College football Power Rankings for Week 8

The first Saturday of the second half of the 2019 college football season offered us the most inexplicable upset so far.

Illinois, a 30-point underdog, stunned previously unbeaten Wisconsin 24-23 at home, with James McCourt kicking a 39-yard field goal as time expired.

The loss might end up costing the Badgers a trip to the College Football Playoff and denying the Big Ten a second entry in the four-team playoff.

The Badgers weren't the only team that had its postseason hopes damaged on Saturday. Boise State, with dreams of playing in another New Year's Six bowl game, lost at BYU 28-25 on Saturday night without injured starting quarterback Hank Bachmeier.

Here are the ESPN Power Rankings after Week 8:

1. LSU (7-0)




Mississippi State's defense did an admirable job against LSU's offense in the red zone in the first quarter on Saturday, forcing the Tigers to kick short field goals on their first three possessions. From then on, however, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow had his way once again in a 36-13 victory, throwing four touchdowns to set a school single-season record with 29 touchdown passes -- with five regular-season games to go, and maybe more after that. Burrow broke the previous scoring mark held by JaMarcus Russell (2006) and Matt Mauck (2003). Burrow completed 25 of 32 passes for 327 yards with touchdowns to four different receivers against the Bulldogs.

Up next: vs. Auburn (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

2. Ohio State(7-0)




The Buckeyes can finally turn their attention to next week's showdown against Wisconsin after blasting Northwestern 52-3 on the road on Friday night. Ohio State's vastly improved defense was once again impressive, limiting the Wildcats to only 199 yards of offense and a first-quarter field goal. Northwestern completed only six passes for 42 yards and threw two interceptions. The Buckeyes have allowed 10 or fewer points in six consecutive games, their longest such streak since 2006, when they finished 12-0 and lost to Florida 41-14 in the BCS National Championship.

Up next: vs. Wisconsin (Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, Fox)

3. Alabama (7-0)




The Crimson Tide survived without record-setting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for much of a 35-13 victory over Tennessee at home on Saturday night. Tagovailoa sprained his ankle in the second quarter and didn't return in the second half. Tagovailoa has a history of ankle problems, and Tide coach Nick Saban said the QB would be out for a week or two with a high ankle sprain. Tagovailoa went 11-for-12 for 155 yards with one touchdown before leaving. Backup Mac Jones replaced him. The Tide forced two turnovers, with defensive back Trevon Diggs picking up a fumble on a botched quarterback sneak on fourth-and-goal from the 1 and returning it 100 yards for a touchdown. It was Alabama's 13th consecutive victory over Tennessee. Tide coach Nick Saban improved to 19-0 against his former assistants.

Up next: vs. Arkansas (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

4. Oklahoma (7-0)




The Sooners continued to roll on offense in a 52-14 victory over West Virginia. It was Oklahoma's 17th consecutive game with at least 34 points, the second longest streak in the FBS since 1980. Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts completed his first 11 pass attempts -- his 12th was dropped by freshman Drake Stoops -- and finished 16-for-17 for 316 yards with three TDs. Hurts also ran 10 times for 75 yards with two scores. Hurts is the third quarterback in Big 12 history to have at least 300 passing yards with three touchdowns and one or fewer incompletions in a game. OU's Baker Mayfield did it against UTEP in 2017, and so did West Virginia's Geno Smith, against Kansas in 2012.

Up next: at Kansas State (Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, ABC)

5. Clemson (7-0)




What was alarming: Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw two more interceptions at Louisville on Saturday, giving him eight this season. (He had four during his entire freshman season in 2018.) What wasn't: Lawrence also did many good things in the Tigers' 45-10 victory and showed improvement. According to ESPN Stats & Information data, he completed 6 of 10 passes for 135 yards with two touchdowns when under pressure, the most such passing yards in his career. He was 3-for-5 for 96 yards with two scores when throwing from outside the pocket; he had made only one such throw in the first six games. Even more impressive, Lawrence was 9-for-9 for 156 yards with two TDs in the second quarter, after throwing his two picks in the first quarter.

Up next: vs. Boston College (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ACCN)

6. Penn State (7-0)




The Nittany Lions nearly blew a 21-point lead against Michigan on Saturday night, and the Wolverines had more first downs (25 to 14), yards of offense (417 to 283), passing yards (276 to 182) and rushing yards (141 to 101). Penn State had more points in a 28-21 victory, however, and that's the only statistic that mattered in the end. The Nittany Lions still have a long way to go on offense if they're going to challenge Ohio State in the Big Ten East. Sean Clifford threw three touchdowns and ran for another score, and KJ Hamler had six catches for 108 yards with two scores. Curiously, tailback Noah Cain carried the ball only five times, after he had 22 attempts against Iowa last week.

Up next: at Michigan State (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

7. Notre Dame (5-1)




The Fighting Irish had a bye ahead of next week's trip to Michigan. Because of their 23-17 loss at Georgia earlier this season, the Irish probably will need help if they're going to climb back into the CFP race; but they're still very much in the picture for a New Year's Six bowl game. Notre Dame has won three of its past four games against Michigan (a 13-6 victory in 2012 was vacated because of NCAA sanctions). The Irish beat the Wolverines 24-17 at home in their 2018 opener, when Brandon Wimbush was the starting quarterback.

Up next: at Michigan (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

8. Oregon (6-1)




After losing to Auburn in the opener, Oregon climbed back into the College Football Playoff discussion because of its defense, which allowed seven or fewer points in each of its next five games. On Saturday, the Ducks took control of the Pac-12 North behind their offense and quarterback Justin Herbert, who completed 24 of 38 passes for 280 yards with four touchdowns in a 35-31 win at Washington. Herbert was especially effective when the Huskies blitzed. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Herbert was 8-for-14 for 130 yards with three scores on such downs. It was his 14th game in which he threw three or more touchdowns; the Ducks are 11-3 in those contests.

Up next: vs. Washington State (Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

9. Florida(7-1)




The Gators took some early punches from South Carolina before pulling away for a 38-27 victory on the road. Florida quarterback Kyle Trask threw a career-high four touchdowns (one after officials missed a blatant offensive pass interference) and became the first UF player to throw for three touchdowns or more in back-to-back SEC games since Rex Grossman in 2001. The Gators get next week off before a Nov. 2 date against Georgia. Florida is hoping to have back starting defensive ends Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard, who didn't play against the Gamecocks because of sprained ankles.

Up next: vs. Georgia in Jacksonville, Florida (Nov. 2, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

10. Georgia (6-1)




The Bulldogs' offensive struggles continued, as they were shut out by Kentucky in the first half at rain-soaked Sanford Stadium on Saturday night. But Georgia finally got things in gear after halftime.D'Andre Swiftran 21 times for 179 yards and two scores in a 21-0 win. Georgia's defense still hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown this season, and the Wildcats (with converted wide receiverLynn Bowden Jr.under center) didn't complete a pass until 4:24 remaining in the contest. The Bulldogs didn't turn the ball over after losing it four times in a loss to South Carolina last week. Georgia gets an extra week to work out its offensive problems before a Nov. 2 showdown against Florida, which might decide the SEC East championship.

Up next vs. Florida in Jacksonville, Florida (Nov. 2, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

11. Auburn (6-1)




The Tigers bounced back from their 24-13 loss at Florida on Oct. 5 with a 51-10 victory at Arkansas, which doesn't appear to have much life left. More important, the Tigers found a running game by committee after losing starting tailback JaTarvious Whitlow for as long as a month because of knee surgery. Five Auburn tailbacks --Kam Martin, Harold Joiner, D.J. Williams, Shaun Shivers and Malik Miller -- combined for 32 carries and 228 yards with two scores. Whitlow isn't expected back until mid-November, so coach Gus Malzahn will have to continue to be creative on offense until then.

Up next: at LSU (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

12. Utah (6-1)




Star tailback Zack Moss ran for 99 yards and two touchdowns, breaking the school's 31-year-old career rushing record on Saturday night and tying the Utah mark with 31 career rushing touchdowns. For the third straight game, however, Utah's defense was the star in a 21-3 victory over Arizona State, which put the Utes in the driver's seat in the Pac-12 South race. Utah overcame four turnovers -- quarterback Tyler Huntley threw his first interception of the season and lost a fumble -- as its D bailed out the offense each time. The Utes had six tackles for loss and three sacks.

Up next: vs. California (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, FS1)

13. Baylor (7-0)




One of the most remarkable turnarounds in FBS history continued, as the Bears improved to 7-0 with a 45-27 victory at Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Bears started 0-8 in coach Matt Rhule's first season in 2017. According to Elias research, the Bears are only the third FBS program since 1937 to start 7-0 within two seasons of going 0-7 to begin a campaign. UCF also accomplished the feat in 2015 and 2017, and Minnesota did it in 1958 and 1960. Quarterback Charlie Brewer completed 13 of 17 passes for 312 yards with one touchdown, the Bears outscored the Pokes 35-14 in the second half and Baylor had 536 yards of offense with only one turnover.

Up next: vs. West Virginia (Oct. 31, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN)

14. Wisconsin (6-1)




Before Saturday's trip to Illinois, the Badgers had been among the most dominant teams in the FBS. They had shut out four opponents, hadn't trailed all season and had won their first six games by an average of 37.7 points. That's what makes their 24-23 loss to the Illini, 30-point underdogs, so stunning. It was the second-biggest upset in terms of point spread in a Big Ten game in the past 40 years, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Northwestern, a 32-point underdog, defeated Minnesota 31-21 in 1982. The Badgers still can win the Big Ten West, but it is a crushing defeat in terms of their CFP chances. They'll have to regroup quickly before playing at Ohio State next week.

Up next: at Ohio State (Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, Fox)

15. Minnesota (7-0)




Raise your hand if you had the Golden Gophers among the last unbeaten teams in the FBS. The Gophers are 7-0 for the first time since 1960, after blasting Rutgers 42-7 on the road on Saturday, and they moved into first place in the Big Ten West following Wisconsin's shocking loss to Illinois. Tailback Rodney Smith ran 19 times for 111 yards with two touchdowns. It was his fourth consecutive game with 100 yards or more; he and Laurence Maroney are the only players in school history with multiple streaks of four or more games with 100-yard games. The bad news: Leading tackler Kamal Martin injured his right knee midway through the third quarter. Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said he wouldn't know Martin's diagnosis until he has an MRI in Minneapolis.

Up next: vs. Maryland (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, TBD)

16. SMU (7-0)




The Mustangs' renaissance under coach Sonny Dykes continued with a 45-21 victory over Temple -- and so did the resurrection of former Texas quarterbackShane Buechele's career. Buechele became only the second SMU player to throw six touchdowns in a game -- Mike Romo also did it against Vanderbilt in 1990 -- and he threw for a career-high 457 yards against the Owls. SMU is 7-0 for the first time since it started 10-0 in 1982. The Mustangs had close calls in two of their past three games, against TCU and Tulsa, but they dominated Temple, one of the best teams in the AAC, which had defeated two ranked opponents.

Up next: at Houston (Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

17. Texas (5-2)





The Longhorns barely survived Kansas at home on Saturday night, as Cameron Dicker kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired for a 50-48 victory. Texas' banged-up defense went into the game ranked dead last in the Big 12 in total defense (453.3 yards) and pass defense (310 yards), and things didn't get much better against the Jayhawks. Kansas had 569 yards of offense -- 310 passing and 259 rushing -- and it was the most pointsthe Jayhawks had ever scored against a ranked opponent. It also was the second-most points Texas had ever allowed in a victory; the Longhorns prevailed 56-50 against Baylor in 2012.

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

18. Michigan (5-2)




The Wolverines played hard and nearly came back from a 21-point deficit in their 28-21 loss at Penn State on Saturday night. However, the Wolverines couldn't make plays when they mattered most. Michigan failed to convert on four straight plays from the PSU 7 late in the fourth quarter. Ronnie Bell dropped a pass in the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 3 with 2:01 to go. Michigan's receivers had five drops in the first half. With the loss, the Wolverines fell to 1-8 on the road against ranked opponents, 1-10 against top-10 opponents and 0-8 as an underdog under coach Jim Harbaugh.

Up next: vs. Notre Dame (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

19. Cincinnati (6-1)




Tailback Gerrid Doaks hadn't played much for the Bearcats over the past two seasons, but he showed up when they needed him most on Saturday. With leading rusher Michael Warren II struggling due to a leg injury, Doaks ran for 91 yards with two touchdowns and caught a pass for another score in a 24-13 win over Tulsa. Warren limped off the field in the first half and had to be helped off in the second half. Doaks missed two games this season with a knee injury and all of 2018 with a groin injury. The Bearcats forced five turnovers. They are 6-1 for the second straight season.

Up next: at East Carolina (Nov. 2, TBD)

20. Boise State (6-1)




The Broncos played at BYU on Saturday night without starting quarterback Hank Bachmeier, and they couldn't muster nearly enough offense in a 28-25 loss to the Cougars in snowy Provo, Utah. Bachmeier appeared to injure his hip in last week's win over Hawaii. Sophomore Chase Cord started in Bachmeier's absence and wasn't very effective, throwing two interceptions with only 185 yards. The loss was a devastating blow to Boise State's hopes to play in a New Year's Six bowl game. With the Broncos losing, AAC teams such as SMU, Cincinnati and Memphis and Sun Belt leader Appalachian State seem like the front-runners for a New Year's Six bowl game.

Up next: at San Jose State (Nov. 2, 10:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)

21. Wake Forest (6-1)




Wake Forest's high-powered offense wasn't nearly as potent in poor weather conditions caused by Tropical Storm Nestor. The Demon Deacons settled for five field goals in the red zone and scored just one touchdown, but that was enough in a 22-20 victory over Florida State, which snapped a seven-game losing streak in the series. Nick Sciba tied the school record with his five field goals, including a 25-yarder with 4:18 left that put the Demon Deacons ahead for good. Sam Hartman made his first start at quarterback this season and completed 21 of 38 passes for 308 yards. Sage Surratt caught seven balls for 170 yards. Wake Forest remained one game behind Clemson in the loss column of the ACC Atlantic Division standings. The Demon Deacons will play the Tigers at Death Valley on Nov. 16.

Up next: vs. NC State (Nov. 2, TBD)

22. Appalachian State (6-0)




The Mountaineers continued their domination of Sun Belt Conference schools from Louisiana, blasting Louisiana-Monroe 52-7 at home on Saturday. Appalachian State beat Louisiana 17-7 just 10 days ago. The Mountaineers limited the WarHawks to only nine first downs, 213 yards of offense (102 passing and 111 rushing) and 2-for-13 on first down. Appalachian State's defense also forced three turnovers in their 12th consecutive win, which is third best in the FBS, behind only Clemson (22) and Ohio State (13).

Up next: at South Alabama (Saturday, noon ET, ESPNU)

23. Arizona State (5-2)




Utah exposed Arizona State's inexperience on offense in an ugly 21-3 loss in Salt Lake City on Saturday. The Sun Devils failed to score at least 10 points for the first time in 126 games, which was tied for the longest such streak in FBS history. (Louisiana Tech also accomplished the feat from 2008 to 2018.) Arizona State freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels completed only 4 of 18 passes for 25 yards with one interception. His 25 yards passing were the fewest by a Sun Devils quarterback in the past 15 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Info data. ASU had only 136 yards of offense and eight first downs, and it turned the ball over twice. The Sun Devils also were penalized 12 times for 122 yards, which caused coach Herm Edwards to apologize to Utah's Kyle Whittingham for Arizona State's performance after the game.

Up next: at UCLA (Saturday, TBD)

24. Iowa(5-2)




The Hawkeyes still have their deficiencies on offense, but they bounced back after a pair of close losses to Michigan and Penn State with a 26-20 victory over Purdue. Iowa snapped a two-game losing streak against the Boilermakers on Saturday after Mekhi Sargent scored on a 14-yard run with 2:16 left in the tilt to help it pull away. The Hawkeyes had 362 yards of offense -- 260 passing and 102 rushing -- but only went 3-for-13 on third down. Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley wasn't sacked until the fourth quarter, after he was taken down 10 times combined by the Wolverines and Nittany Lions. Hawkeyes receiver Brandon Smith, who had nine catches for 106 yards against Purdue, was carried off the field in the fourth quarter after injuring his right leg. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Smith might only have a bone bruise.

Up next: at Northwestern (Saturday, noon ET, TBD)

25. Iowa State (5-2)




The Cyclones have returned to their winning ways after a couple of early setbacks, and they found a new star running back in the process. Freshman Breece Hall, from Wichita, Kansas, ran 19 times for 183 yards with two touchdowns in a 34-24 victory at Texas Tech. Hall has registered 315 rushing yards and five scores in his past two games. The Cyclones lost two contests by a combined three points -- 18-17 to rival Iowa and 23-21 at Baylor -- before winning three in a row to emerge as perhaps the Big 12's second-best team behind Oklahoma. Iowa State will play the Sooners on the road on Nov. 9.

Up next: vs. Oklahoma State (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, FS1)

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