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College football Week 8: Other than Penn State’s ‘White Out,’ big games are in Pac-12

While most of the attention is on Happy Valley, Saturday's schedule has some interesting games in the Pac-12 and SEC.

Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor, a Salem High grad, is closing in on 5,000 rushing yards.
Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor, a Salem High grad, is closing in on 5,000 rushing yards.Read moreAndy Manis / AP

The Super Six lost a member of the fraternity last weekend when South Carolina shocked Georgia — at Georgia.

So the Bulldogs have dropped out of the top 6 of the rankings and Wisconsin and Penn State are trying to elbow their way into the group and consideration for the College Football Playoff, even though the first vote remains more than two weeks away.

While most eyes will be on the Nittany Lions’ “White Out” game against Michigan, the Pac-12 features two matchups of ranked teams as the conference tries to cling to its long-shot CFP chance.

No. 12 Oregon at No. 25 Washington, 3:30 p.m., 6ABC

This might not be the best game on Saturday’s schedule, but it is surely one of the most interesting.

The Ducks, who might be the Pac-12’s best bet of making the playoff, are on a five-game winning streak during which they’ve allowed just one touchdown and have outscored their opposition, 195-25. Senior Justin Herbert is completing 69 percent of his throws, with 17 touchdown passes and one interception.

The Huskies, who need a win to stay alive in the Pac-12 North race, have been up and down this season, but a 38-point second-half explosion in last week’s win at Arizona might herald better times ahead. Jacob Eason (13 TD passes) will face an Oregon secondary that is second in pass-efficiency defense and allows just 160 passing yards per game.

No. 17 Arizona State at No. 13 Utah, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network

First place in the Pac-12 South is on the line, and the Sun Devils of Herman Edwards must try to find a way to move the ball against a Utes defense that is third in the nation against the rush and 10th in total defense. It will be a challenge for ASU quarterback Jayden Daniels, who leads all freshmen in total offense with a 301.3-yard-per-game average.

Utah’s Tyler Huntley completes 75.6% of his passes and is one of four starting FBS quarterbacks to have yet to throw an interception this season, riding a streak of 131 attempts. The Utes lead the conference in rushing, and the Sun Devils are second defending the run.

No. 2 Louisiana State at Mississippi State, 3:30 p.m., CBS3

How about the Tigers’ rising to the second spot in the polls after their impressive win over Florida? Quarterback Joe Burrow is now second choice among the oddsmakers, behind Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, to win the Heisman Trophy, and the LSU defense is holding opponents to 91.8 yards rushing and 2.8 yards per carry.

As for the 3-3 Bulldogs, well, head coach Joe Moorhead is feeling the heat after back-to-back losses to Auburn and Tennessee. The former Penn State offensive coordinator gave a heartfelt opening statement at this week’s press conference talking about how losing “crushes your soul” and affects his family.

“To stand there on the field and have to console your 18-year-old freshman daughter because she is crying, not only [because of the loss], but you hear a few fans as she is walking out of the stadium telling her her dad sucks,” Moorhead said. “They were right. On that day I did suck, but that is part of it.”

No. 3 Clemson at Louisville, noon, 6ABC

With Wake Forest having lost last weekend, the unbeaten Tigers again are the only ranked team in the ACC. But at least the conference is getting attention thanks to the team that has won two of the last three national championships, and is looking to return to the CFP.

The Tigers are looking for their 22nd consecutive victory over a Cardinals team that handed Wake its first defeat of the season but allowed 59 points in doing so. Clemson scored 77 against Louisville last season, so look for Trevor Lawrence to be able to do whatever he wishes.

Tennessee at No. 1 Alabama, 9 p.m., ESPN

Folks in the SEC call this the “Third Saturday in October” rivalry, and the winning team and its fans break out victory cigars. Let’s hope the fire marshal is on duty at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Then again, with the Crimson Tide averaging 51 points and Tagovailoa averaging 366 yards through the air, all the smoke likely will be coming from the home fans.

No. 6 Wisconsin at Illinois, noon, Big Ten Network

If the Badgers’ Jonathan Taylor (137.5 rush yards per game) sees the Fighting Illini’s stat line, he’d be excited to notice that they’ve allowed 346, 332 and 295 yards on the ground in their last three games. The Salem (N.J.) High grad needs four yards to become the fourth player in college football history to reach 5,000 career yards in his junior year, and could significantly add onto that.

What else is happening?

- Owner of the Big 12’s longest winning streak at eight games, undefeated and 19th-ranked Baylor is an underdog at Oklahoma State. The Bears must keep scoring because the Cowboys have the top rusher in FBS, Chuba Hubbard (182.3 yards per game), and one of the nation’s best receivers in Tylan Wallace.

- Back home after its double-overtime upset victory over Georgia, South Carolina sets its sights on No. 9 Florida with freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski expected back from a knee injury. The Gators are on the road again seeking to bounce back from last week’s 42-28 loss at LSU with a defense that leads the SEC with 26 sacks and 12 interceptions.

- Now ranked 10th, Georgia looks to get over the shock of last week’s upset when it hosts Kentucky. Wildcats wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr., was pressed into service at quarterback last week, and became just the second FBS player since 2000 to have at least six rushing attempts, three receptions, three kickoff returns and two pass completions in the same game.

Expatriate of the week

Former Glassboro High and Penn State star Juwan Johnson caught his first two passes of the season last week for Oregon in the 12th-ranked Ducks’ victory over Colorado.

Johnson, who left the Nittany Lions after last season and arrived at Oregon as a graduate transfer, missed the first four games of 2019 with a right calf injury. He returned to the field Oct. 5 and saw limited action against California before advancing to a more regular role against the Buffs.