Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
Week 8 of the 2017 college football campaign is going to have a hard time following the season-altering Week 7.
The horror show for ranked teams fittingly started on Friday the 13th when the No. 2 Clemson Tigers lost to the Syracuse Orange and the No. 8 Washington State Cougars fell by 34 points to the California Golden Bears.
From there, Arizona State beat No. 5 Washington, LSU beat No. 10 Auburn, Boise State beat No. 19 San Diego State, West Virginia beat No. 24 Texas Tech and Memphis beat No. 25 Navy.
There were also a number of close misses, with No. 11 Miami beating Georgia Tech by one point, No. 12 Oklahoma outlasting Texas by five, No. 13 USC surpassing Utah by a single point and No. 17 Michigan needing overtime to dispatch of Indiana.
There figure to be more surprises in store in Week 8, even if it doesn’t match the drama of the previous set of games. With that in mind, here is a quick review of the latest rankings before the Saturday action kicks off.
Associated Press Top 25
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Penn State Nittany Lions
3. Georgia Bulldogs
4. TCU Horned Frogs
5. Wisconsin Badgers
6. Ohio State Buckeyes
7. Clemson Tigers
8. Miami Hurricanes
9. Oklahoma Sooners
10. Oklahoma State Cowboys
11. USC Trojans
12. Washington Huskies
13. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
14. Virginia Tech Hokies
15. Washington State Cougars
16. NC State Wolfpack
16. South Florida Bulls
18. Michigan State Spartans
19. Michigan Wolverines
20. UCF Knights
21. Auburn Tigers
22. Stanford Cardinal
23. West Virginia Mountaineers
24. LSU Tigers
25. Memphis Tigers
The Amway Coaches’ Poll can be found on USA Today, although the top-six teams are exactly the same as the AP rankings. The first difference comes at No. 7, where the Miami Hurricanes check in instead of Clemson, who is No. 8.
Week 8 Look Ahead
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There are a few potential upsets that stand out in the Week 8 slate.
Notably, Miami is playing the same Syracuse team that beat Clemson, while Oklahoma State has to go on the road to face a Texas team that nearly beat Oklahoma. Elsewhere in the Big 12, Oklahoma will be on the road after its tough battle with the Longhorns to face a previously ranked Kansas State squad.
While upsets always bring intrigue, there are only two games between ranked teams on the schedule.
Michigan travels to Penn State for a marquee Big Ten clash, and the Nittany Lions will be looking for revenge after losing 49-10 in last year’s matchup. The blowout loss likely kept Penn State out of the College Football Playoff, somewhere it has its eyes on again this season.
This year’s showdown will prove critical for positioning in the Big Ten East, especially since Ohio State and Michigan State are also without conference losses. A defeat for the Wolverines would mean they have two conference losses and dropped the head-to-head tiebreakers with the Spartans and Nittany Lions, all but rendering them irrelevant for the remainder of the Big Ten race.
The highlighted matchup comes between Penn State running back Saquon Barkley and a stout Michigan defense allowing 85.8 rushing yards per game (sixth in the nation, as of Thursday). However, Wolverines defensive end Chase Winovich said his team has to focus on the entire Penn State offense, per George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press.
“He’s obviously a great player,” Winovich said of Barkley. “But he’s a great player on a great team. Not like he’s the only good person on that offense. So we’re going to key them all. We’re not just going to—from my perception of how we’re handling things—we’re not just keying on any particular person. … We’re not taking any risks.”
Elsewhere, USC travels to Notre Dame in a high-profile showdown with more at stake than just bragging rights in a traditional rivalry between two blue-blood programs.
Each has one loss, meaning the loser is likely on the outside looking in at the College Football Playoff picture for the rest of the season. The Fighting Irish could be a nightmare for the power conferences considering there is already fewer playoff spots (four) than power conference champions (five) to begin with, and they could play their way into the discussion with wins over USC, NC State, Miami and Stanford.
The Trojans were tested by Western Michigan but pulled away at the end, needed double-overtime against 3-3 Texas and had to overcome a 14-point halftime deficit to beat Utah 28-27 in their last game.
They haven’t looked like powerhouses despite winning every game but the Washington State one to this point and will receive one of their stiffest tests of the season Saturday night.