And then there were six.
After another week of upsets, close calls and blowout wins only six undefeated teams remain in college football this season. Previously unbeatens Ole Miss, UCLA and Syracuse all were upended Saturday and the results shuffled up Week 8’s Power Rankings.
Still, the top of the rankings remain solid as Ohio State, Tennessee and Clemson all won and Georgia and Michigan enjoyed bye weeks.
The College Football Playoff picture is beginning to take shape, so what better time than now to check out this week’s rankings.
The Buckeyes’ defense is clearly better under new coordinator Jim Knowles, although overwhelming Iowa’s historically bad offense doesn’t mean much. Safety Tanner McCalister recorded an interception on the first play, and end Zach Harrison, linebackers Tommy Eichenberg and Cody Simon, safety Lathan Ransom and others shined for Ohio State, which recorded six takeaways and allowed only 158 yards in a 54-10 win. The defensive bonanza helped C.J. Stroud and a Buckeyes offense that looked rusty following the open week and struggled to run the ball. Wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba‘s health remains a concern but Ohio State has more than enough with Emeka Egbuka, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Julian Fleming. — Adam Rittenberg
Up next: at Penn State (Saturday, noon ET, Fox)
C.J. Stroud passes to Julian Fleming for 79-yard Ohio State touchdown.
With the exception of a close call at Missouri, it has been smooth sailing for Georgia during the first half of the season. Oregon was no contest. Neither were South Carolina, Auburn or Vanderbilt. But we’ll find out more about the Bulldogs’ championship hopes coming out of an off week as they play Florida in Jacksonville next Saturday and host No. 3 Tennessee the following week. Defending Gators’ quarterback Anthony Richardson could be an interesting tuneup before the Vols’ Hendon Hooker. — Alex Scarborough
Up next: vs. Florida (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)
There’s no slowing down the Vols’ offensive juggernaut, as they scored 34 or more points for the seventh straight game Saturday in a 65-24 rout of FCS foe UT-Martin. The Vols led 52-7 at halftime — their most points ever in a half — and quarterback Hendon Hooker broke a school record by throwing a touchdown pass for the 19th straight game. Jalin Hyatt caught two more touchdown passes after catching five last week against Alabama, and the Vols finished the game with 696 yards of offense. — Chris Low
Up next: vs. Kentucky (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN app)
Michigan had a bye this week after beating No. 10 Penn State 41-17 at home. The Wolverines offense had 418 rush yards and four touchdowns on the ground, led by Donovan Edwards and Blake Corum, who each had two touchdowns. The team gets a week of rest before taking on in-state rival Michigan State, a team that has struggled this season. The game will be played in Ann Arbor, and the Spartans are hoping to spoil Michigan’s undefeated season. — Tom VanHaaren
Up next: vs. Michigan State (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN app)
The Tigers turned to backup quarterback Cade Klubnik to rally them to a 27-21 win over Syracuse in a game that was far from perfect. DJ Uiagalelei had three turnovers, sending him to the bench with Clemson down 21-10. Klubnik only threw four passes, but the offense settled down and relied on its powerful rushing game to take control. Clemson had 60 rushing attempts for 293 yards, both season highs, in its first comeback victory led by a backup quarterback since Chase Brice did it against Syracuse in 2018. Clemson won with a minus-3 turnover margin for the first time since 2012. The defense, meanwhile, held Syracuse without a score in the second half and limited Sean Tucker to five carries. Clemson has won 38 straight at home, an ACC record. — Andrea Adelson
Up next: BYE
Bryce Young threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Will Anderson Jr. had a sack. But maybe the most promising development for Alabama during its 30-6 win over Mississippi State on Saturday was the play of the secondary. A week after getting torched by Tennessee, the Alabama pass defense broke up 15 passes and held Will Rogers to 50% completions and no touchdowns. — Scarborough
Up next: BYE
For the second straight week, TCU was down 11 points at halftime, then rallied to beat a top-20 opponent. The Horned Frogs held the Kansas State offense scoreless in the second half, a week after shutting down Oklahoma State in somewhat similar fashion. Max Duggan threw touchdown passes to three different receivers and Kendre Miller torched the Wildcats for 280 yards and two touchdowns as the Frogs’ magical season rolls on, with wins over four straight ranked opponents for the first time in school history. — Dave Wilson
Up next: at West Virginia (Saturday, TBD)
Since losing to Georgia by 46 points in Dan Lanning’s debut as Oregon head coach, the Ducks have dominated, and Saturday against an undefeated UCLA team was no different. Thanks to a surprise onside kick in the second quarter and a picture-perfect performance from Bo Nix (six incompletions, five touchdowns), Oregon trounced the Bruins to cement its position as a top contender in the conference with an offense that looked as unstoppable as it did balanced. — Paolo Uggetti
Up next: at Cal (Saturday, TBD)
Bo Nix slings five touchdowns to lead Oregon to a 45-30 victory over UCLA in a top-10 showdown.
A week ago, Oklahoma State blew a 14-point lead and lost its unbeaten record against TCU. On Saturday, the Cowboys turned the tables. They trailed Texas by 14 in the second quarter and by 10 in the third but scored the game’s last 17 points to pull off a huge conference win 41-34. Spencer Sanders threw for 391 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns, and the Pokes’ defense held the Longhorns’ Quinn Ewers to 8-for-25 passing with two interceptions in the second half. Bryson Green‘s 41-yard catch and run with 3:09 left provided the winning margin, and OSU made two late stops to move to 6-1, 3-1 in conference. — Bill Connelly
Up next: at Kansas State (Saturday, TBD)
A bye week for the Trojans came at a bittersweet time. After dropping a close one to Utah on the road for their first loss of the season, some on the team wished they could have been able to play immediately and right the wrongs that led them astray against the Utes. On the other hand, the break gives the players an ideal post-loss reprieve to recharge and get ready for a second half that will need to be near-perfect for USC to have a chance in Lincoln Riley’s first year as head coach to, at the very least, compete for the Pac-12 championship. — Uggetti
Up next: at Arizona (Saturday, 6 p.m. ET, TBD)
Wake Forest easily took care of business against Boston College through the air while cruising to a 36-15 victory Saturday. Sam Hartman, the Demon Deacons’ junior quarterback, completed 25 of 40 passes for 313 yards and five touchdowns. With Hartman spreading the wealth, a pair of sophomore wide receivers, Jahmal Banks and Taylor Morin, combined for 11 receptions for 147 yards and caught two touchdowns apiece. For the sixth time this year, the Demon Deacons amassed at least 400 yards of offense (428). The defense permitted 56 rushing yards as Wake Forest won its third straight game since losing to Clemson last month. — Blake Baumgartner
Up next: at Louisville (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network/ESPN app)
The Nittany Lions bounced back after the loss to Michigan, beating Minnesota 45-17. Quarterback Sean Clifford threw for 295 yards and four touchdowns, giving him his fifth game with four passing touchdowns, which is the most in Penn State history. Freshman running back Nick Singleton had two touchdowns and 79 yards on 13 carries. Despite allowing 340 yards, the Penn State defense only gave up 17 points in a much-needed win. — VanHaaren
Up next: vs. Ohio State (Saturday, noon ET, Fox)
The undefeated UCLA train that was burning through the tracks in recent weeks, beating Washington and Utah, came to an abrupt halt Saturday as the Bruins couldn’t do anything to stop the Oregon offense. Not even score enough themselves. After three straight games of scoring 40 points or more, quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and the rest of the Bruins’ offensive unit looked helpless in a tough road environment that included a sold-out crowd, rain, a difficult defensive matchup and their first loss of the season. — Uggetti
Up next: vs. Stanford (Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN app)
After a huge, emotional win last week against USC to stay in the Pac-12 race, Utah didn’t play this week in advance of the last five games of the regular season. At its best, Utah might be the top team in the conference, but that team didn’t show up twice this year — at Florida to open the season, then at the Rose Bowl against UCLA this month. As expected, QB Cam Rising has been excellent, while cornerback Clark Phillips III and tight end Dalton Kincaid have been playing at All-American levels. — Kyle Bonagura
Up next: at Washington State (Thursday, 10 p.m. ET, FS1)
The Rebels started on fire offensively and jumped out to a 17-3 lead. But it was all LSU after that, as Ole Miss’ defense simply couldn’t stop the Tigers’ balanced offense. LSU, in winning 45-20, piled up 420 of its 500 yards of offense in the last three quarters to hand the Rebels their first loss of the season. Ole Miss was without running back Zach Evans, who missed the game with a knee injury. But even with Evans, Ole Miss would have been hard-pressed to keep up with an LSU offense that seems to be finding its stride. Once Ole Miss fell behind, LSU loaded up and came after quarterback Jaxson Dart, who completed just 10 of his final 24 attempts. — Low
Up next: at Texas A&M (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network/ESPN app)
Coach Bret Bielema has needed less than two seasons to craft a team that reflects his core principles of run-heavy offense, stout defense and formidable line-of-scrimmage play. Running back Chase Brown has put himself on the fringes of the Heisman Trophy conversation, leading the FBS in rushing (1,059 yards), 100-yard rushing performances (7), runs of 10 yards or more (33) and other categories. The Illini defense leads the nation in points allowed (8.9 PPG) and yards allowed (221 YPG) and dominates the other key categories. An open week allowed Illinois to bask in already being bowl-eligible and rest up for a Big Ten West Division title push that few outside Champaign thought possible in August. — Rittenberg
Up next: at Nebraska (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, TBD)
The Wildcats had a bye week after coming off perhaps their most complete game of the season in a 27-17 win over Mississippi State on Oct. 15. A 5-2 record could easily be t7-0, but Kentucky committed a litany of mistakes in a 22-19 loss at Ole Miss and was anemic offensively without quarterback Will Levis in a 24-14 home loss to South Carolina. Protecting the quarterback has been an issue all season. The Wildcats have allowed 26 sacks in seven games. Getting leading rusher Chris Rodriguez back for the past three games has helped, as he ran the ball 31 times for 197 yards in the win over Mississippi State. The defense has played well enough for the Wildcats to be unbeaten. They’ve allowed just 12 touchdowns in seven games, tying them for 12th nationally in TDs allowed. — Low
Up next: at Tennessee (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN app)
The Wildcats withstood the loss of starting quarterback Adrian Martinez, who went out after just two pass attempts and one run for 19 yards, thanks to Will Howard‘s valiant relief effort, throwing two touchdowns. But after Howard helped K-State build a 28-17 lead, TCU held the Wildcats scoreless in the second half, with two missed field goals and an interception by third-string QB Jake Rubley on his first attempt after Howard left for a bit after getting banged up himself. — Wilson
Up next: vs. Oklahoma State (Saturday, TBD)
Quentin Johnston hauls in a great catch as TCU retakes the lead over Kansas State.
The Orange blew an 11-point halftime lead against Clemson, and they can count multiple missed opportunities as reasons why. Syracuse could not capitalize on two second-half Clemson turnovers. Multiple 15-yard penalties on the defense on the Clemson touchdown drive to make it 21-16 also hurt, though one of them was a questionable late-hit call. With one final chance to win, Garrett Shrader threw an interception. The offense simply could not get anything going in the second half, as both Shrader and running back Sean Tucker were ineffective and the defense ended up on the field far too long. Clemson held the ball nearly eight minutes longer. — Adelson
Up next: vs. Notre Dame (Saturday, noon ET, TBD)
Jayden Daniels‘ timing couldn’t be better for LSU. He has played his best two games the past two weeks at quarterback, and the Tigers have rebounded nicely after an embarrassing blowout loss at home to Tennessee. They rallied from an early 17-3 deficit Saturday to rout Ole Miss 45-20. Daniels ran for three touchdowns and passed for two more as the Tigers rolled up 500 yards in offense. Daniels’ performance comes on the heels of a six-touchdown showing in a 45-35 win over Florida. — Low
Up next: BYE
With senior quarterback Ben Bryant working his way back from a concussion, Cincinnati relied on its running game and special teams to squeeze out a 29-27 win over SMU in Dallas on Saturday. The Bearcats’ sixth consecutive victory and record-tying 19th straight AAC win was spearheaded by senior Charles McClelland‘s 129 rushing yards and a career-high five field goals from junior Ryan Coe. Senior cornerback Arquon Bush had an interception in the first quarter that set up Coe’s first field goal. Senior Ryan Montgomery and McClelland both had first-half touchdown runs. — Baumgartner
Up next: at UCF (Saturday, TBD)
North Carolina headed into its open week sitting 10th in the country in total offense at 506 yards per game. Redshirt freshman quarterback Drake Maye (70.1% completions, 2,283 yards, 24 touchdowns) has been a revelation for Mack Brown & Co. Maye has tossed at least three TDs in five games. The Tar Heels, averaging 41.7 points, are the only undefeated team left in the ACC Coastal as they continue to train their eyes on the program’s first ACC championship game appearance since 2015. — Baumgartner
Up next: vs. Pitt (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, TBD)
Tulane played a nearly perfect first half, and it was just enough. The Green Wave led Memphis 35-0 at halftime, then held on for dear life to win 38-28 on a lovely Saturday afternoon in New Orleans. Jha’Quan Jackson‘s 90-yard touchdown highlighted the Green Wave’s early explosion, and Tyjae Spears‘ 125 rushing yards paced the offense. Memphis scored on four consecutive possessions in the second half, but Tulane still moved to 7-1 and 4-0 in AAC play. After a 2-10 collapse in 2021, Willie Fritz’s Green Wave have been one of the great turnaround stories of the season. — Connelly
Up next: BYE
Late in the first half against No. 5 Clemson on Oct. 1, then-No. 10 NC State scored to go ahead 10-6. In that moment, it might have been tempting to start thinking big about 2022. Oh, what might have been. It was NC State’s last lead of the game and since then the offense has been MIA, including during a 24-9 loss to Syracuse prior to this week’s bye. — Bonagura
Up next: vs. Virginia Tech (Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN app)
Beating Texas A&M doesn’t resonate as much as it should, but credit the Gamecocks for an opportunistic performance on a night when their offense wasn’t at its best. South Carolina’s special teams received a huge lift from Xavier Legette, who opened the game with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and recorded a key tackle on kick coverage in the fourth quarter. The Gamecocks jumped ahead 17-0 and never lost the lead, even when their offense went cold in the second quarter. Cornerback Darius Rush (interception, forced fumble) had a huge performance as South Carolina won a fourth straight game for the first time since 2013, when it finished with six consecutive victories. — Rittenberg
Up next: vs. Missouri (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, SEC Network/ESPN app)
College football Power Rankings after Week 8
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