While Week 8 of the 2022 college football schedule may look underwhelming in comparison to the sumptuous buffet we enjoyed last week, don’t assume that you aren’t going to wake up on Sunday morning fully satisfied.
Where there were six ranked vs. ranked matchups in Week 7, there are five such games this Saturday (one of which is a Top Ten affair) tying it with Week 5 for the second-most this season. If that weren’t enough, three of the Top 11 teams in the nation – No. 7, No. 9, and No. 11 – are underdogs to either a lower ranked or unranked opponent. All of this with eight members of the Top 25 taking a bye!
It adds up, again, once more, to an opportunity for a lot of movement at the top of the charts.
Here’s this week’s mental checklist:
(1). The Sun Belt kicks off the week again with a Wednesday night fixture at 7:30pm ET on ESPN2.
(2). Thursday night serves up two games – an ACC matchup and a Sun Belt game (with an actual Belt awarded to the winner) – both kick at 7:30pm ET on ESPN and ESPNU respectively and both have a spread of only three-points.
(3). Friday night offers two matchups airing at 7:30pm ET and 8pm ET on ESPN2 and CBSSN.
(4). Saturday begins with No. 14 at No. 5 on ABC, but things really heat up in the mid afternoon with No. 9 at No. 10 (FOX), No. 20 at No. 11 (ABC), and (7) Ole Miss at LSU (CBS) – all kicking at 3:30pm ET.
(5). Primetime gets started at 7pm ET with No. 24 at No. 6 on ESPN and then, an hour later, serves up No. 17 at No. 8 at 8pm ET over on FS1. Don’t sleep on Minnesota at (16) Penn State which splits the difference with a 7:30pm ET start on ABC.
Wednesday, Oct. 19
7:30pm ET – ESPN2 – Georgia State at Appalachian State
Thursday, Oct. 20
7:30pm ET – ESPN – Virginia at Georgia Tech
7:30pm ET – ESPNU – Troy at South Alabama
Friday, Oct. 21
7:30pm ET – ESPN2 – Tulsa at Temple
8pm ET – CBSSN – UAB at Western Kentucky
This selection features a solid strength vs. strength matchup pitting Western Kentucky’s passing attack – ranked a cool No. 6 in the nation – taking on a UAB defense ranked No. 15 in the FBS vs. the pass. It amounts to C-USA’s best pass offense taking on its stiffest pass D to break a tie for second place in the league standings. As a bonus, the No. 1 rusher in the nation – Blazer junior RB DeWayne McBride (#22) – gets to try his luck vs. a WKU D ranked No. 1 in the conference vs. the run.
Saturday, Oct. 22
Noon ET – ABC – (14) Syracuse at (5) Clemson
Before making Clemson your Week 8 lock – I mean, come on, Syracuse has got to blow it at some point, right? – consider this: the Orange’s defense is the best unit the Tigers have faced in 2022. Seriously? Seriously! Syracuse is ranked No. 6 nationally in scoring defense, No. 8 in total D, No. 11 vs. the run, and No. 12 vs. the pass. Prior to the ‘Cuse, the best defenses Clemson has faced are NC State (No. 15 in scoring), Florida State (No. 44), and Wake Forest (No. 63). It’s no coincidence that the three matchups also resulted in the three lowest margins of victory for the Tigers this season.
Noon ET – FOX – Iowa at (2) Ohio State
Averaging 48.8 points per game Ohio State is the No. 1 scoring offense in America. It sets up for a Battle Royale vs. an Iowa D ranked No. 3 in the nation in scoring allowing only 9.8 points per game. It makes the Hawkeyes the most elite defense that the Buckeyes have played this season. The closest comparisons are Wisconsin (ranked No. 33 in scoring D), which OSU hung up 52 points on and Notre Dame (No. 36 in scoring D) which it managed a season-low 21 points against. Though Iowa may have the firepower to limit Ohio State’s visits to the end zone, a stunning upset will likely hinge on its stagnant offense, averaging only 14.7 points per game tying it with Temple for the fourth-lowest mark in the FBS. Fun fact: This is the first time that the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes have played since 2017 and the first time Iowa has visited Columbus since 2013.
Noon ET – ESPN – (21) Cincinnati at SMU
Noon ET – ESPN2 – Kansas at Baylor
Noon ET – Big Ten Network – Indiana at Rutgers
Noon ET – ESPNU – Houston at Navy
Noon ET – SEC Network – FCS UT Martin at (3) Tennessee
2pm ET – ESPN+ – Northern Illinois at Ohio
After getting off to a 1-2 start (props for the losses being at Penn State and Iowa State), Ohio has improved to a 4-3 mark powered by a passing attack quietly ranked No. 13 in the nation. It sets up for an opportunity to rise even higher vs. a Northern Illinois D ranked No. 116 in the FBS vs. the pass. Keep an eye on junior Bobcat QB Kurtis Rourke (#7), the No. 10 passer in America.
2:30pm ET – Peacock – UNLV at Notre Dame
3pm ET – FS1 – West Virginia at Texas Tech
After holding its first three FBS opponents to an average of 240 passing yards per game, West Virginia has allowed an average of 379 in its last two outings. The digression is reflected in its No. 101 national rank vs. the pass. This week the Mountaineers visit Texas Tech, which at No. 2 in the nation (averaging 365 yards per game) represents the best passing attack they’ve faced this season. WVU gave up 336 air yards to a (20) Texas offense averaging 253 (No. 56 in the FBS) and a season-high 421 last Thursday night to a Baylor attack averaging 277 (No. 36 in the FBS).
3:30pm ET – FOX – (9) UCLA at (10) Oregon
On paper this one looks like an all-world matchup between two elite rushing attacks with great defenses. In one corner its Oregon’s No. 10 nationally ranked ground game taking on a UCLA D ranked No. 16 in the FBS vs. the run. But did you know that while the Ducks are fresh off a pair of 300-plus yard rushing performances that they came vs. a Stanford D ranked No. 119 vs. the run and an Arizona unit ranked No. 121? But wait! There’s more – the Bruins D has only faced one opponent this season ranked in the top half of the FBS in rushing offense – Utah at No. 36.
Flip the script and it’s the Bruins’ No. 20 ranked rush offense (headlined by the No. 8 back in the country senior RB Zach Charbonnet, #24) squaring off with a Duck defense ranked No. 14 against the run. The backstory? UCLA has only faced two defenses ranked in the top half of the nation vs. the run. It hung up 220 ground yards on a South Alabama D allowing, on average, 97 yards per game (No. 13 in the FBS) and 184 on a Washington D allowing 117 (No. 32). As for Oregon’s defense, it has only played one opponent ranked in the top half of the FBS in rushing offense, holding a Georgia unit averaging 196 yards per game (No. 30) to 132.
Which numbers won’t lie?
3:30pm ET – ABC – (20) Texas at (11) Oklahoma State
Texas hasn’t beaten a ranked opponent on the road since 2020 when it strode into, ironically, Stillwater and edged the then No. 6 Cowboys 41-34. The common thread running through the Longhorns’ two losses this season is third down conversions. Where UT converted 49 percent of its third down attempts in its five wins, it dropped to 29 percent in its pair of losses. It sets up for an intriguing matchup vs. an Oklahoma State defense ranked No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 5 in the nation in opponent’s third down conversions, allowing only 27 percent – or 25 – of the 93 attempts made on it this season.
3:30pm ET – CBS – (7) Ole Miss at LSU
Despite its 7-0 record and Top Ten ranking, Ole Miss is a two-point underdog to 5-2 LSU. Whether the lack of confidence is because only two of the seven wins came against clubs with winning records (Troy and Kentucky) or that the Rebels have dropped six-straight in Baton Rouge is a mystery. What we do know is that LSU is the second-best defense they’ve faced this season. The highest ranked unit thus far has been Kentucky, currently No. 14 in the FBS in total D. That game resulted in a 22-19 win which was also the lowest margin of victory, and the fewest number of points scored this season. The next-best defense belonged to Troy, No. 32 in yards per game. The Rebels won that contest 28-10, their second-lowest point output. Their other four FBS opponents (Georgia Tech, Tulsa, Vanderbilt, and Auburn) are all ranked No. 80 or worse in total D. LSU is currently No. 28 nationally in total defense and No. 31 in scoring.
3:30pm ET – ESPN2 – Memphis at (25) Tulane
At 6-1 Tulane is ranked for the first time in 24 years, or since 1998 when it went 12-0 under Tommy Bowden and finished No. 7 in the final AP. What’s driven the success bus is the Green Wave D, currently ranked No. 11 in the nation in scoring, No. 17 in total defense, and No. 10 vs. the pass. It sets up for an intriguing matchup against a Memphis team ranked No. 31 nationally/No. 3 in the AAC in pass offense. Though the Tigers aren’t an all-world unit they’re only the third offense that Tulane has faced this season currently ranked in the top half of the FBS in passing yards per game. The Wave held a Houston offense averaging 261 (No. 50 in the FBS) to 208 and an East Carolina attack averaging 309 (No. 18 in the FBS) to 288.
3:30pm ET – ESPN – Purdue at Wisconsin
3:30pm ET – ESPNU – BYU at Liberty
3:30pm ET – ESPN+ – Marshall at James Madison
This one is way more than “the team that upset Notre Dame vs. the team that was ranked during its first season in the FBS.” Indeed! Watch this saucy little Sun Belt sleeper to see the No. 3 running back in our united states, Marshall senior RB Khalan Laborn (#8), take on a James Madison defense ranked No. 1 – in America – vs. the run. Where Laborn is averaging 142 rushing yards per game, the stingy Dukes are allowing 37, fresh off of giving up a total of 32 ground yards – combined – to its last two opponents.
3:30pm ET – ESPN+ – Georgia Southern at Old Dominion
This matchup pits each team’s offensive superpower against the other squad’s biggest defensive weakness. First up, it’s Georgia Southern’s passing attack – ranked No. 3 in the FBS – taking on an Old Dominion D ranked No. 117 nationally/dead last in the Sun Belt vs. the pass. On the flip side it’s Monarch junior RB Blake Watson (#2) – the No. 16 back in the country – doing his thing vs. an Eagle defense ranked No. 127 in the nation vs. the run. Where Watson is fresh off hanging up 259 ground yards and three scores on Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern senior QB Kyle Vantrease (#6) (the No. 2 passer in the FBS) threw for 578 yards and four scores vs. James Madison last week. Man the scoreboard!
3:30pm ET – Stadium – North Texas at UTSA
A carbon copy of the Georgia Southern/Old Dominion situation, tune in to this one to see a double dip of mismatches as UTSA’s No. 7 ranked passing attack takes on a North Texas defense ranked No. 123 vs. the pass while the Mean Green’s No. 6 ranked rushing offense squares off with the Roadrunners’ No. 95 ranked rushing D. It’s another scorer’s delight!
4pm ET – Pac-12 Network – Arizona State at Stanford
7pm ET – ESPN – (24) Mississippi State at (6) Alabama
While it’s safe to assume that Nick Saban will have Alabama ready for Mike Leach’s air raid attack, did you know that the 385 passing yards that (3) Tennessee managed in last week’s breathtaking win was the most vs. a Saban defense in 23 tries? The last time an offense fared so well was when Florida threw for 408 yards in the 2020 SEC title game, an atrocity somewhat softened by a 52-46 win for the Tide. Where the Volunteers are averaging 348 passing yards per game this season (No. 5 in the FBS), Mississippi State is averaging 333 (No. 9). Lightning won’t strike twice, but what if it does? Are we witnessing the beginning of the end of a glorious era without even knowing it?
7pm ET – CBSSN – Boise State at Air Force
7:30pm ET – ABC – Minnesota at (16) Penn State
After holding its first five opponents to an average of 80 rushing yards per game – earning it a No. 5 rank nationally coming into Week 7 – Penn State’s defense imploded at (4) Michigan last week, coughing up 418 ground yards and four scores in the 41-17 blowout. The single performance dropped it to a No. 56 rank vs. the run. This week the Nittany Lions host the No. 4 back in the FBS in Minnesota senior RB Mohamed Ibrahim (#24) who most recently hung up 127 ground yards on an Illinois D giving up an average of 78 (No. 3 in the nation). The Golden Gophers might prove a significant hurdle in the quest to return Penn State’s valley to a state of happiness.
7:30pm ET – SEC Network – Texas A&M at South Carolina
7:30pm ET – ESPNU – UCF at East Carolina
8pm ET – FS1 – (17) Kansas State at (8) TCU
TCU went on a 7-0 run as recently as 2017, winning its first seven games and then going 2-2 down the stretch to earn a spot in the Big 12 title game, a 41-17 loss vs. then (2) Oklahoma. Those Frogs edged (15) Stanford in the Alamo Bowl for an 11-3 finish and a No. 9 mention in the final AP. This year’s squad touts an offense ranked No. 3 in the FBS/No. 1 in the Big 12 in scoring, averaging 45.8 points per game. It sets up for a mighty test against K-State’s D, ranked No. 14 in the nation/No. 2 in the Big 12 in scoring, also far-and-away the best defense TCU has faced this season. To compare – Colorado is ranked No. 127 in scoring D, SMU is No. 91, Oklahoma is No. 101, Kansas is No. 95, and Oklahoma State is No. 75. Yikes!
8pm ET – ACC Network – Pitt at Louisville
10:30pm ET – ESPN – Washington at Cal
After hanging up a career-high 516 yards and four touchdowns in the win over Arizona last Saturday, this week junior Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. (#9) – the No. 1 passer in the FBS – draws Cal, home to the No. 98 ranked pass defense in America. In its last two outings, the Golden Bear D allowed 343 air yards to a Washington State offense averaging 280 (No. 32 in the FBS) and 210 to a Colorado attack averaging 172 (No. 116). The Huskies are the No. 1 ranked pass offense in the country, averaging 380 yards per game.
10:30pm ET – CBSSN – San Diego State at Nevada
OFF THIS WEEK (24)
- American: South Florida
- ACC: Florida State, (23) NC State, (22) North Carolina, Virginia Tech
- Big Ten: (18) Illinois, (4) Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska
- Big 12: Iowa State, Oklahoma
- C-USA: Middle Tennessee
- Independents: UConn, UMass
- Pac-12: Arizona, (12) USC, (15) Utah, Washington State
- SEC: Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, (1) Georgia, (19) Kentucky
- Sun Belt: Coastal Carolina
FIRST-EVER MEETINGS (1)
- UNLV at Notre Dame
REUNITED…And it feels so good
- Marshall at James Madison (last played in 1994)
7: Western Michigan has won 7-straight over Miami Ohio (last loss in 2004)
7: (2) Ohio State has won 7-straight home games over Iowa (last loss there in 1991)
7: (10) Oregon has won 7-straight home games over (9) UCLA (last loss there in 2004)
12: Baylor has won 12-straight over Kansas (last loss in 2007)
14: (6) Alabama has won 14-straight over (24) Mississippi State (last loss in 2007)
15: Wisconsin has won 15-straight over Purdue (last loss in 2003)
- Georgia State has NEVER beaten Appalachian State (0-8)
- James Madison has NEVER beaten Marshall (0-2)
- Kansas has NEVER won AT Baylor (0-10)
- Maryland has NEVER beaten Northwestern (0-2)
- South Carolina has NEVER beaten Texas A&M (0-8)
- SMU has NEVER won a home game vs. (21) Cincinnati (0-3)
- (14) Syracuse has NEVER won AT (5) Clemson (0-4)
HARDWARE UP FOR GRABS
THE BELT – Troy at South Alabama – Thursday, 7:30pm ET, ESPNU – series started in 2012 – Troy leads 7-3 and has won four-straight.
Established in 2015 to celebrate the two Sun Belt programs hailing from the state of Alabama, The Belt is just that, a championship belt complete with football bling. It may be the best swag in all of college football. The campuses of Troy and South Alabama are located 175-miles apart in southern Alabama. The Trojans have worn The Belt home on five occasions vs. the Jaguars’ twice.
THE BRIDGER RIFLE – Utah State at Wyoming – Saturday, 9:45pm ET, FS2 – series started in 1903 – Utah State leads 40-27-4 but the two have split the last four.
An actual firearm, Bridger’s Rifle (a .50-caliber Rocky Mountain Hawken rifle) honors Jim Bridger, the “foremost mountain man in the history of the American West.” One of the first Americans to visit the territory that became Yellow Stone National Park, Bridger also is credited with discovering the Great Salt Lake. “Bridger’s Battle” kicked off in 2013, the winner of the rivalry’s name inscribed on the maple stock of the rifle. Utah State has won the weapon five times vs. Wyoming’s three.
Also of note: The “Old Wagon Wheel” associated with the Utah State/BYU rivalry is believed to be from Jim Bridger’s chuck wagon, the first vehicle to enter the Utah Valley.
THE JAMES BONHAM TROPHY – Texas A&M at South Carolina – Saturday, 7:30pm ET, SEC Network – series started in 2014, Texas A&M has won all eight meetings.
James Bonham was a South Carolina native who attended South Carolina College, the predecessor of the University of South Carolina. He came to Texas in 1835, setting up a law practice in Brazoria and striking up a friendship with Sam Houston. Bonham was commissioned into the Texas Cavalry and eventually traveled to the Alamo. After riding out through Mexican lines to find aid for the garrison, he returned and died manning a cannon in the interior chapel of the Alamo on March 6, 1836. Rather than being awarded to the winning football team, the trophy honoring Bonham goes to the winning governor of either Texas or South Carolina.
THE MAGNOLIA BOWL TROPHY – (7) Ole Miss at LSU – Saturday, 3:30pm ET, CBS – series started in 1894 – LSU leads 64-41-4, Ole Miss won the last meeting snapping a five-game losing skid.
The Magnolia Bowl and its trophy didn’t debut until 2008, after both student bodies participated in a “Name that Rivalry” contest. The original trophy, damaged during the Rebels’ celebration after their upset victory over the then No. 6 Tigers, was replaced in 2014 with a redesigned edition aimed at being a “better representation” of the rivalry. LSU has won the Magnolia Bowl nine times vs. Ole Miss’s five.
THE WAGON WHEEL – Akron at Kent State – Saturday, Noon ET, ESPN+ – series started in 1923 – Akron leads 35-27-2 but Kent State has won the last three.
Not to be confused with BYU and Utah’s State’s Old Wagon Wheel, Kent State and Akron’s The Wagon Wheel dates to 1946 when KSU Dean Raymond Manchester claimed he had possession of a buggy wheel that had belonged to the founder of the institution that eventually became the University of Akron. Though Manchester valued the Wheel, he stated he was “willing to put it up as a trophy,” because, if his school and its rival were to meet on the gridiron, “there’s no danger of losing it.” Though bold, he was correct, at least in the short term – Kent State won the first 10 Wheels, but since then the Zips have earned a 24-16 advantage. The two schools are located only 12 miles apart, south of Cleveland, Ohio.
After battling Utah State for Bridger’s Rifle this week, Wyoming will make the long trek to Hawaii next Saturday to try and reclaim the Paniolo Trophy. Next up, after a bye, the Cowboys are slated to visit Colorado State in Week 11 for The Border War with the Bronze Boot going to the winner.
It makes the Cowboys one of only three FBS clubs in 2022 who have three consecutive games with rivalry trophies on the line.
Iowa (which is tied with Fresno State and Navy for the most rivalry trophy games in 2022 with four) closes out its season with consecutive trophy-games vs. Wisconsin (the Heartland Trophy), at Minnesota (the Floyd of Rosedale), and vs. Nebraska (the Heroes Trophy).
Wisconsin also ends its regular-season campaign with a trio of rivalry contests enhanced with hardware: at Iowa (the Heartland Trophy), at Nebraska (the Freedom Trophy), and vs. Minnesota (Paul Bunyan’s Axe).
Historical data courtesy of Sports Reference-College Football and JMUSports.com. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com. Odds courtesy of Oddshark.com.
The Sun Belt should soon add Eastern Kentucky and Stephen F. Austin so that this can be the Thanksgiving week schedule:
Appalachian State-Coastal Carolina
Arkansas State-Southern Miss
Georgia Southern-Georgia State
James Madison-Old Dominion
Stephen F. Austin-Texas State
Troy-USA is being played tonight. I always thought it belonged on Thanksgiving week.