October 21, 2010

Week 8 Primer: Ranks of unbeaten will shrink

We're already at Week 8, which means the stretch run isn't that far away.

There are still 10 unbeaten teams, and two games this week match teams with perfect records -- Oklahoma at Missouri and LSU at Auburn. Those, naturally, are the spotlight games.

But there are a couple of other big ones, too: Nebraska at Oklahoma State and Wisconsin at Iowa.

There also are some intriguing games in the ACC and Pac-10.

The weekend kicks off with high-flying Oregon meeting UCLA on Thursday night at what should be a raucous Autzen Stadium. (Then again, is Autzen ever anything but raucous?)

Here's a look at every game this week involving a FBS team.

THURSDAY'S GAMES

UCLA (3-3) at Oregon (6-0), 9 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: A prime-time game on a weeknight is a great time for Oregon RB LaMichael James to state his case as a Heisman contender and for the Ducks to show off their relentless offense.
THE LINE: Oregon by 24 THE PICK: Oregon 47-20

FRIDAY'S GAME

USF (3-3) at Cincinnati (3-3), 8 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: Cincinnati has won 13 consecutive Big East games and would tie for the second-longest streak in conference history with a victory over USF. Cincinnati has scored 80 points in its past two games, while the Bulls haven't scored an offensive touchdown in their past two games.
THE LINE: Cincinnati by 7.5 THE PICK: Cincinnati 27-16

SATURDAY'S GAMES

Indiana (4-2) at Illinois (3-3), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: This one is important for both teams' bowl hopes. Indiana coach Bill Lynch is seeking the 100th victory of his 17-year career.
THE LINE: Illinois by 14 THE PICK: Illinois 30-24

Navy (4-2) vs. Notre Dame (4-3) in East Rutherford, N.J., noon, CBS
THE BUZZ: Notre Dame leads this series 71-11-1, but Navy has won two of the past three, including 23-21 last season. Navy's senior class is trying to join the Class of 1937 and the Class of 1964 as the only classes to beat Notre Dame three times in their career. Navy has not defeated Notre Dame at a neutral site since 1960, when the Midshipmen knocked off the Irish in Philadelphia.
THE LINE: Notre Dame by 7 THE PICK: Notre Dame 24-20

Michigan State (7-0) at Northwestern (5-1), noon, ESPN


THE BUZZ: The Spartans are off to their best start since opening 7-0 in 1966; they finished 9-0-1 (thanks to an infamous tie with Notre Dame) and ranked second that season. Northwestern needs a big game from QB Dan Persa to have a shot at the upset.
THE LINE: Michigan State by 5 THE PICK: Michigan State 27-23

Iowa State (3-4) at Texas (4-2), noon, Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: The Cyclones' defense has fallen apart, which means Texas' inconsistent offense has a chance to put up some big numbers. This is the eighth meeting in the series, and Texas has won each of the previous seven.
THE LINE: Texas by 21 THE PICK: Texas 42-16

Syracuse (4-2) at West Virginia (5-1), noon, ESPN2
THE BUZZ: The Orange were hammered at home by Pittsburgh last week and now have to venture to Morgantown. WVU has won eight in a row in the series.
THE LINE: WVU by 14 THE PICK: WVU 35-16

Penn State (3-3) at Minnesota (1-6), noon, ESPNU
THE BUZZ: Minnesota has fired coach Tim Brewster and is playing with an interim coach (co-offensive coordinator Jeff Horton). Penn State has scored just 16 points in its past two games, both losses.
THE LINE: Penn State by 9.5 THE PICK: Penn State 31-17

Purdue (4-2) at Ohio State (6-1), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Purdue is unbeaten in Big Ten play, but can a team that lost at home to Toledo be for real? The Boilermakers did upset the Buckeyes last season, and to do so again, they need a huge game from run-oriented QB Rob Henry. Despite last week's loss, the Buckeyes remain very much in the hunt for the league title.
THE LINE: Ohio State by 24 THE PICK: Ohio State 31-10

Rutgers (4-2) at Pittsburgh (3-3), noon, Big East syndication/SportsNet New York/Altitude/Mid-Atlantic Sports Network/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: The visiting team has won three of the past four in the series. Rutgers has looked far from dominant, but if the Scarlet Knights win this, they become a legit Big East contender. Pitt has scored at least 38 points in each of its three wins and has been held to 24 or fewer points in each of its three losses.
THE LINE: Pitt by 13 THE PICK: Pitt 23-17

Duke (1-5) at Virginia Tech (5-2), noon, ACC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: The Hokies have rebounded from a 0-2 start to win five in a row, and they should have no trouble increasing their winning streak to six. Tech has won 10 in a row over Duke and should be able to run all over the Blue Devils, whose rush defense is awful.
THE LINE: Virginia Tech by 26 THE PICK: Virginia Tech 45-17

Temple (5-2) at Buffalo (2-4), noon, ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This is a matchup of the past two MAC East champs, and defending division titlist Temple is looking good for a repeat. Buffalo leads the series 12-2.
THE LINE: Temple by 7.5 THE PICK: Temple 24-13

Ole Miss (3-3) at Arkansas (4-2), 12:20 p.m., SEC syndication/MSG network/Comcast SportsNet California/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett suffered a concussion in last week's loss to Auburn, but he could play against the Rebels. Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt is 2-0 against his former employer.
THE LINE: Arkansas by 10 THE PICK: Arkansas 35-20

Florida Atlantic (1-4) at Arkansas State (2-5), 1 p.m., Sun Belt syndication/Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This is the first of three consecutive home games for the Red Wolves, who must win this to have any shot at a .500 finish. While FAU was off last week, it still was an important week because ground was broken for the school's on-campus stadium.
THE LINE: Arkansas State by 7.5 THE PICK: Arkansas State 31-27

Maryland (4-2) at Boston College (2-4), 1 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Maryland outgained Clemson 350-213 last week, but lost by 24. The Terps have legit bowl hopes, assuming they can beat the punchless Eagles.
THE LINE: Boston College by 4 THE PICK: Boston College 17-14

Ohio (4-3) at Miami of Ohio (4-3), 1 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Miami has been a huge surprise and is the only unbeaten team in league play in the MAC East. This basically is a must-win game for Ohio if it wants to stay in the division title chase. Ohio's pass defense is the key.
THE LINE: Ohio by 3 THE PICK: Ohio 27-21

Wyoming (2-5) at BYU (2-5), 2 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: BYU has won six in a row and nine of its past 10 against the Cowboys, including a 52-0 beatdown last season. BYU has won the past six meetings by an average of 32.3 points. Despite the records, each team has bowl hopes -- but winning this is vital.
THE LINE: BYU by 10.5 THE PICK: BYU 30-17

LSU (7-0) at Auburn (7-0), 3:30 p.m., CBS
THE BUZZ: Can a team with a defense as mediocre as Auburn's actually win the SEC? This one will go a long way toward determining that. The home team has won nine of the past 10 meetings in the series.
THE LINE: Auburn by 6 THE PICK: LSU 27-24

Wisconsin (6-1) at Iowa (5-1), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN
THE BUZZ: The Badgers are coming off a victory over top-ranked Ohio State and are looking for back-to-back wins over ranked teams for the first time since 2004. Iowa has won six of the past eight in the series, and all but one of the wins came by double-digits. Badgers coach Bret Bielema is an Iowa alum and has a tattoo of the Hawkeyes' logo on his calf.
THE LINE: Iowa by 5.5 THE PICK: Iowa 27-20

Nebraska (5-1) at Oklahoma State (6-0), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Nebraska was exposed in last week's home loss to Texas, but the Big 12 title still is within reach if the Huskers bounce back quickly. Can Oklahoma State's defense hold up against the Huskers' rushing attack? The battle between Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon and Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara might be the best player-vs.-player matchup of the season. Nebraska leads the series 36-5-1, but the Cowboys rolled in the most recent meeting, in 2007.
THE LINE: Nebraska by 5.5 THE PICK: Nebraska 30-21

Houston (3-3) at SMU (4-3), 3:30 p.m., CBS College Sports
THE BUZZ: This has lost a lot of luster because of the injury to Houston QB Case Keenum. If SMU wins, it would have at least a two-game lead in the C-USA West Division race over everybody else in the division.
THE LINE: SMU by 7.5 THE PICK: SMU 28-17

Connecticut (3-3) at Louisville (3-3), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: UConn is 0-3 on the road this season, and the Huskies must snap that streak if they want to remain in the hunt for the Big East title. UConn has won three in a row in the series. Louisville leads the Big East in rushing and UConn's run defense has had some problems.
THE LINE: UConn by 2 THE PICK: UConn 27-23

Arizona State (3-3) at California (3-3), 3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: Forget the .500 records; this is a huge game as bowl try to get into position to nab a bowl bid. Cal has won four in a row in Berkeley against Arizona State, which has to get to seven victories to become bowl-eligible because it has two wins over FCS schools.
THE LINE: California by 3.5 THE PICK: Arizona State 26-21

Georgia Tech (5-2) at Clemson (3-3), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This is the third meeting in two years; Tech beat Clemson twice last season, including in the ACC championship game. The Yellow Jackets have six of their past seven meetings with the Tigers, and 12 of the past 15 have been decided by five or fewer points.
THE LINE: Clemson by 6 THE PICK: Georgia Tech 28-24

Central Michigan (2-5) at Northern Illinois (5-2), 3:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet Chicago/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: These teams are No. 1 (NIU) and No. 2 in the MAC in total offense. NIU is better defensively, though, and that should be the difference.
THE LINE: NIU by 9 THE PICK: NIU 35-20

Western Michigan (2-4) at Akron (0-7), 3:30 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Western Michigan's pass offense has been sharp, while Akron's pass defense has been one of the worst in the nation.
THE LINE: Western Michigan by 7.5 THE PICK: Western Michigan 41-28

Kansas State (5-1) at Baylor (5-2), 3:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Why is this not on TV? This is big for Baylor as it attempts to become bowl-eligible. How will the Bears handle K-State RB Daniel Thomas? Conversely, can the Wildcats do anything to slow Bears QB Robert Griffin?
THE LINE: Baylor by 6 THE PICK: Baylor 27-24

Texas Tech (3-3) at Colorado (3-3), 3:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Tommy Tuberville's Red Raiders have been a disappointment, and they need to win this if they want to go bowling. Colorado has run the ball well but the passing attack is mediocre.
THE LINE: Texas Tech by 2.5 THE PICK: Texas Tech 34-28

Rice (2-5) at UCF (4-2), 3:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: UCF is off to its best start since 1998, when it opened 5-1 with Daunte Culpepper at quarterback. UCF is tied for the C-USA East lead with East Carolina, and the teams meet next week in Orlando.
THE LINE: UCF by 22 THE PICK: UCF 44-17

Kent State (2-4) at Bowling Green (1-6), 3:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is the 78th meeting in this one-sided rivalry, as Bowling Green has won 55 times. Both teams have been mild disappointments this season.
THE LINE: Kent State by 2 THE PICK: Kent State 21-17

Marshall (1-5) at East Carolina (4-2), 4:15 p.m., Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast
THE BUZZ: ECU has won eight consecutive C-USA games and shouldn't have too much trouble extending that to nine. ECU has been extremely effective throwing the ball.
THE LINE: ECU by 12.5 THE PICK: ECU 40-24

Louisiana-Monroe (3-3) at Middle Tennessee (2-4), 4:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Turnovers are killing MTSU; the Blue Raiders are last in the nation with a minus-13 turnover margin. ULM overcame a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit last week at Western Kentucky, the largest fourth-quarter rally in FBS this season.
THE LINE: MTSU by 11.5 THE PICK: MTSU 31-24

Washington State (1-6) at Stanford (5-1), 5 p.m., Fox College Sports
THE BUZZ: It's homecoming on The Farm, and all those alums should have quite an enjoyable day. Stanford is aiming for its first 6-1 start since 1970 -- a season that ended in the Rose Bowl.
THE LINE: Stanford by 35 THE PICK: Stanford 56-17

Hawaii (5-2) at Utah State (2-4), 5 p.m., Altitude/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Hawaii has averaged 45.6 points in its past five games against Utah State. Warriors QB Bryant Moniz leads the nation with 21 passing TDs.
THE LINE: Hawaii by 3 THE PICK: Hawaii 37-28

New Mexico State (1-5) at Idaho (3-3), 5 p.m.
THE BUZZ: New Mexico State has lost nine consecutive road games and eight consecutive WAC games. But Idaho has lost four consecutive WAC contests.
THE LINE: Idaho by 23.5 THE PICK: Idaho 49-20

Western Kentucky (0-6) at Louisiana-Lafayette (2-4), 5 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Western Kentucky has lost 26 games in a row. One small silver lining is that the past five Sun Belt losses have come by an average of just five points per game.
THE LINE: ULL by 6 THE PICK: ULL 34-23

Colorado State (2-5) at Utah (6-0), 6 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: Utah scored 30 against Wyoming last week, the first time in four games the Utes hadn't scored at least 56. Utah has outscored opponents 117-7 in the second quarter
THE LINE: Utah by 30.5 THE PICK: Utah 44-17

Eastern Michigan (1-6) at Virginia (2-4), 6 p.m.
THE BUZZ: These teams have a combined one win over FBS opponents -- and it's by Eastern Michigan. The hounds head to beautiful Charlottesville because this is the dog of the week.
THE LINE: Virginia by 24 THE PICK: Virginia 42-16

Alabama (6-1) at Tennessee (2-4), 7 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: The Tide has won three in a row in the series, but the Vols have won five of their past seven vs. the Tide in Knoxville. Tennessee has scored 17 or fewer points in each of the past six meetings.
THE LINE: Alabama by 16.5 THE PICK: Alabama 27-7

Texas A&M (3-3) at Kansas (2-4), 7 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: A&M has lost three in a row and there is grumbling about coach Mike Sherman. Kansas is coming off an embarrassing home loss to Kansas State. If A&M QB Jerrod Johnson has time to throw, he should have a huge night.
THE LINE: Texas A&M by 13.5 THE PICK: Texas A&M 45-23

UAB (2-4) at Mississippi State (5-2), 7 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: Mississippi State is 3-0 in non-conference games this season; the Bulldogs haven't gone 4-0 in regular-season non-conference games since 1990.
THE LINE: Mississippi State by 20 THE PICK: Mississippi State 38-16

South Carolina (4-2) at Vanderbilt (2-4), 7 p.m., Sun Sports/Fox Sports South/Fox Sports Southwest/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Vandy is seeking its third win over the Gamecocks in the past four seasons. A victory also would put Vandy in first place by itself in the SEC East.
THE LINE: South Carolina by 13.5 THE PICK: South Carolina 21-10

Ball State (2-5) at Toledo (4-3), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Ball State is coming off a loss to previously winless Eastern Michigan, while Toledo still is in the hunt for the MAC West title.
THE LINE: Toledo by 11.5 THE PICK: Toledo 34-17

North Carolina (4-2) at Miami (4-2), 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: A big game in the race for the ACC Coastal Division title; the loser is going to have all sorts of trouble winning the division. UNC coach Butch Davis is 3-0 against his former employer. The Heels lead the ACC with a plus-nine turnover margin and have 11 picks; that should worry UM coaches, as Hurricanes QB Jacory Harris is interception-prone.
THE LINE: Miami by 6.5 THE PICK: UNC 24-20

Georgia (3-4) at Kentucky (4-3), 7:30 p.m., Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This is an important game in the SEC East race, as the loser basically falls out of the mix. UK won last season in Athens, which was just its third victory in the past 19 games against the Bulldogs.
THE LINE: Georgia by 4 THE PICK: Georgia 27-24

Oklahoma (6-0) at Missouri (6-0), 8 p.m., ABC
THE BUZZ: A huge game in the Big 12, maybe even the biggest of the season. Is Mizzou for real? We'll find out. OU owns the Tigers, including a 41-point win in their most recent meeting, in the 2008 league title game.
THE LINE: Oklahoma by 3 THE PICK: Oklahoma 28-20

Air Force (5-2) at TCU (7-0), 8 p.m., CBS College Sports
THE BUZZ: TCU has won six of the past seven in the series, and if Air Force's run defense doesn't make a miraculous turnaround, it's going to be seven of eight. TCU has given up three points total in its past three games.
THE LINE: TCU by 18.5 THE PICK: TCU 38-17

Fresno State (4-2) at San Jose State (1-6), 8 p.m., WAC syndication/Comcast SportsNet California/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Fresno State has won 15 of the past 16 meetings with the Spartans. Fresno State's starting center is Joe Bernardi, whose dad, Gary, is San Jose State's offensive line coach.
THE LINE: Fresno by 19.5 THE PICK: Fresno 47-20

Tulane (2-4) at UTEP (5-2), 9 p.m.
THE BUZZ: After falling last week in an upset at UAB, UTEP again tries to gain bowl eligibility. The Miners' closing stretch is tough, so they need to win this one.
THE LINE: UTEP by 9.5 THE PICK: UTEP 34-20

San Diego State (4-2) at New Mexico (0-6), 10 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: San Diego State beat the Lobos last season to snap New Mexico's eight-game winning streak in the series. The Aztecs haven't won two in a row over the Lobos since 1995-96. San Diego State RB Ronnie Hillman is one of the nation's top freshmen.
THE LINE: San Diego State by 23.5 THE PICK: San Diego State 49-20

Washington (3-3) at Arizona (5-1), 10:15 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: Arizona will be without starting QB Nick Foles, who has a knee injury. Arizona will be the fourth ranked opponent in five weeks for Washington. Huskies QB Jake Locker has 49 career TD passes, which puts him six behind school career leader Cody Pickett (1999-2003).
THE LINE: Arizona by 6.5 THE PICK: Arizona 24-21

TUESDAY'S GAME

Louisiana Tech (3-4) at Boise State (6-0), 8 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: Boise has won eight in a row over the Bulldogs. Broncos QB Kellen Moore leads the nation in passing efficiency, and has 16 TD passes and just one pick. He'll be going against one of the worst pass defenses in the nation; the Bulldogs give up 296.7 passing yards per game, and have surrendered 15 TD passes.
THE LINE: Boise by 37 THE PICK: Boise State 48-14

LAST WEEK

37-17 straight up, 26-25-2 against the spread.

YEAR TO DATE

335-91 straight up, 165-172-7 ATS (games involving FCS schools don't have a spread).

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.



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