2011 NCAAF Week 8 Weekend Preview

October 22, 2011

The first BCS rankings were released at the beginning of the week, which means that the season is really starting to heat up. The conversation has turned to “which teams are for real” to “which teams can maintain their perfect record”. With so many teams still without a mark in the loss category, that is an interesting question to try and answer. Of course, there are some teams without a loss that will inevitably lose at least one game, because another team on their schedule is also without a loss. However, some of those teams that seem to have played their toughest games already will be looking to hold on and hope that chaos ensues ahead of them.

Here is a list of my top five games to watch this weekend, as well as five more games to keep an eye on and some storylines that will keep people talking.

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

North Carolina at #8 Clemson (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Clemson made it through the toughest three game stretch of their season without a blemish on their record, so it would seem as if it is smooth sailing from here on out, right? No, that’s actually the furthest thing from the truth. In addition to becoming more difficult every week to keep a perfect record intact, it may be doubly hard for the Tigers, who have been known (along with the rest of the ACC) to drop games that they should not lose. This weekend Clemson faces a North Carolina team that has the capability of giving them trouble.

North Carolina has kept it close in their two losses (against Miami and Georgia Tech) this season and has the ability to play at whatever pace the opposing team dictates. While North Carolina managed to beat Clemson last season, they didn’t have to deal with Sammy Watkins. If the Tar Heels want to pull off the huge upset, they will need to limit Watkins’ touches and not let him into open space when he does get the ball. Considering this game is at Death Valley, I see the Tar Heels having a tough time getting the job done.

My Pick: 34-23 Clemson

#20 Georgia Tech at Miami (Fl) (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET) 

Georgia Tech was finally exposed by Virginia last Saturday, putting an end to the talk about whether Georgia Tech was one of the biggest surprises of the season. The Yellow Jackets get no break this week against Miami, though it would be hard to consider most teams a break after playing Virginia.

The Hurricanes have had their troubles this season, but have improved mightily. They have finally found their identity as a team that relies heavily on the run, and no longer need Jacory Harris to employ the “throw it up and pray” gameplan, which was unpopular but lasted a long time. Georgia Tech is also a heavy run team, but have been figured out in the past two weeks. Miami has the film from the Virginia game, and will use it to shut down the Yellow Jackets this weekend at home.

My Pick: 35-28 Miami

#19 Auburn at #1 LSU (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

This game is on the “5 to Watch” list solely because both teams are ranked in the Top 25 and, being an SEC game, has the potential to be a defensive battle that will look closer than it truly is (I said potential. I don’t think it actually will be). LSU is a stronger offensive team than both Arkansas and Clemson, and both of those teams ripped up Auburn’s defense. LSU also has, without a doubt, a better defense than both of those teams.

Auburn proved to be a couple of touchdowns better than Florida, so I’ll give them a few more touchdowns against LSU. Florida lost to LSU by 30, though.

My Pick: 41-24 LSU

#4 Wisconsin at #15 Michigan State (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

Michigan State beat the Badgers in Lansing last season, and it ended up being the only loss for Wisconsin during the regular season. The Spartans will look to play spoiler yet again this season, but I just don’t see it happening.

Wisconsin is a more dynamic offensive threat this year with quarterback Russell Wilson under center. Wilson is dangerous both as a runner and a passer, which is something that Michigan State’s defense has not faced yet. The Spartans are solid defensively, but no team has been able to stop the Badger offense so far this season, and there is nothing to suggest that Michigan State will magically go from solid to juggernaut on defense. Also, Michigan State’s offense is not strong enough to keep up with Wisconsin.

My Pick: 31-16 Wisconsin

#22 Washington at #7 Stanford (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

Credit needs to be given to Steve Sarkisian and the rest of the Washington coaching staff; the Huskies are being taken seriously in the Pac-12 for the first time in awhile. However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Washington is still going to have an extremely difficult time knocking off Stanford in Palo Alto.

Washington may be the most unlikely team in the conference to upset Stanford because of their pass defense. The Huskies give up just over 300 yards per game through the air, and it would be silly to think that Andrew Luck won’t be able to eclipse that mark in this game. This game will be fun because it will have a lot of offensive firepower, but don’t expect an upset here.

My Pick: 48-33 Stanford 

5 More to Flip To

#6 Oklahoma State at Missouri (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Missouri gave Oklahoma and Kansas State decent games before taking a step back last week and getting killed by Iowa State. Which Missouri team will show up in this game?

Air Force at #5 Boise State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The Falcons are a little down this year, but their tricky offense could give the Broncos trouble.

Penn State at Northwestern (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

Penn State is ranked depending on which poll you look at, and Northwestern looks bad if you only look at their record. With this said, look for Northwestern to surprise people in this one.

Tennessee at #2 Alabama (Saturday, 7:15 PM ET)

Tennessee disappointed me against LSU last weekend, and unfortunately for Vols fans, I don’t see much of a different story in this one, either.

USC at Notre Dame (Saturday, 7:30 PM  ET)

USC is ineligible for postseason play and Notre Dame is unranked, yet people still think this is a huge game. Weird…

Storylines for the Weekend

No storylines for the weekend. Enjoy the games!

– K. Becks

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