It Is What It Is; Week 8 College Football Preview

“It is what it is.” At this point my family has stopped reading this column. I went for so long using that phrase as a qualifier for so many discussions that my wife actually banned it from our house. But that is what we are dealing with this week in college football. This week lacks the numerous marquee matchups that last Saturday had, but the slate of games is no less important. So many teams are trying to cement their place in the national landscape as we hit the second half of the season, so these games are no less critical. “They are what they are,” and we are going to appreciate them for that.

Week 8 College Football Preview

Clemson @ Miami; Sat Noon EDT ABC; What this is, is Clemson coming in as one of only two undefeated ACC teams and in legitimate contention for a playoff spot. Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson is certainly having a decent enough year with 14 touchdown passes and a 68% completion rate, but Clemson would be well advised to bring its running game to South Beach. The Canes have one of the statistically worst run defenses in the country, giving up 167 yards per game on the ground. That means Clemson’s Wayne Gallman is likely to see an increase in his 17 carry per game average. Miami is 4-2 but it may as well be 2-4 for the lack of excitement surrounding the program and the constant Bunsen burner under coach Al Golden’s backside. Sun Life Stadium will not be sold out for the game, as Canes games rarely sell out anymore. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney wants to make sure his team doesn’t suffer from the South Florida doldrums, so he has labeled this a BYOE game, (Bring Your Own Energy).

Iowa State at Baylor; Sat Noon EDT ESPN; This is Iowa State trying to stay upright as they face TCU and Baylor in back to back weeks. The Cyclones got stormed over last week at home by TCU and now they have to travel to Waco and they’d better be prepared to score 60 points if they want to hang in with the Bears. In order to do that, ISU coach Paul Rhoads is going to have to figure out who his quarterback is. Starter Sam Richardson is having an ok year if ok is what excites you. He has eight touchdowns but six interceptions . Meanwhile sophomore Joel Lanning came in last week, controlled the offense and even threw a 74-yard touchdown pass that tied the game against TCU. And then he never saw the field again. There is no explanation for that being “what it is.” Baylor has no such quandaries. Quarterback Seth Russell is the best pure passer the Bears have had in years. Russell has already thrown for 1,900 yards and 27 touchdowns through six games and has completed passes to 15 different receivers. What it is going to be is an air show if ISU is not careful.

Western Kentucky @ LSU; Sat 7pm EDT ESPNU; What is this, you may ask. Western Kentucky? What this is, is a nod to Yesh Ginsburg, the guy who works tirelessly each week to get out the LWOS Top 25 poll. He has been telling all of us voters for weeks that Western Kentucky is for real. The Hilltoppers are coming into Death Valley with the #9 total offense in the country and one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Brandon Doughty, who is completing a stunning 74% of his passes. Still not convinced? Les Miles knows what this is. The LSU coach proudly boasts that he voted for WKU at #25 in the country in the latest coaches poll. Of course LSU knows it needs to keep its focus on the road right in front of it. The Tigers have a bye next week before the highly anticipated showdown with Alabama in two weeks. The wise money says LSU will run ball control with the nation’s leading rusher Leonard Fournette and take whatever it can get to come out of this game with a win and take it for what it is.

Florida State @ Georgia Tech; Sat 7pm EDT ESPN 2; This could be one of those games where you are watching and all of a sudden a stream of consciousness comes about you and you ask, “Hey, what is this I am watching?” On paper, this looks like a Florida State domination. The Seminoles need the win to remain undefeated and fend off Clemson for the lead in the ACC Atlantic division race. Quarterback Everett Golson is not the same QB who was a turnover factory at Notre Dame. This version is completing 67% of his passes and has yet to throw an interception this entire season after throwing 14 last year in South Bend. Georgia Tech has lost five in a row but the Yellowjackets triple option offense can be difficult to prepare for. In last week’s nail biter against Pittsburgh, quarterback Justin Thomas set a single game school record with 9.4 yards per carry. Florida State still has two weeks before its showdown with Clemson, so they need to keep in mind what this is supposed to be; a convincing win.

Texas A&M @ Ole Miss; Sat 7pm EDT ESPN; The one game that features two teams ranked in the top 25 in most polls and they are two of the three teams in the SEC West race with one loss. The Aggies took their first loss of the season last week at home against Alabama. They were averaging 39 points per game prior to being held to 23 last week. Likewise Ole Miss was averaging 46.8 points per game before being held to 24 in an upset loss to Memphis. Even with Ole Miss’ two overall losses, head coach Hugh Freeze this week called his squad, “the best team in the land. I have no doubt about that.” Neither line for either team is performing up to expectations, so this could be “last possession wins.”

Utah @ USC; Sat 7:30pm EDT Fox; Utah is in complete control of its own destiny in the Pac 12 South. The Utes have one of the best defenses in the country with a +12 turnover margin. USC has lost two straight and the Trojans are on their heels. They have tremendous talent but lack a team identity. SC has given up 100 yards rushing four straight games and Utah is bringing in the best running back in the country in Devontae Booker. You know what this is? This is a game where the odds makers have made USC a three point favorite. Seriously. Maybe it’s because since Utah hasn’t been part of the conference for very long. They have only played seven games at USC…ever…and the last time the Utes won was 1916.

Washington @ Stanford; 10:30pm EDT ESPN; This is all of us saying we were wrong. We were too quick to write off Stanford after an anemic week one performance against Northwestern. The Cardinal are one of the most efficient teams in the country right now and running back Christian McCaffrey belongs on everyone’s Heisman list. He single handedly destroyed UCLA last week. Stay up late to watch this. He will make it worth your while. Washington is “only” 3-3 but the Huskies are playing good football each week.
Main Photo