Prove It - Week 8 Football; Another Big Test for LSU and Texas Tech



Texas Tech at TCU


Texas Tech pulled off an upset last week that few outside of Lubbock saw coming.  West Virginia had been flying high all season.  They had beaten Baylor in a knock-down, drag-out dog fight where Geno Smith went crazy throwing the ball.  They had also beaten Texas on the road.  The Red Raiders obviously saw something in the West Virginia defense that they could exploit.  What they saw was the third worst pass defense in the country.  Seth Doege did his best Smith impression by throwing for six touchdowns and 499 yards.  It was 35-7 at halftime. 

That win against the Mountaineers should not be understated.  The Red Raiders may now have a different trajectory to their season after that win.  They sit at 5-1 and are ranked in the Top 20.  They are fourth in the nation in passing.  More impressively, the Red Raiders defense is ranked in the top 20 in points scored against them and they are second in total defense.  The Big 12 is a conference with strong offenses from top to bottom.  The only way to keep yourself in ball games is to find a way to keep the other team out of the end zone.  Texas Tech has done that.

Unfortunately, Texas Tech’s schedule gets no easier.  They face a solid TCU team this week leading up to a showdown with Kansas State next weekend.  Like Texas Tech, TCU boasts a strong defense.  The difference is that TCU has played much weaker competition than Texas Tech.  Grambling, Virginia and Kansas are not Oklahoma and West Virginia.  Plus, TCU has lost to a common opponent in Iowa State.  Texas Tech handled the Cyclones pretty well a couple of weeks ago.   The Red Raiders cannot allow this TCU game to be a letdown game after a huge win.  Sure, TCU has talent and solid coaching.  However, they lost their starting quarterback to disciplinary issues.  This is a spot for Texas Tech to propel themselves way ahead of the bottom half of the conference.  Good teams do not falter the week after a big win.  Texas Tech will be considered a good team if they win on Saturday.


LSU at Texas A&M


LSU finally played like it was expected to play all season long last weekend against South Carolina.  The Gamecocks are going to battle Florida for the SEC East crown and are considered a contender for the whole conference.  LSU took it to them in Baton Rouge.  That victory was coming off of a loss to Florida that came as a bit of surprise.  Where was the LSU offense that we knew so well?  Zach Mettenberger was highly regarded, yet he only passed for 158 yards and an interception.  The perennially strong LSU defense let them down.  The Gators ran for 176 yards.  Last weekend, LSU returned to form.  The Tigers held Marcus Lattimore and his running mates to only 34 yards rushing.  The Gamecocks only had 200 yards of total offense.  LSU rushers gained 258 yards on the ground, led by Jeremy Hill with 124 yards. 

LSU had played three straight subpar games coming into the South Carolina game, and they came away with a 2-1 record.  Towson of all teams had scored 22 points on this defense.  The week before that, LSU won with four field goals in a 12-10 sleeper against Auburn.  The game against South Carolina seemed like a bad spot for LSU.  Instead, the Tigers came out fighting and dominated the South Carolina offense.  The question is which LSU team will take the field week in and week out?  They clearly have enough talent to compete in every game they play.  To be elite, especially in the SEC, they have to smother teams to garner national respect.  They will face another good team in Texas A&M this weekend.  The Aggies are a high scoring team that will not take their foot off of the gas.  LSU’s defense gets the chance to prove it is more like the defense that turned the Gamecocks over twice or the defense that allowed 22 points to Towson.  LSU’s defense will be on display one way or the other.  Another strong ground performance will help out Mettenberger and the passing game.  Can Hill keep it up?


NC State at Maryland

PROVE IT - ACC ATLANTIC:  Are either of these teams contenders?

Perhaps two early season surprises are NC State and Maryland.  Maryland leads the Atlantic Division right now after being undefeated in conference after two games.  NC State is coming off of a huge win over the odds-on favorite Florida State on Oct. 6.  Should NC State win, they will vault to the top of the division.  If Maryland wins, the Terps will remain the only undefeated team in the ACC.  Not many people would have predicted these two teams would be in this position half way through the season. 

NC State has a great chance to win on the road with one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Mike Glennon.  He keeps them in games no matter how the team is playing.  Maryland’s defense is keeping them in games as they are tied for ninth in total defense and rank 14th in sacks.  With a young offensive unit, the defense is vital to their victories.  It is unclear if either of these teams can sustain their early season success, but this is a division that is no longer simply awarded to Florida State.


Week 8 Football - What to Watch For