B/R's College Football Weekly Awards: Week 8
College football has this enjoyable, annoying way of reminding us that we shouldn't always believe what we see.
Right away in 2022, Oregon looked a mess and LSU endured a frustrating loss. Neither team appeared like anything close to a national contender. Whether that upside is realized is less important than acknowledging that rapid takeaways can become hilariously untrue.
Both programs earned important wins in Week 8 and headline the latest edition of B/R's Weekly Awards.
As we do every Monday, let's recap the best, worst and other interesting stuff from the weekend of college football.
Team of the Week: LSU Tigers
Perception is a funny thing.
LSU's season-opening loss to Florida State put the Tigers in an immediate hole. Earlier in October, Tennessee boat-raced the Bayou Bengals with an emphatic 40-13 triumph. Throw in an ugly victory over a reeling Auburn team, and LSU wasn't exactly a convincing 4-2 squad.
Hit fast-forward to today, and the Tigers hold a 6-2 record that commands much more respect.
During consecutive wins against Florida and seventh-ranked Ole Miss, quarterback Jayden Daniels has excelled. The transfer from Arizona State posted a combined 597 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions, adding 165 yards and six scores on the ground in the victories.
Now, the Tigers have an idle weekend before hosting rival Alabama in a pivotal matchup. The winner will leave as the front-runner to earn the SEC West crown.
Just a few weeks ago, the dream of LSU competing for a conference title seemed to be slipping away. One more victory, and that once-improbable thought will rapidly turn into a reality.
Statement of the Week: Oregon Outruns UCLA
Perception had already begun to shift for Oregon, which has recovered from that dismantling at the hands of Georgia. But the Ducks slapped an exclamation point on their resurgence in Week 8.
While hosting ninth-ranked and unbeaten UCLA, Oregon racked up 545 offensive yards in a 45-30 victory.
Bo Nix continued his scorching form, completing 22-of-28 passes for 283 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 51 yards. Bucky Irving scampered for 107 yards and caught three passes for 57 yards and two scores, and wideout Troy Franklin tallied 132 yards and two touchdowns. Oregon's top playmakers all had excellent days.
Oregon is now both the Pac-12's final undefeated team in conference play and its premier College Football Playoff hopeful as USC tries to bounce back from its recent loss to Utah.
What a difference eight weeks has made.
QB Non-troversy of the Week: Clemson Tigers
Following the nerve-testing win over Syracuse, Dabo Swinney made it clear: There will be no quarterback change.
"Ain't no question" that DJ Uiagalelei will remain Clemson's starter, Swinney said in his postgame interview.
But this storyline is not going to disappear.
Cade Klubnik, a 5-star in the 2022 recruiting cycle, offered a jolt to the offense. While he only attempted four passes and took one really bad sack, the threat of Klubnik's mobility put a new kind of stress on Syracuse. Ultimately, he oversaw two key touchdown drives to help Clemson win 27-21 and escape a potential championship-crushing loss.
Considering how Uiagalelei has performed this season, he's earned the chance for a redemptive moment. For now, there is properly no controversy at the position.
If it happens again, however, the tone absolutely must shift. At that point, it can't not be a controversy, especially given that Swinney has previously made midseason moves to then-freshmen Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence.
Comeback Kings: TCU Horned Frogs
Folks, they did it again.
TCU overcame a slim second-half deficit to knock off Kansas two weekends ago. Then, the Horned Frogs stormed back from a 17-point hole on the road against No. 8 Oklahoma State to win in two overtimes. And on Saturday, they stunned Kansas State with an 18-point reversal.
The near-immediate exit of K-State quarterback Adrian Martinez may have aided TCU down the stretch, sure. However, it's not like Will Howard had been ineffective; the former starter led all four touchdown drives that put TCU in that precarious spot anyway.
On one hand, TCU's constant need for comebacks is both mildly concerning and likely unsustainable. Championship teams don't spend the entire season playing from behind.
But it's fair to say TCU has established a dangerous identity as a team that simply does not panic.
Turnover Machine of the Week: Miami Hurricanes
It's tough to overstate the challenge of actually committing eight giveaways in a single game.
Look, turnovers happen. Defenders make great plays, offenses simply lose the ball, passes get deflected and so on. But to have it occur that many times during a single afternoon is practically unconscionable.
Such is reality for Miami.
In a demoralizing 45-21 loss to Duke, the Hurricanes became the first FBS team in five years to have eight turnovers. Worse yet, one of their five fumbles also knocked out quarterback Tyler Van Dyke (shoulder).
Miami is now 3-4 in Mario Cristobal's much-anticipated debut season. Since both rival Florida State and title-contender Clemson are left on the slate, bowl eligibility isn't even a guarantee. This was always a long-term project, but 2022 has quickly become a nightmare for Cristobal and the 'Canes.
Best Worst Defense of the Week: Iowa Hawkeyes
The score line is disastrous: Iowa surrendered 54 points in a blowout loss to second-ranked Ohio State.
But, uh, can I suggest the defense played well?
First, remove a pick-six. In reality, the unit was responsible for 47 points. And we can continually deflect the blame.
During the first half, two fumbles and a failed fake punt gifted Ohio State excellent field position three times. On the ensuring drives, the defense held OSU to just 22 yards and nine points. After halftime, an interception put OSU at the 15-yard line and led to a quick touchdown. To give up 16 points on just 37 yards is both impressive and unlucky.
Midway through the third quarter, yet another turnover on downs handed the Buckeyes the ball at their own 45. The touchdown that followed was only Ohio State's second scoring drive that covered more than 22 yards.
And that touchdown also made the score 40-10 in a moment when Iowa had surrendered a mere 208 yards. Also, defensive end Joe Evans provided the team's lone touchdown with a 13-yard fumble return.
Might be time to change the offense, Iowa.
Best of the Rest: Week 8
Under-the-Radar Team of the Week: Liberty Flames
There's enough evidence to show I was wrong about BYU threatening for a major bowl bid. At the same time, Liberty steamrolled the visitors in remarkable fashion. Hugh Freeze's squad amassed 547 yards in a 41-14 victory, also holding BYU to just 258 yards. Liberty is now 7-1 and has an idle weekend to prepare for a trip to Arkansas.
Golf Clap of the Week: East Carolina Breezes Past UCF
Although the spread only favored UCF by five points, the Knights entered with a four-game winning streak that included 44.5 points and 551.8 yards per outing. That offense was smoking hot. Saturday, though, UCF committed four turnovers—all on ECU's side of the field—in a shocking 34-13 letdown. East Carolina, which finished 7-5 last season, improved to 5-3 with the victory.
Juxtaposition of the Week: South Carolina's Rise, Texas A&M's Fall
The fan base at South Carolina is feeling good. That's most decidedly not the same feeling among Texas A&M supporters. Even before Saturday's result, the programs were moving in opposite directions. But the 30-24 victory for South Carolina—which is 5-2 with a legitimate shot at 8-2—only furthered the diverging emotions. Texas A&M, on the other hand, has secured a fourth four-loss season in the five-year Jimbo Fisher era.
Top Games in Week 9
No. 2 Ohio State at No. 13 Penn State (Noon ET, Fox)
Later in the evening, Michigan and Michigan State have the next chapter of their rivalry. But the afternoon window pits Ohio State against Penn State, which is desperate to redeem itself following its embarrassing 41-17 loss at Michigan a couple of weeks ago. Ohio State, meanwhile, will have a clear path to 11-0 with a victory in Happy Valley.
Florida vs. No. 1 Georgia (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)
Speaking of undefeated records, Georgia is 7-0. Even though Florida hasn't played well in recent weeks, it's always dangerous to overlook a rival. Besides, the Gators would love to play spoiler, especially considering UGA's showdown with fellow unbeaten Tennessee looms next Saturday.
No. 19 Kentucky at No. 3 Tennessee (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Copy/paste Florida's motivation here, right? Although this fits the dreaded "look-ahead game" for Tennessee, the Vols at least host the clash with Kentucky. On paper, UT is deservingly a considerable favorite. Kentucky doesn't have the best defense on Tennessee's schedule, but this unit—one giving up 16.4 points per game—is certainly a good one. Can the sizzling Vols offense pick apart another quality opponent?