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Week 8 Pickoff: Florida State-Clemson, UCLA-Stanford; more

Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Kevin Hogan and Stanford will look to bounce from last week's upset loss this Saturday against UCLA.

Will Florida State or Clemson emerge from a clash of top-five teams in Death Valley? Will USC ace its first road test under interim head coach Ed Orgeron? Can Stanford rebound from last week's surprising loss to Utah in a matchup with Brett Hundley and UCLA?

My picks for all of this week's top games are below. For more Week 8 walk-up coverage, check out the Mailbag, Andy Staples' Walkthrough, my feature on the coaching history behind Florida State-Clemson and Martin Rickman's preview of UCLA-Stanford. For midseason coverage, check out SI.com's Crystal Ball predictions and All-America Team.

Friday, Oct. 18
 
8 p.m. ET (ESPN) UCF (4-1) at No. 8 Louisville (6-0)
Teddy Bridgewater will be determined to improve on a ho-hum showing last week against Rutgers. UCF does not allow a lot of big plays, but a balanced Cardinals' offense should be able to peck away at the Knights' defense. More notably, Louisville's thus-far suffocating defense (No. 3 nationally) has not faced a quarterback the caliber of UCF's Blake Bortles, but it will get pressure on him.
 
Saturday, Oct. 19
 
Noon ET (CBS) No. 15 Georgia (4-2) at Vanderbilt (3-3)
The injury-ravaged Dawgs are now on upset alert every week, but Vanderbilt's defense, which finished in the top half of the SEC the past two seasons, has been a disappointment so far. It ranks 84th nationally in pass efficiency defense. Even with back Todd Gurley still sidelined, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray should do enough to overcome a huge day from Vandy wide receiver Jordan Matthews.
 
12:21 p.m. ET (ESPN3) No. 22 Florida (4-2) at No. 14 Missouri (6-0)
Starting tailback Matt Jones is the latest Florida player lost for the season. Missouri is without starting quarterback James Franklin, and the prospect of backup Maty Mauk facing the Gators' second-ranked pass D sounds a bit terrifying. But Mizzou has a talented backfield to ease the load. Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy may get pummeled by defensive end Michael Sam (six sacks) and the Tigers.
 
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN2) Iowa (4-2) at No. 4 Ohio State (6-0)
Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller has had two more weeks to recover from his MCL sprain and should be more explosive than he was against Northwestern. Ohio State won't be able to move the ball at will against Iowa's 14th-ranked defense, but it should reach the end zone a few times. The Hawkeyes, on the other hand, lack the playmakers to exploit the holes in the Buckeyes' secondary.
 
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN2) No. 9 UCLA (5-0) at No. 13 Stanford (5-1)
Coming off an unexpected loss at Utah, Stanford is beat up on its defensive line (it moved starting tight end Luke Kaumatule to defense this week). That's not a great omen when facing Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley. But Hundley will become a one-man show when the Cardinal shut down UCLA's ground game, and linebackers Trent Murphy and James Vaughters will pressure Hundley into turnovers.
 
3:30 ET (CBS) No. 24 Auburn (5-1) at No. 7 Texas A&M (5-1)
It's a testament to Auburn coach Gus Malzahn's reputation that the Tigers have gone from 3-9 last year to 5-1 so far this year and it's hardly a surprise. Quarterback Nick Marshall returns this Saturday and should do some damage against A&M's woeful defense, but the Tigers won't be able to slow down Johnny Manziel or contain the Aggies' playmakers at running back and receiver.
 
7 p.m. ET (ESPN2) No. 6 LSU (6-1) at Ole Miss (3-3)
A week after its heartbreaking loss to Texas A&M, the reeling Rebels must turn around and face another top-10 foe. The Tigers' defense is less stingy than usual, ranking 38th nationally, so it's possible Bo Wallace and Jeff Scott will break some big plays. But Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger, tailback Jeremy Hill and a powerful offensive line should have a field day against Ole Miss' 73rd-ranked D.
 
7:30 p.m. ET (NBC) USC (4-2) at Notre Dame (4-2)
If you think you can predict how the Trojans will fare in interim coach Ed Orgeron's first road game, be my guest. USC came out on fire last Thursday against Arizona before letting the Wildcats climb back into the game. The Irish defense looked much better its last time out against Arizona State and could wreak havoc on USC's offensive line. If Tommy Rees protects the ball, Notre Dame should be OK.
 
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 5 Florida State (5-0) at No. 3 Clemson (6-0)
The atmosphere in Death Valley should be electric, and Florida State will have to weather an early storm. Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd will be sharp as always, but Clemson's inability to run the ball (4.0 yards per carry, 84th nationally) will put Boyd in second- and third-and-longs, where the 'Noles' D thrives. Florida State will ride its ninth-ranked rushing attack to take pressure off Jameis Winston.
 
8 p.m. ET (BTN) No. 25 Wisconsin (4-2) at Illinois (3-2)
These teams have similar records, but this could get ugly. Led by Melvin Gordon and James White, Wisconsin has the nation's No. 1 rushing attack (7.1 yards per carry). Illinois has the nation's 103rd-ranked rushing defense (4.9 yards per carry). The Illini's best hope is a big game from quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, but Chris Borland and Badgers have allowed just three 30-plus yard passing plays.
 
*UPSET SPECIAL*
 
Noon ET (Fox Sports 1) No. 16 Texas Tech (6-0) at West Virginia (3-3)
Kliff Kingsbury's Red Raiders have enjoyed a nice run, but it's come against teams with a combined record of 10-15. Their only game outside the state of Texas was at Kansas. The Mountaineers' defense has been all over the map, but it's capable of forcing turnovers (15 in six games, tied for 14th nationally). West Virginia will slow the Air Raid just enough for quarterback Clint Trickett to keep pace.
 
Record Last Week: 7-5               Record This Season: 58-20
 

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