Welcome back college football fans! It’s time for my week 8 predictions. Last week I went 4-1 but seriously who saw Texas beating Oklahoma like that besides Mack Brown? So that brings my season record to 28-8. This week we have a really good slate of games. Even outside of my top 5 there are interesting game and I have a feeling someone is going to be on upset alert this weekend in an off the radar game like Stanford last week.
5) #20 Washington Huskies at Arizona State Sun Devils
Surprisingly, Washington has not won in Tempe since 2001. They will need to change that trend if they want to avoid a 5th year in a row where they lose 3 games in a row under Steve Sarkisian. The Huskies do have a veteran team though led by QB Keith Price but they will need to play a complete game so they don’t waste the good feelings from the hot 4-0 start. ASU meanwhile has some of the best offensive weapons you have never heard of with QB Taylor Kelly, WR Jaelen Strong, and stud RB Marion Grice. I’m looking for Washington’s defense to rise to the occasion and slow that group down. I say the Huskies finally get a win in Tempe by single digits.
4) #24 Auburn Tigers at #7 Texas A&M Aggies
Last year, Heisman winner Johnny Manziel torched the Tigers for 350 total yards and 5 TDs. The bad news for the Tigers is this year he is better. He leads the conference in passing yards per game, is 3rd in TDs and leads his team in rushing(again). The Aggies offense will be flying high after the comeback victory at Ole Miss last week. However, that defense is still a work in progress to say the least. Auburn loves to throw the ball and the Aggies have given up an average of 321 passing yards per game and 13 TDs in the air over their last 4 games. The Tigers should move the ball on them especially with Nick Marshall returning from his knee injury. Look for another shootout in College Station but the Aggies will be too much for the Tigers and win by 10.
3) #22 Florida Gators at #14 Missouri Tigers
This is a very interesting game. Both of these teams are dealing with big injuries to key players on offense. Mizzou QB James Franklin is out for several weeks with a shoulder injury and RB Matt Jones is out for the season (along with many other guys) with a knee injury. So what do you believe in more, a talented backup QB Maty Mauk to rise up against a stingy Florida defense or a banged up Florida offense to move the ball on the road against a very talented Mizzou defense? With this game being at Faurot Field in Columbia, I see the Mizzou defense taking over this game behind a rocking crowd. Young Maty Mauk makes just enough plays on offense and Mizzou wins a close one.
#2) #9 UCLA Bruins at #13 Stanford Cardinal
Right now UCLA is red hot. Brett Hundley is a darkhorse contender for the Heisman after throwing for a career high 410 yards against Cal last week. The Bruins are ranked the highest they have been since 2005. Add in the heartbreaking loss to Stanford at home last year 27-24 and you have a recipe for a big UCLA win right? Not quite. Even though Stanford has been sinking like a stone in Pac-12 offense and UCLA is flying high, I still believe Stanford is the more talented team. This will be a great game but I just don’t think the Bruins are quite ready to go to Stanford and knock off David Shaw’s team. Stanford will get back to pounding the ball and win an ugly one by 3.
#1) #5 Florida State at #3 Clemson Tigers
You know a game is big when College Gameday returns to a school for the second time in a season. It can’t be said enough how big this game is for the National Championship picture and for each school with something to prove. The loser of this game is most likely eliminated from contention. The QB that wins this game puts his stamp on the season and gets into the thick of the Heisman discussion. The coach that wins this game puts some doubters to rest about “winning the big one”. The Noles come off a bye week after just destroying Maryland 63-0. Clemson comes off a scare against BC when the world thought they would “pull a Clemson” and lose a game they shouldn’t. This game is very simple to me. Will Jameis Winston continue to play like an upperclassman or will he finally look like a redshirt freshman and make mistakes? It will not be easy going into Death Valley at night and winning with a young QB. He will finally get rattled and that Clemson crowd (and defense that leads the nation in sacks with 24) will get to him. Clemson wins this one by double digits.