Week 8 of the college football season featured plenty of wild finishes, standout performances and must-see plays!
No. 3 Ohio State kicked things off by taking down Big Ten foe No. 7 Penn State on FOX’s “Big Noon Kickoff.” With the victory, the Buckeyes remain undefeated on the season. Recap all the action here.
Elsewhere, star QB Dillon Gabriel, who began his career at UCF in 2019 before transferring to Oklahoma in 2022, led the No. 6 Sooners to a win over his former team and Big 12 newcomer, which left the AAC this year after a 10-year run.
A handful of ranked teams came out unscathed Saturday, including No. 8 Texas and No. 9 Oregon. But No. 17 Tennessee fell to No. 11 Alabama after the Crimson Tide pulled off a second-half comeback to avenge their 2022 loss to the Vols.
No. 10 UNC was another ranked team that fell on Saturday, losing 31-27 to Virginia. The previously undefeated Tar Heels were 24-point favorites over the Cavaliers, who were 1-5 entering Saturday’s game. Drake Maye threw an interception on UNC’s final drive as it had a chance to win the game.
Elsewhere, No. 2 Michigan handled Michigan State, winning 49-0, while No. 4 FSU came back from a double-digit deficit before taking care of No. 16 Duke, 38-20.
A dramatic game in the Pac-12 highlighted the late slate of games. No. 14 Utah ended up defeating No. 18 USC, kicking a field goal to win, 34-32, as time expired. It marked the third time that Utah has defeated USC in the last two years and the second straight week that the Trojans lost.
Here are the top moments!
No. 14 Utah 34, No. 18 USC 32
Back and forth to start
Utah and USC didn’t waste any time scoring, with each scoring on its opening drive. First, Utah scored as Sione Vaki broke loose out of the backfield to make a reception downfield before taking off for a 52-yard touchdown.
Sione Vaki goes 53 yards UNTOUCHED as Utah strikes first against USC USC fought right back, with MarShawn Lloyd hitting the jets for and breaking out of a couple of tackles for a 44-yard touchdown.
USC’s MarShawn Lloyd turns on the jets for a 44-yard touchdown to tie the game vs. Utah Branch brought the points
USC’s offense continued to roll in the first quarter, marching down the field on its second possession before Zachariah Branch ran in a 2-yard touchdown.
Zachariah Branch rushes in a two-yard touchdown as USC grabs the lead over Utah Barnes breaks through
Bryson Barnes helped even the game up by scoring Utah’s second touchdown of the first quarter, rushing up the middle on a keeper for a 10-yard score to make it 14-14.
Bryson Barnes rushes in a 10-yard touchdown as Utah ties the game against USC The king of the end zone
Utah took the lead in the second half when Barnes found the end zone again, this time throwing a ball to tight end Landen King for a 6-yard score that gave the Utes a 21-14 lead in the third quarter.
Bryson Barnes connects with Landen King for a six-yard touchdown as Utah takes the lead vs. USC Vamos, Vaki!
Utah’s running back recorded another receiving touchdown, finding his way into the end zone on a 15-yard pass that extended its lead to 28-14 in the third quarter.
Bryson Barnes finds Sione Vaki for a 15-yard touchdown as Utah extends their lead over USC Going the other way!
USC got the break it needed on defense when Barnes’ third-down pass landed in the arms of USC defensive back Calen Bullock, who returned the ball all the way for a touchdown. The Trojans weren’t able to convert on the 2-point conversion, but they cut the Utes’ lead to 28-23.
USC’s Calen Bullock intercepts Utah QB Bryson Barnes for a touchdown, trimming Utah’s lead Branch breaks loose!
After settling for three to cut Utah’s lead to 31-25 with just over three minutes left, USC got the key stop a minute later to get the ball back. Its star freshman returner made life easier for the offense, returning the punt all the way to Utah’s 11-yard line.
Zachariah Branch’s punt return sets up Caleb Williams’ 11-yard touchdown grabbing a USC lead over Utah Williams weaves his way to the end zone for the lead
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner made quick work after Branch’s return, scoring on the first play to give USC a 32-31 lead. USC wasn’t able to convert on the two-point conversion, giving Utah the ball back with 1:46 remaining.
Barnes with the clutch play!
Facing a second-and-15 from USC’s 45-yard line, Utah’s quarterback took what appeared to be a dead play and turned it into a major gain for the Utes. Barnes scrambled down the field, stumbling as he ran before falling at USC’s 19-yard line for a 26-yard gain with five seconds left.
Utah wins it!
The Utes completed their game-winning drive by connecting on the 38-yard field goal, stunning Trojan fans at the Coliseum as they took down their Pac-12 rival for the third time in the last two seasons.
No. 4 Florida State 38, No. 16 Duke 20
Moore makes his way to the end zone for Duke
The Blue Devils came up with a big fourth-down stop on the Seminoles’ opening drive, allowing their offense to get good field position. Riley Leonard started the game at quarterback, returning from an ankle injury he suffered a few weeks ago. Shortly after Duke took over, Jaquez Moore gave it the game’s first score, rushing for a 42-yard touchdown.
Take it to the house, Holmes!
Caziah Holmes helped settle things down a bit for FSU after its slow start, taking Jordan Travis’ pass out of the flat and trucking through Duke defenders for a touchdown to make it 10-7.
A touchdown was scored on back-to-back plays by both teams, and neither was scored by each team’s offense. First, Duke got a bounce to go its way on a Travis pass that landed in the arms of Chandler Rivers, who scored a 14-yard pick-six.
But Florida State responded right away as Deuce Spann returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown that brought FSU back within three, 17-14.
Travis takes it in for the touchdown
Florida State capped off a 96-yard drive that ran from the end of the third quarter into the early minutes of the fourth quarter with a 2-yard touchdown run from its quarterback. The score gave FSU its first lead of the game, 24-20.
FSU pulls away
Lawrence Toafili broke off a long run following his screen pass from Travis, running 21 yards down the field for a touchdown that gave FSU a 31-20 lead.
No. 2 Michigan 49, Michigan State 0
Blake Corum got the game’s first touchdown roughly halfway into the first quarter, capping off the 12-play, 84-yard opening drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
On the run to Roman
J.J. McCarthy and Roman Wilson continued their magic right away in Saturday’s game, with the quarterback hitting the wide receiver for a 25-yard touchdown pass to put Michigan up, 14-0.
McCarthy makes it happen
After taking a bad sack on first down, McCarthy recovered by throwing a dart to Colston Loveland for a 22-yard touchdown pass to put Michigan up, 21-0.
Six for Sainristil
Michigan carried over its domination from the first half into the second half with its defense getting into the scoring mix. Mike Sainristil recorded an interception on fourth down and returned it 72 yards the other way to extend Michigan’s lead to 35-0.
No. 8 Texas 31, Houston 24
On the money
Texas got off to a strong start in its first game back after a bye, with QB Quinn Ewers leading the Longhorns straight to the end zone on their opening drive. He connected with a wide-open Adonai Mitchell for a 14-yard score and an early lead.
Texas’ Quinn Ewers connects with Adonai Mitchell on gorgeous 14-yard TD A play Worthy of six
On Texas’ second possession, Ewers uncorked a deep pass for Xavier Worthy, hitting the star receiver in stride for a 42-yard touchdown to extend the Longhorns’ lead, 14-0.
Quinn Ewers throws 42-yard TD to Xavier Worthy to extend Texas’ lead Golden gets one back
Houston ended its scoring drought and Texas’ 21-0 run when QB Donovan Smith hit WR Matthew Golden on a deep pass for a 32-yard touchdown.
Donovan Smith finds Matthew Golden wide open for a 32-yard TD vs. Texas Evened up!
Smith found Golden again to tie things up, tossing a short pass to the receiver at the start of the second half.
Houston’s Donovan Smith finds Matthew Golden for second TD vs. Texas Ewers exits
Texas’ star QB went into the tunnel during the fourth quarter, and backup Maalik Murphy entered the game in his place.
Back on top
Longhorns RB CJ Baxter shifted past Houston defenders for a 16-yard touchdown help secure the win for Texas.
Texas’ CJ Baxter storms past Houston’s defense for electric 16-yard TD No. 11 Alabama 34, No. 17 Tennessee 20
Vols QB Joe Milton III connected with WR Marquarius “Squirrel” White for a wild 39-yard touchdown to get his team on the board first, making a statement in front of a crowd of more than 100,000 fans at Bryant–Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
Bama on the board
The Tide found the end zone roughly halfway through the second quarter when QB Jalen Milroe linked up with WR Jermaine Burton over the middle, cutting the Volunteers’ lead to 13-7.
Cool, calm and collected
Milton remained poised late in the first half to lead Tennessee to another touchdown drive — this time involving TE McCallan Castles — for a 20-7 lead. Milton completed 16 of 22 passes and had 218 total yards of offense in the first half.
A good Bond
It only took two plays for Alabama to score in the second half. The Tide dialed up a home-run ball on their second play, with Milroe hitting WR Isaiah Bond on a deep 46-yard touchdown pass to make it a one-score game, 20-14.
RB Jase McClellan gave Alabama its first lead of the game when he perfectly read the Tennessee defense and his blockers, running outside to get a 5-yard score to grab a 24-20 advantage.
Beginning of the end
After Alabama took a 27-20 fourth-quarter lead, Milton tried to pull off a game-tying drive, but those hopes ended prematurely when the QB was strip-sacked in his own territory, allowing the Tide to get a scoop-and-score and the win.
No. 9 Oregon 38, Washington State 24
Bo knows punting
Oregon’s offense struggled early, getting stuck in a 3-3 tie with Washington State through the early part of the second quarter. But one thing Ducks QB Bo Nix didn’t struggle with was kicking the ball. That’s right, after Oregon lined up to go for it on fourth down, Nix dropped back a few yards and delivered a 37-yard punt that landed at the Cougars’ 3-yard line.
Saturday’s game marked the 54th career start — the most ever by any quarterback in NCAA history — for Nix, who spent the first three seasons of his college career at Auburn.
Working their way to the end zone
After Nix’s trick punt, Washington State had no trouble moving the ball down the field. It only took a few minutes for the Cougars to get within reach of the end zone before Nakia Watson rushed in for a 4-yard score, good for a 10-3 lead.
Markeise “Bucky” Irving helped Oregon respond immediately, added six points on a 1-yard score to even things up.
Then, Irving helped the Ducks extend their lead, taking a carry 40 yards to set it up deep in Washington State territory. Nix had a keeper a few plays later that gave Oregon a 17-10 lead.
On the dot!
WSU QB Cameron Ward completed a tough pass along the sideline to Kyle Williams late in the first half, with the receiver making an impressive grab while staying inbounds. The drive ended with a field goal to close the gap slightly, 17-13.
Irving scored back-to-back touchdowns — one on a reception out of the backfield that he took 42 yards to the house and one 43-yard carry on the ensuing possession — to give Oregon a 31-16 lead in the third quarter and help secure the win.
No. 6 Oklahoma 31, UCF 29
Making a statement
The Knights went three-and-out on their first three possessions, while the Sooners missed a field goal on their second drive. Oklahoma bounced back in a big way when Gabriel connected with WR Nic Anderson for a 29-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter to give the home team a 7-0 lead.
It was Anderson’s seventh touchdown of the season on just 12 total receptions.
[Related: NFL Draft: How the top Heisman candidates rate as pro prospects]
Ground game strong
UCF got a huge opportunity to tie things up after Oklahoma missed its second field goal of the half, and the Knights did just that early in the second quarter. A monster 54-yard run from RJ Harvey put UCF in great field position, and QB John Rhys Plumlee finished the job with a 1-yard rushing score.
UCF then took the lead, 10-7, with a field goal on its ensuing drive — marking just the third time this season that Oklahoma had trailed. Entering Saturday, the Sooners had trailed for just 12 minutes and 11 seconds out of 360 minutes played this season (a 7:05 stretch in the first quarter at Cincinnati in Week 4 and for 5:06 against then-No. 3 Texas in Week 6).
Not so fast
The Knights’ lead was short-lived, however, as the Sooners were back on top before the end of the first half after Gabriel found Anderson once again, this time for a dazzling 42-yard score.
UCF wasn’t going away quietly, however. The Knights regained the lead, 17-14, when Plumlee found WR Javon Baker for a jaw-dropping 86-yard score. Baker drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on that play when he blew a kiss toward the Oklahoma sideline during his run, and coach Brent Venables was visibly heated after the play was over.
Things were tied 17-all headed into the break after Oklahoma knocked in a short field goal as the clock expired.
The Sooners didn’t get off to a great start in the second half, as Gabriel was immediately picked off by UCF DB Quadric Bullard, who returned the ball 27 yards to Oklahoma’s own 33-yard line. It was Bullard’s first career interception.
UCF got three points on the turnover, knocking in a 48-yard field goal to recapture the lead, 20-17, early in the third quarter. The Knights extended their lead, 23-17, with another field goal, this time from 46 yards out, on their next drive.
Gabriel found WR Drake Stoops for an 11-yard score midway through the fourth quarter to give Oklahoma a 24-23 lead.
[Related: Sooners QB Dillon Gabriel is gaining Heisman buzz, whether he likes it or not]
Then, Oklahoma extended its lead late in the fourth quarter, 31-23, courtesy of Gavin Sawchuk’s 30-yard rushing score. That touchdown was set up by a clutch third-down play between Gabriel and Anderson that went for 19 yards.
UCF came out swinging on its final drive of the game, going 75 yards in nine plays that ended with Plumlee connecting with Baker for a 12-yard touchdown to make it 31-29 with 1:16 to play.
However, UCF’s two-point conversion failed and Oklahoma recovered its on-side kick to end things there.
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