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Games to Watch - Week 8

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Editor's Note: Christian Alexander dominated the books this college football season with a 60% (33-22) winning record. Get the rest of his expert selections now in his discounted season package! Click to win!
Saturday - South Carolina at Florida (CBS, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Matchup Skinny
South Carolina at Florida
Stop me if you've heard this recently…South Carolina has a big game this week. After hosting #5 Georgia, and then traveling to #9 LSU last weekend, the Gamecocks now travel to #3 Florida in what could be the decisive game in the SEC East. Florida leads the series 23-6-2; however the Gamecocks were winless from 1940 to 2004. Since 2004 when Spurrier came to Columbia, The Ol' Ball Coach has defeated his alma mater three out of the last seven, including the last two. Last year's 17-12 South Carolina win in Columbia was a typical SEC slugfest where both teams struggled to get anything going through the air. This year doesn't appear to be any different. The Gamecocks and the Gators are almost mirror images of each other defensively this year to the point that they are tied nationally in scoring defense giving up 12.3 points per game. Offensively South Carolina is a much more balanced team than Florida who relies primarily on running the ball with QB Jeff Driskel and RB Mike Gillislee. South Carolina is coming off a three week stretch as brutal as any team in the country will face all year, however if South Carolina wants to take the next step in its search for their first ever SEC title, winning on the road within the division is a must. On the flip side Florida opens as a 3.5 point home favorite and a win against their former coach continues their perfect season and sets up the biggest 'Outdoor Cocktail Party' game in years next week in Jacksonville.
Saturday - Kansas State at West Virginia (FOX, 7:00 p.m. ET)
Matchup Skinny
Kansas State at West Virginia
Water is wet, the sky is blue and West Virginia can't play defense. None of these things are new information to anyone; however some people weren't quite willing to accept the latter because the Mountaineer offense was able to cover it up for most of the year. It wasn't a matter of if WVU would get exposed this year; it was a matter of when. Meanwhile Kansas State has played solid on both sides of the ball all season and is clearly the class of the Big 12 this year having already gone into Norman as a 14 point underdog and won; yet they find themselves 4.5 point underdogs in Morgantown this Saturday. How is that possible you ask? Well, it's not like West Virginia just forgot how to play offense over the weekend and if we have learned anything in college football over the years it's that winning on the road against a quality opponent, especially in conference, can be very difficult. With that said Kansas State is clearly the better team from top to bottom but they will need to play a complete game to pull off another road upset. If Collin Klein and company can slow down the WVU attack and pull off the road upset they will be favored in their remaining games down the stretch with a very realistic shot of going undefeated and playing for a National Championship. If not, West Virginia can get right back in the hunt for the Big 12 title as they also get the Sooners at home later in the year. This game will also go a long way in determining the Heisman trophy race as Collin Klein and Geno Smith square off in a battle of two of the top quarterbacks in the country.
Saturday - LSU at Texas A&M (ESPN, 12:00 p.m. ET)
Matchup Skinny
LSU at Texas A&M
The Aggies take on their second straight team from Louisiana; however this team actually comes with a defense attached. A&M freshman sensation Johnny Manziel is coming off a video game effort against Louisiana Tech where he accounted for 6 touchdowns and 576 yards of total offense to break the school and SEC records for yards in game that he had already set earlier in the season. However, those were not against SEC caliber defenses…sorry Arkansas fans. LSU on the other hand comes in off a slightly lower scoring battle against South Carolina where the two teams combined for 617 yards….in comparison Louisiana Tech put up 615 yards on the Aggie defense by themselves. Something has to give this weekend as the Aggies and their 5th ranked scoring offense welcome LSU and their 8th ranked scoring defense to College Station. A&M faced a very similar style Florida team at home earlier in the year and blew a halftime lead before losing 20-17. A similar type of game is expected this week as LSU comes in a field goal favorite. A&M is 2-1 in their inaugural SEC season, however if they want to be taken seriously as a true SEC contender they need to beat a team like LSU this weekend. A win against the defending SEC champs would certainly go a long way to justifying their move into the conference, however another home set back against a quality SEC opponent will further prove the Aggies don't quite belong at the SEC big boy table just yet.
Other Games to Watch
Matchup Skinny
Oregon at Arizona State
Oregon at Arizona State (Thursday): Oregon has won seven straight in this series, including a 41-27 win last year in Eugene, however Thursday night PAC-12 road games for top 10 teams have historically proven to be a tough matchup and this one shouldn't be much of an exception. These two teams combine to average over 90 points per game so while a high scoring affair is entirely possible the Oregon defense is much better than they get credit for and Arizona State hasn't exactly been challenged in their first six games this year. This could be a possible preview for the PAC-12 Championship if Arizona State is in fact as good as their record indicates thus far. The Sun Devils are headed into the meat of their schedule and a win Thursday night as a 12-point home underdog against an explosive Oregon squad could change the entire complexion of both the PAC-12 and national landscape. Meanwhile Oregon looks to keep their perfect season and national championship hopes alive.
Michigan State at Michigan
Michigan State at Michigan: I am dubbing this game the battle of Notre Dame's sloppy seconds. Both teams had high preseason expectations, and then both teams remembered they play in the Big 10. This game has been one of streaks over the last 10 years. Michigan won six straight from 2002 to 2007 before Michigan State took over in 2008. Since then Sparty has won four straight in the series against Michigan for the first time since 1959-62 including won 28-14 last year in East Lansing. Michigan looks to stop the losing streak this year and enters the game as a 10 point home favorite. This perennial ABC game has been demoted to the Comedy Channel…I mean the Big Ten Network.
Cincinnati at Toledo
Cincinnati at Toledo: This game isn't on TV, at least not as of post time, so it's kind of to ironic to put it in an article entitled "games to watch" but this is actually a decent game between two surprise teams this year. Obviously neither team has any national implications but they are a combined 11-1 between them with The Bearcats sitting at 5-0 and the Rockets 6-1, winning six in a row after their week one overtime loss to Arizona. Cincinnati comes in as 5 point road favorite in what should be a good matchup between the Bearcats defense and the Rockets explosive offense.

  
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