This week’s preview is streamlined a bit, going straight to our most popular section, the hour by hour viewing guide for Week 8.
First, the Friday games:
8:00 – Memphis at Tulsa, ESPN. Now that everyone is on the Memphis bandwagon, it almost feels like it’s just in time for a trap game to turn things upside down. Memphis hasn’t been a great road team, and they nearly lost the 3 games prior to last week’s Ole Miss upset. That said, Tulsa isn’t very good, so I’m not expecting anything major to happen here. But it could, and on Friday, that’s enough.
10:30 – Utah State at San Diego State, ESPN 2. It’s a cross-divisional game between teams who are undefeated in conference play, so there are some MW stakes on the line here. I don’t expect a great game, but with the better team being on the road, it could come down to one or two plays. If you’ve got nothing else, give it a shot.
For the Saturday lineup, I’ll list every televised game, including the ESPN 3 matchups, by order of what your priority should be. If a game starts to stink, move down the list. If the day goes as expected (and when is that ever the case?), bolded games take over one of your two primary channels. Italicized games should be saved for the recall button, taking a backseat to the better games.
- Clemson at Miami, ABC – Clemson might be the best team in the country, and Miami, at the very least, isn’t a bad team. While Miami doesn’t really have much of a home field advantage anymore, at least it won’t be in Death Valley (ACC edition).
- Auburn at Arkansas, SEC Network – Desperation game at noon. Great way to start the day.
- Pittsburgh at Syracuse, ESPN U – I don’t expect a great game, but Pitt is 5-1 and undefeated in the ACC. Anytime they hit the road, it’ll be worth watching as long as they’re in the Coastal driver’s seat.
- Northwestern at Nebraska, ESPN 2 – An elimination game in the Big Ten West, I like Nebraska at home, but it should be a good matchup and an entertaining game.
- Kansas State at Texas, FOX Sports 1 – Not a nationally relevant game, but K-State is winless in the Big 12, and Texas could pull to 2-2 with a win. Should be pretty evenly matched, but both have been wildly volatile in performance this year, so who really knows?
- NC State at Wake Forest, ESPN 3 – Wake probably needs this one for bowl eligibility. NC State has to get going immediately if 2015 is going to be a step forward kind of year.
- Houston at UCF, ESPN News – Houston is relevant, so keep an eye on the score and care only if it’s close, which it shouldn’t be. UCF is a dumpster fire right now.
- Iowa State at Baylor, ESPN – It’s a chance to see Baylor practice some of their normal plays, in case you’ve never seen them.
- Boston College at Louisville, ESPN 3 – Evenly matched game, and BC has a really good defense this year. But that’s about it.
- Bowling Green at Kent State, ESPN 3 – I don’t love either 1:00 game, as both should be multi-score wins for the significantly better teams, but in this one, the better team is on the road, so I guess it gets the edge.
- Tulane at Navy, CBS SN – Navy’s a huge favorite, as they should be. We saw what Georgia Tech did to Tulane earlier this year, and Navy seems much better in 2015 at that sort of offense.
- Fresno State at Air Force, ESPN 3 – Air Force isn’t good, and Fresno State is way worse than that. Somehow, this should be closer than…
- Miami OH at Western Michigan, ESPN 3 – Anything involving the Warhawks just isn’t priority viewing right now.
- Toledo at Massachusetts, ESPN 3 – Not a good matchup, but Toledo’s undefeated, so that’s something.
- Central Michigan at Ball State, ESPN 3 – CMU might be on the rise this year, but it’s a slow and gradual rise.
- Tennessee at Alabama, CBS – At first I put this lower in the priority, but realized I was selling Tennessee short. The Vols are a top 25 caliber team in terms of play. The schedule has been harder than most that have gone 3-3. Alabama is in the mix for #1 team in the country right now, so it’s a huge trip for the Vols. Win this game, and the East is possible again for Tennessee.
- Indiana at Michigan State, ABC / ESPN 2 – Indiana has danced dangerously close to a big win, and Michigan State has done the same with a first loss. I don’t think the Hoosiers are, or at least should be, in MSU’s ballpark, but Sparty has underwhelmed in nearly every game this year. Perhaps the miracle at the Big House last week will send MSU in a different direction, one that sees them actually play as well as their lofty ranking suggests they should, but if it doesn’t, this is a potential trap. The winner gets the Old Brass Spittoon, an underrated Big Ten trophy.
- Duke at Virginia Tech, ESPN U – Unaffiliated fans seem to root for Duke football the way they root against Duke basketball. It’s fun to see the least talented team in the Coastal get all plucky and win the division. If you want that to happen this year, this is a big one. VT can’t get by trying to out-talent its schedule (see: East Carolina), but this is the type of game where Duke’s talent disadvantage could be severe. But here’s hoping not.
- Texas Tech at Oklahoma, ABC / ESPN 2 – I’m sure it’ll be a fun game. The Big 12 is doing fun pretty well this year. It’s just not a really compelling one. Oklahoma is significantly better.
- Wisconsin at Illinois, Big Ten Network – A couple of 2-loss Big Ten teams get together for a game that is only mildly interesting.
- Virginia at North Carolina, ESPN 3 – Shouldn’t be close, but the Coastal Division doesn’t really live by any set of rules.
- Penn State at Maryland, ESPN – There’s a regional rivalry here, and there’s the James Franklin connection (he was Maryland’s OC under Ralph Friedgen, the last time they were any good), but this still should be a game that’s an easy win for a good but not great team against a really bad one.
- Ohio at Buffalo, ESPN 3 – Ohio’s better, but Buffalo has a shot at an upset. It’d be an important one for UB.
- Eastern Michigan at Northern Illinois, ESPN 3 – NIU isn’t the NIU of recent years, but I don’t think they’ll have to be to beat the hell out of EMU.
- Kansas at Oklahoma State, Fox Sports 1 – I’d probably rather football not exist than have to watch Kansas play it.
- Washington State at Arizona, Pac-12 Network – While it’s not an outright elimination game for Wazzou, it’s not far off from one. For Arizona, it’s pretty much a conference title elimination game. I think Washington State is a little better, but the location might help make this a good game.
- SMU at South Florida, ESPN News – The upside of this game is to make sure ESPN News indeed is being provided to you per your cable plan. Otherwise, you might never know.
- Missouri at Vanderbilt, SEC Network – Don’t do this to yourself.
- Connecticut at Cincinnati, CBS SN – An inherently uninteresting game.
- UL-Monroe at Idaho, ESPN 3 – Don’t mistake this for me making a case for a bottom tier Sun Belt game, but Idaho has won 2 games already this year, and ULM has been worse than expected. So, maybe you should… still not watch this game.
- Texas A&M at Ole Miss, ESPN – Both need a pick-me-up after last weekend, which means things are about to get REAL frustrating for fans of one really talented SEC West team. The metrics see this as a dead heat matchup, with the Aggies slightly better and Ole Miss with some home field advantage.
- Florida State at Georgia Tech, ESPN 2 – Tech has two chances to turn this season into something other than a complete disaster. The latter, more important chance, is on Thanksgiving weekend against Georgia. The first is Saturday when the Noles come to town. It’s not probable. It is also not impossible.
- Western Kentucky at LSU, ESPN U – Don’t expect WKU to win or stop Leonard Fournette, and just sit back and enjoy this one for as long as they can hang with LSU. The Tiger defense isn’t as good as championship LSU defenses of recent years, so WKU should be able to score some points. Talent should win out, but this is two top 25 teams battling in prime time. Fun.
- South Alabama at Texas State, ESPN 3 – A really even matchup between teams you shouldn’t pay attention to!
- Utah at USC, FOX – There are 3 good 7:00 games, and this one should be better than any of those 3. At least, it’s the most important of the 4. USC has a real shot at an upset, and if not for the Sarkisian mess, it’s very likely I would have predicted one. Now, give me Whittingham’s Utes on the road, but if you’re a Ute fan (and this year, pretty much everyone should be), be concerned about this one.
- Kentucky at Mississippi State, SEC Network – It’s not a terrible matchup, but the metrics strongly prefer Mississippi State, and I think I do as well.
- Ohio State at Rutgers, ABC – Oh, ABC, you pick some really bad 8:00 games. Rutgers isn’t even top 50.
- Troy at New Mexico State, ESPN 3 – Thursday, Appalachian State beat Georgia Southern in a very interesting game that was essentially the Sun Belt title game. This is the opposite of that.
- Wyoming at Boise State, ESPN 2 – Wyoming won last week, and BSU looked like a train wreck. Could there be an upset here? My goodness, that’d be awesome, but the answer is no.
- Washington at Stanford, ESPN – Nobody is playing better than Stanford right now, but Washington is a fringe top 25 squad that can make opponents uncomfortable.
- Colorado at Oregon State, Pac-12 Network – This game makes sure one of these two gets a conference win this year.
Enjoy your Saturday!