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Sport Five games in Week 8 that will impact the College Football Playoff race

17:40  18 october  2019
17:40  18 october  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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Week 8 has several intriguing games that will impact the College Football Playoff , led by Michigan-Penn State, Oregon-Washington and Utah-Arizona State. Here are the five games in Week 8 with the most impact on the College Football Playoff race .

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That said, we’ll turn our attention to a few key matchups among teams farther down the rankings who are trying to keep their hopes alive.

Here are the five games in Week 8 with the most impact on the College Football Playoff race.

No. 16 Michigan at No. 7 Penn State

Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Both of these Big Ten East challengers face future dates with Ohio State, so it goes without saying that this is a virtual must-win for each. In theory, the Nittany Lions have some margin for error since they enter without a loss, but they can’t afford to let this prime-time opportunity in front of their raucous fans slip away. If the Wolverines can somehow get out of State College with a ‘W,’ the narrative of another season of underachievement would suddenly get turned on its head.

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Neither team has been particularly effective putting up points against Big Ten caliber defenses. That’s a bit more understandable in Penn State’s case with first-year starter Sean Clifford at QB. His attack has gotten a boost from freshman RB Noah Cain, who made some pivotal plays in the win at Iowa a week ago. Finding real estate against Michigan LBs Khaleke Hudson and Jordan Glasgow won’t be easy, so the Nittany Lions will need WR KJ Hamler to stretch the field a bit. Wolverines QB Shea Patterson got a needed tune-up against Illinois to regain confidence from his own encounter with Iowa. The hostile environs as well as PSU DEs Yetur Gross-Matos and Shaka Toney will make his job extremely difficult.

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No. 9 Florida at South Carolina

Saturday, noon ET, ESPN

South Carolina coach Will Muschamp takes on his former team in a contest that just got a bit more interesting. The Gamecocks threw a monkey wrench into the plans of one playoff contender already last week. They have chances to derail a couple more, starting this week with the Gators. After coming up short at LSU, Florida must regroup quickly as dates with Georgia and potential spoiler Missouri lie ahead.

The good news for the Gamecocks is QB Ryan Hilinski, who left the Georgia game with a knee sprain, is expected to be ready. He could use ground support from RBs Rico Dowdle and Tavien Feaster, though Florida LB David Reese II could make that difficult. Gators QB Kyle Trask has been playing with a knee brace himself but is throwing very well. He’d like to get big-play WR Van Jefferson more involved this week, but he’d also do well to avoid Gamecocks CB Israel Mukuamu, who picked off three of Jake Fromm passes last week and returned one for a score.

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No. 18 Baylor at Oklahoma State

Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, Fox

Two Big 12 squads remain unscathed at the midpoint of the campaign. For Oklahoma, that was expected. The surprise is Baylor, seemingly well ahead of schedule in coach Matt Rhule’s rebuilding project. The Bears have been somewhat fortunate in a couple of close calls, but they’ll try to keep finding ways to win as they venture to Stillwater. The Cowboys, who’ve had a couple of weeks to stew over a loss to Texas Tech, don’t figure to be accommodating hosts.

Baylor has certainly exhibited a flair for the dramatic, topping Iowa State with a last-second field goal and outlasting Texas Tech in an overtime track meet. QB Charlie Brewer leads the attack, but future star Gerry Bohanon might provide the occasional change of pace. The Cowboys’ defense can be leaky, but S Malcolm Rodriguez usually minimizes the damage. Oklahoma State would be equally comfortable in a high-scoring affair, with outstanding playmakers like WR Tylan Wallace and RB Chuba Hubbard to help out freshman QB Spencer Sanders. The Bears’ defense has been sound, but unfortunately mainstay LB Clay Johnston sustained a season-ending knee injury in the Texas Tech win.

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No. 12 Oregon at No. 23 Washington

Saturday, 3:30 pm. ET, ABC

The Pac-12 would need more than a few breaks, but its champion might still have a shot at reaching the top four. Though over a month remains of the season, this weekend could end up settling both divisions. Oregon, the league member with the most realistic path to the playoff, will look to stay two games clear of the field in the loss column and all but sew up the North. The Huskies will need help to chase down the Ducks even with a win, but last week’s performance was encouraging.

After a puzzling power outage at Stanford two weeks ago, Washington bounced back with an offensive explosion against Arizona. Both QB Jacob Eason and RB Salvon Ahmed got involved in the 51-27 romp. But the Oregon defense, anchored by LB Troy Dye and S Jevon Holland, is the best in the conference. The Ducks offensive stars are also finding their wings, hanging 45 points on Colorado after struggling a bit against the stout defenses of Stanford and California. Oregon QB Justin Herbert is up to 17 scoring throws with just one pick. Huskies DE Benning Potoa’e must be disruptive.

No. 17 Arizona State at No. 14 Utah

Saturday, 6 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks

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There are pivotal games throughout the Power Five that will quite naturally affect the College Football Playoff picture. The game should still be well worth watching, however, and a strong performance from QB Deshaun Watson could help him in the Heisman race .

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This clash for first place in the Pac-12 South probably deserves a wider audience. Both the Utes and Sun Devils will still have work to do down the stretch, but the winner here will have a big leg up.

The Sun Devils have shown remarkable adaptability, able to prevail in a defensive slugfest like the game at Michigan State or a shootout like last week’s back-and-forth duel with Washington State. The clash with the Utes’ stiff defense, featuring LBs Francis Bernard and Devin Lloyd, figures to resemble the former. But the development of ASU freshman QB Jayden Daniels has been evident as the season has progressed. Utah was happy to regain the services of senior RB Zack Moss, who’d been out with a shoulder injury, in last week’s romp past Oregon State. He’ll be needed against LB Darien Butler and the ASU defense. QB Tyler Huntley will have to provide some air cover as well.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Five games in Week 8 that will impact the College Football Playoff race

Related slideshow: Best of the 2019 college football season (Provided by imagn)

a person wearing a costume: USC Trojans cornerback Chris Steele (8) breaks up a pass in the first half intended for Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver Chase Claypool (83) at Notre Dame Stadium.

Why Alabama might want to sit Tua Tagovailoa against LSU .
Even if Alabama loses to LSU on November 9, its rep might be enough for the Tide to make the College Football Playoff, Michael Weinreb writes.In retrospect, that game felt like the culmination of the pre-playoff era: Two months later, the same teams met in the BCS National Championship game. Alabama won, 21-0. In this way, we learned that a sport that emphasizes the importance of the regular season -- that literally sells itself on the mantra of “Every Game Counts” -- had sold us a bill of goods.

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