The Longest Game in FBS History and the Battle for the Big Ten is Heating Up - Week 8 Highlights
In what was meant to be a quieter week in college football ahead of some big games this weekend, we saw some intriguing developments in the Big Ten and Big 12, which both look wide open, and a record setting nine-overtime thriller at Penn State.
Here's my highlights of the week...
The Big Ten...
Illinois 20-18 No.7 Penn State (9OT)
For the first time, since the 1996 rule change, a game in college football history went into eight and then nine periods of overtime, the longest game in FBS history. No.7 Penn State suffered a huge upset to Big Ten rivals Illinois, allowing 357 rushing yards from the Illini, for whom Chase Brown ran for 223 yards and a touchdown. The Nittany Lions' star receiver Jahan Dotson was restricted to just 69 yards. Penn State, having gathered impressive momentum, could be staring at three consecutive losses as they face Ohio State this week.
No.5 Ohio State 54-7 Indiana
After an awkward home loss to Oregon, Ohio State's season is falling into place. The Buckeyes moved to 6-1 with this resounding defeat of Big Ten rivals Indiana, who were down to their fourth string quarterback after Jack Tuttle was injured. C.J. Stroud is quietly moving into the Heisman conversation, he had racked up 201 passing yards and 3 touchdowns by half time alone. Freshman running back sensation TreVeyon Henderson continues to impress, running in two touchdowns and 81 yards, all in a first half which saw Ohio State lead 44-7.
Ohio State faces Penn State this weekend before matchups with Michigan State and then a showdown with old rivals Michigan in Ann Arbor. Buckle up for a wild ride in the Big Ten as key rivalry matches and a potential place in the College Football Playoff are decided.
Northwestern 7-33 No.6 Michigan
It all seems to be going quite well for Jim Harbaugh's Michigan. This win over Northwestern is the kind of banana skin Michigan would have slipped up on in the last couple of years. A dual running threat of Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum accounted for 229 rushing yards. Michigan moves to 7-0 and a showdown with Michigan State this weekend. Games against Indiana, Penn State and Ohio State in their last four weeks will have a big say in their quest for a Big Ten title.
Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Wisconsin's strong defense and 270 yards on the ground was too much for No.25 Purdue, while Minnesota are quietly advancing on the Big Ten West title, now tied with Iowa after a 34-16 win over Maryland.
The Big 12...
Like the Big Ten, the Big 12 is getting interesting as the season moves into it's second half. Oklahoma (8-0), Oklahoma State (6-1), Baylor (5-2) and Iowa State (5-2) are all in the running for the conference crown.
No.3 Oklahoma 35-23 Kansas
The Sooners came into Lawrence as heavy 38.5 point favourites but were held to account by a gritty Kansas team who were leading 17-14 in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma QB Caleb Williams ran 40 yards for a critical touchdown in response. He also posted another highlight reel post, grabbing the ball from Kennedy Brooks' arms when the Sooners running back was stopped, and gaining another five yards on a crucial drive that would result in a tie. Oklahoma moves to 8-0, while Kansas slips to 1-6.
No.8 Oklahoma State 21-24 Iowa State
Iowa State, tipped by many as a Big 12 dark horse in pre-season, have stuttered at times in recent weeks, but delivered in this upset of No.8 Oklahoma State. Xavier Hutchinson's touchdown brought scores level after an early Oklahoma State lead, before star running back Breece Hall ran in the winning score. The Cowboys' last drive was stopped by Iowa State with just over a minute left and the Cyclones moved back into Big 12 contention.
In the mix...
No.2 Cincinnati 27-20 Navy
Cincinnati marched into Annapolis on the back of two 50-point performances. They found this a little tougher against a spirited Navy team. Desmond Ridder had a comparatively quieter game compared to recent weeks, throwing for 176 yards and two touchdowns. The Bearcats' play-action passing game moved them past Navy and on to a 7-0 record for the second consecutive season as they hold on to the No.2 ranking.
Tennessee 24-52 No.4 Alabama
Tennessee kept Alabama honest for the first part of this SEC encounter in Tuscaloosa, taking a 14-7 lead on Hendon Hooker's 57-yard touchdown pass to JaVonta Payton. Alabama levelled with QB Bryce Young's first rushing touchdown (he later added his second). The Tide rolled away from the Volunteers in a one-sided fourth quarter, scoring 28 points. Young passed for 371 yards and two touchdowns while Brian Robinson ran for 107 yards and three touchdowns to keep Alabama right in the mix for the Playoff. Star receivers John Metchie and Jameson Williams had over a hundred yards receiving apiece.
LSU 17-31 No.12 Ole Miss
Oxford hosted LSU on a day that legendary Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning had his number 10 jersey retired at the University of Mississippi. Manning would have approved of their current quarterback. Matt Corral started despite doubts over his fitness during the week and completed his nineteenth straight game with a passing touchdown. He has thrown just one interception all season. Coach Lane Kiffin was effusive in his praise of the Mississippi signal caller.
"He's awesome and I don't know where we'd be without him" - Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin on Matt Corral.
After the previous week's upset win over Florida, LSU announced that head coach Ed Orgeron, who had led the Tigers to the 2019 national championship, would not be returning next season, sparking hot gossip about his potential replacement. Expect them to be casting a few admiring glances and some enquiries up the Mississippi river to Kiffin, who has turned Ole Miss into an exciting, offensively minded powerhouse. The kind of team LSU had two years ago.
No.13 Notre Dame beat traditional rival USC 31-16 in South Bend, moving to 6-1. The Trojans move to 3-4. Their star receiver Drake London will be in the minds of many NFL front offices following another superb performance, catching 15 passes for 171 receiving yards.
No.10 Oregon picked up momentum on their season, edging out Pac-12 rivals UCLA in a 34-31 win at the Rose Bowl. Travis Dye made college football history by scoring four touchdowns on four consecutive runs while Kayvon Thibodeaux's draft stock remains high. He made nine tackles, four for a loss, and registered two sacks.
Rivals Oregon State beat Utah 42-34 setting up a showdown with Oregon in a game known as "The Civil War".
While the ACC is unlikely to have any representatives in the College Football Playoff this year, it remains a very entertaining conference to follow and has unearthed some surprise packages this year.
No.16 Wake Forest 70-56 Army
Points galore in this shootout which saw Wake Forest rack up 658 yards of offense against Army. Sam Hartman, one of the players featured in Season 2 of the very watchable Netflix series, QB1: Beyond the Lights , had a career highlight game, throwing for 458 yards and five touchdowns. Wake Forest leads the ACC Atlantic Conference and moves to 7-0.
Clemson 17-27 No.23 Pitt
A conference historically dominated by Clemson doesn't feature them in the conversation this year. Coach Dabo Sweeney said some people can't look him in the eye any more as the Tigers slumped to 4-3. Clemson QB D.J. Uiagalelei, tipped for a promising season, has struggled under center. He was benched for backup Taisu Phommachanh in the third quarter, who was similarly uninspiring and hooked in favour of returning Uiagalelei.
Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett's star is rising to Heisman contention. He completed 302 yards passing and two touchdowns and plays with the grit and guts that Pitt fans love. Pickett led his team to a 6-1 record and a two-game lead in the ACC Coastal Conference. They will have their eyes on an ACC title and moved into the Top 20 for the first time in seven years. Aware of the hype surrounding him and Pitt, Pickett is keeping his feet firmly on the ground:
"This won't mean anything if we don't handle business in the next couple of weeks." - Pitt QB Kenny Pickett.
Elsewhere in the ACC, No.18 North Carolina State lost 30-31 on the road to Miami and Syracuse beat Virginia Tech 41-36 in Blacksburg, QB Garrett Shrader rushed for three touchdowns and passed for two more. Florida State thrashed UMass 59-3.
Games to look out for this week:
No.6 Michigan travels to East Lansing to face in-state and Big Ten rivals No.8 Michigan State for the Paul Bunyan Trophy. Read more about this historic rivalry here.
No.1 Georgia meets Florida tomorrow in Jacksonville, a match known as "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party". The Bulldogs will be keen to exact revenge after last year's 44-28 defeat to the Gators.
No.5 Ohio State takes hosts No.20 Penn State at The Shoe in a pivotal Big Ten matchup. Ohio State is on a roll and right back in playoff contention while Penn State needs a win to reignite their challenge.
No.10 Ole Miss goes to No.18 Auburn to keep momentum going in their challenge for SEC contention, and we get another look at Heisman front-runner Matt Corral.
Here's this week's AP Top 25...
Rank Team Record
1 (1) Georgia 7-0
2 (2) Cincinnati 7-0
3 (4) Alabama 7-1
4 (3) Oklahoma 8-0
5 (5) Ohio State 6-1
6 (6) Michigan 7-0
7 (10) Oregon 6-1
8 (9) Michigan State 7-0
9 (11) Iowa 6-1
10 (12) Ole Miss 6-1
11 (13) Notre Dame 6-1
12 (15) Kentucky 6-1
13 (16) Wake Forest 7-0
14 (17) Texas A&M 6-2
15 (8) Oklahoma State 6-1
16 (20) Baylor 6-1
17 (23)Pittsburgh 6-1
18 (19) Auburn 5-2
19 (21) SMU 7-0
20 (7) Penn State 5-2
21 (22) San Diego State 7-0
22 (-) Iowa State 5-2
23 (24) UTSA 8-0
24 (14) Coastal Carolina 6-1
25 (-) Brigham Young 6-2