At first glance, the offerings on the College Football Week 8 menu don’t seem so appetizing compared to some future dates on the calendar. Many of the sport’s top teams today face outclassed opponents or have a week off.
Of course, it’s college football, and as we know, it’s the kind of week that can produce unexpected results. And, even in what appears to be an uneventful week, there will still be games to watch.
There is a competition for the top 25 teams, but we can’t bring ourselves to put it at the top of the list. Instead, we’ll start with a few top 10 fringe teams facing tough conference games on the road.
No. 9 State of Oklahoma to State of Iowa
3:30 p.m. ET, Fox
Why watch: One way or another, the Cowboys keep finding ways to win. But before they can talk about an epic Bedlam showdown with Oklahoma next month, they must first deal with this visit to Ames, where Cyclones could still be a factor in the Big picture. 12 having lost only once so far in the league. Both teams present balanced attacks with lots of experienced hands. Texas Longhorns fans were quick to point out their own team’s complicity in helping Oklahoma State’s Houdini group last week in Austin, but Cowboys QB Spencer Sanders and RB Jaylen Warren did their part as well. The Cyclones, meanwhile, have been more effective lately with improved play from QB Brock Purdy giving RB Breece Hall exceptional leeway.
Why this might disappoint: Iowa State is bringing in 33.7 points per game, but that number is inflated by flares from weak Kansas and winless UNLV. The Cowboys defense keeps its opponents at 19.5 points and allows a conversion rate of just 28.7%. The Oklahoma state offense can also get bogged down at times, so there could be a lot of punters.
Oregon # 10 at UCLA
3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Why watch: The Ducks have been living dangerously since their iconic victory at Ohio State over a month ago. So far, they’ve only been marked once in the Pac-12 game and still control their own destiny in the North. The Bruins will need help winning the South but must start by helping themselves in this home opportunity. The injury virus hasn’t been kind to Oregon, but QB Anthony Brown and RB Travis Dye have got the ball rolling. UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson has had to put in a lot of heavy lifting lately with defenses focusing on the Bruins ‘running game, but the Ducks’ ground scorers have looked just as fragile at times. This could be good news for Bruins RB Zach Charbonnet.
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Why this might disappoint: Either team is unlikely to rout it. Oregon was not lost on anyone – even Arizona’s game was closer than it should have been in the fourth quarter. But if the Ducks take a multi-point lead, the Bruins could struggle to catch up.
No. 24 Clemson at No. 23 Pittsburgh
3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why watch: The only top-25 clash of the week is in the beleaguered ACC, which has seen its national stock plummet but is expected to at least feature some interesting second-half races in both divisions. The Panthers, at the helm of Coastal for now, are looking to keep their conference record unblemished. The Tigers, who have ruled the roost for the past six seasons, are in the unusual position of just being average at best and will need help just to win the Atlantic. This game features a QB that’s part of the Heisman conversation, but he’s not playing for Clemson. Kenny Pickett of the Panthers has already thrown for 1,934 yards with 21 touchdowns and one pick. Despite Clemson’s struggles to secure QB DJ Uiagalelei and offense, the Tigers’ defense has been rock solid, giving up just 12.5 points per game.
Why this might disappoint: Let’s be honest – the Clemson games in 2021 have been painful to watch, even for the most dedicated Tigers fans. If Pickett is held in check, another long task could ensue.
LSU at No. 12 Mississippi
3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Why watch: Yes, we know the mid-afternoon window is already crowded, but that SEC tilt might be worth a look as well. The Rebels will be delighted to be back in Oxford after surviving last week’s wild night in Tennessee that ended in bad behavior from fans. Ole Miss is still on her way for a big bowl but must deal with business against the enigmatic Tigers, who are trying to gain bowl eligibility as they complete what has now become the farewell tour of coach Ed Orgeron. The Tigers were finally able to get RB Tyrion Davis-Price to roll in last week’s loss to Florida, and they’ll need to keep that momentum going against the smashed Rebel defense. However, the LSU high school was hit even harder by injury, which does not bode well with Mississippi averaging 553 total yards per game, just behind Ohio State on the scale. national.
Why this might disappoint: Ole Miss QB Matt Corral took a pounding in Knoxville and might not be at full power. If he is unable to play at all, it would dramatically decrease the star power in the game.
Air Force No. 21 San Diego State
7 p.m. ET, CBSSN
Why watch: You’ll likely be drawn more to the branding power of USC-Notre Dame in the prime time window, but we humbly suggest that you take a look at this important Mountain West showdown. Cincinnati is of course leading among the top five contenders for the Conference Bowl of Five, but the MWC also has an undefeated contender. Admittedly, the Aztecs were more than a little lucky to reach 6-0, and they will likely face another close game on this trip to Colorado Springs, where the Falcons have risen somewhat to the contention in the division. Mountain. Both teams rely heavily on running the ball, although in SDSU’s case this is due to a lack of big plays in the air. The Falcons’ options-based offense leads the country to a rush of 336 yards per game, and they are flying high after winning at Boise State for the second time in program history.
Why this might disappoint: The Aztecs allow just 16 points per game, good for the ninth in the country. The Falcons, allowing 16.3, are not far behind in 11th position. As such, there probably won’t be a lot of explosive games anyway, so gaming might not be your cup of tea. It’s not going to lack intensity, so you might want to be there for the end.
Follow Eddie Timanus on Twitter @EddieTimanus.