College Football: Winners & Losers Week 8

Week 8 and we are well and truly into the season now and what a feeling it is, it feels like football has never been away! Some teams are looking ahead to the post season and some are just waiting for it to be over. Which encapsulates what we’re here for right now – Winners and losers, let’s get right into it…

Winners – Lee (@Wakefield90) 

Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins, Michigan Running Backs

Speaking of players who are the driving forces of their offense, I think it’s time I gave some love to Michigan – Not a team I am accustomed to loving but it’s undeniable that the Wolverines are having a great year, as they are another one of our unbeaten teams in college football.

The rushing attack has been really, really potent so far this year. I mean, it’s a good thing because the passing attack it, well… Sub-optimal.

Anyway, we’re talking winners here – Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins are about as potent of a running back duo as you’ll find in college football.

Corum has 729 yards on the ground whereas Haskins has 602, which has powered the Wolverines to an average of 253.3 yards per game, which is good for the fifth best in the nation – Which when you consider the service academies play triple option football, is fantastic going.

The Big Ten East is just about to heat up with Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State all about to play each other in the remaining weeks of the season.., Starting with Ohio State vs. Penn State and Michigan vs. Michigan State next week!

I fear that this Michigan side is a little one dimensional but with Corum and Haskins, they have a pair of backs who they can lean on and they opposition has to stop – Let’s see how far it gets them!

Arizona State

What a week for the Sun Devils. The guys from Tempe spent the week in the film room, as well as getting in some well deserved rest and recuperation and everyone in the Pac-12 South lost.

The Pac-12 North could also be classed as winners by the same token too – Oregon State, Oregon, Cal and Washington handed losses to Utah, UCLA, Colorado and Arizona respectively. In the South, USC also lost to Notre Dame making it a clean sweep of losses for the Pac-12 South, so at 5-2 and with a conference record of 3-1, Arizona State is now in the driving seat for the Pac-12 South and have a good shot at making it to the Pac-12 Championship Game.

The Sun Devils have games remaining against Washington State, USC, Washington, Oregon State and Arizona.

As always in the Pac-12 that looks tricky, but they can get the required amount of wins needed to make it, and after a week off they should be fresh and raring to go, buoyed after this weekend’s results. Arizona owns the tie-breaker with UCLA but not Utah, so as always out west, there is some jeopardy. Although some good news is that Utah and UCLA play each other next week, and Utah still has to play Oregon.

It’s all to play for, for Arizona State but they’re big winners this week.

Sam Hartman, QB, Wake Forest

Forget Kenny Pickett – Is Sam Hartman the best QB in the ACC right now? Wake Forest is certainly the best team and the Hartman-led offense is the driving force.

The Deacs have a top 5 scoring offense, they’re one of nine unbeaten teams and they’re coming off a weekend where they just put up 70 on Army.

Much like Pickett, Hartman is enjoying the season of his life with upticks in stats across the board, from pass completion percentage, to touchdowns to yard per attempt, and he is doing so whilst keeping negative plays to a minimum.

This weekend against Army, Hartman had 458 yards through the air, connecting for 5 passing touchdowns, he also picked up 22 yards on the ground and ran a score in too.

The Wake Forest QB was super-efficient, connecting on 23 of his 29 passes too, so it really was a career day for him, albeit not against a premium opponent.

Wake Forest has two rivalry games coming up next, firstly against Duke and then UNC the following week – If Hartman can navigate two more victories with two nice performances, I reckon he’ll be the next flavour of the month in terms of draftable QBs…

Photo Credit: Saturday Blitz

Losers – Andy (@AJMoore21)

Cincinnati Bearcats

Wait, what? Cincinnati are 7-0 and have beaten some good teams on their way to that record? Well, we’re only a few weeks away from the first playoff rankings of the year, and do you know what the committee will be looking for? Any excuse to keep the Bearcats out of the top four, that’s what.

At the weekend, Cincinnati really laboured to get past a Navy team that has only won once all season, and despite scoring 14 unanswered points in the third quarter, they only won by seven points. For any normal team that would be the last of it, job done after grinding out a win against a stubborn, poorer opponent. But Cincinnati are a different team, they’re vying to be the first AAC team to qualify for the college football playoff, and they’re doing it against a series of opponents who aren’t exactly highly ranked. 

Therefore they can’t afford to struggle against the likes of Navy, these are the games that they should be absolutely dominating. On Saturday they had to rely on a last minute interception to secure the victory, after the Midshipmen managed to recover an onside kick. Is the playoff committee going to look at this and think, that’s a team that should be in the final four over Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma or whoever it might be? Probably not, and that is why the Bearcats feature in the ‘loser’ column this week.

Penn State Nittany Lions

The UK is very lucky to get live college football on BT Sport, but occasionally there’s a game or two which are a slog to watch. Penn State and Illinois gave us one of those very games this weekend, as they ground out four quarters plus NINE rounds of overtime. It wasn’t just the ridiculously long overtime that was painful, but also the fact neither team could get the ball into the end zone.

In many ways the nine rounds were funny for the neutral fan, but for the Nittany Lions this was a really bad loss that will hurt their chances of a Big Ten title and all but rule them out of playoff contention. 

Photo Credit: Writing Illini

It was quite clear that Sean Clifford shouldn’t have been out there as he lacked his normal presence in the shotgun, but he can’t be blamed for this defeat. Instead, that honour goes to Penn State’s defense. Illinois were able to run for more than 300 yards, as Chase Brown had a huge breakout game (33 carries, 222 yards, TD) and the Nittany Lions just couldn’t find any way of slowing him down. 

The only saving grace for James Franklin’s men is that they now have the chance to be the creator of chaos for some of their highly rated Big Ten rivals. In their remaining five games they play Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State – who they play next weekend – there’s every chance they could dent at least one of those teams’ top 10 ambitions.

NC State Wolfpack

This one isn’t really a knock on NC State, more the fact that their loss to Miami on Saturday puts a huge dent in their ACC title aspirations. With ACC Atlantic rivals Wake Forest still to play, the Wolfpack really didn’t want to drop any conference games, but with the loss yesterday (and Wake Forest’s win) NC State now sit two games behind in the race to the championship game.

Interestingly, the Wolfpack started the year with a highly rated running game but in recent weeks both Zonovan Knight and Ricky Person Jr have struggled to make an impact. This culminated in Saturday night’s defeat, in which the one-two punch only managed 70 yards on the ground and Dave Doeren’s decision to focus on the passing game. Devin Leary slung the ball all over the park in a 310 yard appearance, but that lack of balance allowed Miami to clamp down – which is exactly how they won the game after a fourth down stop deep in the final quarter.

Miami’s stand-in starter Tyler Van Dyke is looking less and less like a stand-in as each week goes by, and it’s not controversial to say that his emergence might just save Manny Diaz’s job. They’ve got a tough matchup with Pittsburgh next week, which could also blow the ACC Coastal wide open if the ‘Canes can snatch a win. 

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