Best Games from Each Conference: Week 8
ACC: Florida State at Wake Forest
It has been a weird season in the ACC. Other than the Clemson Tigers seemingly running the conference as usual, the rest is completely wide open. Florida State looked like they were on the verge of a disastrous season, but have since turned things around. Wake Forest, on the other hand, just suffered its first loss of the year last week: a 62-59 shootout against Louisville.
The Demon Deacons have had a pretty impressive rushing attack this year with four players nearing 300 yards on the ground so far. Jamie Newman has also played efficiently, throwing for over 1,700 and 17 touchdowns. Carlos Basham Jr. has been impressive on defense, recording 5 sacks so far this year.
For Florida State, it has been all about their sophomore receiver Tamorrion Terry. He has nearly 500 receiving yards on the season and five touchdowns. Cam Akers has looked as good as they would expect him to as he has over 600 rushing yards in six games. This should be a good game and the Seminoles really need a win, especially after getting blown out by Clemson last week.
Prediction: Florida State 23, Wake Forest 21
American Athletic: Temple at 19 SMU
The SMU Mustangs are 6-0 and look like one of the best Group of Five teams this year and it is not even close. But the Temple Owls are looking to knock off another undefeated team after crushing the Memphis Tigers’ hopes of going undefeated and possibly making a New Year’s Six bowl game. This should be a great game and should have huge AAC title game implications.
The closest win SMU has had all year was a three-point shootout win over TCU, a Big 12 team, three weeks ago. The team can score and they are surely thankful for the transfer of Shane Buechele from Texas. He has nearly 1,700 yards and 12 touchdowns on the year. Rodney Clemons has been a big factor on defense, pulling down three interceptions so far.
Temple’s defense has been stifling so far this year with the Tigers’ 28 points being the most they have allowed in their five wins. This game should be a good one and we could easily see these two teams playing again in December. The Mustangs will pull this one out as they have been scary good at home this year, but it could certainly be different when they meet for Round 2.
Prediction: SMU 28, Temple 21
Big 12: 18 Baylor at Oklahoma State
I don’t think anyone expected Matt Rhule’s Baylor Bears to be one of two undefeated teams left in the Big 12 and have a legitimate chance to make the College Football Playoff at this point in the year, but here we are. Oklahoma State will look to play spoiler this week as they host the Bears in what could be one of the weekend’s best games.
The Cowboys suffered a brutal loss to Texas Tech two weeks ago, while the Bears just barely pulled out a 33-30 win over the Red Raiders last week. This gives us a good look at what both teams can do against a pretty high-powered offense and the Bears have the upperhand. Charlie Brewer can keep his team in just about any game and Jordan Williams has been great on defense with two interceptions and 28 tackles.
Oklahoma State has found a special player in Chuba Hubbard, who leads the country with nearly 1,100 yards on the ground. He will have to play a near-perfect game if they are going to down the Bears. But I just can’t see them pulling out the upset.
Prediction: Baylor 35, Oklahoma State 21
Big Ten: 16 Michigan at 7 Penn State
Penn State has continued to look uber impressive this year and I would expect much of the same for the remainder of the year. It’s no surprise they are right in the thick of the conversation for the Big Ten conference title game. If they can get past the Michigan Wolverines, expect those talks to ramp up.
Both the Wolverines and Nittany Lions struggled against Iowa, so this game should give fans a good gauge of how well these two teams can perform. I would expect to see another defensive slugfest between these two teams. Penn State has recorded 27 sacks on the year, with Yetur Gross-Matos and Shaka Toney combining for 11 of them, while Michigan has 21, with Kwity Paye, Josh Uche, and Jordan Glasgow each recording four on the year.
This is going to be an impressive back and forth battle between two great defenses. The difference will be which offense can make the biggest move. Expect to see the Nittany Lions make a huge move in the Big Ten this week.
Prediction: Penn State 20, Michigan 9
Conference USA: Southern Mississippi at Louisiana Tech
The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs have been on a freaking roll since the season-opening loss to Texas. The Southern Miss Golden Eagles have also been pretty good this year, with their two losses coming at the hands of SEC teams. This should be a pretty good matchup between two teams that are fighting for Conference USA supremacy.
Both quarterbacks that take the field this week have a chance to make some noise. Golden Eagle Jack Abraham is one of the most accurate passers in the country with a 72% completion percentage and nearly 2,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. J’Mar Smith has also been very good for the Bulldogs, throwing for over 1,500 and running for 160 so far.
The X-factor in this game, however, could be Louisiana Tech cornerback Amik Robertson. He has returned both of his interceptions for touchdowns this year and the third-leading tackler for the Bulldogs. He should certainly make a difference as his team keeps rolling and gets their sixth straight win.
Prediction: Louisiana Tech 27, Southern Miss 17
Mid-American: Toledo at Ball State
The Ball State Cardinals are having a much better season than most expected them to and they could continue their success with a big game against Toledo this week. They are 2-0 in the MAC and a win over the Rockets could give them huge momentum going forward in conference play.
The Rockets looked nearly miserable last week in an upset loss to Bowling Green. They will look to turn things around against Ball State and their rushing attack will have to be a huge part of that. The team has racked up nearly 1,500 yards on the ground with Bryant Koback recording nearly 700.
The Cardinals have had two close wins against weak MAC teams, but have shown they can play against anyone multiple times this year. Drew Plitt will have to play a big part in their game after he went 23-32 for 255 and two scores last week against Eastern Michigan. I think they can keep rolling and get another huge win this week.
Prediction: Ball State 24, Toledo 17
Mountain West: Nevada at Utah State
This game is not so much about conference standings, even though both teams still have a shot at making the title game in December, but it is more about a big quarterback matchup. The Wolfpack barely pulled out a 41-38 win over the lowly San Jose State Spartans while the Aggies are still licking their wounds from a 42-6 loss to LSU two weeks ago.
If Utah State is going to bounce back and get a win after a bye week, NFL prospect Jordan Love is going to have to play nearly perfect. He’s thrown eight interceptions on the year through a very tough part of the Aggies’ schedule, so playing some lesser talent might help his chances. The Wolfpack have had a bit of a quarterback controversy as Carson Strong, Cristian Solano, and Malik Henry or Last Chance U fame have all seen equal time on the field.
The latter quarterback had a pretty good game against the Spartans and seems to have possibly secured the starting job. If he can shake off some early nerves, you could see Nevada get a huge win and move up the conference seeding this weekend.
Prediction: Nevada 31, Utah State 27
Pac-12: 17 Arizona State at 13 Utah
Right now, it is highly unlikely that a team from the Pac-12 will make the College Football Playoff. But if something crazy is to happen, you could expect to see the winner of this game make a playoff for a spot in the final four. Both teams have been great this year and it could be one of the weekend’s best games.
The Sun Devils have seen a resurgence since Herm Edwards took over and a win this week could certainly inch them closer to the illustrious top ten spot. Jayden Daniels has been a big part of their success as he has thrown for 1,610 yards and eight scores against just one interception. They will have to contend with one of the nation’s top defenses, so this could be a big challenge for them.
The Utes have been dominant defensively and a big part of their success has been Francis Bernard, who leads the team with 43 tackles and two picks. Bradlee Anae has been great as well with four sacks. The Utes will have to step up to stop the dynamic Daniels, but I see the Sun Devils using their momentum to get the huge win.
Prediction: Arizona State 20, Utah 15
SEC: Kentucky at 10 Georgia
This is not so much a game to watch because the Bulldogs are on upset watch or anything like that. No, this game is more about seeing how the Georgia Bulldogs will rebound after falling to South Carolina in double overtime last week. Georgia is nowhere near out of playoff contention, but they cannot let the loss stay with them too long as Kentucky will be looking for an upset themselves.
The Wildcats have had some bad luck this year with quarterbacks after Terry Wilson went down with a brutal knee injury earlier this year and Sawyer Smith has been battling multiple injuries the last few weeks. Lynn Bowden Jr., a quarterback-turned-receiver-turned back to quarterback, did a good job stepping in for the team last week. He will likely have to step up again this week against a scary Georgia secondary.
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm did not have a great game last week against the Gamecocks and he will have to make some better decisions this week if they want to bounce back. I am sure Fromm and D’Andre Swift will have the team ready to win and get back on track.
Prediction: Georgia 33, Kentucky 14
Sun Belt: Louisiana-Monroe at 24 Appalachian State
The Appalachian State Mountaineers are ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time in team history and they are ready to continue making history in 2019. At this point, they have a very good shot at possibly going undefeated and making a run at the New Year’s Six. They will have to get past a team they could easily see again in December in Louisiana-Monroe.
The Warhawks held off the Texas State Bobcats’ furious comeback last week and they will look to pull off a major upset this week. Josh Johnson will have to continue to run the ball tough like he has all year, but expect them to lean heavily on their defense. Corey Straughter has recorded four of the team’s seven interceptions and he should play a big part in the game this week.
The Mountaineers, however, have a ton of momentum behind them, so don’t expect them to let that up this week. They have a number beside their name and they want to continue having it there. Expect Darrynton Evans and the rest of the offense to come out ready to go.
Prediction: Appalachian State 45, Louisiana-Monroe 21