Ohio State stumbles, Washington dominates in Week 8

The College Football Playoff picture received a serious shake-up this weekend after Penn State upset Ohio State in Happy Valley. For the first time this year, the Buckeyes dropped out of the top two of the AP rankings. Ohio State’s performance against Wisconsin and a 24-21 loss to unranked Penn State have shown flaws in the offense, and simultaneously snapped its 20-game road win streak. To get back to the playoffs, the Buckeyes will likely need to win out.

Meanwhile, every week it gets harder to picture someone beating No.1 Alabama. They are an incredibly balanced team, and the Crimson Tide week in and week out continues to demonstrate their superiority over not just the rest of the SEC, but the whole nation. A 33-14 win over No.6 Texas A&M gives Alabama 20 consecutive wins, but more importantly serves as a defining victory heading into the last month of the regular season.

Backed by strong performances from senior defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, who scored on a 30-yard fumble return, and freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts, who recorded 164 yards and two touchdowns, the Crimson Tide proved too much to handle for the Aggies. Alabama can now rest for a week before traveling to face a resurging LSU.

The No. 2 Michigan Wolverines are undefeated through Week 8 for the first time since 2006. A dubbing of Illinois was expected, as Harbaugh’s team was on the winning end of yet another lopsided game against an inferior opponent. Fighting Illini fans are probably heavily invested in baseball anyway and have likely given up on Illinois football teams this year.

The No. 3 Clemson Tigers are thriving under quarterback Deshaun Watson. He has thrown for 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions, but is still struggling to convert in the redzone. Despite being undefeated, the Tigers have won four games this season decided by seven or less points, including one overtime victory.

Unlike Clemson, a team that is not struggling to convert in the redzone is the No. 4 Washington Huskies. Washington scored more than 35 points for its 10th consecutive game. Sophomore quarterback Jake Browning led the Huskies to an impressive 41-17 victory against Oregon, totaling 312 total yards with four touchdowns. Browning’s biggest weapons on the outside are junior wide receivers John Ross and Dante Pettis, who have over 100 receiving yards. If the Huskies continue at their current pace, they should have no problem with Utah next week.

Lamar Jackson and the No. 5 Louisville Cardinals own the highlight reels on a weekly basis, and are definitely still in the college football playoff conversation. Jackson scored four times and had 431 total yards of offense, giving him 34 total touchdowns, a new Cardinals’ single-season record. Despite Jackson stealing the majority of the spotlight, the Cardinal’s defense deserves a tip of the cap as well. They held NC State to only 250 yards and were a big part of Louisville’s 54-13 win.

Outside of Alabama, the playoff picture continues to change week-to-week, with three teams from the Big Ten and two teams from the ACC still in the hunt, along with undefeated Washington continuing to play like a national title contender. As the calendar changes from October to November, the race for a spot in College Football’s final four will heat up and contenders separate themselves from pretenders.

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