Winners and Losers of Week 8 in College Football

Brad Shepard@@Brad_ShepardFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2018

Winners and Losers of Week 8 in College Football

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    You didn't think the upset bug would take the full week off in college football now, did you?

    After the top teams cruised early in the day, Purdue made sure that wouldn't happen late Saturday night with a convincing home win to knock Ohio State from the group of unbeatens. They weren't alone in getting thumped from that perch, either.

    Undefeated teams Cincinnati and North Carolina State fell hard, with the Bearcats losing a tough one to Temple in overtime and the Wolfpack getting blown out by a resurgent Clemson team. 

    Alabama rolled Tennessee in the Third Saturday in October for the 12th consecutive time to stay unbeaten, joining Clemson to remain atop the standings. The Ohio State Buckeyes, meanwhile, made the road trip to face Purdue ahead of their bye week and will hope to keep pace in the Big Ten.

    Oklahoma ran its way to a huge win over TCU, and Michigan's gritty defense showed up once again to whip Michigan State in a rivalry game to take home the Paul Bunyan Trophy. Washington State proved its for real with a win over Oregon, and LSU's defense swarmed Mississippi State.

    October may be getting ready to wind down, but the chillier weather across the country just means college football is heating up.

    Let's take a look at the winners and losers from Week 8's action. More will come with updates to the late games.

Winner: Jeff Brohm's Brilliant Play-Calling in Purdue's Upset of Ohio State

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    Purdue did everything right Saturday night in a stunning 49-20 upset of No. 2 Ohio in West Lafayette, Indiana.

    Yes, the players executed, making head coach Jeff Brohm's game plan look ideal. But he drew it up, and there's a reason why the Boilermakers are fortunate to have him. 

    You have to give credit where it's due, and everybody in black and gold deserved it in making a previously undefeated Ohio State team look average. 

    From the defense playing aggressively and pressuring Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins all night to getting freshman phenom Rondale Moore as many touches as possible to pulling out all the stops, he did everything it took to win. The freshman receiver was the best player on the field, finishing with 12 catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns.

    Perhaps the best call was eschewing a late first-half field goal on 4th-and-3 and instead faking it to get the first down. The Boilermakers followed that up with a David Blough-to-Moore score to hold a 14-3 halftime advantage. They kept pressing afterward and wound up with an impressive win.

    "I think we understand [in] this game, we've got to take some chances," Brohm told sideline reporter Maria Taylor at halftime. "The great thing is our defense is playing aggressive, we're making some plays on offense, and on special teams, we're playing aggressive, and I think that's going to make a difference."

    It absolutely did. The Boilermakers never let up. With their foot on OSU's throat late, Brohm again dialed up a fantastic play call with a draw against the blitz that led to a 42-yard D.J. Knox touchdown run to make it 28-6. Knox added his third scoring touchdown later in the quarter to cap off a career game.

    It's difficult to believe Purdue began the season 0-3 with losses to Northwestern, Eastern Michigan and Missouri. The Boilermakers are now 4-3 on the year after their fourth consecutive win, but this one meant so much more.

Loser: Nick Fitzgerald's Nonexistent Passing Stats

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    For all the great things Nick Fitzgerald has accomplished during his career in Starkville, the Mississippi State quarterback hasn't developed as a passer.

    He experienced arguably the worst game of his career in a 19-3 loss at LSU on Saturday night, as defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's unit swarmed him and made him look like a first-year starter instead of a seasoned senior.

    Fitzgerald had 131 rushing yards, but the Bulldogs needed a complete offensive effort against one of the SEC's best defenses and No. 5 Tigers. Instead, they never saw anything close.

    At one point, you had to wonder if coach Joe Moorhead thought about inserting Keytaon Thompson in Fitzgerald's place.

    The senior finished 8-of-24 passing for 59 yards and threw four interceptions. Anytime the Bulldogs got close to scoring, it seemed they would make a pivotal mistake.

    You've got to give plenty of credit to LSU's defense, which is exceptional and has made many quarterbacks look average.

    But the fact is Fitzgerald hasn't played well against anybody this year—at least since the Kansas State game Sept. 8. What looked like a perfect marriage between quarterback and coach quickly soured.

    It's not quite to the level of Khalil Tate and Kevin Sumlin's relationship at Arizona, but it's close.

    If MSU is going to make noise in the SEC West, the Bulldogs need to fix the quarterback situation. Meanwhile, LSU's defense looks ready for Alabama, even though Devin White has to miss the first half after a targeting call.

    That'll be a fun game. Nothing was fun for Fitzgerald on Saturday night.

Winner: Washington State's Spotless First Half in a Huge Win

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    Talk about taking advantage of an electric atmosphere.

    The moment was certainly not too big for the Washington State Cougars, who played one of the most perfect halves of the season in building a 27-0 lead en route to a stunning 34-20 victory over the Oregon Ducks.

    As the final score indicates, they needed every bit of that quick start.

    ESPN's College GameDay was in Pullman for the showdown, and the crowd was rowdy from the beginning. Coach Mike Leach made sure his team was, too.

    The Cougars held the football for more than 22 minutes of the first half, getting a brilliant performance from quarterback Gardner Minshew to build the advantage. Minshew was 30-of-35 for 215 yards and three scores—before halftime.

    They even ran the ball relatively well; James "Boobie" Williams made virtually the entire Ducks defense miss on an incredible 24-yard touchdown run.

    As good as the Wazzu offense was, the defense was even better. In a forgettable first half for Ducks signal-caller Justin Herbert, he completed just four of 11 passes for 36 yards, and Oregon had 39 total yards and three first downs at the break.

    It was pure domination.

    It also keeps things jam-packed in the Pac-12 North division, which also features Washington and Stanford. For the Ducks, it was a pivotal blow, especially after losing to the Cardinal a few weeks ago.

    This was as impressive a victory as has transpired in the Pac-12 all season, and the Cougars continue to come from nowhere in what was supposed to be an off-year for Leach's team.

    Instead, if they'd have won a road game against a USC team that continues to improve, they'd be undefeated right now. Saturday night was as complete an effort as you could hope for on the national stage. The crowd deservedly stormed the field afterward, too.

    It was that kind of day in Pullman.

Loser: Dwayne Haskins' Heisman Campaign

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    Tua Tagovailoa or Dwayne Haskins?

    For now, at least, there are no questions about who leads the Heisman Trophy race.

    While Tagovailoa rested for much of the final quarter-and-a-half after putting up 300-plus yards and four touchdowns against Tennessee, Haskins struggled to put his team in the end zone.

    He put up huge numbers, throwing for 470 yards on a record 73 passing attempts and found the end zone twice against one pick-six. And no, it isn't his fault that he had to evade pressure all night against an aggressive Purdue.

    But things like winning and making big plays in big games matter in the race to win college football's top award. All things matter.

    Haskins failed to help his Buckeyes find the end zone until they were already down 28-6 in the fourth quarter. He failed to stretch the field often enough, and when plays had to be made, he didn't make enough to keep OSU in the game.

    This season has been a statistical windfall for the first-year starter, who is the best passing quarterback Urban Meyer has ever coached. The things Haskins can do with his arm are the reason why the Buckeyes are a national contender despite all the turmoil the program has faced this season.

    But he isn't the best player in college football right now, and that showed Saturday night. There is plenty of football left to be played, but this Ohio State team hasn't been impressive in recent weeks, and nothing went right against the Buckeyes.

    If Haskins wants to stay in the Heisman race and the Buckeyes want to get to the College Football Playoff, they can't afford another showing like what went down Saturday.

Winner: Oklahoma's Emerging Rushing Attack

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    No Rodney Anderson? No problem.

    At least, it wasn't on Saturday, anyway.

    The Oklahoma Sooners pounded TCU 52-27 in what was supposed to be a close Big 12 battle, and they did so in perhaps their most complete performance of the year. The defense was excellent after halftime, and quarterback Kyler Murray was at his standard dual-threat best.

    But perhaps the best sign of life for the Sooners after the bye week was the running game, which was better than it has been at any point this season.

    Redshirt freshman Kennedy Brooks was exceptional against the Horned Frogs rushing for 168 yards and a touchdown, and Trey Sermon complemented him nicely with 110 yards on 17 carries of his own.

    Sermon also added a pair of scores, though it looked like he was banged up at the very end of the game, so that's worth watching.

    If you look at OU's rushing statistics this season, there's nothing wrong with the numbers. But they've been boosted by Murray's ability to run. Since the season-ending injury to Anderson on September 10, the backs have been just OK.

    In the win over Iowa State, OU running backs combined for just 96 rush yards. That rose to 119 against Army, 130 against Baylor and 130 again in the loss to Texas.

    However, the run game was anything but average against the Horned Frogs, and Brooks looks like he could be a potential star in the making. Sermon, meanwhile, provides the tough yards, and he even broke free for his own 33-yard scoring run. 

Loser: Cincinnati's Undefeated Hopes

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    Throughout Cincinnati's 6-0 start, the Bearcats found multiple ways to win. If it needed to be a defensive slugfest, they were able to play that game. In shootouts, they tossed up a bunch of points.

    Ranked No. 20 and heading to Philadelphia to take on a decent Temple team, it looked like Cincy would do it yet again. The Bearcats erased an early 10-point deficit to surge ahead 17-10 and then snagged an interception inside their 10-yard line to turn the Owls away with 6:12 to go.

    But Cincinnati crumbled down the stretch.

    A defense that had forced Temple to 2-of-15 on third-down conversions to that point gave up a 20-yard scoring pass from Anthony Russo to Branden Mack on 3rd-and-10 to force overtime. On Temple's next possession, Russo hit an open Isaiah Wright for a 25-yard score on another 3rd-and-10.

    As if that wasn't enough self-destruction, coach Luke Fickell's team snapped errantly on its subsequent drive to set up a 2nd-and-21 play. Then, offensive lineman Dino Boyd was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, which gave the Bearcats a 3rd-and-36 before the game-ending interception.

    Temple won the game 24-17, and the Bearcats crashed back down to earth after such a strong start to the season.

    After a relatively easy schedule to this point, Cincinnati will now be tested. With Navy, South Florida and Central Florida remaining on the schedule, it only gets tougher from here.

Winner: Boise State QB Brett Rypien

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    With two early-season defeats, including a 19-13 Mountain West Conference loss to San Diego State a couple of weeks ago, things haven't gone as expected for the Boise State Broncos, whom many anticipated being one of the best Group of Five teams in the nation.

    Friday night was a step in the right direction, thanks to a sterling performance by quarterback Brett Rypien in a 56-28 thumping of a Colorado State team that had been on a two-game winning streak before heading to Boise.

    Rypien ended those good vibrations with one of his best showings of the year, completing 22 of 26 passes for 308 yards and four touchdowns. After a two-game lull where he threw just two touchdowns and five interceptions, Rypien returned to his early-season form.

    Against the Aztecs and Nevada, the Broncos mustered just 27 points and six turnovers in the first half. That all changed in the CSU game.

    "I kind of challenged myself this week to be able to get off to a good start," Rypien told the Idaho Statesman's Dave Southorn. "It felt awesome, especially after losing a game on the Blue (against San Diego State), being out there the last time, it leaves a really sour taste in your mouth."

    In the season's first four games, he eclipsed 300 passing yards each time and began the year with 12 scoring strikes against zero interceptions. He had that same kind of performance against the Rams, throwing as many TDs as incompletions.

    As Rypien goes, so go the Broncos. They have a chance to escape the difficult start and still win the conference.

Loser: Arizona State's Close-Game Mojo

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    Some of the early returns on Herm Edwards at Arizona State have been strong, but one of the most difficult things that comes with rebuilding a program is teaching a team how to have a killer instinct in close games.

    The Sun Devils simply don't have that yet, and it is becoming a maddening repeat button each week.

    On Thursday night, they fell 20-13 to Stanford in a game where they played well on defense and had glimmers of offensive success despite far too many mistakes. In the end, however, they fell by seven points for the fourth time this year.

    That's every loss they've had, by the way. The Sun Devils are now 3-4 on the season.

    Though quarterback Manny Wilkins obviously gives his team the best chance to win with his dual-threat capabilities, he had two costly mistakes against the Cardinal. He tossed an interception and had a bad fumble after a long run into Stanford territory, and the Cardinal converted both turnovers into points.

    "I despise losing. I hate losing more than anything," Wilkins told the Arizona Republic's Michelle Gardner. "I'm sick and tired of coming in here and saying we're one play away. We got to fix it."

    Added Coach Edwards: "If I had a formula for winning these games I'd feed it to them. They play hard. They're never out of it. These kids keep coming. All four games have ended the same waywith a thud."

    It continues the Sun Devils' inability to make enough winning plays. They'd be a good team—characterized by advantages like a run-stuffing defense, a star receiver in N'Keal Harry, a playmaking quarterback and capable game-breaking runner in Eno Benjamin—but they can't get out of their own way.

    Now, they're 1-3 in the Pac-12 with remaining games against USC, Utah, UCLA, Oregon and Arizona.

Winner: Michigan Making Ugly Beautiful

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    There is no love lost between Michigan and Michigan State, and when you throw in a pregame scuffle, Devin Bush Jr. scraping his feet across the Spartans midfield logo, a long lightning delay and pouring rain, you're not going to have many style points.

    Michigan's 21-7 win over Michigan State on Saturday in East Lansing was about as pretty as you would have thought pregame. But it was clear from the way Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines were running around the field with the Paul Bunyan Trophy that they didn't much care.

    This was Michigan football; it may not look great, but it works. The Wolverines haven't lost since the season-opening setback on the road at Notre Dame, and they continue to look dominant defensively.

    They're doing well enough at everything else to win football games.

    This was a dangerous Michigan State team coming in after its upset win over Penn State a week ago. But after a punt-filled first half that was tied 7-7, Shea Patterson perfectly played within the framework of the Harbaugh offense to lead his team to victory.

    He wound up with 212 passing yards and a couple of scores, hitting Donovan Peoples-Jones for a huge 79-yard scoring strike that got Big Blue's offense going. Running back Karan Higdon didn't do anything special, but he helped control the game on the ground with 144 rushing yards and 4.4 yards per carry.

    This is Michigan football, and it's producing wins. The Wolverines look like they're on a crash course with Ohio State for a trip to the College Football Playoff.

Loser: UNLV's Reeling Defense

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    When UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers went down with a foot injury, it looked like it was going to be a long season for the Runnin' Rebels.

    It is, but it has nothing to do with the offense.

    When it looked like they may finally break through against Air Force on Friday night, the Rebels gave up 21 third-quarter points to the Falcons to fall behind and wind up losing yet again, 41-35.

    It was just the continuation of defensive ineptitude for coach Tony Sanchez's team, which came into the year with high expectations thanks to Rogers and returning star running back Lexington Thomas. 

    In the past three losses since Rogers' injury, the defense has failed to step up. On top of the 41-point flurry by an Air Force team that entered Friday night ranked 106th nationally in offense, they've dropped games 50-14 to New Mexico and 59-28 to Utah State.

    There are few answers right now for the Rebels. Air Force ran for 355 yards, and Falcons quarterback Isaiah Sanders completed nine of his 11 pass attempts for 217 more yards. That was too much for a late-game rally to produce anything but moral victories.

    It's going to take a herculean effort for UNLV to turn things around and get bowl-eligible, but it begins and ends with the defense. It's done nothing but let Sanchez down so far.

Winner: Iowa's Rugged Defense

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    Iowa's defense is stout enough that it is going to be a threat to win every remaining game on its schedule.

    On Saturday, the Hawkeyes played their best game of the season, punching Maryland in the mouth and refusing to let up through the rest of the game. It was the perfect warm-up with Penn State and Purdue looming the next two weeks.

    If you didn't think Iowa was old-school anymore after quarterback Nathan Stanley's big passing numbers the past few weeks, coach Kirk Ferentz reminded everybody he is who he's always been on Saturday. Stanley needed just 86 passing yards in a 23-0 win.

    That's because of the Hawkeyes defense, which allowed just 115 total yards to the Terrapins, the least allowed by Iowa since 2010 and the least ever to a Big Ten opponent by a Ferentz-coached team, according to ESPN.

    Maryland had seven first downs and held the ball for just over 19 minutes throughout an entire game.

    "They've been playing really well overall and pretty consistently," Ferentz said, per John Bohnenkamp of the Hawk Eye. "But today was a really unique challenge."

    They were more than up to it. It was perfect Ferentz football.

    The Hawkeyes entered the game ranked fifth nationally in total defense, allowing 282 yards per game. They were 13th in scoring defense, giving up 16.5 points per game. Both of those rankings will move up after the way they dominated Maryland.

Loser: North Carolina State's Hopes in the ACC Atlantic

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    This is not meant to be a slight toward North Carolina State, which is a good football program that's on its way to a solid season in a year coach Dave Doeren lost a lot of talent to the NFL.

    But the Wolfpack are not a threat to win the ACC—not with Clemson in the same division. 

    They were undefeated heading into Saturday's showdown with the Tigers, and at times over the past few years, it looked like they'd closed the gap with Clemson. But they aren't as good this year, and it was glaring on Saturday in a 41-7 loss at Death Valley.

    It was a statement game for the Tigers, but it left plenty of questions for the Pack.

    Clemson built a 31-0 advantage while confusing, pressuring and harassing NC State quarterback Ryan Finley—also forcing him into a pair of interceptions. The Wolfpack couldn't do anything offensively, and their defense wasn't much better as Tigers freshman QB Trevor Lawrence returned had his way.

    Though Travis Etienne didn't put up big numbers on the ground, he ran for three touchdowns in a thorough pounding.

    With Syracuse, Florida State, Wake Forest, Louisville, North Carolina and East Carolina remaining on the schedule, running the table is still possible for NC State. There aren't any teams remaining on that schedule the Wolfpack are definitively worse than.

    But even though Clemson is young, it is still the best team in the ACC. This was a tough lesson for North Carolina State, which was manhandled in every facet of the game.

    But it's one it can use through the rest of a manageable season. As when SEC teams lose to Alabama, getting beaten by Clemson isn't shameful. Doeren just has to take these negatives as lessons and help his team the rest of the year.

Winner: Syracuse Backup Quarterback Tommy DeVito

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    It's hard to argue with most of Syracuse coach Dino Babers' decisions this year, but when he yanked gritty senior and longtime leader Eric Dungey from the 40-37 double-overtime win against North Carolina in favor of redshirt freshman Tommy DeVito, some might have questioned the move.

    All DeVito did was lead Syracuse back from a 27-20 fourth-quarter deficit after the Orange blew a 20-7 lead after Dungey struggled. Babers made his difficult decision as a result, and DeVito made that decision stand up.

    Dungey continued to display leadership, as he was repeatedly shown celebrating with his teammates on the sideline as DeVito connected with Nykeim Johnson on a 42-yard scoring strike with 1:39 left in regulation to send the game into overtime, where he added two more touchdown passes.

    The Orange moved to 5-2 after two consecutive losses. Now, this looks like DeVito's team.

    Dungey completed 62 percent of his passes for nine touchdowns and one interception in his first four games of the year, but he completed just 55 percent of his passes for one touchdown and three picks in the last three.

    That's why Babers did what he did.

    "I just cannot tell you how proud I am of Eric Dungey and how he handled himself after the change," Babers told Niko Tamurian, sports director for CNYCentral. "We just needed a spark."

    DeVito finished 11-of-19 passing for 181 yards and three touchdowns. Dungey was 17-of-33 for 225 yards but was mustering little before he came out.

    Nothing appears set in stone, but this looks like DeVito's team until he proves it isn't.

Loser: Any Defense That Tries to Stop This Alabama Juggernaut

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    Alabama scored 58 points against Tennessee on Saturday in a 37-point win. It could have been 88 had the Crimson Tide not taken out quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and run the ball for the majority of the fourth quarter.

    That's not an indictment of the Vols; it's simply the way things have gone for every opponent who's tried to stop Alabama through the Tide's 8-0 start in which they've looked invincible.

    It was just Tennessee's turn Saturday in the 58-21 loss, as Alabama won for the 12th consecutive time in the series. At this point, you wonder what it will take for Tagovailoa to be in a game in the fourth quarter.

    That hasn't happened in 2018, and he's still probably the clubhouse leader for the Heisman Trophy.

    Again, Alabama scored 28 first-quarter points, which it's done two other times this year. Again, the Tide scored a touchdown on the opening drive, a feat they've accomplished in all their games this year.

    "I promise you: I will recruit 25 other guys that will play the right way so we don't have to play in another game like this," CBS Sports' Jamie Erdahlreported UT coach Jeremy Pruitt told his team at halftime.

    It may take more than that.

    Alabama is playing above college football's stratosphere. Though Tagovailoa wasn't his sharpest, he completed 19 of 29 passes for 306 yards and four touchdowns before he left midway through the third quarter.

    The Tide are a machine. They get to oil it through a bye week before a pivotal SEC West battle against LSU that everybody in the nation wants to see.

Winner: Nebraska, Finally

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    Nobody said rebuilding Nebraska would be easy, but head coach Scott Frost and Co. had made it look incredibly hard in an 0-6 start. The Cornhusker futility had almost become a running joke as they found multiple ways to lose.

    Not anymore.

    Maybe now that the albatross has been shed from around Nebraska's neck, Frost can move forward. One thing is certain: He already has his quarterback to usher in his era.

    After battling early-season knee trouble, Adrian Martinez looked healthy in a 53-28 win over Minnesota while playing an almost flawless game. He completed 25 of 29 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns.

    He added 15 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown and looked like the dynamic talent everybody expected before the injury. 

    Martinez's big day was only the start, as the Huskers featured two other 100-yard rushers. Devine Ozigbo led all ball-carriers with 152 yards on 12 carries and a 12.7 average. Maurice Washington added 109 yards on 14 carries.

    This was the first win for the Huskers in nearly a year, dating back to October 28 of last season. Frost got a Gatorade bath afterward.

    "That's what I want our guys to do; to have a killer instinct, and when they've got somebody on the ropes, to finish it," Frost said on the KETV Omaha live broadcast of the postgame press conference afterward.

    This is a proud program's first step toward doing that.

Winner: Army's Goal-Line Double-Overtime Defensive Stop

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    It was far from a high-profile game, but it's always a feel-good story when the service academies are playing good football.

    And Army is doing that.

    Everybody saw that firsthand when the Black Knights nearly pulled off the upset of the season in an overtime loss to Oklahoma on Sept. 22. Despite the setback, they continue to find ways to pull out games. Saturday, they moved to 5-2 with one of the wackiest defensive stops you'll see.

    Leading Miami (Ohio) 31-30 in double overtime after a RedHawks touchdown, Army had to defend the two-point attempt for the win. Miami quarterback Gus Ragland tried for one last hero effort after a 329-yard day, but several Army defenders pressured him.

    While going to the ground, Ragland found Kenny Young with a side-armed pass, but Elijah Riley stopped him at the 2-yard line before he could get in. It looked like the RedHawks were stuffed twice on the play, and Army even sounded the victory cannon prematurely.

    Finally, though, it ended. Here's video of the play, courtesy of ESPN.

    "Holy smokes! I don't know what to say," Army coach Jeff Monken told the Associated Press' John Kekis. "That was draining. We were fortunate. We had ourselves positioned just the way we wanted. We just didn't do the things we talk about."

    Even without starting quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. (lower-body injury), the Knights escaped with a win to remain undefeated at home. It was an amazing play that probably had a lot of Army folks around the country needing a break.

    But it was a win, nonetheless.

Loser: JT Daniels' Job Security as USC Quarterback

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    There's no question that freshman quarterback JT Daniels is the future of the quarterback position at Southern Cal, but is he the right man for the job right now?

    That's a question coach Clay Helton must ask in the coming weeks. But he may not have a choice next week after the first-year quarterback went down with a concussion in an eventual 41-28 loss to Utah that saw the Trojans blow an early lead.

    Matt Fink entered the game and completed six of his seven pass attempts for 43 yards and a touchdown. That was after Daniels threw for just 89 yards on 6-of-16 passing, which included two interceptions.

    It's been an up-and-down year for Daniels, which is understandable considering he reclassified to come out a year early and should be a senior in high school. He's proved he can make all the throws, but his immaturity too often shows in his decision-making.

    With goals like a berth in the Pac-12 championship game still attainable for the Trojans despite all the frustrations, youth and inexperience, do they continue to build and develop Daniels now? Or do they decide that Fink is the better choice to help them reach those heights this year?

    One quarter of football against the Utes isn't enough to crown Fink the starter or to yank Daniels. But it was a live-bullet audition, and Fink passed the test in a losing effort.

    With a big game looming against Arizona State next week, it's going to be interesting to see if Daniels is available. Do you rest him and not risk rushing him back, giving Fink an extended look? Or do you do whatever it takes and hope Daniels is back in the saddle?

    Just add it to the list of questions in a topsy-turvy year for the Trojans.

Winner: Those 'Other' Florida Schools

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    While the Power Five continues to see its marquee teams pile up losses, Central Florida and South Florida quietly sit there, undefeated, tiptoeing up the rankings and readying for a late-season showdown that may have even more ramifications than normal.

    Last year, there was plenty of buzz around UCF and its mythical self-awarded national championship. Would a two-year run of undefeated football get the Knights a look in the College Football Playoff?

    It's worth discussing at least.

    Ohio State's lopsided loss to Purdue late Saturday night showed the Buckeyes certainly aren't perfect, and Georgia getting dominated by LSU proved the Bulldogs aren't, either. A week before that happened, the Tigers had gone to Florida and lost.

    Any other year, you'd think those teams would make it in the playoff over a UCF team with a spotless record, but last year's run could have ramifications on this year, whether it should or not.

    South Florida is a little different. But the Bulls would have the same argument UCF did a season ago if it ran the table, including upending their Orlando neighbors.

    The Knights had no issues against East Carolina in a 37-10 thumping on Saturday to move to 7-0 this season. South Florida's 38-30 win over a hapless Connecticut team certainly didn't carry any bonus points, but wins are wins, and both the Knights and the Bulls are piling them up.

    Last year, South Florida slipped up against Houston to end any chances of a battle of the unbeatens at the end of the year, but it was still a classic that ended in a 49-42 UCF win. It looks like we may be on track for that to happen again this year.

    There are hurdles remaining, sure, but UCF and USF are both surviving and advancing.