College Football Recap: Week 8
By: Morgan Flood
Week 8 of the college football season started off right with a key ACC Coastal match up between Virginia Tech (notably missing their top three RBs to injury) and Pitt at Heinz Field on a drizzly Thursday night. The weather did not prevent this game from being a good one, however, with Pitt dominating defensively. Pitt held the Hokies to only two 3rd down conversions on 14 attempts, and 0-2 on fourth down conversions. The Panthers did not allow a first down until the end of the second quarter, only allowed 26 rushing yards total, and kept VT to field goals on three of four scoring drives. The charge on offense for Pitt was led by QB Chad Voytik, who completed 10/17 passes for 92 yards, but really shone in the run game, carrying 19 times for 118 yards – more than feature RB James Conner (16 carries, 85 yards, 2 TD). Voytik also caught a 29 yard TD pass by Tyler Boyd. QB Michael Brewer was the key player on offense for the Hokies, throwing for 265 yards and a TD. Virginia Tech attempted to make a late comeback following their only TD drive, but their inability to set up a rushing game along with Pitt’s defensive play kept them down, and Pitt held on to win 21-16.
On Saturday #4 Baylor traveled all the way from Waco to face West Virginia in Morgantown. Baylor was highly favored in this one, and at first seemed to be pulling away – the Bears scored their first touchdown within a minute of kickoff – but the Mountaineer defense stepped up and held what is generally regarded as one of the nation’s best offenses to only 318 yards, slightly more than half their average yardage. Offensively, WVU was led by QB Clint Trickett (23/35, 322yds, 3TD, and the Mountaineer receiving corps which had 3 players with 30+ yard receptions on the day. Still, the star was Kevin White, who had 8 catches for 132 yards and 2 TDs. Baylor QB Bryce Petty had an off day, only completing 16 of 36 attempts for 223 yards and 2 TDs, and thanks to this and the aforementioned WVU defensive showing, the Mountaineers shocked the Bears, winning 41-27.
The PAC-12’s key game this weekend was between #23 Stanford and #17 Arizona State, who notably lost to the Cardinal twice last season, once in the regular season and once in the PAC-12 Championship. However, this year the Sun Devils not only found a way to win, but did so in convincing fashion, registering their highest point total on the season against the top-rated Stanford defense. The Sun Devils racked up 356 total yards thanks to a nice showing from QB Mike Bercovici, who went 22/33 for 245 yards and a TD, and RB D.J. Foster who had 24 carries for 59 yards and a TD as well as 7 catches for 92 yards. Stanford just never seemed to be able to get very much going on offense, punting 7 times and scoring on only two drives. Arizona State won it solidly, 26-10.
#21 Texas A&M faced #7 Alabama in the weekend’s only SEC match up between two ranked teams. Many expected this one to be a good one, but in fact it was one of the biggest blowouts of the day, perhaps proving those who claimed the Aggies to be overrated correct. Alabama’s famous defense had an amazing day, keeping Texas A&M to only eight first downs the entire game and 2-13 on third down conversions, while the Tide’s offense exploded, with QBs Blake Sims and Jake Coker throwing for a combined 304 yards and 4 TDs and RBs TJ Yeldon and Derrick Henry rushing for a combined 184 yards and 3 TDs. Alabama WR Amari Cooper also had a great day, making 8 catches for 140 yards and 2 TDs. Thanks to all of this, plus a bad showing from the Aggie offense, who only gained 172 yards, the Tide absolutely destroyed the Aggies, 59-0.
#15 Oklahoma State traveled to Fort Worth for a showdown against #12 TCU after the Horned Frogs’ big loss in a thriller with Baylor the week before. Despite an injury to his non-throwing hand, QB Trevone Boykin threw for a personal best 410 yards on 26 completions. RB B.J. Catalon and WR Josh Doctson also lit it up, rushing 10 times for 102 yards and 2 TDs and making 7 catches for 225 yards and 2 TDs respectively. The Cowboys’ offense was not productive and never scored more than a field goal on any of their scoring drives. Oklahoma State QB Daxx Garman was particularly unimpressive, making only 10 completions out of 25 attempts and throwing two picks. TCU simply blew out Oklahoma State with the final score being 42-9.
Another highly touted Big 12 game this weekend was between #14 Kansas State and #11 Oklahoma. It was very back and forth the entire game, though Oklahoma dominated statistically, out-gaining K-State by nearly 150 yards, largely thanks to QB Trevor Knight (26/32, 318 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT), RB Samaje Perine (24 carried, 89 yards, 1 TD), and WR Sterling Shepard (15 catches, 197 yards, 1 TD). Like several other games this season, this one came down to kicking. Oklahoma kicker Michael Hunnicut, who is the Sooners’ all-time scoring leader and is generally thought to be one of the best kickers in all of college football, had an extra point blocked and missed two field goals, including one with 3:53 to go in the fourth quarter that would have given Oklahoma a 33-31 lead. Unfortunately for the Sooners, it was not to be, as the Wildcats, led by QB Jake Waters (15/23, 22 yards, 2 TDs) and star receiver Tyler Lockett (6 catches, 86 yards, 1 TD) won a thriller, 31-30.
The weekend’s marquee game was a battle between two top 5 teams: #5 Notre Dame and #2 Florida State, and it was a close, hard-fought game right to the end. Notre Dame’s defense did a good job keeping Heisman winning QB Jameis Winston (23/31, 273 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) uneasy in the pocket during the first half, and their offense, led by QB Everett Golson (31/52, 313 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT), combined to take a 17-10 lead into halftime. However, the Seminoles were able to make adjustments over the break, thus making a comeback to lead the Irish 31-27 halfway through the fourth quarter. Notre Dame then put together a drive to win the game in the final minutes, even scoring a touchdown to pull ahead of FSU with 13 seconds left, but it was called back on a somewhat controversial offensive pass interference call, and FSU again hung on to their undefeated season, 31-27.
While only two ranked teams in the B1G played this week and both solidly beat their opponents, an interesting game was played between Purdue, and an arguably underrated Minnesota squad, who had quietly gotten to 5-1 prior to this game. The Boilermakers nearly played “spoilermakers” for the Golden Gophers, leading them 31-20 at the half after QB Austin Appleby (16/26, 153 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT and 10 carries, 79 yards, 1 TD) threw for all three of his passing TDs and RB Raheem Mostert (5 carries, 115 yards, 1 TD) ran for one more before the break. In the second half, the defensive hero of the game for Minnesota, Cedric Thompson, picked off Appleby for the second time with 2:28 left in the game. The Golden Gophers managed to get past Purdue to improve to 6-1 and 3-0 in the B1G, 39-38, with QB Mitch Leidner completing 9/18 for 165 yards and 2 TDs and RB David Cobb impressively rushing 35 times for 194 yards and 1 TD.
Other Scores: #20 Utah 29, Oregon State, 23; Fresno State 27, Boise State 37; #24 Clemson 17, BC 13; #8 Michigan State 56, Indiana 17; Rutgers 17, #13 Ohio State 56; #19 Nebraska 38, Northwestern 17; #10 Georgia 45, Arkansas 32; Colorado 28, #22 USC 56; #25 Marshall 45, FIU 13; Tennessee 3, #3 Ole Miss 34; Washington 20, #9 Oregon 45; Furman 10, South Carolina 41; Syracuse 30, Wake Forest 7; Iowa 31, Maryland 38; Virginia 13, Duke 20; UCLA 36, Cal 34; UNC 48, GT 43; NC State 18, Louisville 30; Kansas 21, Texas Tech 32; Missouri 42, Florida 13; Georgia Tech 43, UNC 48; Kentucky 3, LSU 41; Iowa State 45, Texas 48; Hawaii 10, SDSU 20.
Note: All rankings are from the AP Poll and are correct as of the time the game was played. They have not been updated to reflect the results of the AP Poll released on Sunday, 10/19.