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College Football ’18: Week 8 Top 25 previews

Top 25

Each week, The Game Haus will preview every college football game featuring teams in The Associated Press Top 25. We’ll also give an expanded look at three Top 25 matchups especially worth watching.

Here we go with those Top 25 games for Week 8 (all times Eastern):

Key Games

No. 6 Michigan (6-1) at No. 24 Michigan State (4-2), Noon, Saturday

Scouting the Wolverines: Riding a six-game winning streak and thinking they might have a shot at the College Football Playoff, the last thing the Maize and Blue needs is to add to their struggles against this rivalry. Michigan has dropped eight of the last 10 versus Michigan State, but did win at East Lansing in 2016.

Scouting the Spartans: They are back in the Top 25 after winning at Penn State, but that just adds to the uncertainty surrounding this team in 2018. History is on the Spartans’ side in this one, but they still must find a way to crack a Wolverines defense that’s allowed an average of 15.3 points while going 4-0 in the Big Ten.

Winner: Michigan

No. 16 North Carolina State (5-0) at No. 3 Clemson (6-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

Scouting the Wolfpack: They last went 6-0 in 2002, but have beaten Clemson only once in 14 meetings since 2004. A five-point win over Boston College two weeks ago was their biggest test to date, but was nothing compared to what this will be.

Scouting the Tigers: Like N.C. State, Clemson has had two weeks to prepare for this contest. Trevor Lawrence appears to be in good health and that daunting defensive line remains a big reason the Tigers have not allowed more than 26 points in a game this season.

Winner: Clemson

No. 12 Oregon (5-1) at No. 25 Washington State (5-1), 7:30 p.m., Saturday
Top 25
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Scouting the Ducks: After taking down a top-10 team in Washington last weekend, Oregon now has the target on its back. The Ducks have lost three in a row in the series and the hype for this meeting appears to be off the charts. Losing talented left tackle Penei Sewell won’t help matters.

Scouting the Cougars: They have a spot in the Top 25 and a chance to better position themselves in the crowded Pac-12 North Division. Considering all that the Cougars went through with the death of quarterback Tyler Hilinski, it’s remarkable that they are playing this well.

Winner: Washington State

The Rest

Maryland (4-2) at No. 19 Iowa (5-1), Noon, Saturday
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The Skinny: The Hawkeyes enter the Top 25 because of an offense that’s totaled 90 points in consecutive victories at Minnesota and Indiana. The Terps have done a nice job despite the preseason issues surrounding the program, but are 0-9 against Top 25 Big Ten teams on the road since joining the league.

Winner: Iowa

No. 9 Oklahoma (5-1) at TCU (3-3), Noon, Saturday

The Skinny: Oklahoma returns from its open week with a new defensive coordinator following that 48-45 loss to Texas in Dallas. That unit might have the chance to shine out of the gate against a Horned Frogs team that’s averaged 15.7 points while losing two of the last three games. The Sooners’ victory in last year’s Big 12 title game was their fourth straight and seventh in the last eight against TCU.

Winner: Oklahoma

No. 20 Cincinnati (6-0) at Temple (4-3), Noon, Saturday

The Skinny: One of three unbeaten teams in the American Athletic Conference, the Bearcats are off to their best start since 2009. That’s thanks in part to a stingy defense that has yielded 13.7 points per game. However, Temple is favored in this contest and already has wins over Maryland and Navy this season.

Winner: Temple

Illinois (3-3) at No. 23 Wisconsin (4-2), Noon, Saturday
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The Skinny: The Badgers not only essentially ended any hope of earning a College Football Playoff berth with last weekend’s loss at Michigan, but also now have some work to do to win the Big Ten’s West Division as Northwestern, Iowa and Purdue are also in the mix. The good news for Wisconsin is that Illinois has lost eight straight in this series and hasn’t won in Madison since 2002.

Winner: Wisconsin


No. 18 Penn State (4-2) at Indiana (4-3), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Nittany Lions have not lost three consecutive Big Ten games in a season since 2015, but this might be a team in flux following losses to Ohio State and Michigan State. Penn State has won 17 of the last 18 contests against the Hoosiers, but at this point a bounce back is not guaranteed.

Winner: Penn State

No. 1 Alabama (7-0) at Tennessee (3-3), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Even with Tua Tagovailoa dealing with a knee injury, the Crimson Tide are still in good shape while trying for a 12th consecutive victory over Tennessee. Sure, the Vols shocked Auburn at Jordan-Hare last weekend, but Alabama is playing on another planet at the moment and that dominance likely won’t end this weekend.

Winner: Alabama

Colorado (5-1) at No. 15 Washington (5-2), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: This matchup features a couple of teams looking to bounce back from defeats. The Huskies’ overtime loss at Oregon was an instant classic, but the Buffalos’ setback at USC showed that maybe they aren’t quite ready for prime time. Washington has won the last eight in the series with Colorado.

Winner: Washington

No. 10 UCF (6-0) at East Carolina (2-4), 7 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Knights were fortunate to leave Memphis with their 19th consecutive victory, and the road gets even tougher following this AAC matchup. East Carolina, meanwhile, has allowed 91 points while losing its previous two games and gave up 63 in last season’s loss to UCF.

Winner: UCF

No. 22 Mississippi State (4-2) at (5) LSU (6-1), 7 p.m., Saturday
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The Skinny: Mississippi State’s return to the Top 25 won’t be an easy one with this trip to LSU, where the Tigers just bounced Georgia and are making a case for the College Football Playoff, perhaps. The Bulldogs lost 28-7 at Kentucky in their only other SEC road contest, and have dropped 10 of the last 11 at LSU.

Winner: LSU


Connecticut (1-5) at No. 21 South Florida (6-0), 7 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Fifteen unanswered points in the fourth quarter at Tulsa last week have the Bulls in position to start 7-0 for a second consecutive season. This matchup doesn’t expect to be as tough considering UConn has allowed 49 or more points in each game and been outscored 155-42 while losing the last three.

Winner: South Florida

Vanderbilt (3-4) at No. 14 Kentucky (5-1), 7:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Wildcats will have had two weeks to regroup from their loss at Texas A&M. Vandy blew its chance to upset Florida last weekend but could still give Kentucky some fits. However, the Wildcats have had enough time to post a third straight victory in the series.

Winner: Kentucky

No. 2 Ohio State (7-0) at Purdue (3-3), 7:30 p.m., Saturday
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The Skinny: Nick Bosa’s time in Columbus has ended, but that should not matter to the Buckeyes in this contest and beyond. They’ve done just fine without him, yielding an average of 18 points over the last four contests. These teams are meeting for the first time since 2013, when Ohio State won 56-0 at West Lafayette.

Winner: Ohio State

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