An early glance at Week 8

Seven weeks of the college football season are in the books, and some teams are already into the meat of their conference schedules.

There are plenty of intriguing games on the slate this week, including an important Big Ten showdown in East Lansing, so let's take an early look at what to expect in the eighth week of the season.

Friday, October 21

West Virginia at Syracuse: Whether we like it or not, the Big East has the stage on Friday night with a pair of matchups that are central to the conference race. In Syracuse, the Mountaineers look to remain unbeaten in league play while the Orange cannot afford a loss. Can Doug Marrone's squad contain the prolific offensive attack of WVU led by quarterback and darkhorse Heisman contender Geno Smith?

Rutgers at Louisville: The Scarlet Knights have been the conference's pleasant surprise while the Cardinals have had a rough start to the 2011 season. Charlie Strong's squad already has four losses and will try to pull the upset at home and notch its first Big East win of the year.

Saturday, October 22

James FranklinCan James Franklin and Mizzou pull the upset over Oklahoma State?

Oklahoma State at Missouri: Although the Tigers have not had the season they had hoped up to this point, a win over the Pokes could serve as a springboard to a nice closing stretch for Gary Pinkel's squad.

North Carolina at Clemson: The Tigers remain unbeaten, but Tajh Boyd and the prolific offense will be facing a defense with solid NFL talent. Can Dabo Swinney's team continue its unbeaten ways?

Cincinnati at South Florida: The Bulls have become a major disappointment after racing out to their undefeated start. A loss at home to the Bearcats would drop USF to 0-3 in the Big East.

Auburn at LSU: The Tigers will be led by new starting quarterback Clint Moseley, who replaces Barrett Trotter in Gus Malzahn's offense. Expect run threat Kiehl Frazier to play as well. The Tigers will be looking for any kind of offense against the stout LSU defense.

Georgia Tech at Miami: The Yellow Jackets need to bounce back from its road loss against Virginia last week, but they'll have to do it against a Miami team that plays hard despite suffering some tough losses.

USC at Notre Dame: This game may not be the national showcase as it once was, but it will still be one of the best games of the weekend under the lights in South Bend. The Irish are playing very good football, while Lane Kiffin would love nothing better than to score a signature nonconference win.

Texas Tech at Oklahoma: The Sooners' defense will have a tough task in containing Seth Doege and the Red Raiders offense. However, the same can be said for Texas Tech coordinator Chad Glasgow's defensive unit.

Wisconsin at Michigan State: Can the Badgers get by one of their biggest remaining tests and stay unbeaten? Or can the Spartans keep up the momentum after their wild victory over in-state rival Michigan last week?

Washington at Stanford: The Huskies just entered the Top 25 this past weekend, but will the stay last very long with an upcoming trip to Palo Alto to face Andrew Luck and the Cardinal?

SMU at Southern Miss: The Mustangs and Golden Eagles clash in a huge C-USA contest. Southern Miss cannot afford another conference loss if it has conference title game aspirations.

Email dave.miller@nationalfootballpost.com or follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

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