FSU-Clemson, USC-Notre Dame Highlight Week 8
Stanford, Texas A&M and Missouri Face Challenges
The 48 games on this week's schedule provide very little sizzle as a whole, but closer inspection finds some cherries to pick as a few of the top teams face upset-capable opposition.
By far, the biggest game on the national stage is Florida State at Clemson. Both teams come in highly-ranked with the Congrove Computer Rankings currently slotting the Seminoles in 5th and the Tigers at 6th. The computer is giving Clemson a narrow 1.94-point advantage in the battle of undefeated ACC teams. Florida State has yet to face a truly worthy opponent. Clemson has faced a string of cupcakes since upending Georgia in the season opener.
The game could supply some terrific offense from two dynamic quarterbacks with Jameis Winston (#2 QB rating) leading the 'Noles and Tajh Boyd (#8 QB rating) guiding the Clemson attack. Winston has thrown 17 TD passes with just 2 picks while Boyd has 15 touchdowns through the air and 2 on the ground. Both present defenses with a dual threat, but neither is quick to tuck and run. Winston has 135 yards rushing and 2 TD's while Boyd has rushed for 187 yards and 5 scores.
The USC-Notre Dame game is always an enjoyable rivalry between two of college football's historically most successful teams. Both sport 4-2 records, but Notre Dame is No. 24 in the CCR Top 125 while USC is ranked 40th. The Irish are a heavy 12.43-point computer pick as the Trojans play their second game under interim head coach Ed Orgeron. The teams have split the last 4 meetings, though USC has taken 9 of the last 11.
Stanford fell from 2nd to 9th in the computer after last week's 27-21 loss at Utah, and the going gets tougher this week as the Cardinal host UCLA. I am rather stunned that Stanford is getting a 7-point edge from the oddsmakers, but the computer likes the Cardinal by even more at 11.42 points. That's still considerably down from the preseason when the computer projected Stanford to beat the Bruins by 18.37.
Texas A&M barely escaped Oxford, Mississippi with a win last week and now must host a 5-1 Auburn team. The Tigers have already won 2 more games this season than the computer predicted they would win all year (3-9). The Aggies have proven time and again that their defense won't get in the way of the other team's offense. Still, the computer likes Johnny Football & Co. by 12.46 but that is also 7.06 points below the preseason projection.
Missouri is the shocking unbeaten leader of the SEC East, but just as they were wrapping up a road win over Georgia, QB James Franklin suffered a shoulder injury and could miss 3 weeks or more. Individual player injuries are not accounted for in the computer's picks which explains why it still takes the Tigers by 1.69 in the game this week at home against Florida. Of course, the Gators are coming off a 17-6 loss last week at LSU to drop their record to 4-2, and Georgia is up next on Florida's schedule. A loss this week would put Will Muschamp's team in serious danger of dropping to 4-4 by early November.
Teams at the top of the rankings have easy draws with No. 1 Oregon favored by 31.88 at home vs. Washington State, and 2nd-rankd Alabama picked to win by 28.36 at home versus Arkansas. Meanwhile, No. 3 Baylor is a 24.14-point home pick over Iowa State, and 4th-ranked Ohio State is forecasted to beat Iowa by 19.96 in Columbus.
7th-ranked and undefeated Louisville entertains 30th-ranked UCF (4-1) on Friday at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. The computer likes Louisville to win by 12 over a Golden Knights that is 4-1 with the only loss coming against South Carolina at home (28-25). Earlier in the year, UCF won 34-31 at Penn State.
No. 8 Miami (5-0) visits North Carolina on Thursday night as a 6.77-point computer favorite. The 'Canes were a mere 0.21-point pick in the preseason, but the Tar Heels are reeling with their only win coming against Middle Tennessee in the second game of the season.
No. 14 Texas Tech will try to remain unbeaten when it journeys to West Virginia as a 10.87-point computer choice, and Fresno State is a healthy 17.95-point favorite to stay unbeaten when it visits UNLV.
No. 22 Houston is projected to endure its first loss when it hosts BYU at Reliant Stadium as a 7.94-point underdog.
No. 25 Northern Illinois is only getting 5.42 points worth of love from the computer on its road trip to Central Michigan. The Huskies are coming off an unimpressive 27-20 home win vs. lowly Akron while the Chippewas are riding high after a 26-23 upset victory at Ohio.
Finally, Akron is favored to win a game. The computer likes the Zips by 0.36 at Miami (Ohio). A win would halt Akron's streaks of 30 straight road losses, 28 straight FBS games and 19 straight conference games (MAC).
A whopping 30 teams are idle this week, including most of Conference USA. That means Tulane will keep its 1st-place standing in the West division for another week. The Green Wave are 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the conference and look as though they could make their first bowl trip since the 2002 season.
Only 1 team faces a school from the FCS as Pitt entertains Old Dominion. The Monarchs are actually in year one of transitioning to the FBS, but aren't included in the computer rankings as they play just 5 FBS programs this season.
The college football week kicked off Tuesday with Louisiana-Lafayette winning 37-20 at Western Kentucky in a key Sun Belt clash. The Ragin' Cajuns were a 4.05-point computer pick to pull of the upset against a Hilltoppers team that was installed as a 3.5-point favorite by the oddsmakers.
FBS vs. FCS:
Pitt hosts Old Dominion, and Colorado welcomes Charleston Southern in the only FBS vs. FCS matchups this week.
FBS teams have lost 14 such matchups this season after losing just 10 all of last year. After this week's contests, 13 FBS-FCS games still remain to be played.
The FBS is 82-14 (.854) this season vs. the FCS, and 818-79 (.912) in such matchups since 2003.
Originally, 106 FBS schools scheduled a total of 110 games against FCS foes this year. But Colorado later replaced the game it lost vs. Fresno State due to flooding with Charleston Southern.
Thus, the new numbers are 106 FBS schools teams playing a total of 111 games vs. FCS foes.
It also makes Colorado the 4th FBS team to be facing at least two such schools this year. The others are Clemson and Georgia Tech with 2 apiece while FBS newcomer Georgia State scheduled 3 FCS teams and lost to each of them.
Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
8/29: Towson 33, Connecticut 18
8/29: Southern Utah 22, South Alabama 21
8/30: Samford 31, Georgia State 21
8/30: North Dakota State 24, Kansas State 21
8/31: Northern Iowa 28, Iowa State 20
8/31: Eastern Washington 49, Oregon State 46
8/31: Eastern Illinois 40, San Diego State 18
8/31: McNeese State 53, USF 21
9/7: UT-Chattanooga 42, Georgia State 14
9/7: Maine 24, Massachusetts 14
9/7: Nicholls State 27, Western Michigan 23.
9/14: Fordham 30, Temple 29
9/14: Bethune-Cookman 34, FIU 13
9/21: Jacksonville State 32, Georgia State 26 (OT)
Eastern Washington, McNeese State and North Dakota State also had wins vs. FBS teams last year.
Ohio State - Won 18 straight overall. Hosts Iowa on Saturday.
Northern Illinois - Won 23 straight at home and 19 straight vs. conference foes. Visits Central Michigan on Saturday.
LSU - Won 44 straight regular season nonconference games. Visits Ole Miss on Saturday.
Michigan - Won 18 straight home games. Hosts Indiana on Saturday.
Oregon - Won 18 straight road games. Hosts Washington State on Saturday.
Southern Miss - Lost 17 straight overall. Visits East Carolina on Saturday.
New Mexico State - Lost 17 straight overall. Hosts Rice on Saturday.
Akron - Lost 30 straight road games, 28 straight FBS games and 19 straight conference games (MAC). Visits Miami (Ohio) on Saturday.
Kansas - Lost 23 straight conference games and 21 straight road games. Hosts Oklahoma on Saturday.