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When a place as storied as Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is overflowing with fans rushing the field to celebrate with their team, you know it’s a wacky college football day.
That was the scene after No. 13 LSU trounced No. 2 Georgia 36-16 in the afternoon to set the tone for a day that would see four of the AP’s Top Eight teams go down.
Yes, this is about the time of year that we get a patented Shake-up Saturday, and the Week 7 slate didn’t disappoint. The parity beyond No. 1 Alabama is evident.
The Crimson Tide continued to roll in a 39-10 win over Missouri, but they were banged up in the process. Heisman Trophy front-runner Tua Tagovailoa left with a leg injury, and receiver Henry Ruggs III rolled his right ankle. In addition, defensive lineman Raekwon Davis somehow avoided an ejection after throwing punches.
It’s college football, after all, and this season continues to be wild. What’s next? It’ll be something that surprises us all, but let’s take a look at the rankings since the smoke’s cleared. All we know is we don’t know much.
Bleacher Report’s panel of experts—Matt Hayes, David Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller, Brad Shepard and Ian Wharton—tried to sort everything once again. A first-place vote is worth 25 points, followed by 24 points for second, 23 for third, etc.
Here is our Week 8 poll:
1. Alabama (last week: 1)
2. Clemson (4)
3. Ohio State (3)
4. Notre Dame (5)
5. LSU (13)
6. Georgia (2)
7. Michigan (14)
8. Texas (10)
9. Oklahoma (11)
10. UCF (8)
11. Oregon (19)
12. Florida (12)
13. West Virginia (6)
14. Kentucky (18)
15. NC State (20)
16. Penn State (7)
17. Texas A&M (21)
18. Washington (9)
19. Cincinnati (22)
20. Colorado (16)
21. Wisconsin (15)
22. Iowa (25)
23. South Florida (24)
24. Stanford (NR)
25. Appalachian State (NR)
Others receiving votes: Washington State, Mississippi State, San Diego State, Houston, Utah State, Miami, Texas Tech, Duke, Michigan State
Who’s Hot: Michigan Wolverines
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It’s not easy to upstage Central Florida’s 19-game winning streak, but after the Knights’ dicey 31-30 win over rival Memphis on Saturday, college football’s biggest style points go to the Michigan Wolverines.
How about Jim Harbaugh’s team?
After that season-opening clunker against Notre Dame, the Wolverines have reeled off six consecutive wins. Other than a narrow road escape against Northwestern two weeks ago, they’ve looked brilliant doing it, too.
They hosted No. 15 Wisconsin in the Big House on Saturday night and dominated them 38-13, continuing their mastery of Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook, who would probably love nothing more than to forget his career against Michigan.
Brett McMurphy @Brett_McMurphy
Updated: Hornibrook now has 3 TD passes & 9 INTs vs. Michigan & Ohio State https://t.co/ISA3j2Htd7
He entered the game having thrown four picks in two starts against the Wolverines, and their sterling defense got him twice more in by far the worst game of his career. UM quarterback Shea Patterson and running back Karan Higdon had great outings, but the Wolverines defense was the story.
By the time backup quarterback Dylan McCaffrey channeled his brother, Christian, and raced 44 yards for a score to help make it 38-7, it was a laugher. But Michigan’s form is no joking matter to the rest of the Big Ten.
After losing to the Irish, the Wolverines won 49-3 over Western Michigan, 45-20 over SMU, 56-10 over Nebraska, 20-17 over Northwestern and 42-21 over Maryland. Then came Saturday’s lopsided win.
Next weekend, the stakes will get higher against rival Michigan State. Then, following a bye week, they’ll host Penn State. It’ll continue to be tested, but Harbaugh’s team is playing at a high level.
Who’s Not: Top 10 teams
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The afternoon wave of games gave us yet another exciting slate of upsets in a season that is shaping up to be wackier than usual.
In the span of a few moments, No. 2 Georgia, No. 7 Washington and No. 8 Penn State all lost.
Iowa State walloped No. 6 West Virginia late to complete the day’s forgettable (or memorable, depending on who you are) slate of games.
The Bulldogs went to Death Valley and saw their offense die a slow, painful death with quarterback Jake Fromm at the helm in a thorough 36-16 loss to LSU a week after the Tigers flopped at Florida.
A week after his best game of the year against Vanderbilt, Fromm struggled mightily against LSU, completing just 16 of 34 passes for 209 yards, one score and two interceptions.
Last year, coach Kirby Smart turned to Fromm when Jacob Eason hurt his knee in Week 1, and you have to wonder if the clamoring for a longer look at dual-threat freshman Justin Fields is coming.
Ryan McGee @ESPNMcGee
Kirby Smart on Fromm vs Fields. “It’s easy to question it now & we’ll look at just like everyone else…We’ll always go with the guy that we think gives us the best chance to win. But let’s not pin mistakes on guy tonight. There were plenty of mistakes to go around.” https://t.co/lVuxrK0lkF
For all the fiery comments Penn State coach James Franklin had about becoming an “elite team” following the Nittany Lions’ close loss to Ohio State a few weeks back, they didn’t even look like a good one against Michigan State.
The Spartans pulled off perhaps the day’s most shocking upset with a 21-17 win. Brian Lewerke found Felton Davis III for a 25-yard touchdown with 19 seconds left to stun the Nittany Lions and end their chances of making the College Football Playoff.
Speaking of the playoff, Oregon perhaps stifled an entire conference’s chances with its 30-27 overtime upset of Washington. The No. 8 Huskies had been playing as well defensively as anybody in the nation, but the Ducks solved it throughout.
Running back CJ Verdell’s six-yard scoring rush capped a 111-yard performance, and UO celebrated on the field. The Pac-12 is done—at least regarding the playoff.
Fun Fact: Alabama’s quick-start offense is incredible
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As if the facts that Tua Tagovailoa was flinging darts all over the field, the stable of running backs was embarrassing defenses left and right and the Crimson Tide were winning games by an average of more than 40 points per game entering the weekend weren’t enough, check this out.
It took 23 seconds for Tagovailoa to hit receiver Jerry Jeudy for an 81-yard touchdown Saturday night to help give Alabama a 7-0 lead over Missouri in a game the Tide eventually dominated 39-10.
It was the sophomore quarterback’s 19th touchdown pass of the year. At the time, he had just 26 incompletions the entire season.
Just how incredible has Alabama’s offense been? The numbers are staggering, but it starts as quickly as possible, too. In all seven of the Tide’s games, they’ve scored a touchdown on the opening drive.
Those drives are averaging 1 minute, 41 seconds. In other words, almost before you blink, you’re beat.
Jeudy got matched up with a safety while facing Mizzou’s struggling secondary, and things escalated quickly. That’s been the norm against the quick-strike Tide, who have trailed for just 70 seconds all season.
What to Watch For: More Upsets?
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Why not? It’s been college football’s M.O. the past two years, hasn’t it?
Let’s look at three possibilities and two other big battles.
Michigan at Michigan State
You can always count on coach Mark Dantonio’s Spartans to pull off some ridiculous upsets, even when you think they’re left for dead. It happened Saturday when they scored late to topple Penn State, and everybody knows that wasn’t even the game they had circled on their calendars.
That one comes next week when they host Michigan. Can they do it twice in a row? Of course they can.
NC State at Clemson
It’ll be tough to beat Clemson when it’s coming off a bye week, but the good news for the Wolfpack is they are, too. Coach Dave Doeren’s team is a surprising 5-0, and this game will be for control of the ACC Atlantic Division. Is it likely NC State wins? Nah, but when has the “likely” happened in college football?
Ohio State at Purdue
Quarterback David Blough has the Boilermakers as hot as anybody in the Big Ten, and Ohio State hasn’t been blowing out opponents the past few weeks. This one has danger zone written all over it in West Lafayette, Indiana. OSU had better be on upset alert, because the Buckeyes will have to score some points to pull this one off.
Others worth watching
Colorado at Washington
The Buffalo magic ended in Los Angeles on Saturday night with a loss to USC, but Colorado is still a good team with a lot of playmakers. Washington suffered its own disappointing defeat in an overtime setback to Oregon. The loser of this game will see its Pac-12 title game hopes dwindle, so it’s important.
We’ll see which team responds to adversity.
Mississippi State at LSU
If you’re having a difficult time pinpointing LSU, join the club. The Tigers were sluggish in a road loss to Florida for their first setback of the year Oct. 6 and followed it by destroying No. 2 Georgia.
Coach Ed Orgeron’s team is good, but how good? We will know a little more when a fellow Jekyll and Hyde SEC squad travels to Baton Rouge next week. Mississippi State beat Auburn to get back on track, and then had a bye week. Coach Joe Moorhead’s team is capable of pulling off the upset, but LSU is playing at a high level.