Week 8 shook up the college football rankings, so here are the takeaways from this weekend of football:
Ohio State Is Not What We Thought
Is it a tradition for Ohio State to go on the road and lose by double-digits to an unranked opponent? Because 2018 is the third-straight season in which this has happened. Ohio State went on the road to Purdue, who is not bad by any means, but they’re certainly not a conference juggernaut. The Buckeyes were ranked No. 2, but for a few weeks they’ve looked sloppy, especially on defense.
The offense ran almost completely through quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who completed 49-of-73 passing attempts for 470 yards. But the defense made David Blough look like former Boilermaker Drew Brees. Blough threw for 378 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Ohio State tumbled to No. 11 in the AP Poll and will likely need to win out and get help from elsewhere if they still have playoff aspirations.
Michigan Is The New Big Ten Favorite
With Ohio State tumbling, it looks like Michigan is the new favorite to win the division and the Big Ten Championship. Since their opening loss on the road to Notre Dame, the Wolverines have won seven games in a row and six of those have been by double digits.
And the theme of the season has been defense as seen Saturday versus Michigan State. The Wolverines held their rivals to just 94 yards total, including 79 yards passing and 15 yards on the ground. The Maize and Blue enter their bye week before hosting No. 17 Penn State at home. With just four games left in the regular season for the team, it looks like Michigan is the clear favorite to win the conference and possibly earn a playoff bid.
Clemson Will Make The Playoff
Since nearly losing to unranked Syracuse, Clemson’s reputation has taken a hit. Critics have said the Tigers haven’t played anybody, which is somewhat true. Only N.C. State, whom the Tigers beat 41-7 on Saturday, remains in the Top 25. But if they finish undefeated, they will make the playoff.
Freshman Trevor Lawrence has been hurt this season, but the phenom threw for 308 yards and no picks on Saturday. The defense did its’ job, too, forcing three turnovers. The Tigers don’t have any ranked opponents left on the schedule, and with Miami losing to Virginia, the Coastal Division isn’t likely to produce a ranked opponent. Clemson should run the table, and if they do the 2017 national champions are likely to make a return to the playoff once again.
LSU-Alabama Will Determine A Playoff Spot
With LSU and top-ranked Alabama both taking care of business on Saturday, both teams enter their bye weeks ahead of their matchup in Baton Rouge. And both teams are likely to be in the top five when that Saturday matchup comes.
LSU’s defense stood strong against Mississippi State on Saturday, and Tua Tagovailoa shined once again for Alabama as the Crimson Tide rolled Tennessee on the road. Now, we’re looking at a classic on Nov. 3. LSU is a perfect 5-0 at home this season, beating ranked opponents like Georgia and Mississippi State at Tiger Stadium in consecutive weeks. Alabama is Alabama, and they continue to blow out opponents and end the game by the second quarter. The smallest margin of victory for Alabama has been by 22 points against Texas A&M in September. Something has to give.
The college football season is entering the final third of the season, and the playoff contenders are emerging. But some are still not too far from that position. With another weekend of football on the horizon, we should truly learn more.