Last week was brutal for the Top 10, as four teams went down! Georgia lost to LSU, Iowa State upset West Virginia, Penn State was stunned by Michigan State, and Oregon outlasted Washington. Four other ranked teams suffered losses as well, and #10 UCF barely escaped unranked Memphis. It was a tough day for ranked programs to say the least. This weeks slate of games will host four ranked matchups, all of which we’ll break down below. Michigan will look to keep their playoff hopes alive versus in-state rival Michigan State. NC State will travel on the road to face Clemson in a battle for the top spot in the ACC. LSU will host Mississippi State in the quest for their CFP hopes, and Oregon will duke it out with Washington State’s air raid attack in a super fun offensive matchup. Here are the College Football Week 8 Marquee Matchups.
#9 Michigan at #24 Michigan State – 12:00pm ET
Line: Michigan -7
Michigan hasn’t covered the spread versus the Spartans in more than a decade. That’s an incredible statistic. This is one of the premier rivalries in the country, and any time two in-state heated rivals line up against one another anything can happen. Michigan has an elite rushing attack and an elite quarterback in Shea Patterson. However, the Wolverines haven’t faced a defense as good as the Spartans since week one when they played Notre Dame. If the Sparty’s can design their blitzes well, and feed off the energy of the home crowd, they’ll give themselves a good chance to pull off the upset. The Sparty’s will need a big game from their QB, Brian Lewerke. Lewerke came into the season with tons of NFL hype, but he’s done little to back it up thus far. He’s 8th in the Big 10 in passing yards per attempt and just 10th in total quarterback rating. He’ll need to have his best game of the season if this Michigan State offense wants to keep up with the high powered Wolverine offense. Especially with the Spartans lead back LJ Scott sidelined for the fifth straight game. The Spartans defense is good enough to keep this game close at home, but ultimately we don’t think the offense will be able to score enough points to pull off the upset. They will have a legitimate chance at covering the spread though. That being said, we’re still rolling with Blue.
Prediction: Michigan 24-13 Michigan State
#16 NC State at #3 Clemson – 3:30pm ET
Line: Clemson -17
With both teams coming off bye weeks, both the Tigers and Wolfpack should be well rested for this big ACC showdown. These are the only two undefeated teams left in the ACC, and the winner will hold sole possession of first place. The Wolfpack have played Clemson extremely close the past two seasons, nearly pulling off the upset, but falling just short. Even though it’s on the road, this season may be the best chance they have. They’re playing against a freshman quarterback who’s been up and down all season, and they have one of the nations best QB’s on their side in Ryan Finley. Finley has tremendous pocket awareness and an elite arm to go along with his IQ. He’ll need to come into Happy Valley and silence the crowd with some quick touchdowns early to boost his Wolfpacks confidence early. On the other side, Clemson Tigers running back Travis Etienne has been a monster all season. Ettiene leads the ACC in both rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns. The Tigers will lean heavily on their Sophomore star back to carry the offensive load and keep the chains moving. If Ettiene can produce the way he’s been producing, there’s no way the Wolfpack pull of this upset on the road. Win or lose though; they’ll cover the spread. Clemson doesn’t have it’s usual offensive firepower to beat a quality opponent like the undefeated Wolfpack by 17 points.
Prediction: NC State 17-27 Clemson
Colorado at #15 Washington – 3:30pm ET
Line: Washington -16.5
The Buffaloe’s are coming off their first loss of the season, and the Huskies are coming off their second. Both teams were outplayed last weekend pretty handily. Colorado has one of college football biggest stars on their side in do it all wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. Shenault already has 760 receiving yards on the year, and also leads his team in rushing. This dude is an absolute freak, and the main reason the Buffaloe’s have the 33rd ranked offense in the country. However, he’s their only real weapon, and we saw last week how stagnant their offense could be if the other team can contain him. If the Huskies can blanket Laviska and make everyone else beat them, then this should be a relatively easy victory. However, things get tricky when you start to think about motivation. The Huskies came into the season with college football playoff aspirations. With the loss last week, the Huskies are officially out of the running for a spot. There is potential that the sting of the loss to the Ducks is still lingering in the locker room and that they come out and play a very flat, non-energetic football game. If that ends up being the case, then Jake Browning and the gang will not cover the 16.5 point spread, and Laviska Shenault Jr. will add to his Heisman campaign resume.
Prediction: Colorado 17-24 Washington
#22 Mississippi State at #5 LSU – 7:00pm ET
Line: LSU -6.5
This is a tricky game for the Tigers. Nick Fitzgerald just recently passed Tim Tebow for the most rushing touchdowns in SEC history; he’s no cake walk. The Bulldogs are also coming on the road with confidence after their 23-9 win against Auburn and two weeks of rest. Mississippi State has had one of the SEC’s best run defenses all season long, and running the ball is LSU’s bread and butter. If the Tigers can’t figure out a rushing attack, then this game will turn into Joe Burrow vs Nick Fitzgerald. Advantage Burrow every time. Both teams will have similar game plans; run the ball and play sound defense. The Bulldogs have rushed for over 220 yards 4 times and won all four games. The struggled to run against Florida and Kentucky, and as a result, they lost both. The Bulldogs are not a threat through the air. LSU will lock up their receivers with their elite secondary. The key will be stopping Fitzgerald and the rushing attack. LSU has been accumulating body blows, playing arguably the hardest schedule in the country. However, somehow they’re still 5-1 with their lone loss coming on the road to the Gators. They’re making a playoff push, that being said, they’ll win this game.
Prediction: Mississippi State 13-27 LSU
#12 Oregon at #24 Washington State – 7:30pm ET
Line: Washington State -3
Buckle your seatbelts for this high-octane offensive matchup. The Washington State Cougars have the country’s most prolific passing attack, which should feast on Oregon’s 90th ranked passing defense. Quarterback Gardner Minshew has been terrific for the Cougars and has plenty of weapons to spread the ball around too. Head Coach Mike Leach always has a tremendous offensive game plan and is a genius when it comes to drawing up plays. The Cougars will score at will. The question will be, can Justin Herbert keep up? Most analysts project Herbert as the best quarterback prospect in this upcoming NFL draft. He’s that elite, and he’ll need to be at his best to keep up with the Cougars passing attack. The Ducks are just 1-4 against the spread in their last five road games. On the other hand, the Cougars are 8-0 against the spread in their previous eight home games and 6-0 in their last six games overall. The odds would tell you to roll with the Cougars on this one, which is exactly why we’re going with the Ducks on the road.
Prediction: Oregon 45-42 Washington State