No. 2 Ohio State Falls to the Nittany Lions – College Football Week 8
Our first major upset of the season and a Big 12 shootout for the ages highlight a wild week in college football. Here are some of the top stories from Week 8.
Down Go the Buckeyes
Penn State rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter against No. 2 Ohio State and returned a blocked field goal with 4:27 to play for the go-ahead score in a 24-21 upset win.
The Penn State offense struggled most of the night (just 276 total yards and 2-13 on third-down conversions). However, they made the big plays when needed most, highlighted by a five-play, 90-yard drive early in the fourth quarter to make it a one score game. The Nittany Lion defense took over from there, limiting the Buckeyes to just 96 yards and no points on four drives in the fourth quarter. Penn State sacked Buckeye quarterback J.T. Barrett six times, with two of those coming on the last two plays of Ohio State’s final possession. Ohio State had some poor clock management on its final drive and Penn State benefitted from a controversial no-call on what could have been a pass interference penalty late. But give credit where its due—Penn State made the plays it needed to down the stretch to pull off the biggest upset of the college football season so far.
It was a huge win for a Penn State program still recovering from crippling NCAA sanctions, giving coach James Franklin his first win over a ranked opponent. It also marked the Nittany Lions’ first victory over Ohio State in five years and their first win over a Top 5 opponent since 1999.
If you’re a Buckeye fan, you can take consolation that not much really changes—Ohio State still controls its own destiny and, if it wins out, will still likely be in the CFB playoff at the end of the season. But any margin for error just disappeared.
The Big 12 is Not Helping Itself
Somewhere, the old Arena League is weeping of what has become of football defenses after watching No. 16 Oklahoma take down Texas Tech, 66-59. Let’s look at just a few of the NCAA records broken in this game:
- Most combined total offense (1,708 yards)
- Passing yards (Tech’s Patrick Mahomes tied the mark of 734 yards)
- Total offense by a player (819 yards by Mahomes)
- Combined passing yards (Mahomes and OU's Baker Mayfield combined for 1,279 yards)
- The laundry list of conference and school records broken is too long to even mention.
For years, the Big 12 has had a well-deserved reputation for not playing defense (if you can even call it that), but Saturday night’s game took things to new lows. Yes, there were 11 guys on the other side of the ball, but they might as well have not existed as they made Joe Mixon (377 total yards and five touchdowns) and Patrick Mahomes look like Tecmo Super Bowl Bo Jackson.
While games like this might be entertaining to watch (even if they take four-plus hours), they’re not doing any favors for the Big 12’s reputation or playoff chances. It's like watching old WAC games or Houston in the run-and-shoot era. Yes, those games could be fun and their quarterbacks put up big numbers, but no one really took those teams seriously as national title contenders. If a Big 12 team finds itself in playoff contention a few weeks from now, games like this won’t do anything for the conference’s reputation. I never thought I’d say this about a Dana Holgorsen-coached team but No. 12 West Virginia (57th nationally in total defense) might be the conference’s best shot at making a good impression on both sides of the ball.
Alabama’s Gonna Alabama
No. 1 Alabama hosted No. 6 Texas A&M in a key SEC West matchup and the Crimson Tide did what they do best—crushing all who would dare oppose them.
This time, Alabama was at least sporting about it—letting the Aggies take a one-point lead early in the third quarter—before taking over for good. From that point on, Alabama scored 20 unanswered points while holding A&M to just 52 yards on its final five drives. The defense sacked Trevor Knight five times, scored on a fourth-quarter fumble return and held the Aggies to a season-low 278 total yards. This was the tenth straight game in which Alabama has scored a defensive or special teams touchdown.
The SEC West Can Run A Little Bit
Alabama’s offense has been rolling all season, thanks in large part to an offense that ranks ninth nationally in rushing. But they’re not the only team in the division who can run the ball.
No. 25 LSU, meanwhile, got star running back Leonard Fournette back from an ankle injury and all he did was rush for a school-record 284 yards and three touchdowns. Even more impressive, he did it on just 16 carries (17.8 YPC) with his three scores coming on runs of 78, 76 and 59 yards. Fournette by himself had the second-most rushing yards any TEAM has put up against Ole Miss this season.
Alabama leads the nation in rushing defense and is obviously the heavy favorite in the division. But after slow starts, both LSU and Auburn are quickly emerging as potential challengers.
Meanwhile in the SEC East
Missouri lost to Middle Tennessee. South Carolina barely held on to beat UMass. And Kentucky is now just a half-game out of the division lead. On second thought, let’s not discuss the SEC East.
Dear Special Teams Coaches: Don’t Do This. Ever.
BYU Special Teams Coach: “It’s time for the fake we practiced.”
BYU Punter: “But coach, it’s 4th-and-19 from our own end zone.”
BYU Special Teams Coach: “Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear.”