By Stewart Mandel
October 18, 2012
College Football Pickoff: Week 8
Saturday, Oct. 20
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) No. 9 South Carolina (6-1) at No. 3 Florida (6-0)
Marcus Lattimore's injury won't change South Carolina's offensive approach. The Gamecocks still have Connor Shaw. But at some point, the Gators will need to pass, and the combination of Jadeveon Clowney, a beat-up Florida offensive line and Jeff Driskel's habit of holding the ball for too long (he's been sacked 18 times) could make for some game-changing turnovers.
7 p.m. ET (FOX) No. 4 Kansas State (6-0) at No. 17 West Virginia (5-1)
After two straight weeks in Texas, West Virginia will be back in Morgantown, where the crowd will be rocking and the wind less windy. Kansas State will get pressure on Geno Smith -- he may even throw his first interception -- but he'll bounce back from last week's loss, while his defense will make just enough stops against the Wildcats' rushing attack.
7 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 1 Alabama (6-0) at Tennessee (3-3)
The stats are pretty telling. While the Vols have hovered around .500 throughout Derek Dooley's three-year tenure, his teams are 6-17 against BCS opponents, 4-15 in SEC play and 0-13 against ranked foes. The fans are getting restless. And a visit from the nation's No. 1 team, even in a rivalry game, hardly seems the ideal week to turn the corner.
3:30 p.m. ET (NBC) BYU (4-3) at No. 5 Notre Dame (6-0)
Notre Dame is 6-0 despite scoring 20 points or fewer in four of its six games, and the Cougars' outstanding defensive front, led by linebacker Kyle Van Noy, won't make things any easier this week for quarterback Everett Golson. But BYU's 76th-rated rushing offense (4.18 yards per carry) will be hard-pressed to sustain drives against the Irish's second-ranked scoring defense (8.7 points per game).
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 12 Florida State (6-1) at Miami (4-3)
After a barrage of early-season offensive production, Miami has been limited to a combined 17 points in losses to Notre Dame and North Carolina. It doesn't help that quarterback Stephen Morris sprained his ankle last week, which will likely force sophomore Ryan Williams to make his first career start. 'Noles bookends Bjoern Werner and Cornelius Carradine can't wait.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN2) No. 18 Texas Tech (5-1) at TCU (5-1)
Could there be a defensive struggle in the Big 12? TCU has long excelled on defense, but Texas Tech ranks fourth nationally in total defense (3.89 yards per play) through six games this year. The Red Raiders just shut down West Virginia, and now they face a Horned Frogs team with a redshirt freshman making his thrid start at quarterback and an average rushing attack.
3:30 p.m. ET (BTN) Michigan State (4-3) at No. 23 Michigan (4-2)
The Spartans' defense has suffocated Denard Robinson the past two years, and there's no reason to believe this season will be any different. But now the Wolverines boast a top-10 defense of their own, while Michigan State is struggling to generate any offense outside of running back Le'Veon Bell. The time is right for Michigan to end its four-year rivalry skid.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN2) Nebraska (4-2) at Northwestern (6-1)
Nebraska ranks 73rd in the nation in rushing defense (4.4 yards per carry) and have particularly struggled against dual-threat quarterbacks. Expect Northwestern to run the zone-read in much the same style Ohio State did in scoring 63 points on the Huskers, with the Wildcats heavily featuring quarterback Kain Colter and speedy tailback Venric Mark (113.9 yards per game).
Saturday, Noon ET (ESPN) No. 6 LSU (6-1) at No. 20 Texas A&M (5-1)
Much like South Carolina came out flat the week after a huge home win, LSU will be hard-pressed to maintain momentum from last week's victory in Death Valley. Aggies defensive end Damontre Moore will wreak havoc against a vulnerable Tigers offensive line. Johnny Manziel won't put up anything close to 576 yards, but he won't need to given LSU's limited offense.
Record Last Week: 7-3               Record This Season: 44-26

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