Last week's college football schedule featured zero games between teams ranked in the AP poll, but it turned into a dramatic weekend that featured four top-10 teams losing to unranked foes, including unbeaten Clemson, Washington and Washington State. It's a tough act to follow, but Week 8 kicks off the second half of the regular season with plenty of intriguing games headlined by two huge ranked matchups: Michigan at Penn State and USC and Notre Dame, which will be played simultaneously at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Here's everything you need to watch this Saturday.
All times are Eastern, and within each time slot games are previewed in order of importance and watchability.
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Saturday Early Afternoon
No. 10 Oklahoma State at Texas
Perhaps this is not an ideal spot for a Texas upset, the week after a physical and emotional close loss to Oklahoma in a heated rivalry game. The Longhorns have actually won five in a row in the week after the Red River Showdown, but their last post-OU loss? At home against a more highly regarded Oklahoma State in 2011. This year, every game is essentially a do-or-die game for the Cowboys' playoff hopes after they lost to TCU, and they'll head to Austin after an easy win over Baylor last week, with Mason Rudolph, James Washington and this offense continuing to roll behind big plays in the passing game.
The Texas we saw in Week 1, when it lost to Maryland, would stand no chance against Oklahoma State. The Texas we've seen since then is still flawed, but there's talent on this defense -- enough to give Rudolph and the Cowboys some trouble -- and the Longhorns offense has rallied around impressive freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger. Tom Herman already has a reputation for pulling off upsets from his time at Houston, and Texas pushed both USC and Oklahoma to the brink. It's capable of playing better than its 3-3 record shows, and this Saturday could be the time it proves it and finally finishes off an upset.
Pick: Texas 34, Oklahoma State 31
Louisville at Florida State
Entering this season, Louisville was ranked No. 16, with the defending Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback. Florida State was ranked No. 3, owning College Football Playoff expectations. Both teams are now unranked, boasting a combined record of 6-6, which unexpectedly makes this an afterthought in the ACC race. That doesn't mean the game itself won't be intriguing. One, it's a revenge spot for Florida State after the Seminoles were humiliated 63-20 at Louisville last September, giving Lamar Jackson what proved to be an insurmountable early lead in the Heisman race. Two, Florida State has played arguably the nation's most difficult schedule. It still has top-25 talent, but with a 2-3 record, this is a crucial game that will help us see how much of a turnaround is possible for the Seminoles, with freshman QB James Blackman experiencing mixed results at quarterback so far. Three, Louisville is on the verge of disaster: Jackson had 512 yards of total offense last week, and yet the Cardinals lost 45-42 to Boston College, a team that hadn't scored more than 21 points in an ACC game since 2014. The Cardinals' defense is imploding, giving Jackson little help on either side of the ball.
Florida State has plenty of flaws, but a visit from a reeling Louisville gives it an opportunity to both get some revenge and launch a turnaround in the second half of the season.
Pick: Florida State 31, Louisville 27
Maryland at No. 5 Wisconsin
The Badgers' march through an easy schedule continues. They have yet to play a team that currently has a winning record, and their next three games are against Maryland, Illinois and Indiana before a crucial two-game stretch vs. Iowa and Michigan (both of which are at home). The schedule, of course, isn't the Badgers fault. They're grinding out wins behind a stellar defense and the exceptional running of freshman tailback Jonathan Taylor, who has rushed for over 200 yards in back-to-back games against Nebraska and Purdue. Given Maryland's injury problems at quarterback, this week should be more of the same for Wisconsin: dominant defense and a healthy dose of Taylor against a beatable Terrapins run defense.
Pick: Wisconsin 27, Maryland 13
Iowa State at Texas Tech
Texas Tech's trip to Ames last November produced one of the strangest results of the 2016 college football season. The teams finished with a combined eight wins, so Iowa State winning wasn't a surprise. It's how it happened that was shocking: The Cyclones demolished the Red Raiders 66-10, behind 171 rushing yards from Joel Lanning … who has since switched from quarterback to linebacker but is still making some appearances on offense. Both of these teams have improved since last year, and both are aiming for postseason bids. It should be a relatively even matchup, but Texas Tech's defense has jumped from 126th to 63rd in yards per play allowed and can do a better job slowing down the Cyclones than last year.
Pick: Texas Tech 38, Iowa State 33
Iowa at Northwestern
Wisconsin has already taken a seemingly insurmountable lead in the Big Ten West race at 3-0, with the other six teams all owning at least two losses already. This game features two of the most likely long-shot challengers, especially Iowa. The Hawkeyes lost tight games to both Penn State and Michigan State, but Josey Jewell leads a solid defense and QB Nate Stanley has thrown 15 TD passes vs. only two interceptions. The winner of this matchup has actually scored at least 38 points in three straight meetings -- including a 38-31 Wildcats win last year -- but it's hard not to feel like this will be a traditional 11 a.m. ET Big Ten slugfest.
Pick: Iowa 22, Northwestern 19
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Saturday Late Afternoon
Tennessee at No. 1 Alabama
3:30 p.m., CBS
The Third Saturday in October rivalry is a historic series between two traditional SEC powers, one with lore dating back to Bear Bryant dragging a broken leg against the Vols in the 1930s. However, the rivalry has often been lopsided. From 1971-81, Alabama won 11 straight, nine of which were by double digits. From 1986-94, Alabama went 8-0-1. From 1995-2006, Tennessee won 10 of 12. Now: The rivalry is at its most lopsided.
Alabama, which has won 10 straight games in the series since Nick Saban arrived, is favored by THIRTY-SIX points. Thirty-six. And it's entirely justifiable. In the current winning streak, Alabama has won by at least two TDs eight times. It has won by at least 31 five times, including a 49-10 victory in Knoxville last year. This year's Tennessee team is weaker than last year's. This year's Alabama team is just as dominant. The Vols lost to Florida on the last play, beat UMass by four, lost 41-0 to Georgia and lost 15-9 to South Carolina. The Vols have gone 10 quarters without scoring a touchdown, and now they have to play yet another ruthless Alabama machine that has won games by an average score of 43 to 10. It wouldn't be shocking at all to see Tennessee cover the point spread, but at this point a Tennessee win would easily be more surprising than Iowa State winning at Oklahoma or Syracuse beating Clemson.
Pick: Alabama 43, Tennessee 10
Syracuse at No. 8 Miami
3:30 p.m., ESPN
Syracuse is coming off its biggest win in years, a shocking home upset of defending national champion Clemson last Friday. Miami has surged into the top 10 after back-to-back dramatic wins over Florida State and Georgia Tech, both spurred by passes from Malik Rosier to Darrell Langham in the final minute. That puts both the Orange and the Hurricanes in interesting spots this week, as they have been thrust into the national spotlight under second-year coaches, with Dino Babers and Mark Richt engineering turnarounds.
The pressure on Saturday is much greater on Miami, which has legitimate ACC title and playoff aspirations as the last remaining undefeated team in the conference. Injuries have piled up for the Hurricanes, but unlike Clemson, they do have a healthy quarterback in Rosier. After the events of last week at the Carrier Dome, they also won't be taken by surprise by Syracuse's improvement. The Canes rank eighth nationally in yards per play on offense and 22nd on defense. This is a relatively complete team, and although Eric Dungey and the Syracuse passing attack will test Miami's new-look secondary, the Orange pulling off another upset, this time on the road, is probably too much to ask.
Pick: Miami 37, Syracuse 23
No. 20 UCF at Navy
3:30 p.m., CBSSN
David Ubben chronicled UCF's roller-coaster ride over the past five seasons for Sports on Earth on Thursday. The Knights went from playing in the Fiesta Bowl in 2013 to going winless in 2015 to surging back into the top 20 with a 5-0 record and a national-best average of 50 points per game under second-year coach Scott Frost. They demolished both Maryland and Memphis and have forced the college football world to take notice, with QB McKenzie Milton in particular breaking out as a star. Now comes one of the toughest challenges of the season, on the road in an Annapolis against Navy's option attack. To prepare, UCF even had Frost -- a former option quarterback at Nebraska -- taking some snaps in practice. On Saturday, the Knights will be tasked with slowing down Navy QB Zach Abey, who has 1,016 rushing yards in six games for the 5-1 Midshipmen, who struggled with turnovers in a 30-27 loss to Memphis last week. Navy's past five games have all been decided by 10 points or less; UCF's closest point differential was 28 against Maryland. This should be the Knights' closest game of the year, but they have the production on offense and the athleticism on defense to escape with the road win.
Pick: UCF 35, Navy 24
Indiana at No. 18 Michigan State
3:30 p.m., ABC
After a hard-luck 2016 season, Michigan State is 3-0 in games decided by a touchdown or less, topping Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota the past three weeks to start 3-0 in the Big Ten and move into the top 20. Expectations have suddenly risen after last year's 3-9 debacle, but before back-to-back games against Penn State and Ohio State to start November, the Spartans have to first take care of business against the Hoosiers and Northwestern to end October. It's hard not to view this Saturday's game as a bit of a trap. The Hoosiers continue to struggle to finish upsets, as we saw in last week's overtime loss to Michigan. They are stingy on defense, however, and they have some talent on offense led by WR Simmie Cobbs. Michigan State is the better team, with its own excellent defense thus far, but there's a reason the Spartans are only a seven-point favorite at home. The Spartans are better than they were last year, but they're not built to blow out opponents.
Pick: Michigan State 24, Indiana 20
No. 9 Oklahoma at Kansas State
4 p.m., Fox
Despite last week's chaos, my upset pick of Kansas State over TCU wasn't particularly close. After a long delay, TCU easily pounded the Wildcats, who have been dealing with an injury to QB Jesse Ertz but scored only seven points in a loss at Vandy in September even with Ertz on the field. Bill Snyder is always capable of pulling off a surprise, a shocking Kansas State upset when nobody expects it, but despite the fact that Iowa State won at Oklahoma, this doesn't look like an enticing upset spot. Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma offensive line are too good, and the Sooners will hit the big plays they need to hit to win and stay alive in the playoff race.
Pick: Oklahoma 38, Kansas State 17
North Carolina at No. 14 Virginia Tech
3:30 p.m., ESPN2
Miami is getting all the publicity in the ACC Coastal now, but the Hokies are still lurking at 5-1 overall with their only loss to Clemson. The Hokies can recapture national attention on Nov. 4 if they win at Miami. First, they have to take care of home games against North Carolina and Duke. UNC has become the easier opponent of the two: Two years after leading the nation in yards per play, the Tar Heels rank 95th in that category, which does not bode well for a road trip to Lane Stadium against this Virginia Tech defense. The Hokies can cruise behind that defense and the excellent play of redshirt freshman QB Josh Jackson.
Pick: Virginia Tech 38, North Carolina 17
Kentucky at Mississippi State
4 p.m., SEC Network
Remember three years ago, when Mississippi State was ranked No. 1 and this matchup was the SEC game of the week on CBS? The Bulldogs and Wildcats had a combine record of 11-2 at that point in the season. This time, they're a combined 9-3, with Kentucky quietly sitting at 5-1, losing only by one point in a heartbreaker against Florida. It's still been 10 years since both teams finished the same season with a winning record, but 2017 could be heading that way, especially given the state of the SEC beyond Alabama and Georgia. On Saturday, it's unlikely that Kentucky is equipped to defend Nick Fitzgerald and the Bulldogs. The Wildcats rank 73rd in yards per play allowed despite playing a weak schedule, and Fitzgerald and Mississippi State are capable of taking advantage in Starkville.
Pick: Mississippi State 35, Kentucky 20
Oregon at UCLA
4 p.m., Pac-12 Network
The Ducks and Bruins went a combined 8-16 last year, and things haven't been trending well for either lately, again. Oregon is playing without injured QB Justin Herbert. Last week, it attempted 13 passes between Braxton Burmeister and Taylor Alie and lost to Stanford by 42. That came after it lost to Washington State 33-10. The good news for the Ducks is that leaning heavily on tailback Royce Freeman could work this week, because UCLA ranks 129th against the run, giving up 313 yards per game and 6.6 yards per carry. Texas A&M, Stanford and Arizona all torched the Bruins on the ground, and the question here is whether Freeman against UCLA's beatable run defense or Josh Rosen against Oregon's beatable pass defense is more imbalanced. Given Oregon's quarterback issues, the edge goes to Rosen at home, but the Bruins haven't inspired much faith recently.
Pick: UCLA 38, Oregon 31
Arizona State at Utah
3:30 p.m., FS1
The Sun Devils and Utes experienced wildly different emotions last week: Arizona State, which had allowed over 30 points in 11 straight games, somehow upset Washington 13-7. Utah went on the road to USC, blew a lead, scored what could have been the tying touchdown and instead missed a two-point conversion that would have probably won the game. Utah might get QB Tyler Huntley back from an injury, but last year Troy Williams led the Utes to 49 points on the road at Arizona State. After last week, it's impossible to know what to expect from the Sun Devils defense. This is, however, a fairly difficult spot, going on the road to face a physical Utah team after the emotional high of beating the Huskies.
Pick: Utah 31, Arizona State 23
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Saturday Prime Time
No. 19 Michigan at No. 2 Penn State
7:30 p.m., ABC
Last Sept. 24, a banged-up, out-of-sorts Penn State squad traveled to the Big House to face No. 4 Michigan. With its linebacking corps especially hampered by injuries, Penn State was run out of the stadium, losing 49-10. The new-look offense hit a wall. The noise from James Franklin detractors became deafening. Michigan was on the upswing, and Penn State's 2016 season appeared bleak.
And then the Nittany Lions defied all expectations.
Penn State reinvented itself as an entertaining, big-play team. It has won 15 of its past 16 games, with a Big Ten championship, a trip to the Rose Bowl and a 2017 Heisman campaign for Saquon Barkley underway. Michigan is 11-4 since then and is struggling on offense, particularly in the passing game. The past 12-plus months have seen a stunning turn of events, particularly in Happy Valley, and Penn State enters Saturday night's showcase game -- prime time, white out, "College Gameday" in town for the first time since 2009 -- as a clear favorite over the Wolverines. Michigan has been phenomenal defensively and is particularly loaded in the defensive front, but despite some inconsistency on the offensive line, Penn State has a decisive edge when comparing the offenses, led by Barkley and QB Trace McSorley.
Penn State has also had two weeks to prepare before this brutal stretch that includes road trips to Ohio State and Michigan State the next two games. Those stand out as massive obstacles, too, but this Saturday, at least, Penn State comes in having had time to adjust for the second half of the season, while Michigan lost to Michigan State, then spent last week barely escaping Indiana in overtime on the road. The situation favors Penn State. The offense favors Penn State. The home atmosphere favors Penn State. The Wolverines have the defense to keep this close, but the Lions will pass their first of three season-defining tests in a row.
Pick: Penn State 27, Michigan 19
No. 11 USC at No. 13 Notre Dame
7:30 p.m., NBC
The 2005 game was a classic, but USC dominated Notre Dame last decade under Pete Carroll, winning nine in a row from 2002-09. Since Carroll's departure, however, both the Trojans and Fighting Irish have experienced mixed results overall and mixed results against each other. Notre Dame holds a 4-3 edge in the past seven rivalry games, with five of the games decided by 10 points or less. They enter Saturday night in similar places: fighting for their playoff lives.
Both lost close games to top 25 teams -- USC at Washington State and Notre Dame vs. Georgia -- and both likely need to run the table to earn a playoff bid. The Irish in particular have a brutal second-half slate that also features N.C. State, Wake Forest, Miami, Navy and Stanford. What's ahead for Notre Dame makes Saturday night even bigger. The Irish have still been waiting for new QB Brandon Wimbush's breakout as a passer, but he's been an integral part of a dominant running game under new coordinator Chip Long. It's featured a ton of big plays from RB Josh Adams, playing behind one of the nation's best offensive lines.
Notre Dame will surely lean on that ground attack against a dangerous USC squad that has been inconsistent but still boasts a ton of talent, led by QB Sam Darnold and RB Ronald Jones II. One of the biggest keys for Notre Dame this season has been forcing more turnovers under new coordinator Mike Elko. Pressuring Darnold into mistakes -- he's thrown nine picks -- could be the difference in the game on Saturday, as could USC's significant injury concerns. USC has the talent to win if Darnold has a big game, but Notre Dame is coming off a bye and is capable of controlling this game on the ground against a Trojans squad that has been through a grueling first half of the season.
Pick: Notre Dame 30, USC 27
No. 24 LSU at Ole Miss
7:15 p.m., ESPN
The Magnolia Bowl feels like one of the most unpredictable games of the weekend. LSU got blown out by Mississippi State and lost at home to Troy. Then it beat Florida on the road and erased a 20-point deficit to beat Auburn at home. Ole Miss has been all over the map, too, with a dangerous offense behind QB Shea Patterson and a talented receiving corps … but it also struggled in losses to Cal, Alabama and Auburn. Neither team is trustworthy, and it's possible that LSU, after that big comeback win against Auburn, could fall into a trap against this explosive Rebels offense. Beyond the passing game, Ole Miss has plenty of holes, though, and it needs to prove it can stop the run after getting demolished by Leonard Fournette last year.
Pick: LSU 28, Ole Miss 27
No. 21 Auburn at Arkansas
7:30 p.m., SEC Network
The last time Arkansas hosted Auburn, it scored 54 points and won by eight in four overtimes in 2015. Last year, in a visit to Auburn, Arkansas scored three points, allowed 543 rushing yards and lost by 53 points. A reasonable guess going into this Saturday is that the final result will be somewhere in the middle of those two games. Auburn had looked excellent in SEC play until the second quarter against LSU, when it started to blow a 20-0 lead and eventually lost. Now it has to turn around and visiting a reeling Arkansas squad that has been blown out by South Carolina and Alabama the past two weeks, is 0-3 in the SEC and is dealing with an injury to QB Austin Allen. This isn't a great week for Auburn to have to go back on the road, but facing an inconsistent Razorbacks team on both sides of the ball, the Tigers should bounce back.
Pick: Auburn 38, Arkansas 24
No. 16 South Florida at Tulane
7 p.m., ESPN2
South Florida hasn't always played perfectly, but it has mostly cruised to a 6-0 record anyway against one of the nation's easiest schedules. The biggest tests come in the second half of the season, including Houston next week and UCF to end the regular season. Before then, Saturday night stands out as an intriguing possible trap. Tulane is improved in Willie Fritz's second season, even pounding Tulsa 62-28 two weeks again. Then again, the Green Wave are coming off a disappointing 23-10 loss to FIU. Their offense is dangerous in the right matchup, but Charlie Strong has done a great job with the USF defense, which ranks sixth in yards per play allowed. Tulane can give the unbeaten Bulls a scare, but it won't have quite enough to outduel Quinton Flowers.
Pick: South Florida 35, Tulane 27
No. 23 West Virginia at Baylor
8 p.m., FS1
In the first four West Virginia-Baylor games after the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 in 2012, the winning team scored at least 41 points each time. Last year, things slipped to a 24-21 West Virginia win in early December. It's a bit harder to know what to expect this time. Baylor is 0-6 under Matt Rhule, but it will be a surprise if the Bears don't pull off an upset against somebody in Big 12 play, especially at home. Can they catch the Mountaineers in a trap here? West Virginia earned a comeback win vs. Texas Tech last week, and it has a huge game with Oklahoma State next Saturday. In between, it has to go to Waco. It's unlikely that Baylor will be able to keep up with Will Grier and the West Virginia offense, but it wouldn't be surprising to see the Bears hang around, like they did at home against Oklahoma.
Pick: West Virginia 35, Baylor 28
Arizona at California
8 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Khalil Tate ranks 23rd nationally in rushing yards. Ordinarily, that wouldn't seem like a strange fact for a player in a Rich Rodriguez offense. But: Tate is a quarterback … Tate was the backup quarterback when October began … and Tate has carried the ball only 39 times. In the past two games, Tate has rushed for 327 yards and four TDs on 14 carries against Colorado and 230 yards and two TDs on 15 carries against UCLA, a ridiculous start to October in which Tate has emerged from nowhere to become one of the most electrifying players in college football. In recent years, a game against Cal would present another opportunity to put up huge numbers, but this time it's an intriguing matchup: Cal has improved significantly on defense under new head coach Justin Wilcox, as we saw in last week's stunning 37-3 win over Washington State in which the Golden Bears had seven takeaways and nine sacks. Can the Bears stop Tate? It's suddenly become one of college football's most intimidating challenges.
Pick: Arizona 32, California 28
Wake Forest at Georgia Tech
7:30 p.m., ESPNU
It's been 11 years since Wake Forest and Georgia Tech met in an improbable ACC championship game that the Demon Deacons won 9-6. Since then Georgia Tech has not lost to Wake Forest … but despite playing in the same conference, they've met only twice in that time, and that was in 2009 and '10. After a long span in which they did not play each other, they'll play on Saturday night at Bobby Dodd Stadium in a game that should be competitive, with Georgia Tech's option attack, led by TaQuon Marshall, meeting a tough Wake Forest defense, led by Duke Ejiofor.
Pick: Georgia Tech 25, Wake Forest 24
Kansas at No. 4 TCU
8 p.m., Fox
That's right: Kansas football, in prime time on network television. TCU is favored by 38 ½ points and rightfully so. It's ranked No. 4 and looks like a legitimate playoff contender. Kansas is 1-5 and is allowing 55 points per game in Big 12 play. It also just lost 45-0 to Iowa State in a game in which it finished with 106 total yards. This should be a leisurely evening for TCU at home before a tricky stretch that includes Iowa State, Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech the next four weeks. Then again, Kansas has played TCU bizarrely close: Although TCU is 5-0 against Kansas since joining the Big 12, those five games have been decided by a total of 35 points, including a 24-23 win last year. Based on everything that's happened this year, TCU will win in a blowout, but Kansas has played the Horned Frogs close enough to create a tiny bit of doubt.
Pick: TCU 39, Kansas 10
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Saturday Late Night
Colorado at No. 15 Washington State
10:45 p.m., ESPN
Washington State spent all of September on its home field, building a 5-0 record that included a Friday night win over USC. It's on the road for three out of four October games, and after easily winning at Oregon, it proceeded to stumble in horrifying fashion last Friday night at Cal. Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Wazzu in that game, and the pressure is on quarterback Luke Falk and this offense to respond after a nightmare performance in Berkeley. Although Colorado did win the Pac-12 South behind excellent defense last year, there's a chance that Saturday night is a solid opportunity for the Cougars to bounce back. The Buffaloes, with a new-look defense, played well in nonconference play but have struggled in the Pac-12 defensively. Expect Wazzu to get back on track.
Pick: Washington State 36, Colorado 24
Wyoming at Boise State
10:15 p.m., ESPN2
Wyoming finally beat Boise State last year after losing 10 in a row, a memorable 30-28 victory in which the winning points came on a safety with 1:25 left:
The win launched Wyoming to an unexpected division title, and the win also helped start building more buzz around quarterback Josh Allen. Although Wyoming and Boise State are a combined 8-4, this season hasn't quite gone as planned for either Allen, the touted NFL prospect, or Boise State QB Brett Rypien, the two-time first-team All-Mountain West pick. Allen is averaging only 6.6 yards per attempt and ranks 80th in passer rating. Rypien dealt with an injury and has shared some snaps with Kansas transfer Montell Cozart, who has made an impact as a runner. Things are especially looking up for Boise State, however, as the Broncos are coming off an impressive 31-14 win over San Diego State that ended the Aztecs' unbeaten season. Their defense can contain Allen and a Wyoming offense that lacks supporting weapons.
Pick: Boise State 28, Wyoming 14
Fresno State at San Diego State
10:30 p.m., CBSSN
This has actually become a sneaky-good matchup. San Diego State is coming off its first loss of the season but is still the Mountain West's West Division favorite, led by a stellar defense and star RB Rashaad Penny. Fresno State may have won only three games over the past two seasons, but under new coach Jeff Tedford, the Bulldogs are 4-2 with their only losses to Washington and Alabama. They're coming off a 38-0 win over New Mexico, and an upset on Saturday would put them in firm control of the division. San Diego State should get it done at home, but Fresno State is a tougher challenge than believed in the preseason.
Pick: San Diego State 27, Fresno State 20