The race to make the College Football Playoff is becoming a little bit clearer in the second-to-last week before the first set of rankings are released. Alabama is considered a virtual slam dunk to make it at this point with Auburn and a potential showdown with Georgia the two lone remaining tough games for the Crimson Tide.
It also seems highly likely that the winner of Penn State-Ohio State will decide another spot. However, the other two places are up in the air as we pass the midway point of the season.
Biggest Win of Week 8 – Penn State 42, Michigan 13
The Nittany Lions answered all of the critics that said they had yet to pick up a quality win with a statement victory over Michigan. The Wolverines battled for a little bit, but Penn State’s offense proved to be too much. PSU racked up over 500 yards of offense on Michigan and only punted twice.
Saquon Barkley might be the Heisman front-runner after the victory. On only 18 touches, he racked up 161 total yards and found the end zone three times. It was an extremely impressive performance against a defense that many consider the best in the nation outside of Alabama.
Close Call of Week 8 – Oklahoma State 13, Texas 10
Give credit to the Longhorns defense. Texas was able to stay in this game despite being outgained by 145 total yards. Thanks to a timely turnover and a missed field goal, these teams went into overtime tied at 10. Fortunately for the Cowboys, Sam Ehlinger threw an interception that allowed Oklahoma State to escape Austin once again with a win.
The Cowboys outplayed Texas, but little mistakes killed them time and time again. Texas clearly had a game plan to slow down the explosive James Washington, and without his spark, Oklahoma State’s offense wasn’t able to manufacture big plays.
Surreal Score of Week 8 – Florida Atlantic 69, North Texas 31
We all knew that Lane Kiffin wasn’t long for Florida Atlantic, and the Owls’ performance against North Texas is sure to have multiple Power Five schools calling Kiffin’s agent. Florida Atlantic did what it wanted against a pretty decent North Texas team. The ground game for the Owls was extraordinary. They racked up 447 yards and found pay dirt on seven occasions.
FAU stubbed its toe early in the year, losing three of its first four. But the Owls have found their footing in Kiffin’s offense in these last three games and have completely gashed their opponents. This is one of the best run games at the mid-major level, and they will get a chance to show how good they are against Western Kentucky and Marshall these next two weeks.
Biggest Comeback of Week 8 – Memphis 42, Houston 38
Major Applewhite might be one and done in Houston after another puzzling loss. The Cougars were up 17-0 on Memphis at the end of the first half and looked well on their way to shutting down the Tigers offense.
Riley Ferguson had other plans. The Tigers quarterback has been hot and cold this season, but he turned it on in the second half against the Cougars. He threw for a season-high 471 yards and led Memphis to six second-half touchdowns. The win kept the Tigers’ hopes of getting the Group of Five New Year’s Six spot alive.
Biggest Letdown of Week 8 – Notre Dame 49, USC 14
It was no secret that Notre Dame was going to run the ball early and often in this game. Brandon Wimbush is a fantastic running quarterback, but he isn’t very accurate, which has forced Brian Kelly to rely on the ground game. The Irish had been one of the most run-heavy offenses in the country coming into this one, running on two-thirds of their plays.
There’s no excuse that a team as talented as USC looked totally helpless against the run. The Trojans allowed 377 yards and five touchdowns on the ground as Wimbush and Josh Adams carved up the front seven. To make matters worse, USC was completely unable to run the ball itself.