College Football Rankings Week 8: B/R's Official Top 25
So it wasn't to the level of madness that we saw last week, but Week 7 wasn't too shabby either. And after all that craziness, having a Saturday with a little more stability was refreshing.
But we still have plenty of movement in the Bleacher Report Top 25, mostly at the top where there's a new No. 1, while those trailing the leaders are pretty well bunched.
This week's poll was voted on by 18 members of B/R's college football team: writers Ben Axelrod, Phil Callihan, Michael Felder, Andrew Hall, Kyle Kensing, David Kenyon, Ben Kercheval, Adam Kramer, Brian Leigh, Brian Pedersen, Barrett Sallee, Brad Shepard, Erin Sorensen, Marc Torrence and Greg Wallace, as well as editors Eric Bowman, Hunter Mandel and Max Rausch.
Each voter submits his or her ballot based on observations made during the just-completed week's games. Teams receive 25 points for a first-place vote, all the way down to one point for being ranked 25th. And then the top 25 vote-getters are ranked in order of their point totals.
Check out Bleacher Report's Week 8 poll, then give us your thoughts in the comments section.
Others Receiving Votes
Duke wasn't able to slide into the Top 25, but it did knock Georgia Tech out of it by winning 31-25 over the host Yellow Jackets, handing them their first loss of the season.
Here's how everyone else who received votes this week ended up:
- Utah (36)
- Duke (22)
- Kentucky (15)
- LSU (14)
- Memphis (14)
- South Carolina (10)
- Georgia Tech (8)
- Wisconsin (8)
- Minnesota (7)
- Iowa (6)
- West Virginia (6)
- Arkansas (5)
- Louisville (3)
- Washington (2)
- Missouri (1)
25. Marshall Thundering Herd
Week 7 result: Won 49-24 vs. Middle Tennessee
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 at Florida International
Poll points: 37
Last week's ranking: Not ranked
The Thundering Herd (6-0, 2-0 Conference USA) blew past Middle Tennessee behind another balanced effort paced by Rakeem Cato's passing and Devon Johnson's rushing.
Cato threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns, while Johnson ran for 134 yards and three TDs on 19 carries.
Marshall has scored at least 42 points in every game this season.
24. USC Trojans
Week 7 result: Won 28-26 at Arizona
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 vs. Colorado
Poll points: 52
Last week's ranking: Not ranked
The Trojans (4-2, 3-1 Pac-12) nearly blew leads of 21-6 and 28-13, ultimately winning after Arizona missed a 36-yard field-goal attempt with 17 seconds left.
USC, coming off a Hail Mary-fueled home loss to Arizona State, got 205 rushing yards and three touchdowns from Javorius Allen. He scored on runs of 34 and 48 yards in the first half and added a one-yard TD score in the fourth quarter.
Cody Kessler threw for 185 yards on 20-of-30 passing, but he was intercepted for the first time this season.
23. UCLA Bruins
Week 7 result: Lost 42-30 vs. Oregon
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 at California
Poll points: 76
Last week's ranking: 16th
The Bruins (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) fell behind 21-3 and saw Oregon convert both of their turnovers into scoring possessions in their second straight home loss.
Brett Hundley lost a fumble deep deep in UCLA territory in the first quarter, setting up the Ducks' first TD, and his interception midway through the third quarter put Oregon in position for another score to go up 35-10. Hundley threw for 216 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for 89 yards and a score.
UCLA ran for 328 yards, with Paul Perkins accumulating for 187 yards on 21 carries, but it trailed 42-10 before scoring three touchdowns in the final 9:46 of play.
22. Texas A&M Aggies
Week 7 result: Lost 35-20 vs. Ole Miss
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 at Alabama
Poll points: 79
Last week's ranking: 14th
The Aggies (5-2, 2-2 SEC) fell behind 21-0 and could never mount a comeback, as turnovers plagued them for the second straight game after a 5-0 start.
Kenny Hill threw for 401 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns on 42-of-53 passing, but he was intercepted twice. One of those was returned for a TD by Ole Miss early in the second quarter to make it 21-0. Hill also lost a fumble, which Ole Miss brought back for another score.
A&M managed only 54 rushing yards, and despite outgaining the Rebels 455-338, it trailed 35-7 before scoring twice in the final nine minutes to make the final score more respectable.
21. Clemson Tigers
Week 7 result: Won 23-17 vs. Louisville
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 at Boston College
Poll points: 83
Last week's ranking: 21st
The Tigers (4-2, 3-1 ACC) made a goal-line stop with 21 seconds left for their third straight win, but lost star quarterback Deshaun Watson in the process.
Clemson got three field goals from Ammon Lakip, a punt return touchdown and a defensive score on a day when its offense managed only 229 yards. Cole Stoudt played most of the game at quarterback after Watson, a freshman, broke a bone in his right (throwing) hand in the second quarter.
Scott Keepfer of The Greenville News reported that Watson will have surgery Monday and is expected to be out five weeks.
Adam Humphries returned a punt 72 yards for a TD early in the first quarter, while Grady Jarrett recovered a fumble in the end zone for Clemson's other TD. The Tigers held Louisville to 264 yards, including 52 on the ground from a team that was averaging 156.5 rushing yards per game.
20. Stanford Cardinal
Week 7 result: Won 34-17 vs. Washington State
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 at Arizona State
Poll points: 93
Last week's ranking: 22nd
The Cardinal (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12) had one of their best offensive performances of the season while also slowing down the nation's top quarterback to rebound from last week's loss at Notre Dame and remain in contention for the Pac-12's North Division title.
Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns, outplaying Washington State's Connor Halliday. Halliday, who set an FBS record with 734 passing yards last week, threw for 292 yards and two TDs but was intercepted once and needed 69 attempts and 42 completions to get his numbers.
The Cardinal held the Cougars to minus-26 rushing yards that included four sacks. By keeping Washington State from moving the ball, it enabled Stanford's offense to methodically churn out 477 yards, including 98 rushing yards and a TD from Remound Wright.
Greg Taboada had two short TD catches for Stanford, which has allowed only 60 points this season.
19. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Week 7 result: Bye
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 at Northwestern
Poll points: 102
Last week's ranking: 25th
The Cornhuskers (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) nearly rallied from a 24-point deficit last week at Michigan State but fell 27-22. Now they head back onto the road to face a Northwestern team that already has a key win over Big Ten West Division contender Wisconsin.
Nebraska has gotten 1,752 yards of total offense and 12 total touchdowns from quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr., while running back Ameer Abdullah has run for 878 yards and 10 TDs. Abdullah was held to only 45 yards on 24 carries last time out, though, the second time this season he's been kept under 50 yards.
18. Arizona Wildcats
Week 7 result: Lost 28-26 vs. USC
Week 8 matchup: Bye
Poll points: 129
Last week's ranking: 12th
The Wildcats (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) missed three field goals, including one with 17 seconds left, to drop a home clash with USC a week after upsetting Oregon on the road.
Arizona trailed 28-13 entering the fourth quarter but had a chance to tie when Jared Baker scored his third touchdown on a one-yard run with 1:07 to go. The Wildcats were stuffed on the two-point try, yet recovered the onside kick and got into USC territory to set up the potential game-winning kick.
Casey Skowron's 36-yard try sailed wide right, shortly after making one from that distance that was waved off because of a timeout. Just before halftime Skowron had a field goal blocked after making one as a time out was called.
Anu Solomon threw for 395 yards and a touchdown on 43-of-72 passing, but Arizona allowed 239 yards rushing, including 205 and three TDs from Javorius Allen.
17. Arizona State Sun Devils
Week 7 result: Bye
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 vs. Stanford
Poll points: 140
Last week's ranking: 20th
The Sun Devils (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) haven't played since their Hail Mary-aided win at USC last week, and that time off might get them quarterback Taylor Kelly back for the big showdown with Stanford.
Kelly returned to practice on Thursday, according to Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic, his first action since injuring his leg in Arizona State's Sept. 13 win at Colorado. Without him, the Devils lost by 35 points at home to UCLA and then rallied past USC on the road, and backup quarterback Mike Bercovici threw for 998 yards and eight touchdowns in his two-game absence.
Running back D.J. Foster is averaging 7.6 yards per carry but has had only 43 yards on 19 carries in the past two games. Receiver Jaelen Strong has filled in nicely, as he caught the Hail Mary TD and has 41 catches for 614 yards and five TDs.
15. (tie) Oklahoma State Cowboys
Week 7 result: Won 27-20 at Kansas
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 at TCU
Poll points: 169
Last week's ranking: 18th
The Cowboys (5-1, 3-0 Big 12) used a kickoff return touchdown from speedster Tyreek Hill and late defense to escape with a win in Lawrence.
Hill's 99-yard score with 6:43 left came right after the host Jayhawks had tied the game at 20 with a field goal, completing a comeback from down 20-7 at halftime. Oklahoma State built its 13-point lead despite only managing 275 yards of total offense.
Once OK State retook the lead, its defense forced a punt and then intercepted Kansas quarterback Michael Cummings with 53 seconds left to seal the victory.
15. (tie) East Carolina Pirates
Week 7 result: Won 28-17 at South Florida
Week 8 matchup: Bye
Poll points: 169
Last week's ranking: 17th
The Pirates (5-1, 2-0 American) rallied from a 17-7 halftime deficit, getting second-half rushing touchdowns from Marquez Grayson, Breon Allen and Anthony Scott to avoid the road upset.
Quarterback Shane Carden completed 24 of 33 passes for 250 yards and a 35-yard TD pass to Allen, with 10 of his passes caught by Justin Hardy for 114 yards.
East Carolina ran for 231 yards and held South Florida to just 93 yards on the ground and no points in the second half.
14. Kansas State Wildcats
Week 7 result: Bye
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 at Oklahoma
Poll points: 179
Last week's ranking: 19th
The Wildcats (4-1, 2-0 Big 12) had a week off before a critical stretch in which they will face Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU during a four-game span.
Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters has paced their offense this season, with 1,206 passing yards and a team-high 320 on the ground along with 13 total touchdowns. Waters has relied on two key receivers in Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton, who have combined for 57 receptions for 734 yards and five TDs.
13. Ohio State Buckeyes
Week 7 result: Bye
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 vs. Rutgers
Poll points: 218
Last week's ranking: 15th
The Buckeyes (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) have looked really good since getting upset at home by Virginia Tech in September, averaging 56 points in their last three games. Freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett has been a big part of that explosion, with 14 touchdowns and just one interception since getting picked off three times in that loss.
Ohio State's run game has also picked up, with sophomore Ezekiel Elliott pacing an attack that now averages 247 rushing yards per game.
12. TCU Horned Frogs
Week 7 result: Lost 61-58 at Baylor
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 vs. Oklahoma State
Poll points: 241
Last week's ranking: 13th
The Horned Frogs (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) appeared headed for another monumental victory, this one on the road, but then they somehow blew a 21-point fourth-quarter lead and lost on a field goal at the buzzer.
TCU took a 58-37 lead with 11:38 left when Marcus Mallet returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown. That was part of a 24-7 run over 7:15 of game time after Baylor had pulled to within 34-30 late in the third quarter. The Frogs led 14-0 and had a 31-27 lead into halftime thanks to a 94-yard kickoff return TD by B.J. Catalon with 1:38 left in the second quarter.
But a snap over the head of its punter just before halftime enabled Baylor to kick a field goal, points that turned out to be huge at the end. It was the Frogs' only turnover, while they forced three yet also allowed 782 yards to Baylor.
Catalon scored three TDs for the Frogs, while Trevone Boykin had 332 yards of total offense and a passing touchdown but completed only 21 of 47 passes.
After Baylor tied the game with 4:42 left in the fourth quarter, TCU got into Bears territory and decided to go for it on 4th-and-3 with 1:17 left. The Frogs failed to convert, and Baylor kicked a 28-yard field goal as time expired.
11. Georgia Bulldogs
Week 7 result: Won 34-0 at Missouri
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 at Arkansas
Poll points: 276
Last week's ranking: 11th
The Bulldogs (5-1, 3-1 SEC) made a major statement with their shutout win at Missouri, namely that they are not a one-man team no matter how it may have looked coming in.
With leading rusher Todd Gurley suspended indefinitely amid NCAA violation allegations, Georgia turned to true freshman running back Nick Chubb to carry it to a key SEC East victory against the only team in the division yet to have lost in conference play. Chubb carried 38 times for 143 yards and a touchdown after coming into the game with just 31 rushes.
"Everybody said that Georgia was dead without Todd," Chubb told The Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). "But we proved that we're still in it."
While Chubb's effort helped stabilize the offense and kept Hutson Mason from having to do too much, the senior quarterback was near-perfect in completing 22 of 28 passes for 156 yards and a TD. Georgia didn't commit a turnover and forced five takeaways, including four interceptions of Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk.
It was Georgia's second shutout victory of the season, and first against an SEC team since 2012.
10. Oklahoma Sooners
Week 7 result: Won 31-26 vs. Texas (in Dallas)
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 vs. Kansas State
Poll points: 283
Last week's ranking: 8th
The Sooners (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) didn't convert a third down until late in the fourth quarter and totaled just 232 yards of offense. But thanks to kickoff and interception return touchdowns in the first half, Oklahoma didn't trail after the game's first seven minutes.
Alex Ross' 91-yard kickoff return TD—his second of the season—immediately after Texas took a 3-0 first-quarter lead helped set the pace, and Zack Sanchez's 43-yard interception return score early in the second quarter gave Oklahoma a 17-3 lead.
Trevor Knight threw for 129 yards and a touchdown, while Samaje Perine was limited to 62 yards and a score on 18 carries. Oklahoma allowed 482 yards yet led 31-13 before Texas scored twice late in the fourth quarter to make it close. That's when the Sooners managed their lone third-down conversion, helping to ice their fourth win in the last five Red River Showdown games with Texas.
9. Oregon Ducks
Week 7 result: Won 42-30 at UCLA
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 vs. Washington
Poll points: 305
Last week's ranking: 10th
The Ducks (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) showed no lingering effects from their shocking home loss to Arizona from a week ago, jumping out to a 21-3 lead and then opening the second half with 21 straight points.
"Oregon didn't just win this game handily, the Ducks dominated UCLA," wrote Everett Cook of the Los Angeles Times.
Marcus Mariota was masterful in carving up UCLA's defense, throwing for 210 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 75 yards and two scores. His 23-yard scoring run midway through the third quarter gave the Ducks a 28-10 lead, then Royce Freeman added two short TD scores (part of his 121 yards on 18 carries) to make it 42-10 early in the fourth quarter.
UCLA scored 20 points in the final 10 minutes after the game was out of hand. The Ducks allowed 553 yards, including 328 on the ground, but they forced Brett Hundley to run the ball 22 times. Hundley committed two turnovers, including a fumble that Oregon recovered deep in UCLA territory to set up its first TD.
Oregon's offensive line performed great after allowing 12 sacks in the previous two games, yielding none this time around.
8. Alabama Crimson Tide
Week 7 result: Won 14-13 at Arkansas
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 vs. Texas A&M
Poll points: 321
Last week's ranking: 9th
The Crimson Tide (5-1, 2-1 SEC) blocked an extra point late in the first half that proved to be the winning margin, but it was their overall defense that led to the key road victory.
Alabama held Arkansas' potent run game to just 89 yards on 39 carries, forcing quarterback Brandon Allen to throw 40 times after attempting only 97 passes in the previous five games. That paid off for Alabama late in the game when Allen was intercepted by Landon Collins with 1:59 left.
The Tide only had 227 yards themselves, with just 66 on the ground, but Blake Sims threw a pair of touchdown passes and didn't commit a turnover. His six-yard TD pass to DeAndrew White with 12:36 left in the fourth quarter gave Alabama the lead.
Alabama did commit two turnovers, both fumbles lost on punt returns.
7. Michigan State Spartans
Week 7 result: Won 45-31 at Purdue
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 at Indiana
Poll points: 338
Last week's ranking: 7th
The Spartans (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) never trailed on the road against Purdue, but they also never had a very comfortable lead a week after nearly blowing a 24-point edge in the fourth quarter.
Michigan State led 38-17 entering the fourth quarter before the Boilermakers scored twice to get within a touchdown, and they had the ball again before MSU's Darien Harris intercepted Austin Appleby and returned it 15 yards for the game-clinching score with 1:22 left.
Connor Cook threw for 238 yards and three touchdowns on 19-of-37 passing, while Jeremy Langford ran for 104 yards and Nick Hill added two rushing TDs. Tony Lippett had seven catches for 138 yards and a score.
6. Auburn Tigers
Week 7 result: Lost 38-23 at Mississippi State
Week 8 matchup: Bye
Poll points: 354
Last week's ranking: 1st
The Tigers (5-1, 2-1 SEC) got smacked in the mouth early and never fully recovered, as turnovers contributed to a 21-0 hole after nine minutes.
Auburn got as close as 21-13 before halftime and entered the fourth quarter down 28-20, but it could never get any closer as miscues and shortcomings in the red zone plagued it all afternoon. It also wasn't able to fully capitalize on four Mississippi State turnovers, nor could it contain elusive MSU quarterback Dak Prescott, who had 367 yards of total offense and three total touchdowns.
Nick Marshall did his best to match that production, throwing for 209 yards and two TDs while rushing for 100 yards, but he also threw two interceptions. The Tigers lost two fumbles, one by receiver D'haquille Williams (who had six catches for 108 yards and two TDs) on their second offensive play of the game.
The other fumble came in the fourth quarter when, after MSU kicked a field goal for a 31-20 lead, Ricardo Louis lost the ball on the ensuing kickoff and the Bulldogs added another TD a few plays later.
5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Week 7 result: Won 50-43 vs. North Carolina
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 at Florida State
Poll points: 368
Last week's ranking: 5th
The Fighting Irish (6-0) overcame more Everett Golson miscues to outlast upstart North Carolina, twice having to come from behind at home.
Golson threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another 71 yards, but he fumbled twice and had an interception returned by UNC for a score that gave the Tar Heels a 14-0 lead before Notre Dame got itself in gear. It responded by scoring 21 points in just over 12 minutes and led 28-26 at halftime.
The Irish trailed 36-35 early in the fourth quarter before Golson hit Tarean Folston for a nine-yard touchdown pass, then Folston scored on a six-yard run. Folston had 169 yards of total offense and three TDs, while William Fuller caught seven passes for 133 yards and two scores.
Notre Dame allowed 510 yards, and the 43 points were the most it has allowed since giving up 45 to Stanford in November 2009.
4. Baylor Bears
Week 7 result: Won 61-58 vs. TCU
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 at West Virginia
Poll points: 396
Last week's ranking: 3rd
The Bears (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) were left for dead with about 12 minutes left, when Bryce Petty's pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown to give visiting TCU a 58-37 lead. Then Baylor's offense kicked into another gear, and its defense finally started making some big plays.
The result was a massive comeback, scoring 24 points in the final 10:39 capped by Chris Callahan's 28-yard field goal as time expired. Callahan, who came into the game having made just one of six kicks, was good on all four of his tries Saturday as Baylor had to settle for three several times in the red zone.
"Chris Callahan is a legend no matter what he does (the) rest of career," tweeted Jake Shaw of SicEmSports.com.
Callahan gets the late glory, but it was a team rally by the Bears paced by 510 passing yards and six touchdowns from Petty. Petty was picked off twice and only completed 28 of 55 throws, but he was near-perfect during the comeback.
Baylor had 782 yards of total offense, with Shock Linwood rushing for 178 yards and three receivers (Antwan Goodley, Corey Coleman and KD Cannon) each netting more than 100 yards and five of Petty's TD throws.
TCU had 485 yards, but on its last three drives managed just 53 and turned it over on downs with 1:11 left at the Baylor 45-yard line to give the Bears the chance to win.
3. Ole Miss Rebels
Week 7 result: Won 35-20 at Texas A&M
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 vs. Tennessee
Poll points: 421 (one first-place votes)
Last week's ranking: 6th
The Rebels (6-0, 3-0 SEC) showed no hangover from their historic win over Alabama last week, jumping on Texas A&M early and never letting up.
Bo Wallace scored two first-quarter rushing touchdowns and added a TD pass in the third quarter, but he didn't need to do that much offensively with how good Ole Miss' defense played. The so-called "Landsharks" forced three turnovers and scored two defensive touchdowns, one on an interception return by Cody Prewitt that made it 21-0 early in the second quarter and the other a fumble return score by Keith Lewis early in the fourth quarter to go up 35-7.
"The Rebels have the best defense in the SEC, if not the nation, and when Wallace is playing well they’re hard to stop," wrote ESPN.com's Greg Ostendorf.
Ole Miss was outgained 455-338, similar to how Alabama had more yards in last week's 23-17 Rebels victory. But with the big defensive plays and mistake-free play from Wallace (who was 13-of-19 for 178 yards), the yardage advantage A&M managed was negated.
2. Florida State Seminoles
Week 7 result: Won 38-20 at Syracuse
Week 8 matchup: Oct. 18 vs. Notre Dame
Poll points: 422 (four first-place votes)
Last week's ranking: 2nd
The Seminoles (6-0, 4-0 ACC) had little trouble rolling past Syracuse on the road, not with Jameis Winston having maybe his best game of the season en route to their 22nd straight victory.
Winston completed 30 of 36 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns, connecting with three different receivers. He didn't have Karlos Williams available in the backfield because of an ankle injury, but that didn't matter thanks to the breakout performance of freshman Dalvin Cook (23 carries, 122 yards, one TD).
FSU led 24-6 at halftime and quickly extended the lead with Winston's seven-yard TD pass to Jesus Wilson midway through the third quarter. The Seminoles also intercepted three Syracuse passes, one more than they had managed in their first five games.
1. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Week 7 result: Won 38-23 vs. Auburn
Week 8 matchup: Bye
Poll points: 444 (13 first-place votes)
Last week's ranking: 4th
The Bulldogs (6-0, 3-0 SEC) knocked off their third straight Top 10 team, again jumping out to a big lead behind the two-headed monster of quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Josh Robinson.
Despite sloppy play at times that led to four turnovers, Prescott had 367 yards of total offense that included 121 rushing yards and two scores on the ground, while Robinson ran for 97 yards with two TDs. Mississippi State led 21-0 after nine minutes in, then after Auburn pulled within 21-13 and 28-20 the Bulldogs answered to keep the lead comfortable.
"The Bulldogs aren't always pretty, but they overcame their own mistakes and Auburn's spirited attempt at a comeback to stamp themselves the best team in the SEC at the moment," wrote Kevin Scarbinsky of AL.com. "And hence the country."
MSU forced four turnovers, two of which came during the 21-0 run to start the game, and it forced Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall to throw 35 times while also rushing 17 times.
The victory follows up wins of 34-29 at LSU and 48-31 at home against Texas A&M, opponents that were both unbeaten and ranked in the Top 10 at the time. MSU is just the fifth team in college football history to beat three straight Top 10 opponents, according to SEC spokesman Chuck Dunlap.
Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.