College football is entering the midseason. Storylines are forming and teams are making their pushes for the postseason. Here are five things to watch for in college football week 8.
1. Big Ten Defenses Going at it
Michigan and Penn State meet up this weekend and will battle for Big Ten East positioning. The Wolverines will be on the road for this one after defeating Illinois last week. Their defense allows 17.5 points per game, but is usually pretty solid. The offense has had a tough time being consistent this year and may have a hard time moving the ball again in this game.
Penn State is coming off of a tough win at Iowa. Their defense has stepped up all season long and allow just 8.2 points per game. Against the Hawkeyes, Sean Clifford and the offense struggled. They may do so again in this game, which means Yetur Gross-Matos and the Penn State defense will have to lead them to victory.
2. Can Georgia Bounce Back?
Georgia was upset by South Carolina last week. The Bulldogs played horribly and deserved to lose. There was bad offense, bad defense and poor coaching decisions. They certainly didn’t look like the team that defeated Notre Dame earlier this year. For any chance to work their way back up the rankings, Georgia has a lot of work to do.
This week, the Bulldogs get Kentucky, which should equate to a win. The Wildcats played Lynn Bowden Jr., a wide receiver, at quarterback and narrowly beat a bad Arkansas team in week 7. Bowden Jr. is a former high school quarterback, but if he is under center this week, Georgia will just need to stop the run to win. That is easier said than done given that Kentucky has a really good offensive line. If Georgia can be physical and win this game, it could be a start to their improvement.
3. Will South Carolina Pull off Another Upset?
A week after upsetting Georgia, the Gamecocks will get their shot at playing Florida. It was a good team win for South Carolina, who had their former backup Ryan Hilinski knocked out of the game with an injury. So Dakereon Joyner, the former third-stringer, came in and led the team to victory. Will Muschamp’s team showed they had fight.
For week 8, South Carolina will get their shot at the Gators. To help them out, Hilinski is expected to play this weekend. The defense allowed just 17 points against Georgia and will have to play well again this week for any shot at a victory. Florida has played well this season and the offense looks a lot better with Kyle Trask under center. Muschamp beat his alma mater last week and now gets a shot at the school he used to be head coach at.
4. Pac-12 Clashes
In one Pac-12 game this week, Oregon takes on Washington. It is a rivalry game and a matchup featuring two ranked teams. Washington is back in the top 25 after defeating Arizona on Saturday. Oregon hasn’t allowed a touchdown since losing to Auburn in week 1. The Ducks will be favored and if they win, they will be on pace to take the Pac-12 North.
A Pac-12 South matchup could decide who is going to the championship game in the conference later in the season. Utah dropped a game to USC, but were the preseason favorites to win the Pac-12 South. Their tough defense will still give them a shot to win their division. Arizona State has been a bit of a surprise, with their only loss coming to Colorado. They are ranked 18th and a win could give them a huge chance to make a statement for their program under Herm Edwards.
5. SMU’s Undefeated Record
SMU is having their most successful season since the 1980s, as they started off the season 6-0. The Mustang offense is led by former Texas quarterback Shane Buechele and averages 44.2 points per game. They have kept the ball in the air and been successful and will look to continue that deep into AAC play.
This week they will get a tough matchup with Temple. Temple will travel to Texas after taking down a ranked Memphis team last week. The Owls have a weird loss to Buffalo, but otherwise have proven to be a quality football team. They score 29.8 points per game and allow just 19. Temple is fully capable of pulling off the upset, so SMU better be ready to play.