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This Weekend’s Big 5

Jameis Winston and Florida State face their toughest challenge of the season on Saturday, a challenge that could derail their championship push completely.

Jameis Winston and Florida State face their toughest challenge of the season on Saturday, a challenge that could derail their championship push completely.

With five matchups between ranked teams on the Week 8 schedule, picking out the top five college football games for this week’s Betting Sports preview wasn’t exactly a push.

That being said, this weekend’s schedule is looking like a crucial one and by the time the dust settles on Saturday night’s game, there’s going to be several would-be title contenders that will be out of the running.

Here then are the top five games on this week’s college football schedule.


No. 14 Kansas State at No. 11 Oklahoma

Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium, Norman, OK (Sat, 12:00 p.m. ET)

Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) remains in the national championship picture but it’s hard to imagine that last week’s Red River Rivalry Game – a game that saw the Sooners run up a big lead over Texas before being forced to hold on at the end – didn’t have a negative impact on Bob Stoops’ side.

For the Sooners, the only route that leads to the College Football Playoff is a winning route. One more loss will effectively eliminate the side from contention which means every Saturday between now and December is important, starting with this Saturday.

As long as Kansas State (4-1, 2-0 Big 12) keeps that 0 in the Big 12 portion of its record it will remain a contender. One loss and the Wildcats are in all likelihood out of the mix though, which makes Saturday’s road trip to Norman, Okla., a tough one.

The Wildcats have won just one of the last six head-to-head meetings. The good news for Bill Snyder’s side is that the one win during that period came at Memorial Stadium in 2012.

Odds & Trends


No. 21 Texas A&M at No. 7 Alabama

Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL (Sat, 3:30 p.m. ET)

With two losses on the docket, you have to believe Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2 SEC) is out of the national title conversation. If Alabama (5-1, 2-1 SEC) doesn’t take care of business on Saturday, the same will be true of the Crimson Tide.

Nick Saban’s side remains a firm favorite despite losing to Ole Miss two weeks ago and struggling to the narrowest of victories over Arkansas last week. All the Tide needs to do is win out and take home the SEC championship. With each passing week that is looking like a tall order though.

While we may write off the Aggies, A&M will not just look to play spoiler over the next six weeks – they’ll look to hold onto any slim championship hopes while praying the SEC implodes on itself. On Saturday, the side from College Station, Texas, will look to pick up a second straight win at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Odds & Trends


No. 15 Oklahoma State at No. 12 TCU

Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX (Sat, 4:00 p.m. ET)

The Big 12’s other big game this weekend pits Oklahoma State (5-1, 3-0 Big 12) against TCU (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) in a game that will end the title hopes of one team.

Despite playing Florida State close in the season opener and then running the schedule, nobody is quite ready to back Oklahoma State just yet. A win over higher-ranked TCU on Saturday could change that.

The Horned Frogs meanwhile remain a contender within the conference thanks to a win over Oklahoma and then a narrow defeat to Baylor. Having hung with the big boys of the conference, TCU will be confident it can finish out the season with seven straight victories. Depending how Baylor fairs, that could be enough for a conference title and perhaps a playoff berth. A loss to the Cowboys extinguishes all hope though.

Odds & Trends


No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Florida State

Doak Campbell, Tallahassee, FL (Sat, 8:00 p.m. ET)

With both Notre Dame (6-0) and Florida State (6-0, 4-0 ACC) entering this prime time game unbeaten, this is undeniably the crown jewel of this weekend’s schedule. It’s also a game that comes with an intriguing setup.

With the majority of college football powerhouses entering Week 8 with a loss, it would be easy to suggest that whichever team loses this game will still have a shot at going to the College Football Playoff. On the surface that’s true but it may not prove to be that simple.

While Notre Dame has scheduled fairly well as an independent side, its schedule hasn’t really featured a bona fide stand-out side, nor will it after Saturday. Wins over the likes of Southern California and Arizona State in coming weeks could be quality wins, as could Week 5’s win over Stanford, but that will depend on how the Pac-12 plays out between now and the end of the season. A win over Florida State would serve as a calling card though.

Highly ranked by AP voters and bookmakers alike this season, most believe Florida State is a lock for a playoff berth, but that’s far from the truth. In fact, the Seminoles’ schedule won’t do it any favors when the season comes to a close. So far, the team’s best win came over Oklahoma State, with the Clemson victory marred by the Tigers’ subpar season. Oklahoma State still has to prove itself (see above), which means the quality of that win could deteriorate. After Notre Dame, the Seminoles don’t have a bona fide contender on the schedule, so a loss on Saturday could completely derail the championship charge.

The Seminoles have won four of their last five meetings with the Irish, although – with controversy continuing to follow Jameis Winston around – Notre Dame looks like a threat against the spread (+12) at the very least.

Odds & Trends


No. 23 Stanford at No. 17 Arizona State

Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ (Sat, 10:30 p.m. ET)

If Stanford (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12) can make it to Nov. 1 without any more losses, a showdown with Oregon looks likely to decide the fate of the Pac-12 North title. If the Cardinal can take that title and the subsequent conference title, a shot at the national title might not be out of the question.

First up for David Shaw’s side then is Arizona State (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12), a side looking to carve its way to the Pac-12 South title. With a win over Southern California already, that goal isn’t out of reach, although it could be very shortly.

Both teams need the win on Saturday but it’ll be Stanford that enters the game with more confidence. Favored by a field goal, the Cardinal has won four straight against the Sun Devils.

Odds & Trends


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