By: David Folz
Week eight of the college football season is here and it’s time to start the second half of the season as teams vie for conference titles and bowl eligibility this year. With that there are intriguing matchups this week and here is what to look for as we kick off the second half of the season.
Rivalry Weekend: This could be dubbed as Rivalry weekend as many teams face their arch rival and here is the list of them and the trophies they will play for: Minnesota/Wisconsin (Paul Bunyan’s Axe) Stanford/California (Stanford Axe) Michigan State/Michigan (Paul Bunyan Trophy) Rice/Tulsa (Williams Trophy) North Carolina/Duke (Victory Bell) Alabama/Tennessee (no trophy but the game’s motto is the Third Saturday in October) and Florida State/Miami (no trophy but in-state rivals) all play this weekend in heavy matchups.
Upset Hangover? Revenge from a loss?: LSU and Texas Tech are coming off huge wins while South Carolina and West Virginia are coming off devastating losses a week ago. This weekend LSU travels to Texas A&M, who battled Florida all game long to only lose by three. Texas Tech faces a TCU team without Casey Pachall but who is 6-1 overall on the season. South Carolina however is hurt and will have to face Florida to get over that, and Florida is third ranked. West Virginia isn’t any easier, as they take on fourth ranked Kansas State so it will be hard for all teams this weekend to be prepared.
Trap games?: Alabama, Mississippi State, USC, Louisville, and Oklahoma have big matchups upcoming in week nine so they may be overlooking their opponents this week. Alabama and Mississippi State face each other in week nine but the Crimson Tide play Tennessee this weekend and the Bulldogs play a very explosive Middle Tennessee State team. USC has Arizona and Oregon coming up but face lowly Colorado this weekend. Louisville has Cincinnati in week nine, but this weekend host South Florida. Oklahoma has Notre Dame in week nine but takes on bottom feeder Kansas this weekend. If there were ever games that have huge upset potential in trap games, this weekend would be it.
Top Five games of the weekend:
5. Texas Tech at TCU and Cincinnati at Toledo: This is a tie for two games because there are not a lot of ranked matchups this weekend. Texas Tech is coming off a big win over the Mountaineers and TCU was good in creating turnovers against Baylor. This will come down to whose defense makes more plays and surprisingly enough, the Red Raiders is good. The Bearcats vs. the Rockets should be a good non-conference game as Toledo is 6-1 this year. Munchie Legaux has led Cincinnati from the outset this year and the Bearcats have been successful thus far. The Rockets are led by a balanced offense but their defense has been bad this year and it will need a couple stops against a top 25 team.
4. Florida State at Miami: Florida State is the overwhelming favorite in the ACC this year but Miami’s young players have given this game a new spark of life. The Hurricanes feature Duke Johnson, a freshman who has been lightning explosive so far. The Seminoles will travel to Miami and bring their fans with them, so it will most likely be a packed house this weekend. This will bring with a breath of historic air as this rivalry dates back to the 80’s and 90’s with great Miami and Florida State teams.
3. LSU at Texas A&M: This will be a game that the Aggies need over the Tigers, especially since LSU can still beat Alabama and be in decent shape. The Aggies need this game because they barely lost to Florida earlier in the year and this will be another huge home test. Zach Mettenberger proved himself well against the Gamecocks last weekend and now will have to travel to a very hostile environment known for its 12th man in Kyle Field. Johnny Manziel has been great this year and will need to be so again in this game.
2. Kansas State at West Virginia: The worst possible way for West Virginia to lick its wounds is to have a Kansas State team who is flying high and undefeated. The Mountaineers have to have a semblance of a defense if it wants to compete for a Big 12 title and be back in the national mix. The Wildcats have had both offense and defense and that is why they are the fourth ranked team in the nation. Also highlighting this game on Saturday is the Heisman race because Collin Klein and Geno Smith have been spectacular this year and both will be on spotlight this weekend to see who has the edge in the race in the Heisman Trophy chase.
1. South Carolina at Florida: This by far and away is the best game of the weekend because not only is College GameDay there, but this has so many storylines as well. South Carolina will be upset and mad following their loss to the Tigers last weekend and Florida is in many ways the darling of the SEC so far. Steve Spurrier once again returns to Gainesville, where he had so much success at Florida. South Carolina is hurting health-wise and they really need to gut out a game if they want to win. This game will come down to if Jeff Driskel and Florida’s offensive speed can get by a tenacious South Carolina defense.