College Football: Week 8 Games to Watch

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The Big Ten is back and dominates the Week 8 slate of games with several high profile matchups. The Big 12 also has a few big games to keep an eye on, but football fans across the country will have their first taste of normal when it comes to college football in 2020.

Wisconsin vs Illinois

Date: Friday, Oct. 23
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Spread: Wisconsin -19.5

The opening game for the Big Ten features a rematch of arguably the Big Ten’s biggest upset last season with Illinois taking on Wisconsin. Unfortunately for the Badgers they will be without incumbent starter Jack Coan at quarterback after he suffered a foot injury a couple weeks ago. That leaves the door open for highly touted recruit Graham Mertz to take over for the Badgers. Mertz and the Badgers offense will likely have their hands full of with Lovie Smith’s turnover minded Illini defense. Meanwhile the Illinois offense should face one of their toughest challenges against a Wisconsin defense loaded with veteran players. The Illini’s veteran duo of Brandon Peters and Josh Imatorbhebhe will have to create some big plays if they hope to compete with the Badgers. Ultimately the Wisconsin offensive line and disciplined defense will help them grab the win and revenge against Illinois under the Friday night lights.

Prediction: Wisconsin wins 34-21

Nebraska vs. Ohio State

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24
Time: Noon ET
Spread: Ohio State -26

College Football. Fox Sports! Nebraska and Ohio State take the field in what could be a better game than the 26-point spread indicates. According to ESPN’s Bill Connelly Nebraska’s offense ranks second in the country in returning production which could give this game a shootout element. Ohio State always has elite talent, but Chase Youngs and Jeff Okudahs do not grow on trees. Because of that, the Buckeyes will likely have to lean a bit more on their offense this year led Heisman trophy candidate Justin Fields. Fields will look to show he has what it takes to not only be the best player in football but also the potential No. 1 overall pick. Meanwhile his counter part Adrian Martinez will look to come out hot on what is likely a short leash. If things get sideways early for Nebraska do not be surprised to Luke McCaffrey take over for the Huskers. Ultimately the Ohio State defense is simply better than what Nebraska has and will get a few key stops to win this game for the Buckeyes.

Prediction: Ohio State wins 48-33

NC State vs. North Carolina

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24
Time: Noon ET
Spread: North Carolina -14.5

After a shocking loss to Florida State, North Carolina will have to get back on track early against in-state rival NC State if they hope to stay in contention for the ACC title game. The Tar Heels have had a terrible habit of starting slow which could get them into trouble against a balance NC State attack. The Wolfpack have been balanced on offense with duo of Zonovan Knight and Ricky Pearson leading a potent rushing attack. If North Carolina can find a way to take away the run game from the Wolfpack it should be able to pull this one out. Given that it is a rivalry game, this one will likely be a close one. UNC’s slow starts will keep this one close, but the Tar Heels will find a way to pull this one out in the end winning by a touchdown.

Prediction: North Carolina wins 39-31

Alabama vs. Tennessee

Date: Saturday, Oct. 17
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Alabama -19.5

After taking down Kirby Smart, Nick Saban gets another master and apprentice matchup with former defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and Tennessee. The Tide will look to stay hot against a Tennessee team that was ranked a week ago but had the doors blown off by Kentucky in its last game. This big question in this game will be who starts at quarterback for the Vols after Jarrett Guarantano, Harrison Bailey and JT Shrout all saw time. Guarantano looks to have the lead there but will be tasked to keep up with the high powered Alabama offense led by wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, who will look to continue his streak of 100-yard receiving games that now sits at four straight to start the season. While this is a let down spot for the Tide, Saban appears to be a man on a mission and the Alabama offense simply cannot be stopped. The Tide roll once more in what will be a long day for the Tennessee faithful.

Prediction: Alabama wins 45-17

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State

Date: Saturday, Oct. 17
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Oklahoma State -3.5

Probably the most important matchup in any conference this week, Iowa State and Oklahoma State battle for Big 12 supremacy with the winner likely in the driver’s seat to reach the conference championship game. This game is going to be all about the rushing attacks of both teams. Iowa State’s Breece Hall currently leads the Big 12 in rushing, while Oklahoma State leads the Big 12 in team rushing behind the two-headed attack of Chuba Hubbard and LD Brown. With the run games being keyed on, it will be up to the quarterbacks of both teams to make some plays in the passing game. This should be a tight one, but with the return of Spencer Sanders Oklahoma State will find a couple big plays in the passing game to edge out the Cyclones.

Final Prediction: Oklahoma State wins 29-27

Penn State vs Indiana

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Penn State -6.5

Penn State and Indiana meet in what will be a potential building block game for both teams. After losing Ricky Rahne to Old Dominion, James Franklin brought in Kirk Ciarrocca from Minnesota to take over play calling duties. Ciarrocca and the Penn State offense will need to put up points early and often in this one with Indiana’s offense likely to do the same. Tom Allen’s squad is a veteran group led by dynamic quarterback Michael Penix Jr. The Hoosiers will make their share of plays but simply do not have the athletes on defense to hold back the Penn State offense. Indiana will keep it close early, but the Penn State defense will get a few stops in the second half to secure the victory.

Prediction: Penn State wins 34-28

Notre Dame vs. Pitt

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Notre Dame -9.5

Notre Dame faces another test of their undefeated record when it takes on Pitt Saturday afternoon. The Irish are coming off a sloppy win against Louisville where their offense struggled to move the football and repeatedly stalled in the red zone. They face a Pitt team that has dropped its last three after a hot start to the season but still has one of the better defenses in the country thanks to an elite defensive line. This game will likely come down to which offense can hit a few big plays and while neither inspires confidence, the Irish will find a way to win another close one behind the play of a strong defense and veteran quarterback Ian Book.

Prediction: Notre Dame wins 20-16

West Virginia vs. Texas Tech

Date: Saturday, Oct. 17
Time: 5 p.m. ET
Spread: West Virginia -3

A sneaky good matchup pitting strength verse strength will be taking place in Lubbock, Texas Saturday afternoon. West Virginia enters this matchup the current Big 12 leader in team defense limiting its opponents to 240 yards of total offense thus far. The Mountaineers will have their hands full with Texas Tech’s high-flying offense and new starter Henry Colombi, who will be taking over at quarterback for the Red Raiders following a poor outing from incumbent starter Alan Bowman. While Colombi has looked strong in limited action this year, he has yet to see a defensive front like West Virginia’s that features multiple NFL prospects led by Tony Fields II and the Stills brothers. The Mountaineers will get their run game cranked up once again and limit Texas Tech’s touches in this one winning a close game on the road.

Prediction: West Virginia wins 35-32

Michigan vs. Minnesota

Date: Saturday, Oct. 17
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Michigan -3

College GameDay rolls into town for a crucial early season matchup between the Wolverines and the Gophers. Both teams are tasked with replacing a ton of talent on one side of the ball. Minnesota lost eight starters from last years defense, while Michigan will look to replace eight on offense. Reports from Michigan indicate new starting quarterback Joe Milton has looked great through out camp, but in his first start behind a remade offensive line, life could be difficult for the junior signal caller. Ultimately it will be Milton’s quarterback counterpart Tanner Morgan that will make a couple big throws to budding superstar Rashod Bateman sealing the victory for Minnesota.

Prediction: Minnesota wins 27-23

Cincinnati vs. SMU

Date: Saturday, Oct. 17
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Spread: Cincinnati -1

Likely a knockout game for a ticket to the AAC championship game, Cincinnati and SMU will play under the lights at Gerald J. Ford Stadium Saturday night. The Bearcats enter this game after an unscheduled week off looking to solidify their status as a top 10 team in the country. They will have their hands full with a potent SMU passing attack led by senior quarterback Shane Buechele. Unfortunately for the Mustangs, they are without arguably their best player after Reggie Roberson needed season ending ACL surgery. This game will likely come down to ball control and the trenches where Cincinnati has a decisive advantage on both sides of the ball. SMU will keep it interesting but will struggle to stop the Bearcats rushing attack in their first loss of the season.

Prediction: Cincinnati wins 31-25