Week 8 featured just one match up of ranked teams, a game in which No. 23 Ole Miss destroyed No. 15 Texas A&M. The weekend also gave college football fans not one, but two quadruple overtime games and even a game-winning blocked field goal return. Here are the big winners and losers from college football’s Week 8 action.
That game-winning blocked field goal resulted in a Georgia Tech 22-16 victory over No. 9 Florida State. It was the Yellow Jackets first win since starting the season 2-0. Head coach Paul Johnson’s team had lost five straight games before hanging in there with the Seminoles. With the score tied at 16-16, Florida State got itself in position for a 56-yard field goal attempt to win the game. The kick was blocked, scooped up by Lance Austin, and returned 78 yards for the game-winning touchdown. If not for last week’s errant punt snap and fumble return in the Michigan-Michigan State game, Austin’s return might be the play of the year.
A pair of Smiths helped lead USC to its biggest victory of the season and possibly begin a season-ending turnaround. Wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster caught eight passes for 143 yards and a touchdown while linebacker Cameron Smith intercepted three Utah passes and returned one for a score in the Trojans 42-24 win over the previously third-ranked Utes. The game was the school’s first win since the firing of head coach Steve Sarkisian.
A number of elite quarterbacks turned in fantastic performances over the weekend. In Friday night’s 66-42 win over Tulsa, Memphis QB Paxton Lynch connected on 32-of-44 passes for a career-high 447 yards. He also threw four touchdowns. It was the fifth game in a row that Lynch threw for over 400 yards. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer decided to turn the Buckeyes offense over to last year’s starter, J.T. Barrett. The redshirt sophomore responded by completing 14-of-18 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns and running 13 times for another 101 yards and two more scores. Ohio State beat Rutgers 49-7. Dak Prescott of Mississippi State showed why he is considered the best quarterback in the SEC in a six-touchdown performance against Kentucky. Prescott threw for 348 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 117 yards on 13 carries and scored three times on the ground. The Bulldogs cracked back into the AP Top 25 with a convincing 42-16 win over the Wildcats.
It might be a stretch to say that Texas is back, but the Longhorns got a much-needed win over Kansas State on Saturday. It was the second straight win for head coach Charlie Strong’s team after three consecutive losses. Backup quarterback Tyrone Swoopes scored three touchdowns to lead Texas to a 23-9 victory and move the Longhorns record to 3-4 on the season. Strong and company could salvage the season with a stretch of games that includes Iowa State, Kansas, West Virginia, and Texas Tech.
It was the worst loss in the history of Miami football. The once storied program was crushed by No. 6 Clemson, 58-0. The Tigers had 416 yards rushing and completely dominated the Hurricanes in every facet of the game. Head coach Al Golden was promptly fired Sunday. Miami AD Blake James said that Larry Scott, the team’s tight ends coach and run game coordinator will serve as the interim head coach. The Hurricanes face 6-1 Duke next Saturday.
The Pac-12 suffered a huge loss that will have an impact on this year’s College Football Playoff. Third-ranked Utah went into the Coliseum to face a 3-3 USC team on the verge of collapse. The talented Trojans responded with a 42-24 drubbing of the Utes. The conference now has no unbeaten teams and its highest ranked team, Stanford, comes in at No. 8. Barring a slew of upsets, the Pac-12 is most likely shut out of the national championship race.
Once a preseason favorite for an SEC title and a berth in the College Football Playoff, Auburn is now 4-3 following a loss to Arkansas on Saturday. After the Tigers tied the game at 24-24 on a last second field goal by Daniel Carson, Auburn proceeded to lose in quadruple overtime as Arkansas QB Brandon Allen hit Drew Morgan with a 25-yard TD pass. Allen also completed the two-point conversion when he hooked up with Kody Walker. The 54-46 win gives the Razorbacks a 3-4 overall record, 2-2 in the SEC.
Is there a team in the country with worse luck than Nebraska? The Cornhuskers are 3-5 and have lost those five games by a total of 11 points. Saturday, Nebraska fell to Northwestern, 30-28. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong scored on a three-yard run with 4:23 to play in the game, but the Cornhuskers attempt at the two-point conversion failed. New head coach Mike Riley could still manage to get Nebraska to a bowl game. It will be a tough task though as the ‘Huskers must face both Michigan State and Iowa.