Apparently no quarterback controversy in Clemson, the Horned Frogs are looking good in the Big 12, LSU is a factor in the SEC once again, and the "White Out". Here's my highlights of a fascinating Week 8 in college football:
No.14 Syracuse 21-27 No.5 Clemson
No.5 Clemson held off a spirited Syracuse team who came into Death Valley with a 6-0 record, their best start to a college football season since 1987. Tigers running back Will Shipley's stunning 172-yard performance propped up a Clemson offense that struggled initially under quarterback DJ Uiagalelei. The starter was hooked by coach Dabo Swinney after committing three turnovers, one leading to a 90-yard touchdown return by the Orange.
In came Cade Klubnik, the top-ranked quarterback in the class of 2022. A late hit on him on a 3rd and 25 play gave Clemson an unlikely first down and momentum for the young signal caller to lead the Tigers to their 38th straight win at home. Swinney nipped any talk of a quarterback controversy in the bud, firmly reiterating his faith in Uiagalelei as the starter:
"DJ's our quarterback, there ain't no question about that. That's our guy, that's our leader. You can write that right now."
Elsewhere in the ACC...
Duke 45-21 Miami
A second-quarter injury to starting quarterback Tyler van Dyke left Miami down 17-7 to a surprising Duke team. Freshman replacement Jake Garcia rallied the Hurricanes to a 21-17 lead but Duke's rushing game was the catalyst for quarterback Riley Leonard to lead the Blue Devils down the field on successive drives to finish Miami, in a tough opening season for expensive new head coach Mario Cristobal, whose team drops to 3-4. Duke moves to 5-2 and within reach of a Bowl game.
Elsewhere in the ACC...
Sam Hartman's impressive season continues. Wake Forest's record-setting quarterback threw for 313 yards and five touchdown passes, rushing for another as the 6-1 Demon Deacons thrashed Boston College 43-15. They take on a Louisville team coming off a comfortable 24-10 win over Pitt, who look out of the running in the ACC.
The Big 12
No.20 Texas 34-41 No.11 Oklahoma State
After a promising start, the Texas of last season started creeping back in their needless loss to Oklahoma State. 21-10 up at the half, the Longhorns fell back in to bad habits with a series of missed opportunities that denied them a win that could have launched them into the Top 15. Quinn Ewers missed a couple of deep throws, one a bomb to Xavier Worthy that would have been highlight-reel worthy and kicker Bert Auburn missed a critical field goal, both plays could made a difference in a seven-point game. The most damning statistic, though, was fourteen penalties for Texas at a cost of 120 yards, opposed to none for the Cowboys.
Ewers finished with 319 yards on 19 of 49 passes completed with two touchdowns and three interceptions. His opposite number Spencer Sanders, by comparison, was composure personified, passing for 391 yards as the Cowboys' offense took advantage of a sloppy Texas defense. He led Oklahoma State back from two scores down in the fourth quarter. as the Longhorns let another significant lead slip away.
No.17 Kansas State 28-38 No.8 TCU
TCU are rising rapidly up the Top 25 at 7-0 and could be the favourite in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs overcame a good Kansas State team bereft of their in-form quarterback Adrian Martinez. The Wildcats put TCU under pressure in Fort Worth, jumping to a 28-10 lead. 28 unanswered points from the Horned Frogs and a 152-yard, two touchdown rushing perfomance from Kendre Miller gave TCU their fourth straight win over a ranked opponent this season. Max Duggan threw for 280 yards and three touchdowns. The road to the Big 12 title runs through Fort Worth.
Elsewhere in the Big 12, defending champion Baylor moved to 4-3 with a 35-23 win over Kansas at McLane Stadium.
In the SEC...
No.7 Ole Miss 20-45 LSU
Brian Kelly, against most preseason odds, is proving the doubters wrong in Baton Rouge. His LSU team, having trailed 17-3, despatched an Ole Miss team that strode into Death Valley with a 7-0 record. Quarterback Jayden Daniels accounted for five total touchdowns with 248 yards passing and 121 yards rushing as Ole Miss imploded in the second half.
The Tigers go into their bye week with a place in the Top 25 and then travel to Tuscaloosa for a game against Alabama that, before, the season, looked a foregone conclusion. Now, it could be the game of the season in the SEC. Ole Miss, slipping to No.15, will lick their wounds and look to regroup with a home game against an out-of-sorts Texas A&M.
Texas A&M 24-30 South Carolina
A bizarre game in Columbia saw Texas A&M gain 100 yards more offense than South Carolina, but fail to capitalise on any momentum and finish their drives. The Gamecocks, in front of a pumped-up, sellout crowd of 77,787 at Williams-Brice Stadium, erupted into a 7-0 lead on the first kick-off, a 100-yard return by Xavier Legette.
South Carolina's offense hasn't quite hit its stride with Spencer Rattler at the helm, but the Oklahoma transfer displayed flashes of potential in his coach's "Beamerball" philosophy. Marshawn Lloyd was the star for the Gamecocks, rushing for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Aggies fans caught a glimpse of future quarterback Connor Weigman, a backup freshman, on for the injured Haynes King early in the fourth quarter.
South Carolina recorded their first ever win over Texas A&M, who lost their third game in a row.
Elsewhere in the SEC...
No.3 Tennessee eased to 7-0 with a 65-24 thrashing of UT Martin. Jalin Hyatt is stating his claim for the Biletnikoff award for the best receiver in college football. Hyatt had over 150 rushing yards and two touchdowns in back-to-back games.
No.6 Alabama, looking to bounce back from their loss to Tennessee last week, put together a composed performance with Bryce Young back at the helm, beating No.24 Mississippi State 30-6.
The Big 10...
Iowa 10-54 No.2 Ohio State
A dominant performance from Ohio State and quarterback C.J. Stroud saw the No.2 Buckeyes ease to a 54-10 win over Iowa in Columbus. The Hawkeyes turned the ball over six times as both starting quarterback Spencer Petras and backup Alex Padilla struggled to kick start Iowa's offense, combining for just 81 yards passing.
Stroud, by contrast, found his rhythm in the second half, finishing with 286 yards passing and now leads the nation with 28 touchdown passes, four coming against Iowa. The Buckeyes travel to Penn State this weekend, while Iowa hosts Northwestern.
Minnesota 17-45 No.16 Penn State
One of college football's most striking images, the "White Out", lifted 6-1 Penn State to a powerful victory over Minnesota. Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford threw four touchdowns and Nicholas Singleton ran in another two as Penn State warmed up for a huge clash with Ohio State.
The Golden Gophers, who had started the season so promisingly, have now dropped three in a row to move to 4-3, Mo Ibrahim's 102-yard rushing performance and touchdown being their highlight.
Elsewhere in the Big 10...
In the absence of Taulia Tagovailoa, Maryland running back Roman Hemby carried the load on offense, rushing for 179 yards and three touchdowns as the Terrapins beat Northwestern 31-24, moving to 6-2.
Aidan O'Connell and the Purdue offense struggled, dropping their four-game winning streak with a 35-24 loss to Wisconsin, who are improving under interim coach Jim Leonhard. The Badgers move to 4-4, while Purdue fall a game behind Illinois in the West division at 6-2.
Rutgers broke a three-game losing streak, beating Indiana 24-14. They face Minnesota this weekend.
In the Pac-12...
No.9 UCLA 30-45 No.10 Oregon
The renaissance of Bo Nix continues in Eugene. The Auburn transfer's career is blossoming in the Northwest. He led Oregon to a decisive win over a previously unbeaten UCLA team to put the Ducks firmly in contention for the Pac-12. Nix completed 22 of 28 passes for 283 yards and five touchdowns, two of which landed in the arms of Troy Franklin who had 132 yards rushing.
I seem to write it every week, but Dan Lanning's Oregon team look like a completely different team to the one chastened by Georgia in the opening game. They are hitting their stride and their 19th November clash with Utah will be mouthwatering.
Elsewhere in the Pac-12...
Stanford outlasted Arizona State 15-14 with 320 yards passing from Tanner McKee. Washington moved to 6-2 with a 28-21 win over California while Oregon State joined them on 6-2 with a 42-9 demolition of lowly Colorado in Corvallis.
One of the games of the week took place in the FCS, where Rhode Island beat Monmouth 48-46 after SEVEN periods of overtime, moving to 5-2 for the season. Running back Marques DeShields accounted for 256 total yards and four touchdowns.
Liberty, the No.1 independent team in the country, moved to 7-1 with a 41-14 destruction of BYU, Dae Dae Hunter rushing for 213 yards. Tulane moved into the Top 25 with a 38-28 win over Memphis. The Green Wave had jumped to a 35-0 lead. No.21 Cincinnati won a close won against SMU, winning 29-27.
The AP Top 25 Poll sees the top six remain as they were. Georgia continuing at No.1. Clemson and Alabama have bye weeks before intriguing contests with Notre Dame and LSU respectively next weekend. TCU is up to No.7.
Wake Forest and Penn State are the biggest climbers, to No.10 and No.13, while Oregon , Oklahoma State and USC all jump up two places and sit within the Top 10.
Ole Miss is the biggest faller, down eight places to No.15 after a humbling loss to LSU, and Kansas State drops five to No. 22 after losing to TCU. South Carolina joins the Top 25 after their first win over Texas A&M.
UK & Ireland Top 25
I am fortunate to be part of a UK and Ireland media group who cast their vote on a Top 25 from this side of the pond, put together by Owain Jones. Here are our rankings from Week 8: