After an exciting Week 7 in college football, in which we saw some instant classics, and the top dog proves why they are the best in the land, here are my top five games for Week 8 as teams prepare for the home stretch.
1. No. 6 Texas A&M vs. No. 1 Alabama
This is without a doubt the most hyped game of the week, pitting two undefeated SEC powers against each other. Alabama is coming off a dominant 49-10 win at previously No. 9 Tennessee in Knoxville. The Tide scored a non-offensive touchdown for the ninth straight game and added 438 yards of offense on the ground. With no glaring weakness other than at kicker, this might be Nick Saban’s most complete team at Alabama, and so far it has been clearly the best team in the country. How they respond to a big game for a second straight week could be foreshadowing for a potential College Football Playoff berth. The Aggies will be rested, coming off of a bye week after defeating Tennessee in a double-overtime thriller the week before, 45-38. Texas A&M might have been a bit lucky to survive Tennessee at home, and after watching what Alabama was able to accomplish on the road against the same team, it has to feel as if it’s a big underdog. Expect a big effort from the Aggies, but whether it will be enough to topple Alabama remains to be seen.
2. No. 20 Western Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan
Western Michigan continues to dominate since its season-opening 22-21 win at Northwestern. It has won the last six games by an average of 31 points, with the smallest margin of victory in that stretch being 15 against Northern Illinois two weeks ago. The biggest disappointment of Western Michigan’s best start since 1941 came during Saturday’s 41-0 win over Akron when running back Davon Tucker fumbled, resulting in the Broncos’ first turnover of the season. They were the last team in the country without a giveaway.
P.J. Fleck’s team is now the 20th-ranked team in the nation, and next will have to fend off upset-minded Eastern Michigan, which is going to need another big game from Brogan Roback. The redshirt junior has thrown seven touchdown passes and one interception over his last three games for the Eagles, who have won three straight on the road for the first time since 1967.
3. No. 14 Boise State vs. BYU
No. 14 Boise State comes into this one with a 6-0 record and a 3-0 mark in Mountain West games. A week after the Broncos torched New Mexico on the Lobos’ home field, head coach Bryan Harsin’s team was back home in Boise to host Colorado State, and they took down the Rams, 28-23. After falling behind early, 3-0, Boise State scored 28 unanswered points and hung on for the win despite allowing 20 points in the fourth quarter. Kalani Sitake hasn’t had as smooth as a transition in his first season as head coach at BYU (4-3), but things have been looking up for the Cougars lately.
After starting 1-3, BYU has won three consecutive games at home versus Toledo, on the road against Michigan State and at home versus Mississippi State. The most recent win over the Bulldogs had needed two overtimes before the Cougars finished with the 28-21 victory. It’s not an extensive history between the Broncos and Cougars, but the all-time series does favor Boise State, 4-2. However, BYU took last year’s meeting in Provo, 35-24.
4. No. 10 Wisconsin vs. Iowa
Wisconsin travels to Iowa after a heartbreaking overtime loss to No. 2 Ohio State in Madison. Wisconsin will have another tough test this weekend in Kinnick Stadium against an Iowa squad that went to the Big 10 championship game last year and currently sits at 5-2. If the Badgers come out slow against the Hawkeyes and have a bit of a big-game hangover, this could be a classic trap game. Iowa is coming off of a dominant win over a woeful Purdue team on the road, where it has played its best football this season. The Hawkeyes return home looking for a signature win, and Wisconsin provides a perfect opportunity.
Iowa had two running backs, LeShun Daniels and Akrum Wadley, rush for over 100 yards against Purdue, and they need that kind of production again against a tough Wisconsin defense. Iowa will be looking to prove something at home after dropping home games to both North Dakota State (an FCS team) and Northwestern this season. Expect the Hawkeyes to come out and challenge Wisconsin on both sides of the ball.
5. No. 17 Arkansas vs. No. 21 Auburn
This game could have major implications on the outcome of the SEC West and will provide a good test for an Auburn team that has yet to prove itself. Arkansas comes off of a thrilling 34-30 win over conference rival Ole Miss this past weekend. Auburn comes off of a bye week at 4-2, but the Tigers only have one loss in the SEC, to Texas A&M in Week 3. Depending on the outcome of the Texas A&M and Alabama contest, the Tigers still have an outside shot at winning the SEC West if they can win out in the SEC.
Of course, this would take road wins over Georgia and Alabama, as well as a win over Ole Miss, but as 2013 showed, the Tigers are a team that can get it going down the stretch. A win over Arkansas would be a nice springboard toward the homestretch for Auburn and could give them confidence heading into the teeth of their schedule.