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Viewer's guide to Week 8: Can't-miss matchups, potential upsets, and more

Tom Pennington / Getty Images

We're in the golden portion of the college football schedule where meaningful conference tilts - and, in effect, playoff-elimination games - take place every weekend.

It started last week when LSU topped Florida and Oklahoma beat Texas. The drama will continue as there will be at least one matchup between current top-20 teams every week for the rest of the regular season.

In all but one week, there are multiple matchups:

This week: No. 16 Michigan at No. 7 Penn State, No. 17 Arizona State at No. 13 Oregon
Oct. 26: No. 6 Wisconsin at No. 4 Ohio State, No. 11 Auburn at No. 2 LSU, No. 8 Notre Dame at No. 16 Michigan
Nov. 2: No. 10 Georgia vs. No. 9 Florida
Nov. 9: No. 2 LSU at No. 1 Alabama, No. 7 Penn State at No. 20 Minnesota
Nov. 16: No. 5 Oklahoma at No. 18 Baylor, No. 10 Georgia at No. 11 Auburn
Nov. 23: No. 7 Penn State at No. 4 Ohio State, No. 12 Oregon at No. 17 Arizona State, No. 15 Texas at No. 18 Baylor
Nov. 30: No. 1 Alabama at No. 11 Auburn, No. 4 Ohio State at No. 16 Michigan, No. 6 Wisconsin at No. 20 Minnesota.

Enjoy, folks. theScore is here to guide your viewing experience. Here's our look at the can't-miss matchups, under-the-radar games, and potential upsets for Week 8 (all times ET).

The early slate

Must watch: No. 3 Clemson at Louisville (noon, ABC)

Clemson's defense has forced 12 turnovers in six games. Streeter Lecka / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Scott Satterfield took Appalachian State to four consecutive bowl games but getting Louisville to one this season would be his most impressive feat. The Cardinals' first-year head coach has his team, which won just two games last year, at 4-2. It's made Saturday's game against Clemson more interesting than anyone initially thought.

Louisville will present a challenge to the Tigers' top-tier defense after scoring 62 points against Wake Forest and 41 versus Boston College. Sophomore quarterback Micale Cunningham has completed 66.7% of his throws this year, and his backup, freshman Evan Conley, scored three touchdowns in relief against Wake Forest. Clemson's defense, however, has limited opponents to a 50.6% completion rate this year.

Has potential: No. 9 Florida at South Carolina (noon, ESPN)

Gamecocks QB Ryan Hilinski watched from the sideline as his team upset Georgia in double-overtime last week. Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

This is perhaps the weekend's most unpredictable game. The Gators are coming off their first loss of the season - a two-touchdown defeat to LSU in an intense environment. South Carolina just won at Georgia as three-score underdogs.

Gamecocks quarterback Ryan Hilinski sprained his knee against Georgia but could play Saturday. They'll need him to maintain any semblance of balance on offense.

Meanwhile, Kyle Trask continues to impress at quarterback for Florida. In two games against top-15 teams (Auburn and LSU), he managed five touchdowns to one interception.

Upset alert: Iowa State at Texas Tech (noon, FS1)

La'Michael Pettway, an Arkansas transfer, caught eight passes last week against West Virginia. David K Purdy / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Texas Tech finds itself as the underdog in a conference game for the fourth consecutive week. The Red Raiders were no match for Oklahoma but have played well since then, defeating Oklahoma State and losing at Baylor in overtime.

Junior quarterback Jett Duffey has played well since starter Alan Bowman sustained an injury, throwing for 786 yards in his last two games. This could be his toughest matchup yet, as Iowa State's defense is figuring things out.

The Cyclones bounced back from a loss to Baylor with decisive victories over TCU and West Virginia. Matt Campbell's team is quietly trying to climb back into the race to reach the Big 12 championship game.

Keep an eye on: Purdue at No. 23 Iowa (noon, ESPN2)

Iowa has dropped its last two meetings with Purdue. Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

Coming off back-to-back exhausting losses to Michigan and Penn State, Iowa will try to recover at home against Purdue. What do the Hawkeyes have left in the tank? And, can their offense get going? Impressively, they kept the Wolverines and Nittany Lions to 27 points total. But they only scored one offensive touchdown in two games.

The Boilermakers, down Elijah Sindelar and Rondale Moore, exploded for 40 points against Maryland last week. They'll be without Sindelar - and possibly Moore - again but appear to have discovered another talent at quarterback in Jack Plummer. The freshman threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns.


Must-watch: No. 12 Oregon at No. 25 Washington (3:30 p.m., ABC)

Washington hasn't lost three Pac-12 games in one season since 2015. Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

The top two teams in the Pac-12 North square off Saturday, and it's perhaps a chance for Oregon to put itself back in the national conversation. The Ducks' defense is legitimate, and it's about time its ascension received more attention.

Under first-year coordinator Andy Avalos, Oregon is holding opponents to 4.8 yards per pass attempt, boasts 12 interceptions, and has surrendered only three touchdown passes. Quarterback Justin Herbert (17 touchdowns, one interception) is having an excellent season, but safety Jevon Holland (three picks) and the defense has been best-in-the-country good.

A loss Saturday would drop Washington to 5-3, a disappointing record for a team expected to contend for another Pac-12 title. The Huskies' offense disappeared in losses to California and Stanford. They'll need it to be at its best against the Ducks.

Has potential: No. 18 Baylor at Oklahoma State (4 p.m., FOX)

Baylor is averaging 5.6 yards per rush, which ranks 12th in the country. Richard Rodriguez / Getty Images

Consider this a proving ground for Baylor, which is an impressive 6-0. If the Bears can find a way to win in Stillwater, they could be 9-0 by the time Oklahoma comes to town on Nov. 16.

But this will be the Bears' toughest game so far. Sure, Oklahoma State looked sloppy in a loss at Texas Tech two weeks ago, but the Cowboys still feature a dynamic running back in Chuba Hubbard and receiver in Tylan Wallace. Baylor has won just once in Stillwater in the last 80 years (2015).

Upset alert: Temple at No. 19 SMU (3:30 p.m., ESPN2)

SMU is one of three undefeated, Group of 5 teams (Boise State, Appalachian State). Ronald Martinez / Getty Images Sport / Getty

When the AAC preseason media poll came out in July, Temple was picked to finish fourth in the East. SMU was picked to finish fourth in the West, though the Mustangs garnered one first-place vote (out of 30).

In a revote, things would be different. SMU is now the favorite in the West as the league's lone undefeated team, while the Owls are in a battle with Cincinnati and UCF for East division supremacy.

Temple picked up a huge home win last week against Memphis, creating a season-high four takeaways. They'll try to repeat that at the Mustangs, who had a week off following a win at South Florida.

Keep an eye on: No. 2 LSU at Mississippi State (3:30 p.m., CBS) and TCU at Kansas State (2:30 p.m., FSN)

LSU has scored at least 42 points in every game this season. Marianna Massey / Getty Images

LSU-Mississippi State is the ultimate game to keep an eye on, even if it isn't on one of your screens to begin the afternoon. If the Tigers are locked in, they'll roll the Bulldogs, even on the road. But the question is whether or not LSU has a letdown in between a win at Florida and a meeting with Auburn. Ed Orgeron's team has avoided those so far, winning four games against unranked opponents by an average of 41.8 points.

The battle of the Big 12's purple teams could turn out to be a game that, come December, determines bowl eligibility. Neither the Horned Frogs nor the Wildcats have fared well in conference play so far. TCU lost by four scores at Iowa State two weeks ago. Kansas State, briefly ranked, has lost to Oklahoma State (on the road) and Baylor (at home) by double digits. Chris Klieman never lost three games in a season at North Dakota State, but he'll be staring at a three-game losing streak if the Wildcats fall Saturday.


Must-watch: No. 16 Michigan at No. 7 Penn State (7:30 p.m., ABC)

Michigan has won four of the last five meetings with Penn State. Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

College GameDay is in town, and another stadium whiteout is planned. Penn State hopes to solidify its status as one of the top 10 teams in the country (and maybe better) Saturday against Michigan.

The Nittany Lions and Wolverines shared a common recent opponent: Penn State is coming off a 17-12 win at Iowa. Michigan beat the Hawkeyes 10-3 at home the week before.

Michigan has won three consecutive games since its ugly loss at Wisconsin in September but is still showing some flaws; after taking a 28-0 lead at Illinois last week, the Wolverines allowed 25 unanswered points.

Penn State, meanwhile, hasn't let an opponent score more than 13 points this season. Junior Yetur Gross-Matos (8.5 tackles for loss) and sophomore Micah Parsons (31 tackles) are playing at All-Big Ten levels.

Has potential: No. 17 Arizona State at No. 13 Utah (6 p.m., Pac-12 Network)

Utah QB Tyler Huntley has 12 touchdowns (nine passing, three rushing) and no interceptions this season. Chris Gardner / Getty Images

Utah's lone blemish this season was a 30-23 loss at USC on Sept. 20. It's beginning to look like an aberration - one that keeps the Utes out of the top 10 right now.

Since the loss, Utah pounded Washington State, 38-13, and Oregon State, 52-7. The defense, holding opponents to 2.4 yards per carry, continues to play at a high level. And quarterback Tyler Huntley has yet to throw an interception.

Expect a defensive battle Saturday, as Arizona State is 5-1 because of its ability to stop opponents, too. The Sun Devils appear to be on the rise, as freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels gains experience with every start.

Upset alert: Tulane at Memphis (7 p.m., ESPN2)

Tulane is off to its best start since its undefeated, 12-0 season in 1998. Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images Sport / Getty

A lot of points will be scored Saturday night in Memphis.

We've long known the Tigers for being offensive-minded; that hasn't changed this year. Memphis is averaging 37.8 points per game, though it was held to 28 in last week's loss to Temple.

Tulane, the visitor this week, is one of the season's best stories. Willie Fritz's team has only lost to Auburn and owns wins over Houston and Army. The run game has been terrific, as one might expect from a Fritz-coached team. Tulane averages 288 yards per contest on the ground. Senior Corey Dauphine only has 33 carries in six games but is averaging 11 yards per touch.

The winner will emerge as SMU's primary competition in the AAC West.

Keep an eye on: Kentucky at No. 10 Georgia (6 p.m., ESPN) and Texas A&M at Ole Miss (7:30 p.m., SEC Network)

Georgia hasn't lost to Kentucky since 2009. Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

This feels like a bounce-back game for Georgia following a stunning loss to South Carolina. Kentucky defeated Arkansas last week after moving leading receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. to quarterback, but the Bulldogs get a week to prepare for Bowden's running ability. Still, Georgia and quarterback Jake Fromm must avoid the turnovers that doomed them a week ago.

In the other primetime SEC game, Texas A&M is out to prove its 3-3 record is a product of scheduling. The Aggies have had it rough, losing to the teams ranked Nos. 1 (Alabama), 3 (Clemson), and 11 (Auburn). However, they weren't particularly close to winning any of those games. Ole Miss has found something positive in freshman quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, who has run for 109, 165, and 143 yards in his last three games.

After dark

Has potential: Arizona at USC (9:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network)

Kedon Slovis returned to throw for 255 yards and two touchdowns against Notre Dame. Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

Both Arizona and USC have had their disappointing moments this season. But they could still produce an entertaining Pac-12 After Dark offering.

The Wildcats' four-game winning streak ended with a 51-27 loss against Washington last week. Khalil Tate was hounded in his worst performance of the season. Arizona, though 4-2, hasn't beaten a team with a winning record.

USC battled back last week against Notre Dame but fell short, 30-27. Still, the elements are there for a strong second half of the season despite the uncertainty surrounding head coach Clay Helton's future. Freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis should have it easier against a Wildcats pass defense that ranks 77th in yards per attempt allowed.

Upset alert: No. 14 Boise State at BYU (10:15 p.m., ESPN2)

Loren Orr / Getty Images

Boise State's undefeated record - and its path to a New Year's Six bowl game - faces a tough challenge in Provo, Utah. The Broncos could be without wunderkind freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier, who exited last week's win against Hawaii. Sophomore Chase Cord threw three touchdowns in his place.

BYU has issues of its own - it may not name a starting quarterback until Saturday, according to the Deseret News, after starter Jaren Hall was hurt against South Florida. Either Hall or Baylor Romney will face the Broncos.

Keep an eye on: Air Force at Hawaii (11 p.m., CBSSN)

Kadin Remsberg and Air Force average 296.5 yards per game on the ground. Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

Every Hawaii game has the potential for fun. And with the Rainbow Warriors at home, the contest will stretch into Sunday morning for those on the East Coast.

Hawaii was outclassed by Boise State last week, turning the ball over four times in a 59-37 loss. For the season, the Rainbow Warriors' turnover margin is minus-12. It's remarkable that they're 4-2.

Air Force lost to Boise State earlier this season, too, and also enters Saturday's tilt at 4-2. The Falcons' dynamic run game is led by Taven Birdow (451 yards) and Kadin Remsberg (440).

Viewer's guide to Week 8: Can't-miss matchups, potential upsets, and more
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