Coming off a memorable Week 7 of the college football season, some fans lowered their expectations for this weekend’s slate of games.
Fortunately, Week 8 gave college football’s incredible fans more than they could ever hope for. From a stunning top-10 upset to record-breaking performances across the country, this weekend gave us everything.
As the college football world reacts to an unbelievable weekend, we look back on the players who made this weekend so eventful. Here are the 15 most jaw-dropping performances from college football’s Week 8 action.
Brenden Knox, running back, Marshall Thundering Herd
It’s one thing for a running back to put up impressive numbers early in a game, but Knox took things a step further with big runs late on Friday. Marshall turned to its sophomore running back against FAU’s defense and he delivered.
Knox received 20-plus carries for the second consecutive week and ran through the Owls’ defense. He racked up 220 rushing yards and saved his best run for the final seconds with a 17-yard dash into the end zone for the game-winning score. Knox will be the engine driving the Thundering Herd’s offense moving forward.
Jalen Hurts, quarterback, Oklahoma Sooners
It’s a weekly tradition at this point. Hurts runs onto the field and finds new ways to leave everyone amazed at his capabilities. The senior made everything look easy against West Virginia on Saturday.
Hurts completed 16-of-17 passes, a stunning 94.1 percent completion rate, for 316 passing yards with three touchdowns passes. Of course, the Heisman Trophy contender hurt the Mountaineers on the ground with 75 yards and two scores. Oklahoma made the right decision to bring Hurts in and let Austin Kendall leave.
Breece Hall, running back, Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State signed Hall as a four-star recruit thinking he’d become its starter in 2020. Instead, the teenager earned a prominent role last week and he’s never giving it up. Hall took advantage of Texas Tech’s defense every time he touched the football.
He brought out the stiff arm on a defender for a 75-yard touchdown and delivered more pain all day. Hall ran for 183 yards with two touchdowns, including a game-clinching touchdown run late in the fourth quarter, and added 73 receiving yards for good measure. The freshman has 393 total yards and five touchdowns in his last two games and is ready to dominate for the next three years.
Travis Etienne, running back, Clemson Tigers
Etienne entered Week 8 coming off his first game with 100-plus rushing yards in five games. He made sure a similar streak didn’t have a chance to get started by stomping on Louisville.
Even when only given a tiny window to run through, Etienne burst through it then casually broke through defenders grabbing at his ankles and picked up chunks of yards. He needed only 14 carries to rush for 192 yards with a touchdown and sprinkled on 35 receiving yards on four catches. Now Clemson must hope the injury that forced him to limp off the field doesn’t sideline him for too long.
AJ Dillon and David Bailey, running backs, Boston College Eagles
It’s an extraordinary performance when a running back records a 200-yard game. We saw something even more unbelievable in Week 8 when two Eagles running backs combined for 404 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
Dillon dominated touches out of the backfield with 34 carries and showed everyone why he earned it. The junior powered his way to a 223-yard performance with three visits into the end zone. Meanwhile, Bailey turned 16 carries into 181 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Needless to say, North Carolina State encountered some issues stopping the run.
David Bell, wide receiver, Purdue Boilermakers
While injuries are the most unfortunate part of sports, they can also serve as an opportunity for new players to step in and thrive. That’s exactly what Bell has done since Rondale Moore went down with a hamstring injury.
The freshman receiver delivered the same type of jaw-dropping impact we saw in Moore’s freshman season. Bell hauled in a whopping 13 receptions for a game-high 197 receiving yards and a touchdown. Now with three 100-yard games in his last four contests, Bell is quickly emerging as Purdue’s next impact freshman.
Sam Howell, quarterback, North Carolina Tar Heels
Mack Brown’s first year back with North Carolina was always going to be about young players developing. While the team is still struggling, Howell continues to demonstrate why he could be Brown’s next star quarterback.
Howell matched Virginia Tech’s offense score-for-score for as long as possible. He tied UNC’s record with five touchdown passes in a game and broke the freshman record for touchdown passes by a freshman (20). North Carolina has its quarterback, and now it must work on everything else.
Reggie Roberson Jr., wide receiver, SMU Mustangs
SMU saw Saturday’s game as an opportunity to demonstrate its legitimacy as an undefeated team. It accomplished that and showed the world that we’re all missing out on a gifted receiver.
Roberson Jr. thrived on the deep plays against Temple’s defense. It began with a 33-yard touchdown in the first quarter to open the scoring. Roberson Jr. hauled in a 75-yard score in the second quarter followed by a 60-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to cap off his monster day. The Mustangs are rolling at 7-0 with their top receiver coming off a 250-yard, three-touchdown performance.
Justin Herbert, quarterback, Oregon Ducks
This is the moment Herbert struggled in last season. Scouts and fans rarely saw him excel in a hostile environment against a quality opponent and it’s part of the reason he returned to Oregon. Herbert answered the lingering questions on Saturday with a phenomenal performance against Washington.
He showcased the ability to make precise throws even when pressured with the big hits looming. When Oregon trailed by two scores, Herbert helped pull his team back for a comeback victory. The senior threw four touchdown passes without an interception and made a compelling case to be the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Shane Buechele, quarterback, SMU Mustangs
Buechele saw an opportunity at SMU when he transferred out of Texas this offseason. A team with some intriguing talent and the chance to work with head coach Sonny Dykes made it the perfect fit. Now we’re seeing the quarterback and program reap the rewards this season.
The redshirt junior broke Temple’s spirit and picked apart its secondary. Dykes trusted him with 53 pass attempts in one of SMU’s biggest games and the quarterback rewarded his coach. Buechele finished with 457 passing yards and an unthinkable six touchdown passes. If he keeps this level of play up, SMU will go undefeated.
D’Andre Swift, running back, Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia found itself in a frightening position at halftime on Saturday. Locked in a scoreless tie with Kentucky, the thoughts of losing consecutive weeks to unranked teams sank in. Fortunately, Swift saved the day and his team’s season.
The All-SEC running back put the team on his back in the second half. Swift’s 39-yard touchdown run highlighted his explosiveness and elusiveness in a matter of seconds. He turned off the lights with a three-yard run late in the fourth quarter and walked out of Sanford Stadium as the hero for his 179-yard performance.
Malik Stanley, wide receiver, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Louisiana Tech’s 2019 season began with an ugly loss to the Texas Longhorns. Things have gotten a lot better since then with the Bulldogs’ offense firing on all cylinders. That offensive excellence continued this weekend against Southern Mississippi.
The Golden Eagles’ secondary could never get a handle on Stanley. He beat them at nearly every spot on the field against a variety of coverages. Stanley hauled in eight receptions, more than half of his quarterback’s completions, for a career-high 212 receiving yards. Look for him to keep getting fed targets in Week 9 against UTEP.
Joe Burrow, quarterback, LSU Tigers
It almost seems too easy for Burrow. It doesn’t matter if opponents cover his weapons or leave them open, LSU’s senior is going to throw multiple touchdowns. Burrow did his usual work on Saturday with another 300-yard, four-touchdown performance. The Heisman Trophy favorite’s greatest accomplishment, of course, came on his school-record 29th touchdown pass in his seventh game. Burrow will run laps around the old record in his remaining games.
Pooka Williams Jr., running back, Kansas Jayhawks
While Kansas fell short of the upset against Texas, it walks away feeling good about Williams Jr’s recent excellence. The sophomore showed signs of life in a loss to Oklahoma and now he found his 2018 form. Williams Jr. put his big-play ability on display Saturday with 215 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns against the Longhorns. He kept Kansas in the game and proved he’s still extremely gifted. Pooka will thrive with Kansas’ softer schedule ahead.
Kenneth Gainwell, running back, Memphis Tigers
Memphis’ recent history of success is in large part, thanks to the help of incredible running backs. Now, a newcomer might be outshining those who came before him.
It seemed impossible for Gainwell to improve on consecutive 200-yard games. Apparently, the 5-foot-11 freshman can take things to a higher level. Gainwell didn’t just become the first player this year to surpass 100-plus rushing and 100-plus receiving yards. He tallied up 104 rushing yards, 203 receiving yards and three total touchdowns. It can’t get better than this performance by Gainwell in 2019, can it?