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The College Five: Week Eight

A big weekend in the PAC-12

Washington State v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Week eight is very inconsequential for most of the college football world. Many of the major players like Oklahoma, Ohio State, LSU and Alabama, are playing the bottom teams in their respective conferences.

But it is a big week for the PAC-12, featuring the four ranked teams in the conference facing off, which could hold some big implications for the conference title game.

Record: 20-15

(9) Florida Gators vs. South Carolina Gamecocks - Florida favored by five

South Carolina beat the playoff-contending Georgia Bulldogs, despite losing starting quarterback Ryan Hilinski and rolling with a wide receiver at QB the rest of the game. Are we about to see another magical run similar to Kentucky’s from a year ago?

The secret weapon for South Carolina is the running game, which is averaging nearly 200 yards per game and led by workhorse back Rico Dowdle (averaging 5.8 yards per carry).

At home, the Gamecocks stay frisky in a slow, grinding game.

Taking: South Carolina plus five

(18) Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys - Oklahoma State favored by 3.5

Is it just me, or are the Cowboys here every week? Oh dear God, am I a closet Oklahoma State fan? Well if this is the bed I’ve made...

Oklahoma State is a fun team to watch.

Chuba Hubbard is still the top back in the country with 1,094 yards on the ground. Just 62 shy of the yardage Barry Sanders collected through six games back in 1988.

Even more fun is the beautifully flawed quarterback, Spencer Sanders, who has tossed 10 scores and eight picks, despite having elite receivers like Tylan Wallace.

The cherry on top is a defense, allowing 27.5 points per game.

Baylor has the far better quarterback in Charlie Brewer, but the Cowboys are the shipwreck you don’t want to miss.

Taking: Baylor plus 3.5

Washington State v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

(17) Arizona State Sun Devils vs. (13) Utah Utes - Utah favored by 14

Utah is in recovery mode ever since losing to USC two weeks ago, and this is a perfect statement game to launch them back into the top sphere of the conference.

What’s more, Utah is the better team. They score more, allow fewer points and the offense is far more balanced than that of the Sun Devils.

But Arizona has an annoying way of hanging with and beating ranked opponents under head coach Herm Edwards.

ASU topped Michigan State 10-7 (MSU was 18th at the time) and Cal 24-17 (15th at the time). The trend goes back to last season, where ASU was 2-2 against ranked opponents, staying within a possession in both losses.

Arizona State will get up for this game, and if the upset doesn’t happen, it will be a very close game.

Taking: Arizona State plus 14

(12) Oregon Ducks vs. (25) Washington Huskies - Oregon favored by three

If Arizona State loses to Utah, this could be the last ranked opponent on the Ducks’ schedule, which makes it a crucial game to keep them on the edge of the playoff picture. For Washington, a win here would be the best case the program can make for the top of the North division and a shot at the PAC-12 title game.

Coming standard in this matchup is two great quarterbacks (Justin Herbert for the Ducks and Jacob Eason for the Huskies), fantastic receivers and dynamic running backs.

In the 2019 version of this rematch, the outlier is the defense. After years of NFL talent-laden squads on Washington’s defense, Oregon rolls into Alaska Airlines Field with the better unit. Oregon is letting up just 8.7 points per game and has forced 15 turnovers. Meanwhile, the Huskies are allowing an average of 363.6 yards to opposing offenses.

Oregon has the defense to pin down Washington’s offense, and give the Ducks a critical edge.

Taking: Oregon minus three

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 12 Penn State at Iowa Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

(16) Michigan Wolverines vs. (7) Penn State Nittany Lions - Penn State favored by 8.5

Penn State has the chance to collect back to back ranked victories against a Michigan team that is primed to get run over by a good quarterback. Sean Clifford has been an excellent, completing 64 percent of his throws and passing for over 1,500 yards.

When facing power five schools, the Nittany Lions have averaged 440.5 yards and 35 points through four games — Michigan averages just 29.5 points and 382.8 yards against such opponents.

On the other side of the ball, PSU’s defense has been a stingy bunch, allowing only 49 points this season (second-best in the country).

Penn State is set up nicely to keep its position in the top 10 secured with a home victory, which may be enough to bounce Michigan out of the top 25 all-together.

Taking: Penn State minus 8.5