Winners and Losers from College Football Week 8

Alex Callos@@alexcallosCorrespondent IOctober 21, 2012

Winners and Losers from College Football Week 8

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    Once again, it was a thrilling college football weekend with upsets, comebacks, blowouts and everything in between.

    The Florida Gators are the talk of the nation, as they came away with a dominating victory over South Carolina.

    Notre Dame was able to work its magic once again and come out with a three-point victory.

    Michigan had a little magic of its own, finally knocking off in-state rival Michigan State on a last-second field goal.

    Those were just a few of the big games around the country that fans had the opportunity to enjoy.

    Here is a look at the winners and losers of Week 8 of the college football season.

Winner: LSU Tigers

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    LSU brought the toughness and tenacity it typically plays with at home to College Station and came out with a convincing 24-19 win over Texas A&M.

    The difference once again for LSU was a dominating defense, which forced Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel into three interceptions.

    Manziel had only thrown three picks so far the entire season coming into the game, but the Tigers had their way with him.

    Even though quarterback Zach Mettenberger could not do much, the LSU offense did just enough, led by running back Jeremy Hill, who carried the ball 18 times for 127 yards and a touchdown.

    For LSU, the win not only keeps it in contention for the SEC West title, but also in the national championship conversation.

Loser: Iowa State Cyclones

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    After starting off the season with three straight wins and knocking off TCU on the road, Iowa State has fallen on hard times in recent weeks.

    Losing last week against Kansas State was certainly not a bad loss, but falling 31-10 at Oklahoma State is not good news for Cyclones fans.

    Iowa State came into the game ranked No. 24 in the latest BCS standings, and even though it was a double-digit underdog, more was expected from it.

    Oklahoma State had struggled in recent weeks. The Cowboys were coming off a close 20-14 win against Kansas.

    The struggles on offense continued for the Cyclones, and they were unable to get anything going, particularly on the ground.

Winner: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

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    Rutgers continues to impress and played perhaps its best game of the season so far, knocking off Temple 35-10 on the road.

    After trailing 10-0 at halftime, Rutgers came on strong in the second half, pouring it on the Owls en route to the victory.

    Quarterback Gary Nova led the way with four touchdown passes, and he continues to look more impressive week by week.

    The schedule for Rutgers is favorable the next two weeks, as home games with Kent State and Army await.

    This is a team that could be headed for 9-0 before road trips to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, followed by a home game with Louisville to finish out the season.

Winner: Clemson Tigers

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    Clemson did what it needed to do at home in beating Virginia Tech 38-17 and now can set its sights on an ACC championship.

    The score was a little deceiving, as Clemson only totaled 295 yards to 406 for Virginia Tech. But the Tigers came up with big plays in key situations, including a 74-yard interception return for a touchdown by Jonathan Meeks with Clemson only leading 10-7 toward the end of the second quarter.

    Turnovers were the difference in this one, as Virginia Tech had four of them to only one for Clemson.

    Clemson seems fully recovered from a loss to Florida State a few weeks ago and is once again in the mix for the Orange Bowl.

Loser: Purdue Boilermakers

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    No team in the country let one slip away quite like Purdue did against Ohio State on Saturday.

    The Boilermakers fell 29-22 in overtime and dropped to 3-4 on the season.

    Even with Braxton Miller knocked out of the game, Purdue could not pull off the upset in Columbus and is now 0-3 in Big Ten play.

    This was a game Purdue needed to have for a lot of reasons, but it allowed a touchdown and a two-point conversion with only three seconds remaining to send the game to overtime.

Winner: Stanford

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    Stanford bounced back nicely from a devastating loss at Notre Dame last week and knocked off rival California 21-3 for its third win in a row in "The Big Game."

    The Cardinal forced three turnovers, and the defense controlled the game from start to finish.

    California was held to 217 yards of total offense and only three net yards rushing.

    On offense, the Cardinal dominated time of possession, controlling the ball for nearly 37 minutes to only 23 for the Bears.

    The dominant force once again was running back Stepfan Taylor, who rushed for 189 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.

Loser: Auburn Tigers

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    The Auburn Tigers are off to their worst start since 1952 and suffered a 17-13 loss at Vanderbilt, falling to 1-6 overall and 0-5 in the SEC.

    For Auburn, the problem once again was the offense. The group only totaled 212 yards, 109 through the air and 103 on the ground.

    Quarterback Clint Moseley did complete 14 of 20 passes, but for only 98 yards with no touchdowns.

    The defense for the Tigers was solid once again, but Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy was able to rush for 169 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.

    For Auburn, things do not seem to be getting any better, and with three ranked teams remaining on the schedule, it is not going to get much easier.

Winner: Wisconsin Badgers

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    Don't look now, but Wisconsin appears to have found its form. The Badgers could be a threat to win the Big Ten and return to the Rose Bowl.

    Wisconsin dominated every facet of the game in a 38-13 win over Minnesota.

    The Badgers totaled 443 yards, 337 of them coming on the ground. The two-headed monster of James White and Montee Ball combined for 341 yards and five touchdowns on only 39 carries.

    Wisconsin also forced two turnovers and appears to have that strong rushing attack back.

    With both Ohio State and Penn State ineligible in the Leaders Division, Wisconsin is a virtual lock to play in the Big Ten championship game.

Loser: Michigan State Spartans

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    Michigan State suffered perhaps the most devastating loss of the week, as it fell to rival Michigan 12-10 on a field goal in the closing seconds.

    The Spartans took the lead on a long drive that ate up a bulk of the fourth quarter, but only resulted in a field goal. That 10-9 lead did not hold up. 

    When the Wolverines took over with two minutes to go, they had just enough time to get in field-goal range and kick the game-winner.

    The loss basically ends any hope of a Big Ten championship for Michigan State and puts a bowl game in serious jeopardy with a 4-4 record.

Winner: Florida Gators

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    Perhaps the biggest winner once again this week is the Florida Gators.

    This team appears poised to contend for the SEC title and dominated South Carolina to the tune of a 44-11 victory.

    There were not a lot of total yards considering how many points Florida put on the board. The Gators totaled 183 yards to 191 for South Carolina.

    The difference in this one, as with a few other games this week, was turnovers. Florida forced four South Carolina turnovers and was able to jump out early on the Gamecocks.

    The improved play of quarterback Jeff Driskel has been the difference for the Gators.

Loser: TCU Horned Frogs

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    In perhaps the most thrilling game of the week, TCU and Texas Tech went to triple-overtime, and TCU fell 56-53 against Texas Tech.

    This was a game TCU needed to have in order to stay in contention for a Big 12 title, but it was just not meant to be.

    Quarterback Trevone Boykin was solid, throwing for 332 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.

    The Horned Frogs came on strong at the end of the fourth quarter, scoring 10 points in the final 2:30 to send the game into overtime.

    For TCU, the schedule is not going to get any easier in the coming weeks with West Virginia, Kansas State and Oklahoma all ahead.

Winner: Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Even with star quarterback Braxton Miller going down with an injury, Ohio State was still able to rally from behind and knock off Purdue 29-22 in overtime.

    The defense had been the weak point for Ohio State so far this season, and the group played pretty well, all things considered.

    Offense was a different story, however, and the quarterback duo of Miller and Kenny Guiton only completed 15 of 31 passes for 190 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

    Running back Carlos Hyde continued his impressive season, rushing for 91 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns.

    The magical season continued for the Buckeyes.

Loser: South Carolina Gamecocks

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    South Carolina suffered its second straight loss on the road and now has officially been eliminated from national championship contention.

    The Gamecocks were not able to do anything on the offensive side of the ball against the talented Florida defense.

    Injuries also played a role in the loss, as star running back Marcus Lattimore only carried the ball three times for 13 yards due to an injury, while quarterback Connor Shaw only completed nine of 20 passes for 72 yards.

    South Carolina can now take a deep breath, as it has made it through the challenging part of its schedule, but it has two losses to show for it.

Winner: Michigan Wolverines

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    The Michigan Wolverines were finally able to get over the hump and knock off Michigan State, 12-10.

    This was the first win over Michigan State since 2007 and was also the 900th in the history of the football program, making Michigan the first school to reach that number.

    As expected, the game was very low-scoring, and both teams had struggles on offense.

    Quarterback Denard Robinson came up with a few huge runs and a big passing play to set up the game-winning 38-yard field goal with only five seconds remaining.

    The Wolverines are emerging as one of the favorites in the Big Ten. Beating Michigan State is always great for Michigan, but erasing any hopes of a Big Ten championship for the Spartans makes it that much sweeter.

Loser: BYU Cougars

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    BYU is the latest team to come close but fall to the Fighting Irish, and while not many expected the Cougars to come out of South Bend with a victory, coming that close makes it even harder to get over.

    The Cougars jumped out to a 14-7 halftime lead and slowly gave the lead back, falling behind for good at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

    Even though the BYU defense was solid once again, it had trouble stopping the rushing attack of Notre Dame, led by Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood.

    In a year where BYU has one of the most talented defenses in recent memory, the offense continues to put it in difficult positions and is making it hard for BYU to win games.

    At 4-4, a win against Notre Dame would have been a big turnaround to the season.

Winner: Texas Tech Red Raiders

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    Texas Tech went on the road and came out with a dramatic triple-overtime victory over TCU. The Red Raiders appear poised to be a serious contender in the Big 12. 

    The defense has been solid for most of the season, but it was the offense that took center stage today, particularly quarterback Seth Doege.

    Doege tossed seven touchdowns with 318 yards on 30-of-42 passing.

    The game was dominated yardage-wise by TCU, as the Horned Frogs totaled 516 yards to 389 for the Red Raiders. The difference was the three turnovers forced by Texas Tech, including two interceptions.

    Don't look now, but the Red Raiders are a serious contender in the Big 12.

Loser: Northwestern Wildcats

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    Northwestern was very close to improving to 7-1 and becoming a serious contender in the Big Ten.

    It was not meant to be, as Taylor Martinez threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Ben Cotton with just over two minutes remaining to give Nebraska a 29-28 victory.

    Even though the Wildcats were slightly overmatched, they did all they could, forcing three Nebraska turnovers.

    However, it was not enough, as Nebraska had a little too much in the end and knocked off the Wildcats.

Winner: Oregon Ducks

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    No team looked better for a 20-minute span this week than did Oregon, as the Ducks jumped on the Arizona State Sun Devils, scoring 43 straight points over a 19-minute span and never looking back.

    The offense was flawless with the exception of the fumble on the game's opening drive.

    Kenjon Barner rushed for 143 yards on 16 carries with three touchdowns.

    Quarterback Marcus Mariota also rushed for over 100 yards, going for 135 on 10 carries with a touchdown. Mariota also had a receiving touchdown as well as a passing touchdown. 

    The Oregon offense is very talented as always, but the difference this season has been a defense that ranks in the top 30 in the country in points allowed.

Loser: South Florida Bulls

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    The nightmare season continued for South Florida, as the Bulls were seconds away from knocking off Louisville on the road, but a touchdown pass from Teddy Bridgewater to Eli Rogers with 1:35 remaining gave Louisville a 27-25 win.

    The loss was the fifth in a row for the Bulls and the latest in a season that has been a major disappointment.

    After starting off the season 2-0, South Florida has fallen on hard times with losses to teams like Ball State and Temple.

    Two home games might allow South Florida some time to get back on track before road games in Miami and Cincinnati.

Winner: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    Notre Dame did it once again with defense and improved to 7-0 with a 17-14 home win over BYU.

    The Fighting Irish used a strong rushing attack and dominant defense to secure the victory.

    Running back Theo Riddick rushed for a career-high 143 yards on 15 carries, and fellow running back Cierre Wood carried the ball 18 times for 114 yards.

    The Fighting Irish were also able to hold BYU to only 243 yards of total offense.

    That was the difference once again in another Notre Dame victory.

Loser: Arizona State Sun Devils

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    In a prime-time national television game at home, Arizona State laid an egg in a 43-21 loss to Oregon. The game was not even that close, as the Ducks led 43-7 midway through the second quarter.

    After forcing a fumble at the beginning of the game and taking a quick 7-0 lead, Arizona State could do nothing.

    Quarterback Taylor Kelly struggled, finishing the game 10-of-18 for 93 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

    This one could have been much uglier than it turned out had the Ducks left their starters in a little longer.

    The loss hurts, but it does not eliminate Arizona State from Pac-12 title contention.

Winner: Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    Nebraska went on the road and, despite three turnovers, came out with a dramatic 29-28 victory over Northwestern.

    Quarterback Taylor Martinez was dynamite, throwing for 342 yards with three touchdowns on 27-of-39 passing. Martinez also rushed for 65 yards on 18 carries with another touchdown.

    When Rex Burkhead went down with an injury very early on, things were not looking good for Nebraska, but the Cornhuskers scored the final 13 points of the game to come out with the victory.

    Running back Ameer Abdullah filled in nicely for Burkhead with 101 yards on 19 carries.

    Nebraska now has a huge home game next weekend against Michigan in a matchup that could go a long way toward determining who wins the Big Ten Legends Division.

Loser: Tennessee Volunteers

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    The Tennessee Vols and head coach Derek Dooley are in the midst of another disappointing season and now sit at 3-4 following an embarrassing 44-13 loss at home against Alabama.

    The Vols offense came into the game averaging 38 points a game, but was held in check by the stingy Alabama defense.

    Quarterback Tyler Bray struggled the entire day, throwing two picks on 13-of-27 passing for 184 yards.

    This was the third straight loss for the Vols, and head coach Derek Dooley may be on the hot seat more so than any coach in college football.

Winner: USC Trojans

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    It was quite a day for Matt Barkley and his talented receivers. Barkley threw for 298 yards on 19-of-20 passing for six touchdowns.

    Wide receiver Robert Woods caught eight passes for 132 yards with four touchdowns, and fellow wide receiver Marqise Lee caught six passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.

    The schedule will get a little more difficult for USC the rest of the way, as both Notre Dame and Oregon await. A national championship is still not out of the question.

    This team may be hitting its stride at just the right time.

Loser: Cincinnati Bearcats

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    A road game against a team like Toledo is no easy task, but certainly a game a team like Cincinnati should be able to win.

    The Bearcats allowed a pick-six and a kickoff return for a touchdown. That was the difference in a game where Toledo was only able to manage five field goals on the offensive side of the ball, but still found a way to come out with a 29-23 victory.

    Cincinnati turned the ball over twice on the day, and despite amassing 478 yards of offense, it was unable to overcome the huge mistakes on offense and special teams.

    Running back David Fluellen rushed for 161 yards on 25 carries for Toledo, as he proved to be just too much for Cincinnati to handle.

Winner: Boise State Broncos

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    Boise State continues to dominate on the defensive side of the ball. The Broncos knocked off UNLV 32-7 and appear headed for another double-digit-win season.

    The Broncos defense allowed only 210 yards to an overmatched UNLV offense, and the offense did enough to produce a decisive win.

    A 16-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Jerrell Gavins put the game out of reach and gave Boise State a 25-0 lead just before halftime.

    Even though UNLV was not much of a challenge, Boise State has been steadily improving every week and is looking like an 11-win team.

Loser: West Virginia Mountaineers

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    No team has been a bigger disappointment over the past two weeks than the West Virginia Mountaineers, and after losing 55-14 at home against Kansas State, the Mountaineers have a lot of questions to answer.

    The defense is as bad as it has been all season, but the offense has struggled the past two weeks also.

    Quarterback Geno Smith finally threw an interception, two of them to be exact, and only passed for 143 yards.

    The schedule is not going to get any easier, and it could be a long season in the Big 12 for West Virginia if it cannot get its act together.

Winner: Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Alabama showed once again why it is the No. 1 team in the country. The Crimson Tide dominated Tennessee from start to finish on their way to a 44-13 victory.

    Once again, they did it with defense, forcing two Tennessee turnovers and holding the Vols to only 282 yards of total offense.

    Tennessee only managed a mere 79 yards on the ground. Alabama, on the other hand, was led by quarterback A.J. McCarron, who threw for 306 yards with four touchdowns on 17-of-22 passing.

    Running back T.J. Yeldon was a stud once again and rushed for 129 yards on only 15 carries with two touchdowns.

    Next week, the Crimson Tide will get their first real test when Mississippi State travels to Tuscaloosa.

Loser: North Carolina Tar Heels

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    Losing to Duke in basketball is one thing at North Carolina, but beating Duke in football is a given every year, right?

    Well, not this season. The Duke Blue Devils pulled off a dramatic 33-30 victory in the closing seconds to knock off North Carolina.

    This is the biggest win in recent memory for Duke football, and at 6-2, it is now officially bowl-eligible.

    For North Carolina, it is a game it would soon like to forget and will need to in order to get back on track in the ACC.

    Running back Giovani Bernard was a bright spot, as he carried the ball 24 times for 143 yards and a touchdown. He also caught five passes for 66 yards and a touchdown.

Winner: Kansas State Wildcats

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    If Collin Klein wasn't a Heisman front-runner before this week, he certainly is now.

    The senior led Kansas State to a 55-14 victory over West Virginia and had a dominant game in the process.

    Klein passed for 323 yards with three touchdowns, completing 19 of 21 attempts. He also rushed for 41 yards and an amazing four touchdowns.

    The Wildcats are not only a serious contender in the Big 12, but also a favorite to play for the national championship.

    The toughest game remaining on the schedule is next week when Texas Tech comes to town. There is an excellent chance for Kansas State to run the table.

Loser: Georgia Bulldogs

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    Georgia is the only team to win a game that falls into the loser category, and that is because a 29-24 win at Kentucky is definitely nothing to be proud of.

    The game was close from start to finish, and the Bulldogs were never able to pull away from a 1-7 Wildcat team that does not appear likely to win an SEC game all season.

    Quarterback Aaron Murray was very good, amassing 427 yards on 30-of-38 passing with four touchdowns. The problem for the Bulldogs was the running game. They just could never get it going.

    The team combined for only 77 yards rushing, and the defense had trouble stopping a solid Kentucky rushing attack that totaled 206 yards.

    With a game against Florida coming up next week, Georgia is going to have to play much better to stay in the SEC race.

Winner: Penn State Nittany Lions

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    The Penn State Nittany Lions are surprising everybody, and it might not be long before they are knocking on the door to the Top 25.

    Another dominating victory has Penn State at 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten.

    This was one of the more surprising final scores of the weekend, as Penn State dominated Iowa from start to finish en route to a 38-14 victory.

    Quarterback Matt McGloin was very effective, throwing for 289 yards with two touchdowns on 26-of-38 passing.

    Running back Bill Belton went for 103 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries.

    Penn State dominated the total yards 504-209 and led 38-0 early in the fourth quarter.

Loser: Kansas Jayhawks

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    Nobody expected Kansas to hang with Oklahoma, but after nearly knocking off Oklahoma State a week ago, more was expected from the Jayhawks this week against Oklahoma.

    The Sooners, however, had other ideas and blasted the Jayhawks 52-7.

    Kansas only managed 124 yards through the air and struggled to put any substantial drives together.

    With only one win under its belt, it does not look like Kansas is going to get any more, and it could be a long time before this program gets turned around.

Winner: Duke Blue Devils

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    Duke came away with one of the biggest wins in school history, knocking off North Carolina 33-30 in the final seconds and becoming bowl-eligible at 6-2.

    Quarterback Sean Renfree was solid, throwing for 276 yards and a touchdown on 23-of-36 passing with an interception.

    Duke had three running backs go over 63 yards and dominated on the ground, rushing for 234 yards on 53 carries.

    The 510 yards of offense and the edge in time of possession were the difference for Duke, which also won the turnover battle.

    The Blue Devils will be bowling somewhere this postseason.

Loser: Iowa Hawkeyes

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    Iowa looked impressive last weekend in a win over Michigan State, but looked equally as unimpressive in a 38-14 loss to Penn State.

    Quarterback James Vandenberg struggled, finishing the game with 189 yards on only 17-of-36 passing with a touchdown and two interceptions.

    Iowa was held to an astonishing 20 yards on the ground on 23 carries.

    A win would have put Iowa at 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten. Now, it will be an uphill battle to have any shot at playing for the Big Ten championship.

Winner: Oklahoma Sooners

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    Oklahoma seems to finally be hitting its stride, and it might be coming at exactly the right time.

    The Sooners rolled to a 52-7 win over Kansas, led by quarterback Landry Jones. The senior passed for 291 yards with three touchdowns on 19-of-28 passing. 

    On defense, Oklahoma forced three Kansas turnovers, and while the Sooners only totaled 397 yards, the difference was special teams.

    Oklahoma came up with a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown along with a 100-yard kickoff return to open up the second half and give the Sooners a 45-0 lead.

    Notre Dame is on the slate next week in Norman, and it is shaping up to be quite a good one.

Loser: Baylor Bears

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    Baylor once again showed off its awful defense, and its offense was nearly enough to overcome it in a 56-50 loss at Texas.

    The Bears offense was explosive once again, totaling 607 yards. Two turnovers were costly, as Baylor needed one more touchdown.

    Quarterback Nick Florence shined once again, compiling 352 yards on 30-of-41 passing with two touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed for 69 yards and two scores on 11 carries. 

    The Baylor defense ranks near the bottom of the country, and until the group can improve, it is going to be tough to win games no matter what conference the Bears are in.

Winner: Texas Longhorns

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    Not many teams needed a win like Texas did this week, and the Longhorns came out with a hard-fought 56-50 victory over Baylor.

    Quarterback David Ash played through a hand injury and passed for 274 yards with a touchdown on 19-of-31 passing.

    The running attack was equally impressive, totaling 251 yards and seven touchdowns, led by the performance of Joe Bergeron.

    He rushed for 117 yards on 19 carries and reached the end zone five times.

    Texas will get a break next week with a visit to Kansas on the schedule.

Loser: Miami Hurricanes

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    After a great start, Miami fell flat on its face, losing 33-20 at home to Florida State in a game the Hurricanes desperately needed.

    Miami could get nothing going with the exception of the first few drives of the game and the final possession. 

    Running back Duke Johnson was hobbled with an injury and was only able to carry the ball nine times for 27 yards.

    Quarterback Stephen Morris threw for 223 yards on 25-of-43 passing with a late touchdown and an interception.

    At 4-4, Miami has a lot of questions to be answered, it but has played one of the toughest schedules in the country so far.

Winner: Florida State Seminoles

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    Despite spotting Miami a 10-point lead, Florida State found its form and dominated the rest of the way en route to a 33-20 victory.

    The Seminoles did it with a perfect balance of the running and passing games. Quarterback E.J. Manuel threw for 229 yards, while the running game totaled 218 yards on 41 carries.

    Four players carried the ball seven or more times, and the Seminoles defense was stellar as always, forcing two Hurricanes turnovers and holding Miami to 258 total yards.

    Florida State now has three games it should win before the showdown against Florida the final game of the season.