By Stewart Mandel
October 21, 2011
College Football Pickoff: Week 8
Friday, Oct. 21
8 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 11 West Virginia (5-1) at Syracuse (4-2)
Syracuse is the nation's most deceiving 4-2 team. It's won two games in overtime and needed a last-second field goal to beat a Tulane team that's so bad its coach just resigned. The Mountaineers are susceptible to slow starts, especially on the road, but the Orange lack the offensive firepower to keep pace with Geno Smith and his receivers for four quarters.
Saturday, Oct. 22
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) No. 19 Auburn (5-2) at No. 1 LSU (7-0)
The suspensions of LSU star corner Tyrann Mathieu and tailback Spencer Ware would be huge against almost any other opponent, but Auburn doesn't have the right mix to exploit the losses. Auburn is playing first-time starting quarterback Clint Moseley, and its 87th-ranked rushing defense will still struggle to contain Ware's replacements, Michael Ford and Alfred Blue.
8 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 4 Wisconsin (6-0) at No. 15 Michigan State (5-1)
The Badgers will face by far their toughest defensive test of the season versus a Spartans unit ranked third nationally against the run (67 yards per game allowed). The question is, does it matter? Even if the Michigan State front slows down Montee Ball, Russell Wilson can still take off and throw on the run. The Spartans will keep it close, but that's not enough.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 22 Washington (5-1) at No. 7 Stanford (6-0)
Because Stanford hasn't played anything close to a Top 25 foe yet, it's hard to say how the Cardinal will fare against standout Huskies quarterback Keith Price, the nation's No. 5 passer. But Stanford certainly has a better chance of containing Price than Washington's 116th-ranked pass defense does of limiting Andrew Luck and his trio of gifted tight ends.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) Texas Tech (4-2) at No. 3 Oklahoma (6-0)
The Red Raiders' last two trips to Norman have ended in 65-21 and 45-7 Oklahoma victories. This one won't be any prettier. Tech quarterback Seth Doege (2,167 yards, 18 TDs, four INTs) will do some damage, but the Raiders' hapless defense -- ranked 82nd nationally, including 111th against the run -- stands no chance against the Sooners' offense.
Noon (FX) No. 6 Oklahoma State (6-0) at Missouri (3-3)
Under the old Big 12 divisional format, Mizzou only faced Mike Gundy's Cowboys twice in the past five years, losing both meetings. This is a much better Oklahoma State team. Dynamic Tigers quarterback James Franklin will give the Cowboys problems, but not to quite the degree Brandon Weeden (8-0 on the road) will Missouri's defense.
3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 20 Georgia Tech (6-1) at Miami (3-3)
It's a crossroads game for both teams, with Tech trying to preserve its division title hopes and Miami trying to get above .500. Miami's offense is clicking, and star running back Lamar Miller should return to form after a quiet game against UNC. Unfortunately, he won't be on the field often, because the Miami defense is not well suited to stopping the triple option.
7:30 p.m. ET (NBC) USC (5-1) at Notre Dame (4-2)
Despite both teams' decent records, a USC-Notre Dame game hasn't garnered this little buzz in a decade. Chalk it up to their unimpressive starts. Both teams have played better of late, but the Irish are the more complete team. Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley and receiver Robert Woods will have big games, but USC's inability to run the ball will prove costly.
8 p.m. ET (CBS Sports) SMU (5-1) at Southern Miss (5-1)
While SMU is 3-0 in Conference USA, Southern Miss has a loss on its résumé and needs this one more. The Mustangs have won five straight, including impressive wins over TCU and UCF. But Eagles quarterback Austin Davis is coming off a near-flawless performance against Navy (21-of-23 for 283 yards and three touchdowns) and will continue that momentum.
7 p.m. ET (BTN) Penn State (6-1) at Northwestern (2-4)
UPSET SPECIAL: Northwestern has lost four straight due largely to its pass defense allowing a nation's worst 9.77 yards per attempt. The Wildcats don't have to worry about that against Penn State's barely functional pass attack, especially with top receiver Derek Moye out with a broken foot. Native Pennsylvanian Dan Persa will make enough big plays for the Wildcats to prevail.
Record Last Week: 7-3               Record This Season: 45-25
Week 8 Preview
Source:SI previews the best Week 8 action, including Wisconsin-Michigan State, Washington-Stanford and more.

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