Each Friday, theScore will preview the week's best matchups on the college football calendar. Here are the top games to watch in Week 8.
The Big Ten is officially back Friday night, but the marquee program in the conference gets rolling at noon Saturday. Nebraska heads east to face No. 5 Ohio State, a team with such potential that it kept its high ranking without playing a game. The Buckeyes experienced some significant roster turnover from last year's playoff squad, but with Justin Fields returning at quarterback, expect another run at the Big Ten title from Ryan Day's program.
Nebraska's reward for being the Big Ten's most outspoken school over the conference postponing its campaign is beginning with the toughest game on its schedule. Not many would expect an upset of the Buckeyes, but Scott Frost must show positive signs in his third season as head coach.
The Big 12 returns in a big way after mostly being sidelined last weekend, with No. 17 Iowa State versus No. 6 Oklahoma State. After two one-score wins, the Cyclones managed a comfortable victory against Texas Tech. Brock Purdy and the offense are rolling, but they'll be in tough with a very stout Cowboys unit on the other side.
Oklahoma State's high-powered offense may be getting its leader back, as quarterback Spencer Sanders is nearing full health. His addition to the dynamic duo of Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace could make it tricky for Iowa State to keep up Saturday.
After losing at home to Kentucky for the first time since 1984 on Saturday, Tennessee now faces the unenviable task of trying to slow down No. 2 Alabama. Mac Jones joined the Heisman conversation last week after throwing for 417 yards and four touchdowns against the previously dominant Georgia defense. Tennessee's pass defense is second in the conference, but it has yet to face a receiver group like Alabama's trio of Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, and John Metchie.
Jarrett Guarantano's turnovers are Tennessee's biggest issue, as the quarterback threw two pick-6s in last week's loss. Bench boss Jeremy Pruitt will need to ensure turnovers are limited if he hopes to end Nick Saban's perfect 22-0 record against former assistant coaches.
While Ohio State is the Big Ten's marquee team, there's no better matchup in the conference's opening-week schedule than No. 18 Michigan at No. 21 Minnesota. Wolverines quarterback Joe Milton takes center stage Saturday night, with the 6-foot-5, 243-pounder assuming the role of Jim Harbaugh's latest starter.
Milton will need to score points to keep up with the Golden Gophers' dynamic offense. Minnesota returns the star quarterback-receiver duo of Tanner Morgan and Rashod Bateman, along with a very experienced offensive line. The chess match between Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown and PJ Fleck's new offensive guru, Mike Sanford Jr., will be one to watch.
Saturday's matchup between Cincinnati and SMU, which are a combined 8-0 this season, represents one of the best of the weekend. The ninth-ranked Bearcats face their toughest opponent of the season after last Saturday's game versus Tulsa was postponed due to COVID-19.
This contest features a very interesting battle between the nation's second-leading passer, SMU's Shane Buechele, and Cincinnati's sixth-ranked defense. For Luke Fickell, who's made his bones as a top defensive coach, slowing down Buechele will be the key to getting a massive road victory.