College Football, Week 8: Halftime for the Season

Technically, a thirteen-week football season means we already passed the halfway mark. But, last week’s saw Alabama upset by Tennessee, along with some other fantastic games, really marked a turning point. Now, a week later, it feels like we’re in the back half of the season, with a lot of people’s options for postseason play having really opened up.


Look at the AP’s Top 25, from preseason to now. Just over half the teams who started there are still there, and there have been a lot of shifts. The only constant is Ohio State.

 Preseason Top 25  Week 8 Top 25
 1. Alabama  1. Georgia (+2)
 2. Ohio State  2. Ohio State (=)
 3. Georgia  3. Tennessee
 4. Clemson  4. Michigan (+4)
 5. Notre Dame  5. Clemson (-1)
 6. Texas A&M  6. Alabama (-5)
 7. Utah  7. Ole Miss (+14)
 8. Michigan  8. TCU
 9. Oklahoma  9. UCLA
 10. Baylor  10. Oregon (+1)
 11. Oregon  11. Oklahoma State (+1)
 12. Oklahoma State  12. Southern California (+2)
 13. NC State  13. Wake Forest (+9)
 14. Southern California  14. Syracuse
 15. Michigan State  15. Utah (-8)
 16. Miami (FL)  16. Penn State
 17. Pittsburgh  17. Kansas State
 18. Wisconsin  18. Illinois
 19. Arkansas  19. Kentucky (+1)
 20. Kentucky  20. Texas
 21. Ole Miss  21. Cincinnati
 22. Wake Forest  22. North Carolina
 23. Cincinnati  23. NC State (-10)
 24. Houston  24. Mississippi State
 25. BYU  25. Tulane

In the back half of the season, there are a lot of pathways to the college football playoffs. This week’s match-ups start us down those pathways.

No. 14 Syracuse at No. 5 Clemson

This might be more competitive than most think. A lot of the CFP madness has shifted around Clemson, while they themselves have lost a little ground – not because of their own gameplay, though. Clemson needs an emphatic win over Syracuse today, and it’s very likely that they’ll get it. That doesn’t mean they won’t have to earn it, however, as Syracuse has some skill in the linebacker and secondary positions to hurt Clemson’s passing game. But if the Tigers’ offensive line holds, half the battle is won and they’ll be able to walk away victorious.


No. 7 Ole Miss at LSU

LSU is favored on this one, and it’s not terribly difficult to see why. However, there is some concern that LSU is overhyped in this one and Ole Miss is underhyped. The latter struggled against Auburn, while LSU has been making serious adjustments as the season has gone on. But the big problem for LSU remains its special teams, and they are more than capable alone of handing the game to Ole Miss. But, in general, the Rebels have an offense that’s usually hard to beat.

No. 9 UCLA at No. 10 Oregon

There are lots of ways that UCLA’s offense can take advantage of gaps in any defense, especially with an Oregon squad that allows too many third-down conversions. Oregon typically does well against the running game, but UCLA has one of the best out there and they are a top-scoring offense in general. But the Ducks have shown a ton of improvement since Week 1, and they have the tools, especially when it comes to a guy like Bo Nix leading the offense.

No. 24 Mississippi State at No. 6 Alabama

I don’t think anyone expects Alabama to be anything less than vengeful after last week. They may be No. 6 in the polls, but they are No. 1 in something after last week: Penalties. A serious lack of discipline plagued the Crimson Tide during their game against Texas earlier in the season, and it was definitely a major problem last week against Tennessee. Mississippi State is not going to back down from the challenge by any stretch, but the Tide are going to go out and prove they are not out of contention for the playoffs.


No. 17 Kansas State at No. 8 TCU

If there’s a Top 25 head-to-head that’s capable of ending in upset today, it’s this one. TCU has beaten three Top 25 opponents in a row – a first in the program’s history – but Kansas State’s No. 17 rank against TCU’s No.8 isn’t indicative of what can happen today. Just look at their offense, led by Adrian Martinez. He’s been a boon for that squad, averaging more than 330 total yards of offense with 10 touchdowns in three Big 12 games.

Top 25 Schedule

  • No. 2 Ohio State vs. Iowa, 12 p.m.
  • No. 3 Tennessee vs. UT Martin, 12 p.m.
  • No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 14 Syracuse, 12 p.m.
  • No. 6 Alabama vs. No. 24 Mississippi State, 7 p.m.
  • No. 7 Ole Miss at LSU, 3:30 p.m.
  • No. 8 TCU vs. No. 17 Kansas State, 8 p.m.
  • No. 9 UCLA at No. 10 Oregon, 3:30 p.m.
  • No. 11 Oklahoma State vs. No. 20 Texas, 3:30 p.m.
  • No. 13 Wake Forest vs. Boston College, 3:30 p.m.
  • No. 16 Penn State vs. Minnesota, 7:30 p.m.
  • No. 21 Cincinnati at SMU, 12 p.m.
  • No. 25 Tulane vs. Memphis, 3:30 p.m.


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