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2023 College Football Watch Guide - Week 8

Why should the weekend have all the fun?

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NCAA Football: Stanford at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Well don’t I look silly.

In last week’s watch guide I didn’t spend much thought on the Thursday and Friday night games. It’s an easy trap to fall into. We often look at weeknight games as appetizers to hold us over until the feast on Saturdays. Little did we know that two of the most incredible finishes of the season would take place on those sleepy weeknights.

West Virginia and Houston set an incredibly high bar on Thursday night in a back and forth battle that went down to the final play. The Mountaineers looked to lock up the win with a go-ahead touchdown with 12 seconds to play. That proved to be too much time left, however, as Houston completed a Hail Mary touchdown pass as the clock expired to pull off a 41-39 stunner.

A Hail Mary game winner is hard to beat. But what about a monumental comeback? On Friday night, Colorado was having its way with Stanford only to see its 29-0 lead evaporate in the second half. The Cardinal stormed back to force overtime in one of the most improbably comebacks most of us didn’t see live. Like many, I’d gone to bed only to find out about the comeback the next morning. Maybe ESPN was doing Prime a favor starting this game so late.

A lesson for us all: overlook the weeknight games at your peril.

Thursday, Oct. 19 and Friday, Oct. 20

Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Rice @ Tulsa Thursday, 6:00 PM ESPN 2 WatchESPN
James Madison @ Marshall Thursday, 6:00 PM ESPN WatchESPN
SMU @ Temple Friday, 6:00 PM ESPN 2 WatchESPN

Rice @ Tulsa looks like the closest match on paper Thursday night. Both teams are 3-3 overall with 1-1 conference records. They’re even tied for fifth in the AAC. James Madison @ Marshall might be worth keeping an eye on as well. While JMU is undefeated and atop the Sun Belt, Marshall could surprise them. The Thundering Herd beat Virginia Tech in week 3 and only lost to NC State by a touchdown two weeks ago.

Saturday, October 21 - Morning

Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
#7 Penn State @ #3 Ohio State 11:00 AM FOX
UCF @ #6 Oklahoma 11:00 AM ABC WatchESPN
#22 Air Force @ Navy 11:00 AM CBS
Mississippi State @ Arkansas 11:00 AM ESPN WatchESPN
Rutgers @ Indiana 11:00 AM BTN
Boston College @ Georgia Tech 11:00 AM ACC Network WatchESPN
Baylor @ Cincinnati 11:00 AM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Memphis @ UAB 11:00 AM ESPN 2 WatchESPN
Western Michigan @ Ohio 11:00 AM CBSSN

#7 Penn State @ #3 Ohio State - 11:00 AM - FOX

We’ll finally get to see if James Franklin’s Nittany Lions are the real deal in the East and get some clarity in the conference title race. But Ohio State has its own share of detractors this year, so the Buckeyes have just as much to prove. A perfect game to start Saturday. I just wish they could both lose.

Rutgers @ Indiana - 11:00 AM - BTN

It’s a light morning schedule outside of the Big Noon Kickoff game above, but I’m really curious to see if Rutgers can keep up their success. Their only losses have been to Michigan and Wisconsin, and I really should be doing more opposition research anyway.

Mississippi State @ Arkansas - 11:00 AM - ESPN

The battle for who can get their first conference win. Arkansas has had a rough stretch, losing five straight after starting 2-0. Four of those have been by one score, including 24-21 to Alabama and 27-20 to Ole Miss, so sooner or later that ball’s got to bounce their way.

Honorable Mention: #22 Air Force @ Navy

Saturday, October 21 - Afternoon

Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Charlotte @ East Carolina 1:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
UL Monroe @ Georgia Southern 1:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Akron @ Bowling Green 1:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Washington State @ #9 Oregon 2:30 PM ABC WatchESPN
#17 Tennessee @ #11 Alabama 2:30 PM CBS
South Carolina @ #20 Missouri 2:30 PM SEC Network WatchESPN
North Texas @ #23 Tulane 2:30 PM ESPN 2 WatchESPN
Minnesota @ #24 Iowa 2:30 PM NBC Peacock
Wisconsin @ Illinois 2:30 PM FS1
Northwestern @ Nebraska 2:30 PM BTN
South Florida @ UConn 2:30 PM CBSSN
Pittsburgh @ Wake Forest 2:30 PM ACC Network WatchESPN
Oklahoma State @ West Virginia 2:30 PM ESPN WatchESPN
Central Michigan @ Ball State 2:30 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Eastern Michigan @ Northern Illinois 2:30 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Buffalo @ Kent State 2:30 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
#8 Texas @ Houston 3:00 PM FOX
Toledo @ Miami (OH) 3:00 PM ESPN U WatchESPN

Minnesota @ #24 Iowa - 2:30 PM - NBC

Amazing what one win can do to your outlook. Iowa finds itself in command of the Big Ten West but now must avoid a possible letdown against the Gophers, who haven’t won in Iowa City since 2000. Like the Hawkeyes, Minnesota ranks near the bottom of the FBS in passing yards, 127th to Iowa’s 128th so this could be a running back bonanza of a game.

#17 Tennessee @ #11 Alabama - 2:30 PM - CBS

Some day James Cameron will make a documentary of his dives looking for the goalposts tossed in the Tennessee River after last year’s meeting. It was an epic showdown that came down to a game winning field goal to break Bama’s 15-game winning streak over the Vols. This year’s edition of the Third Saturday in October could be another barn burner with both teams fielding some of the top defenses in the SEC.

Honorable Mention: Washington State @ #9 Oregon

Saturday, October 21 - Evening

Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
UTSA @ Florida Atlantic 5:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Hawai'i @ New Mexico 5:00 PM N/A N/A
Virginia @ #10 North Carolina 5:30 PM CW CW
#13 Ole Miss @ Auburn 6:00 PM ESPN WatchESPN
Texas Tech @ BYU 6:00 PM FS1
TCU @ Kansas State 6:00 PM ESPN 2 WatchESPN
Appalachian State @ Old Dominion 6:00 PM NFL Network NFL Network
Coastal Carolina @ Arkansas State 6:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Colorado State @ UNLV 6:00 PM N/A N/A
Utah State @ San Jose State 6:00 PM CBSSN
#2 Michigan @ Michigan State 6:30 PM NBC Peacock
#16 Duke @ #4 Florida State 6:30 PM ABC WatchESPN
Army @ #19 LSU 6:30 PM SEC Network WatchESPN
#14 Utah @ #18 USC 7:00 PM FOX
Clemson @ Miami 7:00 PM ACC Network WatchESPN
Georgia State @ Louisiana 7:00 PM ESPN U WatchESPN
Nevada @ San Diego State 8:00 PM FS2
Arizona State @ #5 Washington 9:30 PM FS1
#25 UCLA @ Stanford 9:30 PM ESPN WatchESPN

#16 Duke @ #4 Florida State - 6:30 PM - ABC

One of the three biggest games of the day and one of Florida State’s few remaining tests in the ACC. The Seminoles are unquestionably one of the best teams in the country but they’ve had a couple of close shaves against Boston College and Clemson earlier this year. The Noles are tough, but they’re not invincible. This could be an opportunity for Duke.

Clemson @ Miami - 7:00 PM - ACC Network

One side whose star seems to be fading and another whose star desperately wants to shine once again. Both programs appear to be in a bit of a wilderness within the ACC right now but can both still be dangerous, especially to one another.

#14 Utah @ #18 USC - 7:00 PM - FOX

USC’s fortunes came crashing down in South Bend last Saturday and now they get to face a team that beat them twice last year. The Trojan defense is porous as a sponge, but their offense is still as potent as ever. Can USC get the Ute-shaped monkey off their back this time around?

Honorable Mention: Arizona State @ #5 Washington, Virginia @ #10 North Carolina