College football’s 5 best games of Week 8, ranked

Last week gave us our first true “Game of the Year” candidate in a top-ten meeting between Pac-12 rivals Washington and Oregon.

Week 8 of the college football season gives us yet another candidate.

A huge Big Ten meeting awaits when Penn State travels to Columbus to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes. As with last week’s Pac-12 tilt, both Penn State and Ohio State are ranked inside the top ten, with the Nittany Lions sitting seventh in the AP Top 25, and the Buckeyes in the third spot.

But while that is the best game on the slate, there are four more games you should certainly get your eyes on this Saturday.

5. Washington State vs. Oregon (9)

Oregon’s three-point loss to Washington last week may have put a big dent in their national title hopes, but those hopes are by no means dead and buried.

Washington still has some tough games left on their schedule, as they finish the season with contests against USC, Utah, Oregon State, and Washington State. Three of those teams — USC, Utah, and Oregon State — are currently ranked in the Top 25, and Washington State may very well be by the time the Apple Cup rolls around.

The point? Oregon is still alive in the race for the Pac-12 Championship Game and a potential playoff berth, but they’ll need to rebound quickly against a Washington State team that can put points on the board in a hurry.

As for the Cougars, any slim hopes they have of reaching the Pac-12 Championship Game — and at 1-2 in the conference, they would need a lot of help — would be erased with a loss this weekend.

4. Utah (14) vs. USC (18)

Caleb Williams faces the task of bouncing back from his “first bad game,” a three-interception outing against Notre Dame last week.

But a team that has given USC problems in the past is standing in his way.

Williams and the Trojans lost twice to Utah last year, first in the regular season and then again in the Pac-12 Championship Game. During their meeting in November Williams was almost perfect, throwing for five touchdowns, but the Utes pulled out a one-point win. During the rematch, Williams was off to a hot start, but an injury slowed him down, and Utah ended up winning by a final score of 47-24.

Can Williams finally get that first win over the Utes? We’ll find out this weekend.

3. Tennessee (17) vs. Alabama (11)

It might not have the luster as it did in recent years, last season in particular, but the third Saturday in October means one thing in the SEC.

The annual tilt between Alabama and Tennessee.

Last year saw the Volunteers knock off the Crimson Tide in thrilling fashion, and the night ended with the goal posts heading out for a night at the bars. While this year’s version lacks the national title aspirations and Heisman candidacies from a season ago, it is always worth tuning in when these two get together.

“It’s one of the best rivalries in college football,” Tide coach Nick Saban said this week.

You’d be right to listen to the man.

2. Duke (16) vs. Florida State (4)

Earlier this week we worked through the current top-ten Heisman Candidates, with Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis featured prominently on that list.

If Travis does want to secure an invitation to New York City, a big performance in this game might be his best shot at a true “Heisman Moment.” Duke is the last remaining ranked opponent on FSU’s schedule, and while an ACC Championship Game against Drake Maye and North Carolina is likely in the cards, there are no guarantees in college football.

The situation is the polar opposite for Duke.

As for the Blue Devils, Saturday gives them another chance at a statement victory in a season that has already given them a few such moments. Duke knocked Clemson off to begin the year, and after this weekend against the Seminoles they still have ranked opponents in Louisville and UNC remaining on their schedule.

They could also get a very big boost with the return of quarterback Riley Leonard, who suffered an ankle injury at the end of Duke’s narrow loss to Notre Dame.

1. Penn State (7) vs. Ohio State (3)

The biggest game in the Big Ten so far takes place in Columbus, with Penn State going into a battle vs Ohio State that’ll have implications in the Big Ten and CFP. Both teams come in with almost equal strengths and weaknesses. Both teams have dominant defenses; the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes are second and third in points allowed per game. Penn State is first in yards per game allowed, and the Buckeyes are seventh. Both teams have dominant defensive linemen, Ohio State EDGE duo JT Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer have combined for 4.5 sacks while Penn State’s Chop Robinson and Asida Isaac have combined for eight sacks. Both teams have NFL talent at so many levels, but ultimately this game is going to come down to the quarterbacks.

Penn State QB Drew Allar is headed into his first major road test of his career, and despite the gaudy numbers, he has yet to put up a signature performance. Much like Ohio State’s Kyle McCord, who has been through some ups and downs in his first year as a starter, but he has an opportunity to prove himself in a major game against a stacked Penn State secondary.

NFL talent, big stakes and a potential game of the year. This is an easy top game of the week.

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