50 Things We Learned from Week 8 in College Football

Alex Callos@@alexcallosCorrespondent IOctober 22, 2012

50 Things We Learned from Week 8 in College Football

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    Week 8 of the college football season is officially complete. It is now time to dissect the week and discuss exactly what happened.

    There were plenty of surprises, and a few teams learned a lot about themselves.

    We saw a few more teams affirm themselves as national title contenders and had a quarterback emerge as the Heisman leader.

    Some of the big-name programs in college football continued to shine, making this one of the most unique years in recent memory.

    Here are 50 things we learned from Week 8 of the college football season.

Oregon Is the Best First-Half Team in the Country

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    There is no question that the most explosive offense in the country belongs to the Oregon Ducks, and it is becoming more and more clear that there is no better team when it comes to first-half execution than the Ducks.

    Oregon jumped out to a 43-7 lead early in the second quarter against Arizona State, and that was all it needed.

    There are just too many weapons on offense for the Ducks, and no team has looked better in the first 30 minutes of a game than Oregon.

Ohio State Has a Lot to Work On

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    To say Ohio State was lucky to pull out the victory against Purdue would be an understatement.

    The Buckeyes were dead in the water and somehow managed an overtime victory to remain undefeated.

    Sooner or later their luck is going to run out unless some changes are made, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

Rutgers Is a Serious BCS Contender

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    After trailing 10-0 at halftime against Temple, Rutgers exploded in the second half on its way to a 35-10 victory.

    The Scarlet Knights continue to look better every game and have a legitimate shot at running the table and going undefeated.

    With Kent State and Army on the horizon, it is almost a certainty that Rutgers will be undefeated heading into a road game with Cincinnati on Nov. 17.

Iowa State Is Going to Have Trouble Making a Bowl Game

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    After starting off the season 3-0, Iowa State has lost three of four and has a lot of work to do just to get to a bowl game.

    The Cyclones have Kansas left, so a victory there seems likely, but their other four remaining games are against West Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas and Baylor.

    Iowa State will need to win one of those games to become bowl-eligible.

Johnny Manziel Is Going to Be a Stud

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    Even though Texas A&M lost 24-19 at home against LSU, freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel proved why he has been so highly touted since the season began.

    He did throw three interceptions but completed 29 of 56 passes for 276 yards against one of the best defenses in the country.

    The good thing about Manziel is he is only a freshman, so he will continue to develop and could one day be a serious Heisman contender.

LSU Doesn't Need an Offense

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    Even though LSU could muster hardly anything on the offensive side of the ball, that did not matter because the defense put on quite a performance.

    Quarterback Zach Mettenberger only completed 11 of 29 passes for 97 yards with a touchdown, but it was just enough in the 24-19 victory.

    LSU finished with nearly 100 yards less than Texas A&M, but the first turnovers the defense forced were plenty enough to lead the Tigers to victory.

Virginia Tech Keeps Getting Worse

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    The struggles for Virginia Tech continued in a 38-17 loss at Clemson. The Hokies have lost four of their past six games and appear headed for at least a five- or six-loss season.

    Quarterback Logan Thomas has continued to struggle and does not appear to be getting any better, as he has thrown 10 interceptions over his last six games.

    Virginia Tech has been one of the biggest disappointments so far this college football season.

Clemson Is a Serious ACC Contender

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    Clemson has quickly recovered from the loss to Florida State a few weeks ago, and the ACC schedule is very favorable the rest of the way.

    The Tigers still will likely need the Seminoles to slip up at some point to reach the Orange Bowl once again.

    One thing is certain: The offense knows how to put points on the board in a hurry.

The Wisconsin Rushing Attack Is Officially Back

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    The Wisconsin offense that most people expected to see when the season began has finally arrived and is having no problem running over teams in the Big Ten.

    James White rushed for 175 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-13 win over Minnesota, and Montee Ball is slowly emerging once again as a Heisman contender. He carried the ball 24 times for 166 yards and two scores.

    The Badgers appear to be a serious contender for the Rose Bowl once again.

Minnesota Is Fading Fast

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    After starting the season 4-0, Minnesota has fallen on hard times and lost three straight games.

    It is hard to imagine the Gophers winning two of their remaining games and qualifying for a bowl. They are 0-3 in Big Ten play and have scored 13 points in each of their past three games.

    After what looked like such a bright start, it appears Minnesota is headed for another losing season.

Gene Chizik Is Firmly on the Hot Seat

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    Auburn's loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday dropped the Tigers to 1-6 and placed head coach Gene Chizik more squarely on the hot seat.

    For the Tigers, there are a few relatively easy remaining games, so getting to three wins won't be an issue, and Chizik is likely to keep his job through the end of the season.

    However, if Auburn finishes the season 3-9, it is hard to imagine Chizik keeping his job much longer.

Virginia Is the Most Disappointing Team in the ACC

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    While Georgia Tech can put a strong argument together, Virginia proved once again on Saturday that it is the biggest disappointment in the ACC so far this season.

    The Cavaliers have lost six straight, and with the exception of Boston College, Virginia is the only team with fewer than two conference wins.

    At 0-4 in the ACC, there is no bigger disappointment in the conference than Virginia.

Stanford Can Win a Game on the Road

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    Stanford won its first road of the season, and it was the biggest of them all, as the Cardinal took down rival California 21-3.

    Going into the game, Stanford was 4-0 at home and 0-2 on the road. That changed quickly, as the Cardinal dominated a talented Bears team from start to finish.

    Running back Stepfan Taylor continues to show up each and every night.

Boston College Is One of the Worst Teams in the Country

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    While Virginia and Virginia Tech are the biggest disappointments in the ACC, there is no question that Boston College is the worst team in the league and one of the worst in the country.

    The only win so far this season for Boston College was a 34-3 victory over Maine. Other than that, the Eagles have been dominated virtually each and every game.

    Boston College is allowing over 33 points a game and only scoring 23. Head coach Frank Spaziani is on the hot seat more than any coach in the country.

Chuckie Keeton Is One of College Football's Best-Kept Secrets

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    Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton continue to put together one excellent game after another and has emerged as one of the most talented quarterbacks outside of a BCS conference.

    So far this season he has passed for 16 touchdowns with four interceptions, and he also has the ability to beat teams with his feet.

    The Aggies are 6-2 and have lost at Wisconsin by two and at BYU by three. This team could make some noise in the coming weeks.

Florida Is the Most Dangerous Team in the Country

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    Florida put on quite a show against South Carolina on its way to a 44-11 victory. The Gators have the best resume of any team in college football, and it is not even close.

    The defense has been solid all season, but the offense has been the difference, as the team continues to improve on that side of the ball.

    This team is only going to get better as the season progresses.

South Carolina Needs Lattimore and Shaw

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    South Carolina was dominated by Florida, but in all fairness to the Gamecocks, they were not playing with a full deck. 

    The Gamecocks were without the services of star running back Marcus Lattimore and quarterback Connor Shaw.

    This game proved more than any how much South Carolina needs those two guys to beat good teams.

Jeff Driskel Has a Ton of Potential

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    Jeff Driskel still has a long way to go, but he has quickly emerged as the best option at quarterback for Florida and will continue to improve in the coming years.

    He only had 93 yards on 11-of-16 passing but threw four touchdown passes.

    Driskel is only a sophomore, so the sky is the limit for this kid. If he can continue to develop, the Gators will once again be national title contenders for years to come.

The Boise State Defense Is for Real

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    Boise State does not have nearly the offense that it has had in past years, but the defense is as good as it has been in quite some time.

    The Broncos are only allowing 13.6 points a game, which ranks sixth in the country.

    It is a different year and different team but the same results for Boise State.

Taylor Martinez Has Turned into a Real Quarterback

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    Going into the season, a lot of people did not consider Taylor Martinez much of a throwing quarterback. Midway through this season, it seems those people were mistaken.

    Martinez had another excellent passing game in a 29-28 win against Northwestern. He threw for 342 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

    So far this season he has already thrown 15 touchdowns with just four picks. What a difference a year makes.

The Notre Dame Front Seven Might Be the Best in College Fotoball

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    The Notre Dame defense has been dominant all season, and it has all started with the front seven. 

    That group is led by Manti Te'o, who is one of the leading contenders for the Heisman Trophy. The Fighting Irish are 7-0 and headed for a showdown this weekend against Oklahoma in Norman.

    There is no question that if Oklahoma is going to win on Saturday, it is going to have to do it through the air because running the ball is no easy task on this group.

Notre Dame Has a Dual Running Back Attack of Its Own

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    Notre Dame showed how important running the football is against BYU, as the Fighting Irish had two running backs go over 100 yards on Saturday.

    Theo Riddick had his coming-out party, as he rushed for 143 yards on 15 carries, and fellow running back Cierre Wood carried the ball 18 times for 114 yards.

    The duo was the difference in another hard-fought 17-14 Notre Dame win. This might be the way the Notre Dame offense is headed the rest of the season.

South Florida Knows How to Blow a Game

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    The South Florida Bulls blew yet another game and now are 2-5 after falling 27-25 against Louisville in the closing minutes of the game.

    For the Bulls, it is another disappointing season, one that has featured five straight losses, including games against Ball State and Temple.

    The collapse that usually happens toward the end of the season has taken place a little earlier this year for the Bulls.

Lousiville Knows How to Win a Close Game

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    South Florida knows how to blow a game, and Louisville knows how to pull one out. The Cardinals' 27-25 victory over the Bulls on Saturday was the fifth straight win by 10 points or less.

    The Cardinals have won three of those games by five points or less, and one of the reasons for the close victories has been the play of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

    He has been solid all season, and Louisville continues to climb in the rankings. A big test comes Friday against Cincinnati.

Michigan Can Win a Big Game

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    After four straight losses to Michigan State, the Wolverines finally came out with a victory over the Spartans in dramatic fashion.

    Michigan did just enough to pull out a 12-10 victory in the closing seconds and win a game it desperately needed to get.

    A loss to Michigan State would have been devastating for the seniors on the Michigan roster.

Michigan State Is a Major Disappointement

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    Michigan State has certainly been the biggest disappointment in the Big Ten and one of the biggest in the entire country.

    The Spartans fell to rival Michigan on Saturday, their fourth loss in six games.

    After opening the season with a win against Boise State, the Spartans have been awful since. The problem has been the offense, particularly the play of Andrew Maxwell at the quarterback position.

    A bowl game is looking like a stretch right about now.

Maryland Is Headed in the Right Direction

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    After a terrible first year under new head coach Randy Edsall, the Maryland Terrapins have bounced back nicely this season, and even though they lost to North Carolina State on a missed field goal, things are still looking up for the Terrapins.

    Maryland is 4-3 on the season and has already won more games than it did a season ago.

    Edsall is a great head coach, and this program could be near the top of the ACC sooner rather than later.

North Carolina State Is an Orange Bowl Contender

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    North Carolina State won in dramatic fashion against Maryland 20-18 and now sets its sights on North Carolina.

    A win against the Tar Heels and the Wolfpack can start talking about the Orange Bowl.

    They already hold the tiebreaker against Florida State, and it could come down a game on Nov. 17 at Clemson. Not many people would have suspected that after a season-opening loss against Tennessee.

The MAC Has Some Talented Teams

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    We are now midway through the season, and not many people are talking about the MAC. They should be because the league has four teams with one loss or less.

    Ohio is the highest rated of them all, as the Bobcats are 7-0. Kent State is 6-1 on the season. Both Toledo and Northern Illinois are 7-1.

    Those four teams are legitimate contenders for the conference crown, and Ohio still has an outside shot at a BCS bowl berth.

Indiana Is Almost As Bad As It Was Last Year

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    After nearly knocking off Ohio State less than two weeks ago, the Indiana Hoosiers returned to old form in a 31-30 loss to Navy on Saturday.

    The Hoosiers have now lost five straight, four of them by four points or less.

    What looked like a promising season just over a month ago now looks like another two- or three-win year for Indiana.

Texas Tech Can Play with Anybody

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    Texas Tech won perhaps the best game of the weekend, taking down TCU 56-53 in triple overtime.

    The Red Raiders are now 6-1 overall and 3-1 in Big 12 play with a legitimate shot to win the conference title.

    While there is still a long way to go, quarterback Seth Doege is emerging as one of the best in the country.

Louisiana-Monroe and Western Kentucky Are Legitimate

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    Many people may not even know these two teams played, but Louisiana-Monroe and Western Kentucky played one of the better games of the weekend on Saturday.

    Louisiana-Monroe knocked off Western Kentucky 43-42 in overtime with a touchdown and a two-point conversion. 

    These are two legitimate teams who both have records of 5-2 right now, with both losses coming to very talented teams.

    The Sun Belt is as strong as it has ever been.

USC Can Blow Somebody Out

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    USC finally put together the complete performance that people had been looking for since the first game of the season.

    Even though it was against Colorado, USC still looked impressive in a 50-6 victory.

    Wide receiver Robert Woods had the game of the year for the Trojans with four touchdown receptions on eight catches for 132 yards.

Georgia Has a Lot to Work on Before Saturday

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    Georgia won on Saturday but did not look impressive at all in a 29-24 victory against Kentucky.

    The Bulldogs had a lot of trouble running the football, and if that continues, they could be in trouble on Saturday with Florida awaiting.

    Georgia has not looked good the past three weeks on defense either, and it will have to get its act together quickly to be able to play with Florida, where points will be at a premium.

Duke Is Bowl Eligible

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    It is hard to imagine, but Duke is bowl eligible. The Blue Devils knocked off rival North Carolina 33-30 in dramatic fashion to reach a level not normal when it comes to football.

    With how fast a start Duke got off to early in the season, it was inevitable that the Blue Devils would become bowl eligible, but at 6-2, it was hard to imagine it would be this early.

    We will see if the success can continue the rest of the way for Duke.

Oklahoma Is a Serious National Title Contender

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    With the exception of maybe the Florida Gators, not many teams have looked better in recent weeks than the Oklahoma Sooners.

    A 52-7 win over Kansas on Saturday is nothing surprising, but the Sooners offense seems to be clicking at precisely the right time.

    Oklahoma continues to climb in the rankings, and if it can knock off Notre Dame on Saturday, there is a great chance the Sooners will be back in the national title conversation.

Collin Klein Is the Front-Runner for the Heisman Trophy

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    Collin Klein had quite a season in 2011, and he is having a better year so far in 2012. The senior quarterback had another huge game in a victory against West Virginia.

    Klein threw for 323 yards on 19-of-21 passing with three touchdowns. He also rushed for 41 yards and four touchdowns.

    If Kansas State continues to win, there is a good chance Klein could see himself receiving the Heisman Trophy in a few months.

Geno Smith Is Officially Out of the Heisman Conversation

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    No player looked better during the first five weeks of the season than Geno Smith, and even though he hasn't looked bad during the last two West Virginia losses, he is no longer in the Heisman conversation.

    Smith threw his first two interceptions of the season on Saturday and was not the quarterback fans have grown accustomed to seeing so far this season.

    Smith and the Mountaineers are falling fast from the national scene.

Mississippi State Is Ready for Alabama

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    Not many people thought that at this point in the season Mississippi State would be one of three undefeated teams in the SEC.

    The Bulldogs get their first real test of the season this week when they travel to Alabama to take on the Crimson Tide.

    Mississippi State is not only ready for this game, but it has a legitimate shot to hang with the Crimson Tide. The Bulldogs are for real.

Louisiana Tech Can Score on Anybody

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    Louisiana Tech showed it can play with anybody when it lost 59-57 against Texas A&M less than two weeks ago. 

    On Saturday the Bulldogs scored 70 points, including 56 in the first half, in a victory against Idaho. They lead the country in scoring, averaging over 56 points a game, and have proven they have no trouble scoring on anybody.

    With how easy the schedule is the rest of the way, this team is going to put a lot of points on the board.

Alabama Is the Most Consistent Team in the Country

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    The Alabama Crimson Tide are a model of consistency and have been doing it all season long.

    They were dominant on the road in a 44-13 victory over Tennessee and continue to sport the most dominant defense in the game.

    Nothing seems to rattle this team, and it is going to take quite an effort from somebody to knock off the Tide.

A.J. McCarron Is a Legitimate Heisman Contender

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    What is helping to set Alabama apart from teams like LSU and maybe Florida is the talent at the quarterback position.

    A.J. McCarron continues to improve every week and passed for 306 yards with four touchdowns against Tennessee.

    Nobody has really mentioned it yet, but could this guy be a legitimate Heisman contender? He has thrown 16 touchdowns without an interception.

Penn State Is One of the Best Teams in the Big Ten

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    If Penn State was eligible, it would be a serious contender for the Rose Bowl.

    The Nittany Lions are 5-2 and 3-0 in Big Ten play with a huge game coming up on Saturday against Ohio State.

    Penn State has won five straight since starting off the season 0-2. Head coach Bill O'Brien has done quite a job so far in Happy Valley.

The Baylor Defense Is the Worst in the Country

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    Baylor has plenty of talent on offense, but on the defensive side of the ball, the Bears leave a lot to be desired.

    Texas put a 56 spot on the Bears and needed every point in a 56-50 victory.

    Baylor is allowing 44 points a game, which is 124th (dead last) in the country. If the Bears plan on winning a few conference games, they must put a better defense out there.

Miami Needs Duke Johnson to Be Successful

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    Miami hung with Florida State for the first half, but in the end the Seminoles had too much for the Hurricanes.

    What hurt the Hurricanes was the loss of true freshman running back Duke Johnson to an injury. Miami only finished the game with 29 yards rushing, and part of that was due to the injury to Johnson.

    When Johnson has struggled, so far this season, so have the Hurricanes.

Washington Does Not Look Like a Bowl Team

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    Beginning the season, a lot of people considered Washington a sleeper threat to contend in the Pac-12.

    That is no longer the case, as the Huskies were manhandled 52-17 against Arizona and fell to 3-4 on the season.

    With games coming up against Oregon State and at California, it is not looking good for Washington. A bowl berth is looking like a serious question mark for the Huskies at this point in the season.

Oregon State Doesn't Need a Quarterback

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    Oregon State won another game without doing much on the offensive side of the ball, and even with a second-string quarterback, the Beavers showed just how talented they are.

    With only 227 yards of total offense, Oregon State only managed 21 points but was still able to come out with a 21-7 victory over Utah.

    Stanford and Oregon appear to be the only teams on the schedule that will be able to challenge the Beavers the rest of the way.

Joe Bergeron Can Carry the Load

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    Texas needed all of the 56 points it got against Baylor, and running back Joe Bergeron gave the Longhorns quite an effort.

    He carried the ball 19 times for 117 yards and five touchdowns. It was a breakout game for Bergeron, and Texas needed a win in the worst way.

    Now if the Longhorns could find the defense they expected to have.

Kentucky Missed Its Only Chance to Win an SEC Game

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    For Kentucky, the 29-24 loss to Georgia might have been the best chance the Wildcats had to secure a SEC win.

    There are three SEC games remaining for Kentucky, and this group does not want to go 0-8 in conference play.

    Kentucky was able to hang all game long with Georgia but could not pull it out in the end; 10 losses is a strong possibility this season.

Kansas Is Not Going to Win Another Game for a Long Time

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    It has been an awful season in Lawrence, and it is not looking like it is going to get any better before it is over.

    Kansas fell 52-7 to Oklahoma on Saturday and appears to be out of gas with five games remaining. The only win for the Jayhawks came in the season opener against South Dakota State.

    It is hard to tell when Kansas will win its next game, but it is almost certainly not going to be this season.