College Football Week 8 Preview

Posted by Cole Frederick on October 17, 2014 · 11 mins read

There are two undefeated teams left in the SEC. They’re both from Mississippi. I feel like Michael Scott trying to explain this college football season:

It’s not just the SEC. There are only six undefeated teams left in all of college football. Two of those teams play this weekend, and one of them doesn’t count (Sorry, Marshall). We’re to the point where multiple two-loss teams making the playoffs isn’t out of the question. Also, somehow, the Big 10 is still alive. The second half of the college football season promises endless amounts of drama and entertainment.

The Big 10

Just Missed the Cut: Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Arizona, Nebraska

14. Kansas State The Wildcats had a bye week, and they remain in this spot from a week ago. Kansas State’s best win of the season was actually a close home loss to Auburn. The schedule starts to toughen this week as the Wildcats travel to Norman to take on Oklahoma.

13. Utah I’m kind of cheating here since the Utes won last night at Oregon State, but they probably deserved to be ranked anyway. Utah’s only loss this season was an inexplicable home defeat to Washington State, but they made up for that with a road win at UCLA. The Utes have two crucial Pac-12 South games the next two weeks: a home game against USC, and a road game at Arizona State.

12. Michigan State November 8: Ohio State at Michigan State. The winner has a decent chance of making the playoffs because Big 10 schedules are embarrassingly easy. (Boom, roasted.)

11. Oregon The Ducks were missing most of their offensive line against Arizona. No, that’s still not a good enough excuse for losing to the Wildcats, but Oregon looked like a different team against UCLA. They dominated the Bruins, and in the process they made their way back into the playoff picture. A 12-1 Oregon would be hard to ignore, although winning out won’t be easy for the Ducks.

10. Alabama If you watched Alabama vs. Arkansas last weekend, I’m sorry. Alabama won 14-13, and a missed extra point ultimately decided the game. That’s pretty much all you need to know, other than the fact that Alabama only rushed for 66 yards on offense. Guess what though? The cure for an ailing offense is to play a Kevin Sumlin defense.

9. Oklahoma Oklahoma might not be very good. (Not the first time, nor will it be the last time, I was wrong.) They probably should’ve lost to Texas after another poor performance from Trevor Knight. If the Sooners play that poorly against Kansas State, they’ll lose, and their season will be over.

8. Georgia Even without the best player in college football, the Bulldogs dominated Missouri, 34-0. Georgia is starting to come around defensively, but they’ll have a difficult test this weekend against Arkansas. Hutson Mason still hasn’t been that impressive, and he’ll have to be at some point if Gurley doesn’t play.

7. Auburn Auburn’s road schedule was too difficult for them to not lose a game at some point. The Tigers have played two road games this season, and they looked average in both. Nick Marshall is 15-3 as Auburn’s starting quarterback, but it’s time for Gus Malzahn to make a change. Auburn’s receiving corps is better than its running backs, and while Marshall isn’t a bad passer, Jeremy Johnson is much better.

Johnson can’t run the read option like Marshall, but the read option hasn’t been working very well anyway. Meanwhile, Johnson can spread the ball around effectively to Sammie Coates and Duke Williams, and this Auburn offense would be much more explosive with Johnson at the helm. I don’t think Malzahn will make the change, but Auburn would have a better chance at running the table with Johnson at quarterback.

6. TCU I didn’t watch the TCU-Baylor game live because I was in Starkville at the Auburn-Mississippi State game — don’t be jealous — so I had to keep up with the game on my phone. I looked at the score in the fourth quarter and it was 58-37 TCU, and I assumed like anyone else would that the game was over.

How could I forget that these were Big 12 defenses? TCU’s meltdown will probably keep them from winning the Big 12. They can still hope for a three-way tie, but wins over Baylor and Oklahoma would have put them in the driver’s seat — a missed opportunity.

5. Notre Dame The Fighting Irish barely escaped North Carolina last week in an obvious trap game. Now they’re double-digit underdogs heading into Tallahassee. Here’s a secret: Everett Golson has been a better quarterback this year than Jameis Winston. That doesn’t mean Notre Dame is going to pull off this upset, but they are certainly capable of doing so if the Seminoles aren’t on their game.

4. Ole Miss The Rebels followed up their monumental win over Alabama with a blowout victory over Texas A&M. Ole Miss’s defense is the best in college football right now. The offense is still inconsistent, but as long as Bo Wallace is playing well, the Rebels will have a good chance of winning.

3. Florida State Another chapter of the Jameis Winston Saga. This time the controversy is actually over something people shouldn’t get mad about. Winston signed a lot of memorabilia, and now we’re trying to figure out if he was paid for it. As I ranted about last week with Todd Gurley, I think college athletes should be able to make money off of their own signatures if someone is willing to pay them. No one outside of Tallahassee likes Winston, but this is something that shouldn’t be a big deal.

2. Baylor I still can’t believe Baylor won that game against TCU. 61-58? In regulation? That’s a (wait for it…) video game score. The Bears probably have the best offense in college football, but their defense and special teams need a lot of work if they’re going to finish the regular season unblemished. I’m expecting another shootout this weekend as the Bears take on West Virginia in Morgantown.

1. Mississippi State I witnessed the Dak Attack firsthand last Saturday. Prescott didn’t play his best game, but his Bulldogs took advantage of several early Auburn mistakes to build a big enough lead that the Tigers couldn’t overcome. Mississippi State’s redzone defense was phenomenal. Auburn still gained over 400 yards, but they were forced to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns. The Bulldogs are at Kentucky next week, followed by two home games against Arkansas and UT Martin. There’s a good chance Mississippi State will be 9-0 heading into a matchup against Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 15.

Pick Six Okay, look. I went 1-5 last week. I lost everyone money. I did catch some unfortunate breaks. USC was -3 all week, and that’s where I got them. The line settled at USC -1. They won by two. The only winner was LSU +1 (thanks, Jeff Driskel). But you have to give me another chance to win your money back. I’m feeling better about these picks.

Season: 1-5. Home team in ALL CAPS.

1. ARKANSAS +3.5 over Georgia – The Razorbacks have covered the spread in their last two SEC games, and they should have won both. The SEC West is undefeated against the East this year. Arkansas’s lost 15 straight SEC games, but they finally break through this week and upset the Bulldogs.

2. Stanford -3.5 over ARIZONA STATE – Arizona State has a chance to stay alive in the Pac-12 South. Which means they’ll lose to Stanford. Because the Sun Devils are the Western version of Clemson.

3. Texas A&M +14 over ALABAMA – Alabama is going to win, but the Aggies have just enough offense to keep this game competitive. Even though the Aggies have struggled offensively the last two games, two touchdowns is a lot considering how shaky Alabama’s secondary can be.

4. Missouri +5.5 over FLORIDA – Should a team with Jeff Driskel as its quarterback be favored by this much over another SEC team that’s not Vanderbilt?

5. Oklahoma State +10 over TCU – The Horned Frogs have been great for two weeks against two of the best teams in the Big 12. But I think Oklahoma State can score enough to keep this as a one-possession game, and they might even upset TCU.

6. Cincinnati -13.5 over SMU – No one is going to watch this game, but SMU might be the worst team in college football.

Extra Points

• At the halfway point of the season, Dak Prescott would be the Heisman winner. I’m not even sure who else would be invited. Everett Golson? Amari Cooper? Todd Gurley? Bryce Petty? Marcus Mariotta? There’s a long list of other candidates, but Dak is the clear favorite right now.

• The Coach of the Year would have to be either Dan Mullen or Hugh Freeze.

• Most disappointing team through the halfway point has to be UCLA. Many had them pegged as a playoff candidate in the preseason. They look like a four-loss team.

• I don’t want to end things negatively, so I figured I’d mention that I saw Pearl Jam in concert this week. They’re still every bit as awesome as they were nearly 25 years ago. Eddie Vedder’s voice is one of the best in rock history, and Mike McCready’s guitar solos are even better live. I still think Pearl Jam is the best 90s rock band, even over Nirvana, but I’ll save that argument for another day.