June 13, 2024

When you reach this point of the season, sometimes teams just have to hold on and get by winning any way they can.

It might be a feisty rivalry (TennesseeAlabama), the first true conference test (Penn StateOhio State), matchups with new conference-mates (UCFOklahoma; TexasHouston) or the last foreseeable matchup between two others (Arizona StateWashington). It’s Week 8, just make it through it.

Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington did just that. Iowa, North Carolina, and USC did not.

With all that in mind, here’s how the Power Rankings play out after Week 8 results:

Georgia hasn’t looked the part of a No. 1 team all that often in 2023, but that hardly matters: The Bulldogs have reached 7-0 despite a number of key injuries, and, with a bye week before the home stretch, they have a shot to get a little healthier. Star tight end Brock Bowers, perhaps the MVP of the team to date, is out four to six weeks with an ankle injury, but another key playmaker with a wonky ankle, tackle Amarius Mims, could return soon. Georgia faces a challenging stretch run — Florida (in Jacksonville), Missouri, Ole Miss, at Tennessee — and while the Dawgs have yet to play particularly well away from Athens, the one time they needed to absolutely show up this year (against unbeaten Kentucky in Week 6), they played by far their best game of the season. — Bill Connelly

Up next: vs. Florida in Jacksonville (12:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Wolverines held Michigan State to 51 total yards in the first half, with just 10 rushing yards. Michigan’s offense put up more than 300 yards in the first half in its 49-0 rout against the Spartans. Michigan has scored 30 or more points in 11 consecutive games now, which is the longest streak in program history. The Wolverines had some distractions this week with news breaking of an NCAA investigation regarding sign stealing, but it didn’t impact the play on the field. Backup quarterback Jack Tuttle was put in the game with five minutes remaining in the third quarter after J.J. McCarthy had thrown for 287 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. It was a nearly flawless night for Michigan against in-state rival Michigan State. — Tom VanHaaren

Up next: vs. Purdue, Nov. 4

It was ugly and nearly a disaster, but Washington still made enough plays to stay undefeated. This is a case where playing late at night on the West Coast benefits the Huskies. Most of the country was not awake to see Michael Penix Jr. struggle (season-low 275 yards passing, 2 INT, 0 TD) and the Huskies get outplayed in large stretches by a team with zero FBS wins this season. As bad as it was, UW’s first poor showing of the season still ended in a win. They’ll travel to Stanford next week before a brutal four-game stretch to end the season (at USC, Utah, at Oregon State, WSU). — Kyle Bonagura

Up next: at Stanford (7 p.m. ET, FS1)

Once again, the Seminoles needed a strong second-half performance to win — this time in a 38-20 victory over Duke. Florida State scored 21 unanswered points to rally from a 20-17 deficit. Quarterback Jordan Travis was a big reason why. Travis helped open up the running game with 10 carries for a season-high 62 yards and a score. He also threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns. The fourth-quarter performance was reminiscent of the season opener against LSU. Coach Mike Norvell would love nothing more than for his team to start fast and finish strong, but there are no complaints about sitting undefeated at this point in the season.— Andrea Adelson

Up next: at Wake Forest (Noon ET, ABC)

The Buckeyes’ path to victory this season is clearly different from past ones under coach Ryan Day. Ohio State’s defense has risen in its two biggest wins- – Sept. 23 at Notre Dame and Saturday against Penn State — while a banged-up offense does just enough. Coordinator Jim Knowles’ unit was spectacular against the Nittany Lions, stopping them on their first 12 third-down attempts and keeping them out of the end zone until the game’s final minute. Ohio State had four sacks, four quarterback hurries and six pass breakups, making things miserable for Penn State quarterback Drew Allar. J.T. Tuimoloau delivered in the fourth quarter for the second straight season against the Lions, while Josh Proctor continued his excellent play. The offense had its struggles but also had the best player on the field, wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., who accounted for 11 of the team’s 22 receptions, 162 of Ohio State’s 286 receiving yards and 10 of 22 first downs. This isn’t Day’s most dominant team, but Ohio State is 7-0 because of its defense and physicality. — Adam Rittenberg

Up next: at Wisconsin (7:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

The Sooners got gouged by big plays, mostly by misdirection, and needed a late two-minute stop to hold on against UCF, which fell to 0-4 in the Big 12. It was ugly at times, including giving up an 86-yard touchdown pass, but they held UCF to 397 total yards (they averaged 516.7 per game) and 149 rushing yards (they were third in the nation at 246.3 ypg). The Sooners also kicked their running game into gear with 132 yards on 27 carries in the second half alone. OU moved to 7-0 for the third time in the past five years, but afterward, Brent Venables said that Kansas will pose a similar offensive challenge for these Sooners next week, so they’ll have to fix those defensive discipline issues. — Dave Wilson

Up next: at Kansas (noon ET, Fox)

After suffering their first defeat of the season last week in heartbreaking fashion, Oregon responded with a convincing 38-24 win against Washington State in what will likely be the last meeting between the Northwest teams for a long time. Quarterback Bo Nix completed 18 of 25 passes for 293 yards in his 54th career NCAA start, which broke the record he previously shared with Boise State’s Kellen Moore and Texas’ Colt McCoy. The Ducks had a tough time slowing down WSU’s passing offense as Cam Ward threw for 438 yards, but the Cougars weren’t effectively able to turn that production into points. The Ducks will now turn their attention to a big game at Utah next week in a battle of one-loss Pac-12 teams. — Bonagura

Up next: at Utah (3:30 p.m. ET, Fox)

Similar to Oklahoma, the Longhorns had to fend off a Big 12 upstart — an old rival, Houston, in front of a sellout crowd in their first meeting since 2002 — to avoid an upset. Texas jumped out to a 21-0 lead, but had to hold on as the Cougars outgained Texas, 392-360, and had a chance to tie or win it with about a minute left, but Donovan Smith‘s pass on 4th-and-1 at the 9 was slightly behind his receiver and fell incomplete. Quinn Ewers exited early with an injury after taking a big hit on a scramble in the third quarter and was replaced by Maalik Murphy, who finished the game. Jonathon Brooks rushed for 99 yards, and freshman CJ Baxter added 42 on six carries, including a 16-yard TD that gave Texas the lead for good. — Wilson

Up next: vs. BYU (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Whatever Nick Saban said at halftime worked because the Crimson Tide, after trailing 20-7, went on to score 27 unanswered points and beat the Vols to enter the bye week on a high. Saban went as far as to run over to the student section and congratulate them on the victory. Jalen Milroe, who threw for 220 yards and two scores, did the same. The defense should’ve taken a bow as well, though. Chris Braswell, Malachi Moore and Kool-Aid McKinstry helped shut down Joe Milton III at the Tennessee passing game in the second half, giving Alabama fans hope for what lies ahead when LSU and star quarterback Jayden Daniels come to town in two weeks. — Alex Scarborough

Up next: vs. LSU, Nov. 4

The Beavers had a bye this week after a 36-24 win over UCLA. The team is 6-1 on the season and has three wins in a row, including a 21-7 win over Utah. Oregon State is getting a rest before it takes on Arizona, Colorado and Stanford. The toughest stretch will come at the end of the season, however, when they play at home against Washington, then on the road against Oregon to close out the season. With just one loss, Oregon State is still in the hunt for the Pac-12 Championship, but those final two games will be difficult to get through unscathed. — VanHaaren

Up next: at Arizona (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Kyle Whittingham continues to have Lincoln Riley’s number and Saturday’s 34-32 win over USC at the Coliseum may have been the most blatant proof of that fact. Without Cam Rising under center, Whittingham used Bryson Barnes and Sione Vaki (215 all-purpose yards) to perfection, outgaining USC’s offense by 81 yards while also limiting Caleb Williams and the rest of the unit to a subpar performance with the Utes’ steady defense. The win was yet another showcase of Utah’s continuity, culture and chemistry that they were able to beat the more talented Trojans on their home turf, while keeping their own Pac-12 title hopes alive. With Rising officially out for the year, there’s plenty of reason to think Whittingham’s team won’t get to Las Vegas, but as they’ve shown in recent weeks, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they did. — Paolo Uggetti

Up next: vs. Oregon (3:30 p.m. ET, Fox)

Coaches love to see their team take over the second half of a game, especially on the road, and that’s what most pleased Lane Kiffin on Saturday night. His Ole Miss Rebels turned a 14-14 halftime tie into a two-touchdown lead and won 28-21 over Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium. It’s the first time Ole Miss has won in back-to back seasons over Auburn since 1951 and 1952. Quarterback Jaxson Dart continues to play outstanding football for the Rebels. He had 246 yards in total offense and three touchdowns. Running back Quinshon Judkins rushed for 124 yards and a fourth quarter touchdown. He’s had 100-yard rushing games in two of his last three outings. — Chris Low

Up next: vs. Vanderbilt (7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network)

There’s no other way to put it for Penn State. It was about as ugly as it gets on offense in a 20-12 loss on the road to Ohio State. Quarterback Drew Allar really struggled, but in his defense, nobody played well around him on offense, and some of the playcalling didn’t put him in the best position to succeed. The Nittany Lions finished a woeful 1-for-16 on third down and never had any success moving the ball until a meaningless touchdown drive at the end of the game. Penn State (6-1, 3-1) has to find a way to generate more explosive plays in the passing game if it’s going to beat Michigan at home on Nov. 11. The good news for the Nittany Lions is that they’re stout on defense, which is why they were able to hang around Saturday at Ohio Stadium. James Franklin’s club still has an excellent chance to get to double-digit wins, but has to figure out some things on offense to get back in the Big Ten race. — Low

Up next: vs. Indiana (Noon ET, CBS)

After eight games in eight weeks, beginning with a Week 0 trip to Ireland, Notre Dame took the first of what will be two byes in four weeks, and after laboring for weeks, they finished their pre-bye period on a high note with a defense-driven 48-20 win over USC. The Irish recorded three interceptions and six sacks of defending Heisman winner Caleb Williams. The offense … well … it did enough. Notre Dame averaged just 5.1 yards per play — only Nevada has managed a lower average against the Trojans in 2023 — and Sam Hartman threw for just 126 yards on 13 completions. Good feelings aside, the offense has been an issue for most of the season. The bye week and next week’s matchup with Pitt should give them a chance to figure out some answers before a potentially season-defining trip to Clemson. — Connelly

Up next: vs. Pittsburgh (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

Talk about leaving no doubt. The final score — LSU 62, Army 0 — only told part of the story. The Tigers racked up 570 yards of offense, including 6.1 yards per rush and 13.7 yards per pass. On defense, they forced four turnovers, allowed only 42 yards passing and had five tackles for loss. Meanwhile, Jayden Daniels continued to build on his Heisman credentials with four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing). Riding a three game winning streak, LSU is playing its best football going into the bye week with a Nov. 4 trip to Alabama to follow. — Scarborough

Up next: at Alabama, Nov. 4

If it works, keep doing it. Cody Schrader rushed 26 times for 159 yards and two touchdowns, and Missouri beat up South Carolina, 34-12, to move to 7-1 for the first time since 2013. Quarterback Brady Cook wasn’t asked to do as much as normal — he threw 24 times for 198 yards and rushed nine times for 62 — but Schrader, the former Division II All-American, was relentless, as was a Tigers pass rush that sacked the Gamecocks’ Spencer Rattler six times. Mizzou took a 24-0 lead in the second quarter and survived a stagnant second half to win comfortably. Now comes a bye week, followed by a massive Week 10 trip to Georgia for control of the SEC East. The last time the Tigers beat the Bulldogs? Also 2013. Just saying. — Connelly

Up next: at Georgia, Nov. 4

Coach Mack Brown warned his team against eating “poisonous cheese” this week, knowing full well that his Tar Heels have not handled success well since his arrival. In what has become typical North Carolina fashion, the Tar Heels unexpectedly lost a game as a heavy favorite, as 24-point underdog Virginia won 31-27. Just like last season, North Carolina could not capitalize on an undefeated start to the season. What had been an improved North Carolina defense gave up 228 yards rushing to one of the worst rushing teams in the country. Virginia came into the game averaging less than 100 yards rushing per game. While North Carolina was able to move the ball, the Tar Heels went 4-of-13 on third down. Drake Maye was not as efficient, either, only completing 50 percent of his passes. — Adelson

Up next: at Georgia Tech (8 p.m. ET, ACC Network)

Ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time in four years and off to a 7-0 start for the first time since 1997, Air Force isn’t letting up. Quarterback Zac Larrier, a game-time decision after injuring his knee in last week’s win over Wyoming, showed little rust for the Falcons by completing 4 of 5 five passes for 151 yards, highlighted by a 94-yard touchdown pass to Dane Kinamon — the longest pass play by a service academy school on record. For the first time in 47 games, Air Force’s offense didn’t rush for at least 150 yards (137) and survived going 1-of-13 on third down. Its defense buckled down, as well, limiting Navy to 124 total yards (20 in the first half) and permitting only three third-down conversions on 17 attempts. With a Nov. 15 game looming with UNLV, the only team over .500 left on their schedule, can the Falcons begin dreaming about the program’s first unbeaten season since finishing 9-0-2 in 1958? — Blake Baumgartner

Up next: at Colorado State (7 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

Louisville had the week off to stew over what went wrong in the second half against Pittsburgh last week. Despite having a 430-288 edge in total yards against the Panthers, the Cardinals’ first 6-0 start in 10 years came to a halt in a lopsided loss. Turnovers have become an issue for Louisville. In two of their past three games they’ve had three turnovers. QB Jack Plummer (1,901 passing yards, 13 TDs, eight interceptions) was picked off twice by both NC State and Pittsburgh. Louisville’s defense, which sits in the ACC’s top five in both total and scoring defense, must remain opportunistic (eight interceptions). The Duke game on Oct. 28 begins a three-game homestand that will determine whether Louisville (6-1, 3-1 ACC) can fight its way back up the conference leaderboard. — Baumgartner

Up next: vs. Duke (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Quarterback Michael Pratt came to the rescue at the exact right time for Tulane, which was on the cusp of squandering a big lead. Already having seen a pair of 21-point advantages go by the wayside, Pratt’s 19-yard TD run with 2:34 left in regulation eventually pulled the Green Wave out of the fire as Willie Fritz’s team came away with a fifth straight victory. Pratt accounted for 264 total yards (194 passing yards) and four total touchdowns (three passing), connecting with tight end Alex Bauman for two scores. Freshman running back Makhi Hughes (121 rushing yards, one touchdown) continued to find his stride, eclipsing the 100-yard mark for a third straight week and paced a 245-yard rushing attack for Tulane, which has churned out at least 400 total yards (439) for the fourth straight week and for the fifth time this season. — Baumgartner

Up next: at Rice (4 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Quarterback Riley Leonard gave it his best shot on an injured right ankle, starting the game against Florida State. But once he left the game after reinjuring it on a sack, the Blue Devils’ fortunes changed. Duke led 20-17 late in the third quarter, but after failing to punch it in on fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line behind backup quarterback Henry Belin IV, Florida State took over. The Seminoles scored on a 96-yard drive, then stymied Duke offensively for the rest of the game. Duke finished with just eight completions, and the physicality on the offensive and defensive lines wore down as the game wore on. — Adelson

Up next: at Louisville (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Josh Heupel and the coaching staff are going to stew on this loss to Alabama for a while. That’s what happens when you blow a 13-point halftime lead on the road, fail to score a point in the second half and give up 27 unanswered points. Instead of winning two straight against one of your top rivals, you’re sent back to the drawing board to figure out why the defense, which had pressured Jalen Milroe so well during the first half, let off the gas, and why the offense couldn’t move the ball consistently, especially through the air. Going on the road to Kentucky after a loss like this could spell trouble. — Scarborough

Up next: at Kentucky (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

The Dukes’ veteran defensive line continued to show why it’s one of the nation’s best, limiting Marshall to nine points, zero offensive points, 10 first downs and minus-4 net rushing yards in a key road win. Jalen Green tied JMU’s single-game record with five sacks, while Jamree Kromah added 1.5 sacks. The Dukes finished with eight total sacks and 15 tackles for loss. The Dukes held an opponent to a negative rushing total for the second time this season, and outgained Marshall 405-169. Reggie Brown recorded his second 100-yard receiving performance, catching six passes for 126 yards and a 28-yard score early in the fourth quarter to extend JMU’s lead to 20-2. Marshall’s only scores came on a safety and a kickoff return touchdown. Led by Green, 10 different Dukes defenders contributed at least a half tackle for loss. — Rittenberg

Up next: vs. Old Dominion (8 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

For the third straight game against Utah, coach Lincoln Riley and USC could not engineer a much-needed victory. Following their first loss of the season to Notre Dame, the Trojans looked improved, but not by much. USC allowed the Utes to execute their game plan and win the possession battle by 10 minutes while outgaining USC by 81 yards. Caleb Williams looked like a shell of his Heisman self, throwing for only 256 yards and zero touchdowns. And the USC defense committed its customary mistakes, allowing big plays on the ground, including a 23-yard rush by Utah quarterback Bryson Barnes to set up the game-winning field goal. Riley will say the Trojans still have plenty to play for with two losses (one of them in conference), but the uphill climb to a Pac-12 title game is steep, and there is only so much USC can improve upon during the season. — Uggetti

Up next: at Cal (4 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)

Coach Chip Kelly made a change at quarterback, switching back to junior Ethan Garbers from true freshman Dante Moore. It appeared to be the right move as Garbers looked in control, connecting on 20 of 28 passes for 240 yards with a pair of touchdown passes as UCLA routed Stanford, 42-7. The Bruins scored the game’s first 35 points and didn’t allow Stanford to replicate its comeback against Colorado from a week ago. UCLA hosts Colorado this week with a chance to become bowl eligible. — Bonagura

Up next: vs. Colorado (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

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