This is Week 8 of the college football season, meaning that our fleeting little bastion of fall sports fun is two-thirds of the way over. What the hell?? It always happens this way, and then January rolls around and you’ve got bland NFL football to watch, and then March Madness is nice, but after that we get to be disappointed by the Braves again for an entire summer.
As we enter this week, the playoff picture is starting to take shape, real contenders are emerging, and pretenders are falling off. Sadly, one of the former lives across the state from us, and they’ve got another easy game this weekend.
Let’s dive right in to what you should be watching this weekend aside from the Auburn pig roast.
Tennessee @ #1 Alabama - 2:30 pm CST - Tuscaloosa, AL
It’s not going to be pretty for the Vols this weekend. I wish they could pull it off, but there’s no chance. Alabama is a THIRTY-SIX point favorite tomorrow. That’s unheard of in a game between FBS opponents, and especially SEC ones at that. And it might not be high enough. The Tide could name the score if they wanted, and Nick Saban could add another notch to his kill list in terms of coaches that he’s personally KO’ed.
If Butch Jones wants to save his job, this is the time to do it. Ain’t gonna happen. Tennessee will be home to a new head coach shortly after the season ends...
...no, not him. Someone else, but hopefully someone good. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and Tennessee fits that bill perfectly. Just hope Alabama makes it fairly painless this weekend.
Syracuse @ #8 Miami - 2:30 pm CST - Miami Gardens, FL
Here’s where I believe we’ve got a pretender. Yeah, Miami’s undefeated and ranked in the top ten, but they’ve been hanging on by the skin of their teeth over the past two weeks to do so. Close wins at Florida State and Georgia Tech haven’t exactly endeared them in my eyes, and if placed against an Alabama, Georgia, Penn State, etc. they would be boat-raced. Mark Richt has it going in the right direction, but he’s not there yet.
Still, they should win this one. One of the hallmarks of a team like Syracuse upsetting someone like Clemson is the almost inevitable letdown one week later. If they pull this one off, however, one of our aforementioned teams could be on the hunt.
That typing sound you hear is Tennessee fans googling “Dino Babers.”— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) October 14, 2017
#24 LSU @ Ole Miss - 6:15 pm CST - Oxford, MS
Here’s another possible letdown game. Watch LSU, after taking us out, go to Oxford and get Shea Pattersoned. Watch Ole Miss throw up 40 points and 450 passing yards on the Tigers a week after we couldn’t catch a pass to save our lives. Watch Matt Luke get his signature win as head coach at Ole Miss, besting Ed Orgeron.
The sad thing is that any of these things could happen. LSU’s been such a weird team over the past couple of years that there’s no guarantee that they’ll get motivated for this game, even if it is a rivalry. Ole Miss could absolutely find a way to win, simply because Ed O is the coach on the other sideline. It’s maddening. I hope LSU wins this game by 30. I hope we’re somewhat vindicated (although we know that won’t be true), and I think LSU at least wins comfortably in the end.
#11 USC @ #13 Notre Dame - 6:30 pm CST - South Bend, IN
Twelve years after the Bush Push, we’re back in South Bend. What they like to call the nation’s greatest intersectional rivalry renews in 2017 with what should promise to be a pretty good game. Notre Dame’s been a sneaky good team this year under Brian Kelly, with their only blemish a one-point loss to Georgia. They’ve run the ball exceptionally well with Brandon Wimbush at quarterback, and Josh Adams is a dynamic tailback that should play in the NFL.
We know about Sam Darnold on the other side for USC, but the Trojans haven’t been the world-beaters they were supposed to be this year. Darnold’s been off a bit (hard not to be with all the praise heaped on him), and with a rare night game at Notre Dame Stadium, this could end up being a really fun matchup if things get out of hand in Fayetteville, LIKE THEY BETTER.
#19 Michigan @ #2 Penn State - 6:30 pm CST - State College, PA
This was the game that kept Penn State out of the playoff a year ago. Yeah, they had two losses, which didn’t help, and one of those losses was a close loss at Pitt (who also beat Clemson, mind you). The other? a 49-10 defeat at Michigan in Week 4. Sorry, but national playoff contenders don’t lose by more than five touchdowns. It killed them a year ago, and they were playing nearly as well as anyone else at the end of the year.
Now, they’ll likely want revenge. The only question is whether or not they’ll get it. Michigan’s defense is still very good, and Penn State’s offense has been on the struggle bus as of late. Saquon Barkley’s still probably your Heisman front-runner, but it hasn’t been because of his rushing numbers. It’s the receptions, the kick returns, the trick plays, etc. that’s vaulted him to the top of those lists. Michigan will have a chance to slow him down in this one, and if they do it enough, it could be a very interesting ballgame. Just like the ND-USC game, this is a playoff eliminator. Expose Penn State, and they’ll get the same treatment they did last year. I think the Nittany Lions win, but it’s close and unimpressive.