar State this Saturday! Both teams are 5-1 and 2-1 (Big 12) and know that a win could keep them in the hunt for not only a major bowl, but possibly the conference championship. This is one of those extremely hard games to pick with so many intangibles. So as I always do, I go with the home squad (plus TTU will lay an egg in a let down following a huge win). TCU, 36-21.
Michigan State at Michigan - 3:30 - Big Ten Network - Before the season started, I thought this game would be a game to help decide who would be competing to make it to the BCS Championship Game. But now, in week eight, with five losses between them and both unranked, this is just another heated rivalry matchup. I like the Wolverines in this one. I think they are a better balanced team than the Spartans who are centered exclusively on D. With a home crowd and QB Denard Robinson, I will take the home team. Michigan, 31-21.
#7 South Carolina at #2 Florida - 3:30 - CBS - A year ago, folks were wondering if Will Muschamp was the right choice for the Gators as head coach. He started out 7-6 (3-5 SEC) and had folks in Gainesville twiddling their fingers just a bit. But, wham! Just ten months later his second Florida team is unbeaten and ranked second in the BCS rankings - the rankings that count. But it might not last long. In come the Gamecocks of South Carolina and they are going to give Florida all they want and then some. I see South Carolina's defense limiting the Gators, while Shaw and company (RB Marcus Lattimore not playing) score just enough to stay right in it. That said, the Gators are good - and at home. This is the game to take the lead in the SEC East, and I think Muschamp and the Gators make a big play late in the game to win it at home. Florida, 23-20.
#11 Georgia at Kentucky - 7:00 - ESPN3.com - The Dawgs - unable once again to breakthrough and challenge for major hardware under Mark Richt - will do the norm and take frustrations out on lowly Kentucky, somehow staying alive for a trip to Atlanta at season's end in the meantime. Though they were destroyed by South Carolina, a Florida win over the Gamecocks would keep UGA right in the thick of the SEC East race. Georgia will go to Kentucky and win big as the Wildcats are one of the sorriest teams in major college football. Georgia, 40-17.
#4 Kansas State at #13 West Virginia - 7:00 - FOX - I have a ton of respect for KSU coach Bill Snyder, and I have a ton of respect for QB Collin Klein. But the Wildcats are going into hostile terrtitory to take on a team that is fuming to change the nation's perception of them. WVU was embarassed a week ago at Texas Tech, and they will remind the nation again this weekend why they were averaging 53 ppg before that contest. This game - and a battle of two Heisman candidates at QB in Klein and Geno Smith - might go into the 60's (no major suprise for a WVU contest), but I expect that when the dust clears the Mountaineers will have fought their way to a victory. West Virginia, 55-47.
North Carolina at Duke - 7:00 - ESPNU - Up until a week ago, the Blue Devils were having a pretty solid campaign - they were 5-1 and 2-0 in the ACC. Then VT knocked them back, 41-20, on their home field to set in a little dose of reality. This week, it will happen again. UNC isn't a world-beater, but they do have a team that is improving each and every week. In this one, I see Duke being a little pain in the butt early on, but the Heels using a big second half to leave Durham with a win. UNC, 37-27.
#1 Alabama at Tennessee - 7:00 - ESPN - This is one of the nation's top rivalries, and Neyland Stadium will be rocking and rolling come 6:59 on Saturday night ("It's football time in Tennessee!"). But unfortunately for the guys wearing orange, Alabama and Nick Saban bring the pain each and every time out, and I see tomorrow being no exception. I honestly think UT will stay in it for a while simply on emotion and the talents of Cordarelle Patterson and Justin Hunter catching balls from Tyler Bray. But in the end, Bama will take control and win convincingly. Alabama, 36-17.
Penn State at Iowa - 8:00 - Big Ten Network - These two teams enter this game with identical 4-2, 2-0 Big Ten records. The Hawkeyes play a nasty D (21st nationally at 17 ppg), but are horrid at offense (100th, at 22 ppg). The Nittany Lions, again, are similar to their opponent, riding the defense to the four wins. Penn State is 71st nationally in scoring offense (27 ppg), but 15th in scoring defense (16 ppg). This game is incredibly hard to pick, so as is custom for me, I go with the home team when I cannot decide. Iowa, 20-18.
#14 Florida State at Miami - 8:00 - ABC - Oh, the networks are just dying for this to be a huge game like back in the 90's (8:00 on ABC??), but it just isn't. In this one, FSU will have 50% of the crowd and a much better team. Miami just cannot seem to get things in order as they sit at 4-3 (including losses of 39 points and 38 points to Kansas State and Notre Dame, respectively, on the road). I think the 'Canes will come out with a ton of enthusiasm and fight early. But once things settle in, I think FSU makes a few big plays and eventually wins by more than one score. Florida State, 37-24.
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