Week 8 is in the books and the latest Associated Press poll has been released. As we do every Monday LTSB breaks down the weekend that was for the AP’s top 10 schools.
1. Alabama (7-0) – Another week, another win for ‘Bama. The Tennessee Volunteers were the victims this time around as the Tide had an easy day at Neyland Stadium and left with a 44-13 victory. Just about everything was working offensively. AJ McCarron threw for a career-high 306 yards and four touchdowns. Freshman Amari Cooper was on the receiving end of 162 of those yards and two of McCarron’s touchdowns. Alabama averaged 5.2 yards per carry on the ground, led by TJ Yeldon’s 129 yards and two scores. Vols quarterback Tyler Bray had his least effective game of the season. Going up against the nation’s best defense tends to make that happen. Tennessee goes as Bray goes, hence the final score.
2. Oregon (7-0) – The Ducks had the prime time stage on Thursday night and made good use of it by beating Arizona State 43-21. Don’t let the score fool you. This game wasn’t remotely close. The Sun Devils went up 7-0 after an early Oregon fumble. Then Oregon reeled off 43 unanswered points to close the first half and it was a wrap after that. The Ducks racked up 454 yards of offense, 406 of them coming on the ground. Kenjon Barner ran for 143 and three touchdowns. Quarterback Marcus Mariota had 135, including an 86-yard score. He even caught a touchdown pass. The defense forced four turnovers and is now tied for third in FBS with 14 interceptions. Getting the ball back to Chip Kelly’s offense is a good recipe for success.
3. Florida (7-0) – The South Carolina Gamecocks went to The Swamp looking to put a 23-21 loss to LSU behind them with a win over Will Muschamp’s Gators. That didn’t happen. Florida was less than hospitable and sent Steve Spurrier’s guys home with a 44-11 loss to think about. Quarterback Jeff Driskel tossed four touchdowns but only had 93 yards through the air, in part because the defense gave him a short field to work with on a few occasions. The Gators forced three turnovers in the first half, all of which led to touchdowns. Offensively Florida wasn’t impressive but one AP writer saw enough to give them a first place vote in this weeks rankings. The Gators have now matched their win total from last season.
4. Kansas State (7-0) – K-State quarterback Collin Klein is for real. West Virginia’s defense is not. That pretty much sums up the Wildcats’ 55-14 destruction of the Moutaineers. WVU quarterback Geno Smith entered the game as the Heisman favorite. Klein exited as it. The senior completed 19 of 21 passes for a career-high 323 yards and three touchdowns. He ran for 41 yards and 4 more scores. Bill Snyder’s teams generally don’t beat themselves and they didn’t on Saturday as K-State posted another game with no turnovers. As far as the defense goes, Geno Smith hadn’t thrown an interception in over 270 pass attempts. The Wildcats picked him off twice. Moral of the story: You do not want to see Kansas State on your schedule right now.
5. Notre Dame (7-0) – Another week, another suffocating defensive performance by Manti Te’o and the Fighting Irish. If Notre Dame keeps this up it will be interesting to see what kind of Heisman consideration the linebacker gets. Once again the quarterback play from the Irish was eh, at best. Thankfully, the running game picked up the slack. Theo Riddick ran for 143 yards and Cierre Wood was right behind him with 114. Notre Dame had more yards on the ground (270) than BYU had in total offense (243). BYU actually had a 14-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter, which isn’t completely surprising considering how Notre Dame’s offense has looked for the majority of the season. But when George Atkinson scored to make it 17-14 the game was game over.
6. LSU (7-1) – LSU is back among the winners thanks to a 24-19 win over Texas A&M at Kyle Field. Keeping Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel under control has been easier said than done this season but the Tigers did a good job of it on Saturday. He finished with no touchdown passes and a season-high three interceptions. LSU’s defense forced five turnovers in total. On offense it was a pretty typical game for the 2012 edition of Les Miles’ crew. Jeremy Hill led a rushing attack that put up 219 yards and quarterback Zach Mettenberger wasn’t impressive. He did toss a touchdown pass to Kadron Boone though. LSU will need a much better game from Mettenberger in two weeks when they face #1 Alabama.
7. Oregon State (6-0) – It wasn’t their prettiest game of the season but Oregon State topped Utah 21-7. Quarterback Cody Vaz came back to earth after his impressive performance last week. Running back Storm Woods (that’s a great name by the way) only managed 47 yards, but did have all three Beavers touchdowns. OSU’s top-ranked Pac-12 scoring defense (16.5 pts/gm) did the rest with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Last week I felt like Kansas State was the most overlooked top ten team. That’s probably no longer the case thanks to the thumping they put on West Virginia. Oregon State now gets that title.
8. Oklahoma (5-1) – Poor Charlie Weis. Bob Stoops’ Sooners clobbered the Jayhawks 52-7 and handed them their sixth consecutive loss. Landry Jones threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns. That’s all Oklahoma needed. The 90-yard punt return and 100-yard kickoff return scores were icing on the cake. Michael Cummings got the start at quarterback for Kansas because Dayne Crist has been largely ineffective this season. Different person, same result. Not much to complain about if you’re an OU fan or member of the coaching staff, except maybe that James Sims had over 100 yards on the ground for the Jayhawks.
9. Ohio State (8-0) – They needed overtime to do it, but the Buckeyes came away with a 29-22 win over Purdue. OSU quarterback Braxton Miller was taken to the hospital after hitting the ground hard in the third quarter. His replacement, Kenny Guiton, led the team on scoring drive late in the fourth quarter that resulted in a touchdown pass and game-tying two-point conversion. Carlos Hyde’s 1-yard run in OT gave OSU the win. Big plays hurt the Buckeyes for the second week in a row as they gave up an 83-yard touchdown pass for the game’s opening points and a 100-yard kickoff return score later in the first quarter. OSU is still undefeated but an extended period of time without Miller will have a major impact on whether or not they stay that way.
10. USC (6-1) – USC’s offense is loaded. Colorado’s defense isn’t. The result was a 50-6 blowout. Mark Barkley went video game mode, completing 19 of 20 passes for 298 yards and six touchdowns. He broke a few records in the process. Robert Woods hauled in eight passes for 132 yards and four scores. He set records too. Marqise Lee was only able to manage six grabs for 103 and one touchdown. Lee didn’t pass someone in a record book, but he’s only a sophomore. If he sticks around long enough he probably will as well. Colorado was never going to win this game. The 33-6 score at halftime erased any hopes the most diehard Buffaloes fans had. The homecoming crowd at the LA Coliseum had an enjoyable day. Fight On.