College football preview Week 8

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

LOCAL GAMES

Indiana at Navy

When » Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

Where » Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis

TV » CBSSN

After getting off to its worst start in a decade, Navy (3-3) has won its last two in uplifting fashion -- both on the road and with freshman Keenan Reynolds deftly guiding the triple-option offense. Tough-luck Indiana (2-4) arrives after losing four straight, including three by a combined nine points. The Hoosiers gave undefeated Ohio State fits last week in a 52-49 loss. Navy will counter Indiana's uptempo, no-huddle offense with its own milk-the-clock offense.

Virginia Tech at No. 19 Clemson

When » Saturday, noon

Where » Memorial Stadium,

Clemson, S.C.

TV/radio » ABC, 106.7 the Fan

Virginia Tech (4-3, 2-1) has never lost three straight to an ACC foe but is staring at the possibility against Clemson (5-1, 2-1), which beat the Hokies twice last season. Freshman J.C. Coleman sparked a sagging Virginia Tech running attack with 183 rushing yards last week. The Hokies will need him to play keep away against the loaded offense of the Tigers led by quarterback Tajh Boyd (1,748 passing yards), running back Andre Ellington (597 rushing yards) and receiver DeAndre Hopkins (777 receiving yards).

Wake Forest at Virginia

When » Saturday, 12:30 p.m.

Where » Scott Stadium, Charlottesville

TV/radio » Fox 5, ESPN 570

The struggles of Virginia (2-5, 0-3) continued last week against Maryland with the Cavaliers' fifth straight loss, the longest skid in coach Mike London's three seasons in Charlottesville. With bowl hopes fading, Virginia needs a win desperately over Wake Forest (3-3, 1-3). Sophomore Phillip Sims will start at quarterback for the Cavaliers, hoping to reduce Virginia's turnover margin (17 surrendered, four forced). One positive has been the emergence of true freshman defensive end Eli Harold.

Morgan State at Howard

When » Saturday, 1 p.m.

Where » Greene Stadium

After losing the turnover battle 3-0 in a stunningly decisive 38-10 loss to North Carolina A&T, Howard (4-2, 2-1) aims to make amends against Morgan State (3-3, 2-1). Senior running back Travis Davidson, who leads the MEAC in rushing (617 yards) and scoring (10 touchdowns), will be the focus of Howard senior linebacker Keith Pough (9.8 tackles per game). The Bison have lost seven straight to the Bears with six of the games decided by seven or fewer points.

Top five games to watch

5 Michigan State at Michigan » The bloom was off this one when neither scored a touchdown in back-to-back weeks against Notre Dame. But it's still the "little brother" Spartans (4-3) with a chance to knock off the "big brother" Wolverines (4-2) for a record fifth straight time. Michigan State's two Big Ten losses have come by a combined four points. (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network)

4 No. 1 Alabama at Tennessee » How does a unit lose three first-round draft picks, four other starters and still lead the nation in scoring defense (7.5 points per game) and total defense (181.2 yards)? Trying to solve the riddle will be Tyler Bray, who leads the SEC with 16 touchdown passes, and Tennessee (3-3), which is 0-3 against ranked teams this season. (Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN)

3 No. 6 LSU at No. 18 Texas A&M » After an exhilarating home conquest of South Carolina on Saturday night in Death Valley, this is a tough 11 a.m. (local time) road assignment. Since falling to Florida, the Aggies (5-1) have won five straight, averaging 53 points per game behind freshman dual-threat quarterback Johnny Manziel, who has thrown for 14 touchdowns and run for 10. (Saturday, noon, ESPN)

2 No. 4 Kansas State at No. 13 West Virginia » An interesting Big 12 clash with Heisman implications as the Wildcats' run-oriented quarterback, Collin Klein, duels the Mountaineers' pass-happy Geno Smith. Both teams would have been ranked in the top five were it not for West Virginia's stunning 49-14 loss at Texas Tech. Kansas State is the only Big 12 unbeaten. (Saturday, 7 p.m., Fox)

1 No. 7 South Carolina at No. 2 Florida » As a player in 1966, he won the Heisman Trophy at Florida. As a coach there 30 years later, he won a national title. Now Steve Spurrier returns to Gainesville, Fla., trying to damage the BCS hopes of the Gators. The teams rank fifth and sixth in scoring defense. South Carolina may be without running back Marcus Lattimore (hip). (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS)

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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