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Stan Becton | | October 19, 2021

The college football fan's guide to Week 8 games

College football rankings: Cincinnati makes school history with No. 2 AP ranking

After five ranked teams fell to unranked opponents last week, Week 8 looks to continue college football's chaos. 

There aren't any top-25 matchups this week, but there are some other games you shouldn't miss.

Week 8 preview: Games to watch

No. 8 Oklahoma State at Iowa State | 3:30 p.m. ET | FOX

No. 8 Oklahoma State enters the top 10 of the AP Poll for the first time in 2021 after knocking off then-No. 25 Texas for its third ranked win. This week, the Cowboys head to Iowa State with a chance to increase separation at the top of the Big 12.

Yet, Iowa State is a formidable opponent; the Cyclones were ranked in the top 10 earlier this season. QB Brock Purdy and RB Breece Hall still form a dynamic tandem that can provide fits for any defense. After allowing three touchdowns to Texas RB Bijan Robinson, Oklahoma State's defense will have to contain another backfield threat to remain undefeated.

Players to watch: QB Spencer Sanders (OKST), RB Jaylen Warren (OKST), DB Kolby Harvell-Peel (OKST), QB Brock Purdy (ISU), RB Breece Hall (ISU), DB Will McDonald (ISU)

RANKINGS: All major college football polls

Clemson at No. 23 Pittsburgh | 3:30 p.m. ET | ESPN

Clemson has won six straight ACC Championships and made six straight College Football Playoff appearances. However, entering Week 8, the Tigers sit unranked and third in the ACC Atlantic division with two losses, one in conference play. Clemson will now face No. 23 Pittsburgh, a team-leading the ACC Coastal behind a three-game winning streak.

Pittsburgh has the nation's third-best scoring offense, led by Heisman dark horse QB Kenny Pickett. Pickett has thrown 21 touchdowns (fourth-most in the FBS) to one interception in what has been a spectacular campaign for the fifth-year senior. WR Jordan Addison has been a weapon on the outside, having the second-most touchdown catches in the country this season (9). The 1-2 punch will face their biggest test yet against Clemson and the nation's second-best scoring defense.

Clemson vs. Pittsburgh is a game with ACC Championship implications. If Clemson wants a chance to continue its reign of conference dominance, it needs a win. Yet, Pittsburgh can show it is a legitimate conference contender if it lands the home victory.

Players to watch: QB DJ Uiagalelei (CLEM), WR Justyn Ross (CLEM), DL Xavier Thomas (PITT), DL Tre Williams (CLEM), LB James Skalski (CLEM), S Nolan Turner (CLEM), QB Kenny Pickett (PITT), WR Jordan Addison (PITT), DL John Morgan III (PITT), DL Calijah Kancey (PITT), CB AJ Woods (PITT), S Judson Tallandier II (PITT)

SCHEDULE: Full FBS TV schedule and times

Southern California at No. 13 Notre Dame | 7:30 p.m. ET | NBC/Peacock

A storied rivalry returns as Southern California visits No. 13 Notre Dame. The 3-3 Trojans head to South Bend having alternated wins and losses all season long. After losing last week, the Trojans need a win to continue the trend.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame looks to continue its bounce back after losing to now-No. 2 Cincinnati two weeks ago. QB Jack Coan is scheduled to start this week, but head coach Brian Kelly expects freshman QB Tyler Buchner to also see playing time. Quarterback issues aside, the Fighting Irish are still 5-1 with a potential shot at a New Year's Six Bowl. Notre Dame needs a win to keep postseason aspirations alive.

Players to watch: QB Kedon Slovis (USC), WR Drake London (USC), DL Korey Foreman (USC), LB Kana'i Mauga (USC), QB Jack Coan (ND), TE Michael Mayer (ND), DE Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (ND), LB Prince Kollie (ND), S Kyle Hamilton (ND)

Big Week 8 questions

Which undefeated team will fall next?

Week 7 saw two undefeated teams fall, leaving just 11 remaining. Few predicted Purdue's upset of Iowa entering last week. In Week 8, there are nine undefeated teams in action from Wednesday to Saturday, leaving plenty of room for the next upset to take place. 2021 has been unpredictable across the board and undefeated teams should be on high alert.

UNDEFEATED TRACKER: Here's every undefeated college football team in 2021

Can top teams avoid looking ahead to next week?

For the first time in 2021, the college football season doesn't have a game featuring two ranked teams. While Week 8 lacks the attraction of ranked matchups, next week should have huge games across the board. However, ranked teams cannot look ahead to next week before accomplishing the task at hand or else risk a surprise loss. 

The following teams must maintain focus in Week 8 and not overlook their opponent: No. 5 Ohio State, No. 6 Michigan, No. 7 Penn State, No. 12 Ole Miss and No. 21 SMU. If any of these teams look too far ahead, Week 8 could spell disaster for their season.

AP Poll Ranking Coaches Poll
Georgia 1 Georgia
Cincinnati 2 Oklahoma
Oklahoma 3 Cincinnati
Alabama 4 Alabama
Ohio State 5 Ohio State
Michigan 6 Michigan
Penn State 7 Michigan State
Oklahoma State 8 Penn State
Michigan State 9 Oklahoma State
Oregon 10 Oregon
Iowa 11 Iowa
Ole Miss 12 Ole Miss
Notre Dame 13 Notre Dame
Coastal Carolina 14 Kentucky
Kentucky 15 Wake Forest
Wake Forest 16 Coastal Carolina
Texas A&M 17 Texas A&M
NC State 18 NC State
Auburn 19 SMU
Baylor 20 Baylor
SMU 21 San Diego State
San Diego State 22 Auburn
Pittsburgh 23 Pittsburgh
UTSA 24 Clemson
Purdue 25 UTSA

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