Rant Sports College Football Top 25: Week 8
Rant Sports Top 25
The eighth week of the college football season featured four games where ranked opponents were squaring off against each other and none larger than the game in Gainesville between Florida and South Carolina.
The Gators have been on a roll all season long with second-year coach Will Muschamp who has made some sterling second half adjustments in marquee wins over LSU, Texas A&M, and Tennessee, respectively, to sit atop the eastern division in the powerful SEC.
South Carolina meanwhile was licking their wounds after a tough loss at the hands of LSU who was physical at the point of attack and shut down star tailback Marcus Lattimore, who entered Saturday’s game vs. Florida with doubts about his availability due to a bruised hip.
Lattimore would play, but was held to 13 yards on three carries as the Gators dominated the Gamecocks to remain undefeated as they await Georgia next week where they can take a commanding lead in the division.
The second marquee game of the weekend pitted Kansas State against West Virginia. Each team has a Heisman hopeful at quarterback who operates his team’s offense in radically different ways. Collin Klein does the bulk of his damage on the ground for the Wildcats, while Geno Smith has led an aerial assault against opposing defenses for the Mountaineers.
The end result of the game in Morgantown had the winning quarterback responsible for seven touchdowns and more than 300 yards passing. The big surprise is that it was Klein and not Smith who accounted for those prolific numbers and presumably sits atop the Heisman standings after his team’s big win.
These were far from the only meaningful games in the top 25 played on the gridiron this weekend, but they were the ones marked with a big star prior to kickoff that were guaranteed to rock the fabric of the top half of the ranks.
To see how the rest of the top 25 fared this week and to see how far South Carolina and West Virginia dropped in the rankings and to see if there were any upsets or statement wins, here is the Rant Sports ranking of the 25 top teams in the nation after eight weeks of gridiron madness.
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Joe Bergeron had five of the seven rushing touchdowns for Texas who outlasted Baylor 56-50 in Austin as Texas avoided losing for the third straight time this season and for the third time in a row to Baylor. Texas has given up 161 points in their last three games, but should see some relief next week when they travel to Lawrence to take on Kansas.
24. Texas A&M
The Aggies could not make the big play against a tough LSU defense that harassed Johnny Manziel all game long. The freshman quarterback was coming off a record-breaking performance one week ago, but looked like a starry-eyed kid that was not prepared for the pass rush that LSU has with their stable of future pros. He had a lot of growing pains Saturday, but will regroup and use this as a learning experience.
The Bobcats were idle this week so they remain undefeated at 7-0 and will take on Miami (OH) next week. Tyler Tettleton's Bobcats have won some close games and are tied atop the MAC eastern division with Kent State who Ohio plays in the season finale. Kent State may be the only team that stands in the way of a MAC title and a perfect season.
The Wolverines outlasted their in-state rival Michigan State in a typical Big Ten game predicated on defense. Denard Robinson did not do much in this contest, but made plays late in the fourth quarter on the game winning drive that ended with a Brendan Gibbons 38-yard field goal with five seconds remaining in regulation to give the home team a 12-10 win.
21. Boise State
Chris Peterson’s team won for the sixth straight time 32-7 over a UNLV team that couldn’t muster much of a challenge to the Broncos balanced offense and unrelenting defense .
20. West Virginia
Geno Smith threw his first two touchdowns of the year and was held to a paltry 143 yards through the air on 32 attempts in the 55-14 loss to Kansas State and may have seen his Heisman chances go bye-bye with the loss.
The band didn’t come onto the field in this one as the Cardinal took care of business early against California and didn’t let them into a game that Stanford needed to win after inconsistent play the previous few weeks. The defense showed up with the best game of the year for Stanford in the 21-3 win in what may have sealed Cal head coach Jeff Tedford’s future with the team.
18. Texas Tech
One week after defeating West Virginia, the Red Raiders came into their game against TCU needing a win to sustain the momentum the upset the week before created. Tech blew a 10-point lead in the final three minutes of regulation to the Horned Frogs and then needed three overtime periods to extinguish the relentless TCU squad. Seth Doege threw for seven touchdowns in the 56-53 win.
17. South Carolina
Back-to-back losses for the Gamecocks who were thoroughly outplayed at Florida and could not get any momentum on offense all afternoon. The offense was so poor that they managed -1 yards in the third quarter when Florida put the final nail in the coffin for South Carolina. Marcus Lattimore didn’t start as a result of a bruised hip and was held to 13 yards on three carries.
Clemson continues to rebound nicely in the weeks following their lone loss of the season to Florida State and played a complete game against Virginia Tech and the 38-17 win has Clemson riding a wave of momentum that may find them competing for the ACC championship game.
The Scarlet Knights looked atrocious in the first half against Temple and trailed 10-0 after two quarters, but came out and looked like a team that came in unbeaten as they scored the next 35 points to improve to 7-0.
Survived the upset bid from South Florida and got a Teddy Bridgewater touchdown pass to Eli Rogers with 1:35 remaining to escape with the two=point win to remain undefeated at 7-0.
13. Florida State
Florida State was given a stiff test vs. their in-state rival Miami and only took a slim three-point lead into the fourth quarter, but then they scored the next 17 points to start the fourth quarter led by two touchdown runs by Devonta Freeman to give the Noles a big road win to improve to 7-1.
Aaron Murray had a career day passing for 427 yards at a 75% clip and four touchdowns in a game that was much closer than it should have been in the five-point win over Kentucky. Georgia gets Florida next week in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party and a shot at a tie in the SEC east.
11. Mississipppi State
The Bulldogs remained undefeated in their dress rehearsal before taking on Alabama next Saturday in what will be a showdown of 7-0 teams. Raise your hand if you saw that coming? Cornerback Johnthan Banks tied the school’s mark for career interceptions en route to the 7-0 start. This is only the second time in the school’s 113 year history they have started out 7-0.
The Sooners continued their high-scoring after they put up 63 last week in a win over Texas and put up 52 more vs. an over matched Kansas team that had no idea how to slow down Landry Jones, stop the Sooners special teams from scoring, or how to penetrate the defense of Oklahoma.
Matt Barkley threw five touchdowns-in the first half- to set the new record for career touchdown passes in the Pac-12 and Robert Woods became the all-time receptions leader at USC in the thorough dismantling of Colorado.
8. Oregon State
Storm Davis ran for three touchdowns in the win for Oregon State as they remain undefeated, but sorely missed their starting quarterback, Sean Mannion, who missed his second straight game after knee surgery, as the Beavers were 2-11 on 3rd down and managed a meager 226 yards on offense vs. Utah. The defense made up for the lack of offensive punch as by forcing four turnovers.
7. Ohio State
The Buckeyes got a big scare vs. Purdue and needed a touchdown and two-point conversion with three seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime before ultimately escaping with the win. However, the real scare was the injury to Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller, who was forced from the game and had to go to the hospital. After the game it was revealed that Miller was examined for a concussion and passed all subsequent tests on his head and neck and was released from the hospital.
The Bayou Bengals forced five turnovers and three interceptions from Johnny Manziel in the win over Texas A&M. As impressive as that feat it, it’s even more impressive when you consider the fact that Manziel had 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions the previous five games. LSU is off next week before welcoming Alabama to Death Valley.
5. Notre Dame
The Irish gave up their first touchdowns in over 17 quarters vs. BYU but quarterback Tommy Rees, in his first start of the season, led the Irish on a fourth quarter comeback with a touchdown drive that gave the team a lead they would never relinquish in a hard fought win against a scrappy opponent.
4. Kansas State
Collin Klein took a giant step in the Heisman race as he thoroughly outplayed Geno Smith in the slaughtering of West Virginia. "Optimus Klein" ran for four touchdowns and had three through the air to go with 19/21 passing and 323 yards. Bill Snyder had the perfect game plan in shutting down the high powered Mountaineer offense.
The Ducks got things rolling early and often on Thursday as they scored 6 touchdowns in 19 minutes between the first and second quarters in their win over Arizona State. DeAnthony Thomas was held in check for the first time all season, but Kenjon Barner and quarterback Marcus Mariota combined for 278 yards and four touchdowns in the convincing win.
The Gators did not generate much offense against South Carolina, but the story out of Gainesville on Saturday night was what they were able to do on defense as they forced four turnovers including a fumble on the first play from scrimmage. Jeff Driskel threw four touchdowns-three of them following turnovers as the defense and special teams paved the way for another Gator win.
AJ McCarron threw for 306 yards and four more touchdowns as the Tide rolled up 539 total yards of offense in a game that Tennessee failed to do much against a staunch defense that held Tennessee to 2-13 on 3rd down. Will face their toughest test yet when Mississippi State comes to Tuscaloosa on Saturday.