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2023 College Football season: Top performers from Week 8

It was another entertaining week on the college football gridiron, with Ohio State and Oklahoma both surviving scares to remain undefeated.

The College Football Playoff picture remained mostly intact following this past week’s results with the first rankings set to be revealed at the end of the month.

A second loss – this one to Utah – all but eliminated USC, but the other realistic National Championship contenders stayed afloat. That includes Alabama, which avoided a second setback by posting a come-from-behind win over Tennessee.

Let’s break down the best performances by individual players and/or teams in Week 8 of the college football season.

J.J. McCarthy, QB - Michigan

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy has been absolutely on fire over the past two weeks. 

After throwing as many touchdown passes as incompletions (three each) during a 52-7 rout of Indiana, McCarthy passed for 287 yards and four touchdowns as the Wolverines humiliated in-state rival Michigan State 49-0. 

McCarthy tossed three of his scoring strikes in the first half and UM led 28-0 at the intermission. 

The junior from La Grange Park, Illinois has gone without an interception in seven of eight games this season – including five in a row.

McCarthy has emerged as the Heisman Trophy favorite at +180 odds. Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. at +275 and LSU QB Jayden Daniels at +600 are McCarthy’s closest competitors.

Marvin Harrison Jr, WR - Ohio State

Speaking of the Heisman Trophy, Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. has the best odds among non-quarterbacks at +2000. You have to go all the way down to Michigan running back Blake Corum at +10000 to find another non-QB.

Harrison Jr. improved both his Heisman and NFL Draft stocks by making 11 receptions for 162 yards and a touchdown during Ohio State’s 20-12 defeat of Penn State. 

His 18-yard TD reception with 4:07 remaining made it a two-possession game and all but ended the Nittany Lions’ comeback hopes.

The Philadelphia native now has 42 catches for 766 yards and six touchdowns on the season. He has scored in three consecutive contests and in five of the last six.

Dillon Gabriel, QB - Oklahoma

Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel has been no stranger to heroics this season. 

Gabriel led the Sooners to a dramatic win over Texas two weeks ago, but he saved enough magic up his sleeve for facing his former team, Central Florida. 

UCF led 23-17 going into the fourth quarter, but Gabriel engineered two late touchdown drives to treat the home crowd to another comeback victory. He finished with 253 passing yards and three touchdowns in OU’s 31-29 defeat of the Knights.

Oklahoma has the sixth-shortest odds to win the College Football Playoff at +1400.

Cody Schrader, RB - Missouri

SEC headlines may be dominated by two-time defending National Champion Georgia and an upcoming West Division battle between Alabama and LSU - but don’t sleep on Missouri. 

The Tigers are 7-1 overall (3-1 SEC) following their 34-12 blowout of South Carolina. 

Running back Cody Schrader carried the ball 26 times for 159 yards and two touchdowns. 

The senior from St. Louis has now scored nine TDs this year, including eight in the last five games. Schrader is eighth in the nation in rushing touchdowns with nine so far.

Missouri is off this weekend before facing Georgia on November 4.

Deuce Spann, WR - Florida State

Although Florida State’s 38-20 victory over Duke looks like a beatdown on paper, the Seminoles actually trailed 20-17 going into the fourth quarter before reeling off 21 unanswered points.

The ‘Noles got off to an especially slow start, as they found themselves behind 17-7 after Chandler Rivers of the Blue Devils returned an interception for a touchdown early in the second quarter. 

FSU needed something explosive to dig itself out the hole, and that is exactly what happened. 

Deuce Spann returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a TD, immediately cutting the Seminoles’ deficit back to three. That kept them close as the game progressed in advance of their fourth-quarter explosion.

Florida State, which visits Wake Forest on Saturday, is the -225 favorite to win the ACC title.

Utah

Utah just straight up owns USC these days. The Utes won a 34-32 thriller on the road for their fourth consecutive victory in the head-to-head series.

Even with quarterback Cam Rising sidelined, the visitors found enough offense from the likes of backup QB Bryson Barnes, running back Ja’Quinden Jackson and receiver Sione Vaki. 

Barnes accounted for four total touchdowns, Jackson rushed for 117 yards and Vaki caught five passes for 149 yards and two TDs. Cole Becker’s 38-yard field goal as time expired clinched it for Utah. 

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