2019 NCAAF Week 8 Weekend Preview

October 17, 2019

I guess the old adage is not true – mom doesn’t know best!

Thanks to a victory over my mother last weekend, the head-to-head prediction game is all knotted up after seven weeks:

K. Becks – 24-12

Guests – 24-12

As a “thank you” to my buddy Keegan for allowing us to stay with him this weekend in the Windy City (but really, a bigger one to his girlfriend for allowing this for the past five years), he’ll join the blog this week to try to swing the pendulum back towards the guests.

Week 8 may not feel as big as last weekend, but as Georgia reminded us, October is typically the month when things begin to go haywire in college football. South Carolina had no business hanging around with the Bulldogs for four quarters, yet Kirby Smart’s squad was unable to get its offense going against the previously 2-3 Gamecocks and the kicking game was truly a cruel mistress.

We may think we know things at this point in the season, but wild upsets will continue to happen and remind us, humbly, that we don’t.

Let’s take a look at the best games to watch this weekend.

5 Games to Watch This Weekend

#3 Clemson at Louisville (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The Cardinals have been an interesting football team through the first half of the season, quickly buying into Scott Satterfield’s new approach and already exceeding Around The Corn’s preseason expectations in terms of wins on the year. Even after losing quarterback Jawon Pass after the first two games of the season (confirmed out for the year as of this week), Louisville has been one of the most potent offenses in the ACC, just behind the Tigers in terms of yards per game. If last weekend’s 62-59 victory over Wake Forest is any indication, Satterfield’s squad won’t be afraid to engage in a shootout with Clemson.

Realistically, a shootout is what Louisville will try to force. While strong on the offensive side of the ball, the Cardinals have had trouble stopping the opposition’s offense. This is good news for Trevor Lawrence & Co., who are still looking for the performance that will bring them back into the good graces of the national media. Offensively, ATC sees that happening in this one, but the Cardinals will get a few punches in as well.

My Pick: 56-27 Louisville

Keegan’s Take: Clemson rolls 38-20

#12 Oregon at #25 Washington (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

At one time, this game would have been pegged as a marquee matchup on the national stage. But consistent with the conference’s performance over the last few years, friendly fire has already eliminated Washington from CFP contention and the Ducks are on life support. Unfortunately for Oregon, Husky Stadium is not a fun place to play for visiting teams. Washington has been inconsistent offensively this season, however, and welcomes the Pac-12’s best quarterback to Seattle.

There is enough evidence to argue that the Huskies have the juice offensively to take care of the Ducks. But Mario Cristobal’s squad boasts the league’s top defense which has been extremely opportunistic this season, leading the Pac-12 with 12 interceptions and 14 total takeaways. Washington is just one behind with 13, so expect turnovers to have an effect on this one. Given Justin Herbert’s role as the leader of this Oregon team and his single interception on the season, the Ducks can feel confident they’ll avoid the costly giveaways and keep their Playoff hopes alive.

My Pick: 31-28 Oregon

Keegan’s Take: Washington wins a close one and gets the upset 27-24

Temple at #19 Southern Methodist (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Despite the label as a Group of Five conference, the AAC has been represented quite well in 2019, arguably led by the surprise Mustangs. One of 12 remaining unbeaten teams at the FBS level, SMU’s offense has thrived with Texas transfer Shane Buechele taking over the reins at quarterback. The Mustangs are sixth in the country averaging 44.2 points per contest and are comfortable with a track meet. By contrast, Temple will look to slow things down and engage in a slugfest.

Owls fans have seen this one before, so forgive them for their confident stride heading into this game. Temple was not expected to compete with Maryland’s offense, which was averaging 71 points and 636 yards through two games behind a highly-touted quarterback transfer. All the Owls did was hold the Terrapins to 17 points and 340 total yards, debunking the myth that that Maryland was going to be a force in the Big Ten this season. While the Mustangs have done far more to prove their worth, Temple’s defense will be tough to score on and Rod Carey’s team is no slouch on offense, either. Expect the ranks of the unbeaten to shrink by at least one this weekend.

My Pick: 27-21 Temple

Keegan’s Take: No death penalty for these Mustangs! SMU 30-24

#17 Arizona State at #13 Utah (Saturday, 6 PM ET)

The job that Herm Edwards has done at Arizona State through the first half of this season is truly impressive, given the amount of offensive talent that left his program after last year. Perhaps the biggest surprise has been the emergence of freshman Jayden Daniels, who has been terrific in replacing Manny Wilkins and running the offense. Daniels is well-known to Kyle Whittingham and the Utah coaching staff as well – he was recruited by the Utes before signing with Arizona State.

Despite the running abilities of Daniels to complement running back Eno Benjamin, the Sun Devils are very balanced offensively and will look to move the ball downfield through the air at almost the same rate as they run it. This should keep Utah honest, but moving the football will still be tough for Arizona State. Except for an uncharacteristic performance against Southern Cal, the Utes have been pretty strong defensively and are more comparable to the units that prevented Daniels from throwing a touchdown than the ones that he torched. This game may not produce a ton of points, but it’ll be close the entire time.

My Pick: 24-17 Utah

Keegan’s Take: Utah 35-28

#16 Michigan at #7 Penn State (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

Fans will “white out” Beaver Stadium on Saturday evening, which is Penn State-ese for “this is our House, and as a guest you’re gonna have a bad time here.” It’s kind of hard to back the notion that James Franklin is an overrated head coach when all he’s done is take a team that lost Trace McSorley, Miles Sanders and three offensive linemen to the NFL and mold it into one capable of scoring 42 points per game. Sean Clifford can do what Nate Stanley of Iowa couldn’t, which is throw on Michigan without turning the ball over three times. Stanley had the blueprint, just not the execution to beat the Wolverines.

Unless Shea Patterson steps up in a hostile environment, Michigan may have a tough time keeping up with the home team in the second half. Penn State stifles opposing rushing attacks and will force Patterson to show he’s capable of burning an aggressive secondary. Given his inability to do it in big games throughout his career at Michigan, it’s difficult to see how this one in Happy Valley will be any different for the senior. The Nittany Lions won’t take the Wolverines lightly, which should translate to a convincing victory.

My Pick: 30-16 Penn State

Keegan’s Take: Penn State routes Michigan 42-20

5 Games to Flip To

#4 Ohio State at Northwestern (Friday, 8:30 PM ET)

Thanks to the MLB Playoffs and professional wrestling, FOX’s Friday night gamble has been relegated to the Big Ten Network. It’ll be a close call on which is a bigger mess – the TV debacle or the game, if the Buckeyes have their way.

#9 Florida at South Carolina (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The Gamecocks will try to shock the country in consecutive weeks, but it’s always more difficult the second time around. Florida is coming off of a tough loss itself and will be ready, to add to the difficulty.

Duke at Virginia (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The Cavaliers are tough defensively and will need to find a way to slow down Duke’s potent offense, because Virginia has had trouble putting the football into the end zone this season.

#18 Baylor at Oklahoma State (Saturday, 4 PM ET)

Defensively, the Bears are good enough to slow down Oklahoma State’s. But the Cowboys have been looking for a victory to hang their hat on all season and this just feels like the right scenario.

Tulane at Memphis (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

The AAC West looks to be one of the most competitive conferences in college football this season and both of these teams still have aspirations to win the division. Expect a tight one in Memphis.

In the past, I’ve asked readers to let me know if they’d like to be guests on Around The Corn to make weekly college football picks. And while that invite still stands (email kbecks@aroundthecorn.com or message me on Facebook or Twitter if interested), the truth is that I’m basically asking friends and family on a weekly basis. Writing is a passion of mine, as is commenting on sports. But sharing those two passions with others are what has always made this worthwhile. So tell me what you think of the site and let me know what could be done better, or what would make you come back without prompting. I’d really appreciate it.

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