The College Football Playoff picture sees Ohio State fall out after the Buckeyes were upset in a rout at Purdue, but who will replace them in the field?
And just like that, the nation’s No. 2 team in the AP Top 25 has lost for a second week in a row. Last week it was Georgia losing to LSU that caused a big shake-up at the top of the playoff picture. This week, it’s Ohio State who lost 49-20 to Purdue in a game they never led. They were one of three undefeated teams to lose this weekend as NC State lost to Clemson and the Cincinnati Bearcats lost on the road at Temple.
The Buckeyes aren’t entirely out of the Playoff picture as they can still beat Michigan for the Big Ten East title and win the Big Ten Championship Game, but for now, the Buckeyes drop out of our field and will be replaced by one of the biggest surprises of the year. But it all starts with Alabama who won another laugher vs. Tennessee.
College Football Playoff rankings after Week 8
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide continue to dominate and it still feels like they are in a league of their own. The Tide scored twice in the first few minutes and were up 21-0 under seven minutes into the game.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa continues his march to the Heisman trophy, as he threw for four touchdowns and still has yet to throw an interception this season. He looks unstoppable, even with a brace on his knee. He avoids pressure with ease and isn’t afraid to take a hit. Don’t give him all day in the pocket either, because he eventually will beat you, as he did on his first touchdown pass to Jerry Jeudy today. Tagovailoa finally got a good amount of second-half snaps, which was important as they look towards LSU.
Josh Jacobs was the hot hand at running back today in what has been a crowded backfield all season long. He had 12 carries for 68 yards and a pair of scores. Sophomore Brian Robinson Jr. got in on the action and managed 60 yards on the day. Jaylen Waddle led the way for the receivers today with four catches and 117 yards including a touchdown. All four main targets in the passing game got in the end zone today.
The defense played very strong once again in the first half, but they still have stuff to work on, especially in the secondary. The front four looks as good as its ever been with the trio of Quinnen Williams, Isaiah Buggs, and Raekwon Davis on the interior. They have been tough to block all season long.
Alabama gets a week off next week before a huge game against LSU in Death Valley, likely for the SEC West.
2. Clemson Tigers
While many didn’t expect a tough road for the Clemson Tigers, no one expected the ACC to be such a cakewalk. Coming into the season, the two biggest threats to Clemson were Miami and North Carolina State. Miami struggled right out of the gate and took a huge tumble losing to Virginia last weekend. NC State, on the other hand, came into their matchup with Clemson undefeated. That didn’t go well for the Wolfpack.
The offense got going early on in the game, finding the end zone on two of their first three offensive possessions. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence looked dialed in, keeping on rhythm from the opening drive. He finished with 308 yards and a touchdown on 26/39 passing.
Travis Etienne, the star sophomore back, struggled to find holes on the ground against the Wolfpack front. However, he did find the end zone three times on the day. Sophomore wide receiver Tee Higgins had a big day through the air, catching eight passes for 119 yards and a score. He will be on plenty of radars for 2020 like Etienne.
Plenty of draft pundits liked Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley coming into 2018. He looked good in his first five games, but the Clemson defense had other ideas on Saturday. They made Finley uncomfortable all day long and didn’t give him opportunities to push the ball down the field. He finished with just 156 yards passing on 34 attempts, and he threw a pair of interceptions. The defensive line put on tons of pressure, showing why all four of them are on NFL teams’ radars.
It’s unlikely that the Tigers will have a very tough battle going forward other than South Carolina on rivalry week. Next week they take on the Seminoles in Tallahassee.
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Fighting Irish were on a bye this week, so there isn’t a ton to note with this team. The transition to Ian Book has shown great results. He has looked every bit of a Heisman candidate the last few weeks, and the Irish are picking up as a unit with him under center.
On defense, the line, led by Jerry Tillery, has looked phenomenal, and the defense clamps up when it needs to down the stretch.
Yes, this team is in the playoff and has a great shot at it as long as they finish the season undefeated. However, as we’ve seen the past couple of weeks, no one is safe. The Fighting Irish travel to face Navy next week and need to continue to bring their ‘A’ game.
4. LSU Tigers
A second SEC team is back in the mix thanks to a Buckeye defeat. There are so many quality wins for this team right now, starting with the big win over Miami to start the season. Last week, they got a big win over the Georgia Bulldogs. They stayed at home this week hoping to keep the momentum going.
It looked a lot like an ugly Big Ten game this week against Mississippi State, but the Tigers prevailed, shutting down the Mississippi State offense. Points were at a premium, but the Tigers got on the board early thanks to a Nick Fitzgerald interception. Nick Brossette finished the deal with a short touchdown run.
Joe Burrow has had a solid year in his first year in Baton Rouge, and he did okay on Saturday. He completed 16 of 28 for 129 yards and an interception. He didn’t kill LSU, but he needs to clean it up a bit moving forward. The running game wasn’t explosive at all, but they got key yardage when they needed it. Brossette finished with 57 yards on 17 carries and a score.
The defense did allow some big runs from Fitzgerald (131 yards rushing on the day), but they didn’t allow anything through the air. They held Fitzgerald to 56 yards passing on 8/24 completion with four interceptions. It was a dominant performance defensively.
A big thing to note from today is the targeting call against linebacker Devin White. Because it was in the second half, he must miss the first half of LSU’s next game. That game will be against top-ranked Alabama.
Just Missed: Michigan, Texas
Michigan is suddenly in the Big Ten mix after Ohio State’s loss, and they can make a bid should they win out and get that big win over the Buckeyes. Texas still has a couple big games down the stretch, and what will likely be another date with Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game.