The 2023 college football season has officially reached its midway point, which means that the College Football Playoff scene and conference races around the nation are gaining clarity. Four AP Top 25 matchups are on the docket for Week 8. None of them are bigger than No. 7 Penn State’s trip to No. 3 Ohio State. The Big Ten East foes are meeting as top-10 teams for the first time since 2019.
Looking further south, No. 17 Tennessee hits the road to take on No. 11 Alabama in a rematch of one of 2022’s most exciting games. The Volunteers are trying to stay afloat in the SEC East race after a loss to Florida earlier in the season, while the Crimson Tide are unblemished in conference play and trying to hold serve in the West.
A lot is on the line in the ACC, too. No. 16 Duke and No. 4 Florida State face off as two of the three ACC teams still undefeated in conference play. This will be Florida State’s first game against a ranked opponent since its season-opening win against LSU.
Betting lines for those impact games and other key matchups in Week 8 were released on Sunday, so let’s take a look at how the oddsmakers see the weekend shaking out.
Odds via SportsLine consensus
No. 7 Penn State at No. 3 Ohio State (-4.5): While this rivalry doesn’t get as much attention as Ohio State’s annual game against Michigan, it should be as important. The winner gets a head start in a heated Big Ten East scramble. Beyond that, it’ll be in the driver’s seat for a College Football Playoff berth. The loser won’t be mathematically eliminated from either but will have a hard path that includes Michigan. Penn State hasn’t beaten the Buckeyes since 2016 and hasn’t won in Columbus since 2011.This will also be Penn State’s first real test after it won each of its first six games by an average of 36.3 points.
No. 17 Tennessee at No. 11 Alabama (-9): The “Third Saturday in October” finally has some life again. Alabama has dominated the modern history of this series, ripping off 15-straight wins against the Volunteers from 2007-15. Thirteen of those victories were decided by at least two scores. Tennessee made things a lot more interesting last year, downing Alabama 52-49 in Knoxville thanks to a last-minute field goal. Don’t expect that many points in this season’s installment. Tennessee is fresh off a 20-13 win against Texas A&M in which it scored one offensive touchdown and Alabama has exceeded the 30-point mark just once. It should be a defensive slugfest in Tuscaloosa.
No. 16 Duke at No. 4 Florida State (-15.5): Duke may seem a little undervalued in this matchup, but the hefty line is due in large part to quarterback Riley Leonard’s status. The Blue Devils star injured his ankle two weeks ago against Notre Dame and missed the 24-3 win against NC State. Coach Mike Elko is optimistic about Leonard’s long-term outlook, though it’s too early to tell whether he’ll play against Florida State. Without Leonard, Duke completed just four passes — none in the second half — against the Wolfpack, though a strong rushing attack and a defense that didn’t allow a score after the first quarter carried the shorthanded Blue Devils to a win. That said, Duke can’t afford to be one-dimensional against Florida State. The Seminoles have the ACC’s second-best scoring defense, behind Duke, allowing 18.3 points per game.
No. 14 Utah at No. 18 USC (-4.5): USC is reeling after a 48-20 loss against rival Notre Dame. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams threw three interceptions and took six sacks as USC’s offensive front got battered by the Fighting Irish. Now USC has to turn around and play the Pac-12’s most physical defense. The Utes lead the league in total defense (277.8 yards per game), rushing defense (66.8 yards per game) and scoring defense (12.2 points per game). They’ve allowed just one quarterback to throw for at least 250 yards. Utah also had USC’s number last year, beating the Trojans both in the regular season and in the Pac-12 Championship game. Of course, all eyes are on Utah’s overall health. Quarterback Cam Rising and top offensive option Brant Kuithe have yet to play this season as they recover from severe knee injuries.
Best of the rest
- Baylor at Cincinnati (-1)
- Mississippi State at Arkansas (-7)
- South Carolina at No. 20 Missouri (-6)
- Minnesota at No. 24 Iowa (-5.5)
- Washington State at No. 9 Oregon (-16.5)
- Oklahoma State at West Virginia (-2.5)
- No. 4 Texas (-21.5) at Houston
- Wisconsin (-6) at Illinois
- No. 13 Ole Miss (-5.5) at Auburn
- TCU at Kansas State (-8.5)
- No. 2 Michigan (-25) at Michigan State
- Clemson (-3) at Miami