Week 8 saw the long awaited return of the Big Ten. It was the closest thing to a “proper” weekend of college football. When the Pac-12 returns in a fortnight, the beautiful chaos of Saturdays will be once more in full swing.
In the Big Ten, there were shock Week 8 wins for Rutgers, Purdue and Indiana, the latter not without controversy. Wisconsin shone on Friday, and Michigan closed the day with a victory over Minnesota. Elsewhere, Oklahoma and Texas got their seasons back on track in the Big XII, and there were wins for Clemson, UNC and Notre Dame in the ACC. Down South, a rookie made his mark in Baton Rouge, and the Crimson Tide went 5-0 by dispatching Tennessee.
On Thursday, Appalachian State kicked off Week 8 when they dispatched the Arkansas State Red Wolves. The Mountaineers were in fine form, racing to a 31-7 lead at half time. Even though the urgency of App State’s play dipped with victory all but assured, they also came out on top in the second half. Daetrich Harrington led the way, rushing for 137 yards and a touchdown. The defence also had 6 sacks, getting to both of the Red Wolves’ quarterbacks. Demetrius Taylor led the team with 2 sacks, but it was D’Marco Jackson that impressed more than any other on the night with 2 interceptions. The Red Wolves have enjoyed some success this year by alternating snaps at the QB position, but it had limited success here. Both threw for under 200 yards, and failed to throw a touchdown. Final score: 45-17.
Friday Night Lights
Jacksonville State 19-10 FIU
Tulsa 42-13 SFU
Louisiana 24-20 UAB
Illinois 7-45 Wisconsin
What a night it was for freshman quarterback Graham Mertz. Mertz threw just one incompletion all game on his college football debut, finishing with 248 yards and 5 touchdowns. It was the dream start to the season for a Badgers team highly tipped to beat Illinois. It wasn’t all about Mertz, however – the team rushed for 182 yards and a touchdown. Jake Ferguson was Mertz’s favourite target, with the Tight End enjoying 7 receptions for 72 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Rutgers 38-27 Michigan State
Nebraska 17-52 Ohio State
Iowa 20-24 Purdue
Penn State 35-36 Indiana
Maryland 3-43 Northwestern
Michigan 49-24 Minnesota
It was tough to choose just one game to focus on after a barnstorming first week in the Big Ten. Justin Fields had an impeccable day for the Buckeyes in Week 8, and there were shock victories for Rutgers and Purdue. However, the main headlines of the day came from the overtime victory for the Indiana Hoosiers over the Penn State Nittany Lions. It was the Hoosiers’ first victory over a top ten ranked side since Ronald Reagan was President (a 1987 victory over Ohio State).
Indiana started the game quickly, and the Nittany Lions were clearly caught cold after an expected start. A Sean Clifford touchdown pass to Pat Freiermuth set a school record for scores by a Tight End (16). However, Clifford went on to throw two first half interceptions, handing their opponents 10 points.
Field Goals Matter
The Lions’ kicker Jake Pinegar missed two field goals in a game littered with mistakes. To add to the Clifford interceptions and Pinegar misses, Will Levis had a first half fumble. Despite 40 minutes of possession and 11 more first downs than their opponents, Penn State managed to let Indiana force overtime. In bizarre circumstances, it came from thor own touchdown. With little more than two minutes left in the game, Devyn Ford took the opportunity to run the ball for a touchdown at the invitation of the Hoosiers’ defence.
Although his teammates begged him to stop and take a knee at the one, the ball crossed the plane of the goal line. His team had an 8 point lead, but Indiana QB Michael Penix Jnr had one more opportunity to get his side level. And he did. There was time for Clifford to take his team back into enemy territory, but Pinegar missed his second field goal of the game to force overtime.
Penn State took control in overtime with another score to make it 35-28, but defeat was to come. In a fashion that mirrored the chaos of the game, it was not without controversy. Penix Jnr found Whop Phiylor in the back of the end zone to take his side within a point. Rather than give the ball back to Clifford and the Penn State offence, Penix Jnr decided to go for two. Rolling out left, he strived for the end zone under duress from an onrushing defender. He stretched for the end zone as he headed for the side-line, and the ball hit the pylon just before it went out of bounds. Or did it?
Replays proved inconclusive, but it seems as though the officials called it right. The head of the ball just crossed the plane of the goal before going out of bounds, and the conversion was good.
Whether or not the call was good, it was not the officials that cost Penn State this game. Their own mistakes, including a 4th quarter touchdown, is what cost them the game. It wasn’t Big Ten football at its best, but it sure was entertaining.
Auburn 35-28 Ole Miss
Alabama 48-17 Tennessee
Kentucky 10-20 Missouri
South Carolina 24-52 LSU
An injury to Myles Brennan was not enough to derail an LSU offence that is scoring points at will this year. The Tigers got back on track with a win over the Gamecocks in Week 8, largely thanks to the performance of freshman quarterback TJ Finley.
Finley completed 17/21 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns, a sure sign of his potential. Finley was just a three star prospect before the year, but played like a 5 star guy. Although he did throw one interception, a further touchdown with his feet added to an already impressive debut.
Terrace Marshall Jnr was the main recipient of Finley’s throws, enjoying 88 yards and 2 receiving touchdowns. The Tigers’ offence is famously without Ja’Marr Chase in 2020, but Marshall has stepped in admirably on the outside. Sophomore running back Tyrion Davis-Price also looked promising in this outing, ending the game with 135 yards and a score.
On defence, another freshman shone. Linebacker BJ Ojulari led the team with 3 sacks against a South Carolina offensive line that looked troubled all night.
Florida State 16-48 Louisville
Syracuse 21-47 Clemson
NC State 21-48 UNC
Notre Dame 45-3 Pittsburgh
Virginia Tech 16-23 Wake Forest
Georgia Tech 27-48 Boston College
UVA 14-19 Miami
Although the hype this week was about the Big Ten, there were some great games in the ACC in Week 8. It was almost impossible to pick just one to review in more detail. In the end, Louisville’s obliteration of Florida State pips Notre Dame’s blowout against a poor Pitt team.
The Seminoles could not build on last week’s shock victory over UNC, as the Holy Trinity of Malik Cunningham, Tutu Atwell and Javian Hawkins sent the Seminoles’ defence into chaos. Cunningham threw for 278 yards and 2 touchdowns, with Hawkins leading the charge on the ground. Atwell continued to show why he is so highly rated by draft scouts, slipping past defenders to pick up those all-important yards after the catch. He ended the game with 129 yards from just three receptions and a score. He also had a rushing touchdown with a late goal line carry. Hawkins had 174 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground, as the Cardinals dominated in the air and on the ground.
Jordan Travis struggled under centre for Florida State, completing just 14/32 passes for 1 touchdown and an interception. He does have some use on the ground, and enjoyed 47 yards and a score. However, without Tamorrion Terry, this Seminoles team is missing its talisman. Both teams end the game 2-4 on the season so far, but it is the Cardinals that have shown the promise to kick on and finish the season on a high.
Oklahoma 33-14 TCU
Kansas 14-55 Kansas State
Baylor 16-27 Texas
Iowa State 21-24 Oklahoma State
WVU 27-34 Texas Tech
The battle for Kansas was a one-sided affair from the outset. The Jayhawks were rocked this week by the news of Pooka Williams’ decision to opt out of the remainder of the season. Velton Gardner picked up the responsibilities this week, splitting carries with quarterback Jalon Daniels. Gardner had more yards with 72, but it was Daniels that crossed for two scores. Both touchdowns came with the side down considerably, 20 points in the first half and then 41 late in the 4th quarter.
Deuce Vaughn continues to impress for the Wildcats, and led his team in both rushing and receiving yards (152 total yards). Vaughn’s play took the pressure off freshman quarterback Will Howard, who had a modest 243 yards and 2 touchdown throws on the day. The Wildcats are 4-0 after the shock opening game loss to Arkansas State. With the Big XII wide open, they will be hoping to challenge Texas and the Oklahoma teams come the end of the year. For now, they’ll have to settle for a modest climb up the AP poll.
Week 8 Best of the Rest
Cincinnati 42-13 SMU
Texas State 14-52 BYU
The Bearcats and Cougars continued their unbeaten starts to the season in Week 8 with regulation victories over sides they were expected to beat. Get ready for Zach Wilson hype. After another 5 touchdown game, it’s coming thick and fast.
@5yardcollege – where Saturdays are for rushing, too