Week Eight of the NCAA Football season has come and gone, and well, the saying goes “some things just never change.” The undisputed heavyweight of college football continued to flex its muscles. We saw one of the best programs in the nation suffer a massive hiccup that may cost themselves a place in the playoffs, while others continue to show how good they are sneakily. And we saw one dormant program take the next step back into the national spotlight with some tough battles coming up. Here are the Top Five stories coming out of Week Eight.
1. Keep Calm….and Roll Tide
The No. 1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide continued its dominance of the college football world, and they defeated the No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies 33-14. If you didn’t watch the game and saw the score, you might assume the outcome was never in question. That was certainly not the case here as both teams came out swinging, landing some serious haymakers — both on the scoreboard and on the field. At one point, it looked like the Aggies had a chance to pull off the upset as they took the lead early in the second half.
However, Alabama’s freshman quarterback, Jalen Hurts started getting into a groove, and once again, the Tide defense scored a defensive touchdown. Within a few minutes, Texas A&M went from being right there to be blown out by a typical Alabama performance. Even against the top teams in the nation, once ‘Bama starts rolling, there is no stopping them. They had done it Mississippi, then Arkansas, then Tennessee and now to Texas A&M. One has to wonder if there is any team in the SEC, or even the nation, that can stay with the Tide for four quarters.
2. Buckeyes Not Happy Down In The Valley
The No. 2-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes traveled to Happy Valley to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions Saturday night after an instant classic against Wisconsin last week, and it looked as if they were in complete control after three-quarters of play. However, in the fourth quarter, Penn State completely dominated, and used two special teams plays to lock the game up. After an impressive 90-yard touchdown-scoring drive that took just five plays, the defense stifled J.T. Barrett and the vaunted Buckeyes attack, and with a blocked punt and a blocked field goal leading to 10 points, the Lions completely changed the tenor of the game.
After a last second stoppage (sacking Barrett twice in the final two plays), the Nittany Lions pull off the monumental upset that no doubt will shake up the college football rankings. The Buckeyes will likely drop significantly, and given the looming battle against Michigan at the end of the season, it could spell the doom of the program’s College Football Playoff hopes.
3. The Silent Assassins in Washington
Look, we know that the PAC-12 is having a down year, but right now, the No. 5 Washington Huskies are pretty darn good, and undeniably impressive. They are ranked in the top six in both points scored and points allowed, strong on both sides of the ball, and appear to be getting better as the season wears on. They crushed both Stanford and Oregon earlier this year and added another notch to their belt with a 41-17 beating of Oregon State. Quarterback Jake Browning has silently become a dark horse contender for the Heisman, now throwing 26 touchdowns against only TWO interceptions.
Washington runs the ball well, too, and tallied 219 yards on the ground against a Beavers defense that was helpless to stop anything it did. On defense, The Huskies are ridiculously good on defense, which is why they could give the top teams in the Big Ten and SEC some trouble in the College Football Playoff. Next weekend should tell us a little more about the Huskies. They’ll be heading to Salt Lake City next weekend to take on No. 19 Utah, which also won this weekend in a shootout over UCLA.
4. It Takes A Little Luck On The Blue Turf In Boise
The No. 14-ranked Boise State Broncos are lucky to remain undefeated heading into Week 9 after a scare at home against BYU on Thursday night. Boise State was not sharp at all, as they turned the ball over five times, including two pick-sixes by quarterback Brett Rypien. It was a back and forth affair, and in the end, the Broncos did just enough to stay unbeaten and continue its journey to a New Year’s Day Bowl. However, it is quite telling that for the second weekend in a row, Boise State needed some luck to get by its opposition. As Tennessee learned the hard way, too many brushes with fire mean you end up getting burned. Hopefully, Boise State avoids that fate.
5. The Time Is Now For The Cornhuskers
As we headed into Week Eight, we wondered if the No. 8 Nebraska Cornhuskers were worthy of being counted among the nation’s best. Even though they were undefeated, the Huskers had yet to actually establish itself as a dominant power in the Big Ten. After a rather uninspiring 27-14 win against the Purdue Boilermakers to go 7-0, those same experts and pundits are still not convinced that this team is for real. As we have seen in games against Oregon, Illinois, and now Purdue, teams with a combined record of 7-14, the Huskers have played down to the competition, and have yet to play that full game.
One has to ask what is this team going to do taking on the likes of Wisconsin and Ohio State the next couple of weeks? Some will say that a big dose of reality will hit the program and will be in deep trouble. It has been a long time though for the Huskers to be undefeated this late into the season, so the time is now for the program to buckle up and be in for a wild ride at the end of this season.