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College Football 2013: 5 Things We Learned in Week 8

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It was another exciting week in college football with plenty of upsets, close calls and big game performances. Here are the highlights from this week on the gridiron.

Jameis Winston Could Be This Year’s Johnny Football

The game of the year in the ACC turned into a bust as only one team bothered to actually show up. Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston led the No. 5 Seminoles to a blowout 51-14 win at No. 3 Clemson. The freshman phenom made a strong case for his Heisman campaign, throwing for a career-high 444 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for another and leading the Seminoles to their first win in Death Valley since 2001.  The Florida State defense, which came into the game ranked third nationally in scoring defense, was equally impressive, holding Tajh Boyd and the Tigers to just 326 yards and forcing four turnovers. The win not only moves Florida State into the national title mix, but Winston now joins Marcus Mariota at the top of the Heisman watch list.

Stanford Is Still In the Hunt

While last week’s loss might have doomed No. 13 Stanford’s national title hopes, the Cardinal showed on Saturday that they are still very much in the mix for a Pac-12 title, stifling No. 9 UCLA in a 24-10 victory. The Bruins came into the game ranked seventh nationally in scoring offense, but Stanford held them to just 266 total yards, forced two turnovers and kept UCLA out of the end zone until early in the fourth quarter. Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley was held to a season-low 192 yards for just one score and two interceptions. The Cardinal defense will continue to be tested in its next two matchups: next week against Oregon State and quarterback Sean Mannion, the nation’s leading passer, followed by the much-anticipated showdown with No. 2 Oregon.

The SEC is Good,  But Not Great

While some in SEC country will try to bill Saturday’s upsets as a sign of the league’s depth, only the most blindly loyal follower would fail to admit that this is not a vintage year for the SEC. Five ranked teams fell on Saturday and all but three teams in the conference already have at least two losses. The SEC West is in a freefall, with only No. 14 Missouri remaining undefeated. When we’re not even to Halloween and LSU, Texas A&M, Florida and Georgia have all essentially been eliminated from title contention, it’s hard to argue that this is not a down year for the conference. While the SEC is likely still the nation’s best conference overall, the gap is not nearly this big as it has been.

Louisville, It Was Fun While It Lasted

With a weak strength of schedule, No. 8 Louisville’s national title hopes were already a long shot. But on Friday night, the Cardinals went from dark horse to non-factor,  falling 38-35 to Central Florida. Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater did his part to keep his team in the game, throwing for 341 yards and two touchdowns. But the Louisville defense, which came into the game ranked second nationally in scoring defense, gave up 446 yards in the contest and collapsed during crunch time, allowing the Knights to go on a 31-7 run in the game’s final 20 minutes. This loss could prove particularly costly as it not only ended the Cardinals’ title hopes, but likely knocked them out of BCS contention, as the Knights would now have to lose twice for Louisville to potentially work its way back into the AAC’s automatic bid.

Stat of the Week

Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday set an FBS record with 89 pass attempts in the Cougars’ 62-38 loss at No. 2 Oregon. He shattered the old mark (83) set by Purdue’s Drew Brees in 1998. He also tied an FBS record with 59 completions. The junior finished with a school-record 557 passing yards and four touchdowns.

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