Week 8 only had one inter-Top 25 matchup. Ole Miss thumped Texas A&M, muddling the SEC West picture still further. Beyond that were a few letdown/trap type games that could be troubling. Two undefeated teams were picked off. Another made a clear statement.
Power Move: Miami looked like a prime “Clemsoning” opportunity for Clemson. Not so much. The Tigers thrashed the Hurricanes 58-0. They dominated every facet of the box score, despite taking a foot off the gas after halftime. Dabo felt obligated to lecture his team about winning properly.
Clemson fashioned the Al Golden era’s coffin and nailed it shut within 60 minutes. The ending fitted. It highlighted just how much Miami has dimmed the past decade. Miami should be a better job than Clemson. You can recruit enough talent to win a national title without affecting a car lease. The present disparity between those programs should astound.
The win was a statement. It also puts Clemson in pole position for the playoff. There’s not much left on the schedule if the Tigers beat Florida State at home. That said, a 7-0 record, a top five ranking, and a road trip to N.C. State in a look-ahead spot is prime Clemsoning territory.
The Inevitable Letdown: Oddsmakers made USC a favorite. Oddsmakers earn a living fleecing the conventionally wise. Utes QB Travis Wilson regressed hard to his mean, throwing four picks. Utah is not quite what it was last year on defense. There is a marked difference in the quality of athlete recruited to play at USC and Utah. The Utes must with with execution. On Saturday, they did not.
Don’t count Utah out of the playoff race just yet. A 12-1 Pac 12 record with a non-conference win over Michigan would still be a strong playoff résumé. The Utes have just one Top 25 regular season opponent remaining, inconsistent UCLA at home.
Blocked Kick Six: Florida State tried to kick a game-winning field goal. Georgia Tech blocked it, and returned it for a touchdown. 22-16 final. It was FSU’s first conference loss since the N.C. State upset on Oct. 6, 2012.
On paper, this does not condemn Florida State’s playoff hopes. Big wins are more valuable than understandable losses. A one-loss FSU would rather it come against GT on a special teams play than to Clemson or Florida. But, the major take-away here is Florida State just isn’t very good.
FSU’s defense struggled adjusting to Georgia Tech’s flexbone. Their offensive line could not set the tone on the ground against an undersized Yellow Jacket front. The Seminoles have underwhelmed, and one could argue 3-5 GT is the strongest opponent they have faced. Florida State will be back. 2015 isn’t the year.
Ohio State Quarterbackery: The Buckeyes made the change from Cardale Jones to J.T. Barrett. It was odd, if you view college football through an NFL Draft prism, obvious to everyone else. The decision went well for them. Barrett completed 14/18 for 223 yards, ran for 101 yards on 13 carries, and produced five total touchdowns. Ohio State converted 50 percent of its third downs, and delivered a competent ass-kicking. Interested to see how the Buckeyes fare when their season starts in November.
The Pirate Ship: The sails are full. Mike Leach has found himself some Cougars. Insert your own Geronimo reference here. Washington State held on for a 45-42 win at Arizona, their third-straight in conference. Luke Falk completed 47/62 for 514 yards and five touchdowns in the winning effort. At 5-2, WSU looks like a certainty for bowl play. Spring an upset over Stanford next week, and they are in the Pac 12 title race.
Josh Rosen: College Football’s next great quarterback out-dueled Jared Goff Thursday night, completing 34/47 for 399 yards and three touchdowns in a 40-24 win. A mere freshman, he appears to have this whole college thing mastered. Strong week.
Mizzou: The Missouri Tigers lost 10-3 at Vanderbilt. They averaged 2.8 yards/pass. They could not convert a third down. It was their third consecutive game scoring six or fewer points. The Tigers scored one touchdown, in October. A top 10-15 defense is just going to waste.
ACC Offense: Louisville beat Boston College 17-14. The offense produced in that game was…something. Defenses combined for 15 sacks and 31 tackles for losses. Thirty percent of the 126 plays went for negative yardage. Boston College produced 79 total yards on 52 plays. Eight BC possessions produced zero yards or fewer. This was not even the worst 2015 ACC game involving Boston College.
UCF: The Knights fell 59-10 to Houston, dropping to 0-8. It’s not clear there’s a win left on the schedule. George O’Leary went from entrenched to retired effective immediately before we hit November.
College Football Non-Participant Of The Week
A Mississippi State cheerleader taunted a Kentucky player.