Every team is now half way through their season, which has given fans an idea of how good teams are. While there are still a lot of more good games in the next few weeks, a lot has been learned. Here is what we learned in week 8:
1. Notre Dame and Josh Adams are for real
Notre Dame didn’t just beat USC, they blew them out. Their running game was going and Brandon Wimbush showed that he can make good throws down the field. USC may not have been as good as expected, but the Fighting Irish still dominated a solid team that has a possible number one overall draft pick on its roster.
Josh Adams has inserted himself into the Heisman Trophy race. He has the most average yards after contact and has broken several big runs on the season. In seven games on the season he has 967 rushing yards on 9.2 yards per carry with eight total touchdowns. Not only does he need to get more love in the talk about the Heisman, but also needs to get more love in terms of the NFL Draft.
Adams and Notre Dame still have some tough games to end the season, but they are in a good position to reach their goals.
2. Penn State is really good, Michigan is not
The Nittany Lions got their payback on Michigan for last season and won big. Saquon Barkley enhanced his Heisman campaign and helped the Penn State offense make Michigan’s defense look bad. Coming into the game Michigan’s defense was one of the best in the country, but it now looks like their numbers may have been inflated due to the level of competition they have played.
Michigan failed to stop Barkley this year, but a lot of teams have failed with that. The defense had a bad game, but it’s the offense that has real problems. They can’t move the ball and have few playmakers on offense. With two losses in the Big Ten already, it looks like Michigan is headed to a fourth place finish in their own division, the Big Ten East. It is still one of the best divisions in football, but Michigan expected better things this year.
We’ll find out even more about the Big Ten East when Penn State travels to Ohio State in week nine.
3. Khalil Tate is must see T.V.
Khalil Tate didn’t start the season as Arizona’s starting quarterback, but has come on and dominated the last few weeks of the college football season. He has generated over 1,000 yards of offense in the last three games alone. The dual-threat quarterback has also totaled 11 touchdowns in that stretch too. He is the quintessential stat sheet stuffer.
Not only has Tate come in and put up some stats, he has made Arizona a much better football team. In the past three weeks Tate has helped the Wildcats rack up wins on the road against Colorado and Cal, while they have also beaten UCLA on their home turf. They still have to outscore every team they play, because their defense leaves a lot to be desired, but the Wildcats have to feel good with Tate at the helm.
It is still conceivable that Arizona could win the PAC-12 South. They are 3-1 in conference and play both USC and Arizona State still, their biggest competition for the spot in the Pac-12 Championship. The next two weeks will be tough with games against Washington State and USC, so Tate will have to prove himself once again.
4. The American Athletic Conference will be in a New Year’s Six Bowl
With San Diego State losing last week, it has made it a lot easier for an AAC team to make it to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. The only question is: Which one? There were three ranked AAC teams in action this weekend and all three came out with wins. If they can avoid beating up on each other, one of them will be in a major bowl game.
On Friday Memphis beat Houston on the road. The Tigers are 6-1 and should be able to win the AAC West. Their only loss is to UCF, who is another one of the ranked AAC teams. They only have one more tough game in the regular season, against SMU. They should be able to win out and get into a New Year’s Six play-in game in the AAC Championship.
USF was able to hold on against a very inconsistent and streaky Tulane team. They are still undefeated at 7-0, but haven’t played an FBS team that has a record above .500. They will be tested this week against Houston. If the Bulls can get by this week with a win, they likely set up a top 15 matchup with UCF at the end of the season before the AAC Championship.
The Golden Knights of UCF have are also undefeated at 6-0. They have blown out Maryland and Memphis to show that they aren’t messing around. Their game against Georgia Tech got cancelled due to a hurricane, which would have been another opportunity for a big win. This week the Golden Knights were able to beat a previously ranked Navy team 31-21.
In a few weeks there could be three top 15 AAC teams vying for a New Year’s Six Bowl Game if they don’t slip up beforehand.
5. Bret Bielema is another SEC coach on the hot seat
Everyone knows about Butch Jones being on the hot seat, but Bielema has done an even worse job this season and if he doesn’t turn it around fast he will be gone. The Razorbacks lost 52-20 to Auburn this weekend in their fifth loss of the season already. They have been blown out in all of their losses except their game against Texas A&M. The only wins on the season for Arkansas so far are against Florida A&M (FCS) and New Mexico State.
This season is on pace to be Arkansas’ worst season since Bielema’s first season when the Razorbacks finished 3-9. Bielema hasn’t been successful in his four and a half years as the head coach. They have an overall record of 27-31 and an abysmal SEC record of 10-26. While their shouldn’t be the highest expectations for Arkansas football, that isn’t good enough. If he doesn’t finish strong it is time for a change.
Arkansas still has games against Ole Miss, Coastal Carolina, LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri on their schedule. While they should beat Coastal Carolina, they will have to grind out wins in their other games. They need to win four of their last five to make a bowl game and perhaps save Bielema’s job.
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