It’s the quick recap of the big things from Week 8, in the 20 Most Important College Football Thoughts Ever … for this week.
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20. Is LSU good at college football again? TJ Finley threw for 265 yards and two scores with a running touchdown in his first start – a 52-24 win over South Carolina – the offense was almost perfectly balanced, and the special teams came through with a Trey Palmer kick-six. The D struggled, there were too many penalties, and … don’t nitpick this. The team desperately needed a flashy-score win, and this was it.
19. If you ever wondered what Northwestern might be like if it had a real, live, functional offense, you got your chance. The Wildcats and new QB Peyton Ramsey – along with a huge day from the running game – were great in the 43-3 win over Maryland, but this Terp team was completely miserable. It got an early field goal and then promptly left the stadium.
18. Oklahoma still isn’t sharp, Spencer Rattler missed too many throws, and yet it was still an easy 33-14 win over TCU. This season will be a grind, but this could be a confidence thing with this team. Surviving Texas was the first step, and this showed that Oklahoma is still Oklahoma in the Big 12 race.
17. That’s sort of what you’re supposed to do, Texas. With everyone focusing on The Eyes of Texas song this week – more on this in a later column – the football side came out and had a relatively drama-free day in the 27-16 win over Baylor. In this wacky season, boring wins are just fine.
16. Awesome, awesome, awesome win for Rutgers in the first game back under Greg Schiano. However, before getting too gushy over the 38-27 victory over Michigan State, the offense is still bad. Seven takeaways, though, help gloss over the 276 yards of total O.
15. Shhhhhhhh. Very, very quietly, Kansas State might just be the Big 12’s best team. No, beating Kansas 55-14 doesn’t mean much – you could’ve done that – and yes, being the Big 12’s best team probably gets you fourth place in the Sun Belt and a ham sandwich, but now K-State is on a four-game winning streak with road wins over Oklahoma and TCU. It gets Oklahoma State and Texas at home, and the lone difficult road trip is at Iowa State.
14. How good a job is Jamey Chadwell and the Coastal Carolina coaching staff doing? Georgia Southern came into this game with the nation’s fourth-best running game, and it was held to 119 yards in the 28-14 win. The Eagles were No. 1 in the country in time off possession, and had the ball for fewer than 28 minutes. They were 8th in third down conversions, and hit on just 2-of-12 tries. This is a terrific story and a terrific Chanticleer team.
13. Can we all give Dave Clawson a whole lot more love as one of the best coaches in college football? That you probably need to be told that he’s the Wake Forest head coach is part of the problem. His team lost to Clemson and NC State to start the season, and now it’s on a three-game winning streak after beating Virginia Tech – who couldn’t stop throwing picks to Nick Anderson, who came up with three, or getting flagged – 23-16.
12. It’s come to this now – wake us all when you go to Boise State on November 7th, BYU. The team basically went through the motions and drop-kicked Texas State 52-14 with another brilliant day all the way around. WKU, at Boise State, North Alabama, San Diego State. The Cougars aren’t going to have the stuff to get into the College Football Playoff discussion, but it could get an at-large New Year’s Six bid with a win over the Broncos.
11. What happened to the Miami running game? It seemed like it was just getting warmed up as the season got rolling, but it went nowhere at times in the 19-14 struggle against Virginia. Where’s the pass rush? Where’s the high-flying O? D’Eriq King was magnificent, but he needs more help.
10. Oklahoma State isn’t great, but in the Big 12 this season, being okay is good enough. The offensive balance was nearly perfect in the 24-21 win over Iowa State – 245 passing yards and 226 running – but both teams had too many penalties and too many mistakes. However, the return of Spencer Sanders was a big deal for OSU – 235 passing yards and a score, and 71 rushing yards and a TD.
9. Don’t blow off Notre Dame’s 45-3 win over Pitt as no big deal because the Panthers didn’t have QB Kenny Pickett. After a dud of an offensive performance against Louisville last week, the Irish came out looking to fix the passing game, and Ian Book threw for 312 yards and three scores. Give the Notre Dame O line credit – Pitt has one of the nation’s most dangerous defensive fronts, and while it came up with two sacks and 12 tackles for loss, it didn’t stop the onslaught.
8. North Carolina is just plain weird – it has yet to play the same type of game twice. After the shootout against Virginia Tech, and after the ragged clunker against Florida State, the D dominated NC State’s running game in the early 48-21 win. The Tar Heels ran wild – 326 yards – to take the pressure off of Sam Howell, but … Florida State got whacked 48-16 by Louisville this week.
7. Read absolutely nothing into Clemson having to work a wee bit against a miserable Syracuse team in the 47-21 win. Yeah, it was 27-21 late in the third, and then Clemson ended it. It was still an annihilation. Just because it wasn’t a 46.5 point win doesn’t take away from how amazing this Tiger team is.
6. Look, SMU is really, really good at beating mediocre teams and getting on the right side of an occasional shootout. Let’s not put Cincinnati into the College Football Playoff quite yet. However, with the 42-13 win – helped by 179 rushing yards and three touchdowns from QB Desmond Ridder – now it’s on. There are still dates with Memphis, at UCF, and at Tulsa to deal with, but the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six slot is the Bearcats’ for the taking.