Here are all of your must-watch Week 8 college football games, because once you’re done bawling your eyes out after Alma Mater State gets crushed in conference you need an actually fun game to watch. The following are those fun games. And there are lots! Lots and lots to occupy your time.
No. 14 Kansas State vs. No. 11 Oklahoma, ESPN: 12:00 p.m.
Neither Kansas State nor Oklahoma has faced Big 12-leading Baylor yet, so that’s good. Despite both teams’ ranking outside the top ten, this game is crucial for setting themselves up for a Big 12 title and playoff push. In terms of how both match-up, it’s hard to find two more similar teams nationally, let alone the Big 12. Both like to score (KSU ranks no. 16; OU no. 17) through an almost even mix of running and throwing. They also give up points in almost equal measure, but not too many (KSU concedes an average of 21; OU concedes 21.5). The guys running the ship offensively, however, have had slightly different seasons, with State’s Jake Waters doing well, generating production throwing and rushing, while Oklahoma’s Trevor Knight has posted gaudy throwing yards but an almost equal touchdown-to-interception ratio. Both has played at least one good opponent, but it could be Kansas State’s experience derived from its match-up against Auburn that helps it navigate the Sooners.
No. 21 Texas A&M vs. No. 7 Alabama, CBS: 3:30 p.m.
Suffice to say, the 2014 season hasn’t been kind to either of these teams. A&M’s coming off two straight losses to the state of Mississippi, and ‘Bama followed up a loss to Ole Miss with a uninspired showing against Arkansas–oh, and Lane Kiffin again looks like he took a dump in the downstairs toilet and forgot to flush. Alabama, though, is somehow still in the playoff conversation, even though there’s a chance they could finish–gasp!–fourth in the SEC West. Texas A&M’s playing for pride at this point, but if they beat Alabama here, they have a manageable slate the rest of the season (only No. 6 Auburn would be left). Really, this is a game for those who want to watch two teams out-duel each other in frustration, with another Saban-Kiffin tiff potentially awaiting on the sidelines.
No. 10 Georgia vs. Arkansas, SEC Network: 4:00 p.m.
The SEC West is so stacked this year that Arkansas, which sits in the West’s cellar, could probably contend for a ‘ship in any other conference, including the SEC East. Yet, its schedule is arguably the hardest in the nation, and on paper it doesn’t look like Bret Bielema’s first SEC win (he’s 0-11 at this point) will come this weekend. But the tides have to turn eventually, right? Perhaps. Out of the remaining ranked teams on the Razorbacks’ schedule, it has the best shot of upsetting Georgia, which lost to South Carolina and doesn’t look better than the fifth or sixth best team in the SEC. Granted, Arkansas’ bread and butter, its monstrous run game, will have to compete against one of Georgia’s specializations, its rush defense; so Arkansas will either have to pray that Georgia’s no. 11-ranked defense has a crap day or it’ll have to spring some surprises through the air. If Razorbacks quarterback Brandon Allen’s bumbling performance against Alabama last Saturday is any indication, though, pray for a breakdown in Georgia’s defense, Arkansas fans.
No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Florida State, ABC: 8:00 p.m.
Jameis Winston news notwithstanding, the general talk surrounding this game has been how relieved everyone’s going to feel when Notre Dame’s national championship chances are shot. While the overall rivalry history sides with the Seminoles (FSU sports a 5-2 record against the Irish), let’s “not so fast” the naysayers. Neither team’s looked outstanding offensively–neither ranks in the top-25 offenses–while Florida State’s defense hasn’t been stellar this season, giving up approximately 358 yards per game. The Irish can more than meet that, averaging 444 yards per game. Since Notre Dame’s Everett Golson works as his team’s fulcrum, it’ll depend on him to break free when necessary, choosing wise, not errant, passes, and ensuring the Irish grab points on every possession–preferably touchdowns. Because the Irish defense can’t have a repeat sh*t performance, not against the Seminoles. Every point counts. If Notre Dame doesn’t capitalize when it can, well, looks like the haters will wake up Sunday satisfied.
No. 23 Stanford vs. No. 17 Arizona State, ESPN: 10:30 p.m.
This is your late-night Pac-12 game of the week, featuring two ranked teams that still hold onto conference title aspirations. The fun part about this game is seeing what happens when you match the no. 7-ranked offensive team (ASU) against the no. 2-ranked defensive team (Stanford) nationally. It could entail fireworks or could become what blue balls looks like. In any case, a loss for either squad ensures a Pac-12 Championship game appearance is out of the question, something crazy happening notwithstanding.