Week 8 of the 2017 college football season was filled with several intriguing matchups and storylines. After last week was filled with upsets, the Week 8 slate provided few surprises, but Notre Dame (USC) and Penn State (Michigan) earned dominant wins on Saturday night. Alabama continues to dominate its SEC competition, as the Crimson Tide defeated Tennessee 45-7 in Tuscaloosa. Elsewhere around the nation, Washington State rebounded from a loss to California with a 28-0 victory over Colorado, TCU handled Kansas 43-0, and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State avoided upset bids on the road.
With the eighth weekend of the 2017 season in the books, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor some of the top performances. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, team, freshman and unsung hero from Week 8:
College Football Week 8 Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Guice recorded 276 rushing yards and one touchdown on 22 attempts in Saturday night’s 40-24 victory over Ole Miss. The 276 yards by Guice set a SEC record, as he became the first player in conference history to record at least three games with 250 rushing yards in a career.
Defensive Player of the Week: Michael Pinckney, LB, Miami
Pinckney was all over in the field in Miami’s win over Syracuse. The sophomore led the team with nine tackles (six solo and 3.5 for a loss) and also recorded 2.5 sacks.
Coordinator of the Week (Offense): Joe Moorhead, Penn State
Michigan’s top-ranked defense was no match for Penn State’s offense on Saturday night. The Nittany Lions recorded 506 total yards (8.3 per play), 42 points and converted four of seven third-down attempts. Moorhead unveiled a couple of new plays to keep Michigan’s defense off balance, and Penn State had no trouble moving the ball with quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley delivering big performances.
Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Mike Elko, Notre Dame
Elko continued to show why he was one of the offseason’s best assistant coach hires in Notre Dame’s 49-14 win over USC on Saturday. The Fighting Irish defense limited the Trojans to 336 total yards, with just 76 coming on the ground. Quarterback Sam Darnold was sacked four times and intercepted once and did not complete a pass longer than 35 yards. Elko’s defense recorded 10 tackles for a loss, seven quarterback hurries and allowed only three drives to extend longer than 60 yards.
Freshman of the Week (Offense): Willie Wright, WR, FAU
FAU’s offense torched North Texas for 69 points and 804 yards in Saturday night’s 69-31 victory. The Owls did a good chunk of their damage on the ground (447 yards), but quarterback Jason Driskel connected on 24 passes for 357 yards. Wright was Driskel’s favorite target against the Mean Green, as the freshman caught eight passes for 141 yards and a touchdown.
Freshman of the Week (Defense): T.J. Carter, DB, Memphis
Carter led the Memphis defense with 14 tackles (one for a loss) and also recorded one interception, a pass breakup and a forced fumble in Thursday night’s win over Houston. Both of Carter’s turnovers came in the fourth quarter, with his interception off quarterback Kyle Postma sealing the victory for the Tigers.
Team of the Week: Penn State
The Nittany Lions aced their first test against a ranked opponent in the 2017 season, as coach James Franklin’s team handled Michigan 42-13 to improve to 7-0. The offense recorded 506 total yards against one of the nation’s best defenses, and running back Saquan Barkley added a couple of plays to his highlight reel for the Heisman Trophy. Penn State’s defense hasn’t gotten enough national attention so far this season, but this unit delivered another standout performance versus the Wolverines. Coordinator Brent Pry’s group limited Michigan to just 269 yards (3.8 per play) and recorded eight tackles for a loss and seven sacks. The schedule won’t get any easier with Ohio State up next. However, as evidenced on Saturday night, Penn State is more than ready for the challenge and is clearly one of the top five teams in the nation.
Unsung Hero of the Week: Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma
Injuries limited Anderson to just two games prior to 2017, but the sophomore is starting to show flashes of his potential. In Saturday’s win over Kansas State, Anderson led the Oklahoma backfield with 147 rushing yards on 19 attempts. Additionally, his 22-yard run with less than 10 seconds remaining gave the Sooners a 42-35 victory.