Our college football open thread returns to highlight the appealing games on tap this week. With a couple projected playoff teams facing quality competition, the results of Week 8 could dramatically alter the landscape of the season...
(6) Texas A&M at (1) Alabama 3:30 ET
The marquee game of the week pits the last two remaining undefeated SEC teams against each other in a battle for conference supremacy. Alabama boasts a dominant defense with top pro prospects at every level, complimented by an efficient offense. Kevin Sumlin’s Aggies have the recipe to pull off the upset, with a pair of elite pass rushers leading an opportunistic defense, and a well rounded offense with explosive receivers. Alabama is favored by 17 at home, take the points.
A couple direct player matchups that could make a big difference in earnings to some of these young men in April. Bama left tackle Cam Robinson hopes to show his feet are quick enough to stay on the blindside in the NFL when he attempts to contain the nation’s top edge rusher Myles Garrett, who has one sack against Robinson in two previous games. A&M receiver Josh Reynolds, who is averaging nearly 20-yards per reception, will face Marlon Humphrey, who has allowed more big plays downfield than a first round corner should.
(2) Ohio State at Penn St 8:00 ET
Following a thrilling comeback victory at Wisconsin last week, the Buckeyes have another tough road test this week. Quarterback J.T. Barrett leads a young but talented Ohio State squad into a challenging night time road environment. Penn State has a strong rushing attack, but their defense is vulnerable against the run as well. If Ohio State can grab an early lead and quiet the crowed, they should cover the 19-point spread.
True sophomore Saquon Barkely is one of the best backs in the country, but will face a stiff challenge in the form of Buckeyes middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan, who has the makings of a top-15 draft selection. Ohio State receiver Noah Brown, a redshirt sophomore, is looking to improve his draft stock by providing consistent big plays on vertical routes.
(23) Ole Miss at (25) LSU 9:00 ET
Both of these teams are more talented than their records indicate. Although the Rebels won this matchup convincingly last season, a night game in Death Valley will be difficult. Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly spearheads a top passing offense against the Tigers stingy secondary. LSU is favored by a touchdown and should cover as long as quarterback Danny Etling limits turnovers.
Plenty of intriguing player matchups in this game. LSU receivers Travin Dural and Malachi Dupree will test Rebels defensive back Tony Connor deep, Connor has not been nearly as effective this season following a knee injury. Star running back Leonard Fournette is expected to return from injury this week, and will face a Landsharks defensive front that features several pro prospects including Marquis Haynes, D.J. Jones, Isaac Gross and Demarquis Gates. LSU’s pair of projected first round defensive backs will have their hands full, safety Jamal Adams will matchup against top tight end Evan Engram. And corner Tre’Davious White must play with better physicality to limit the Rebels big receivers, including Damore’ea Stringfellow.