Week 8, as you probably know, saw the return of what I think is college football’s 2nd best conference: the Big Ten.
Of those ten (plus four) teams, two of them were huge winners in their openers. On top of that, a FCS team beat a FBS team for the first time in 2020, an ACC bottom-feeder extended their winning streak to 3, and Coastal Carolina held off the ever-dangerous Georgia Southern to improve to 5-0 and hold onto their Top-25 status.
Here’s the top five winners from Week 8:
5. Coastal Carolina
Last week I gave the fifth spot to Memphis over several other equally-deserving teams, one of which was the Chanticleers. This week they get the nod, improving to 5-0 after winning a game against Georgia Southern that many thought would be a trap (a certain red, fish-like admiral was one such pundit). Staying unbeaten the rest of the way will be a challenge, as they will face the also undefeated Liberty Eagles in the season finale, along with other potential landmines such as Georgia State and Appalachian State. Enjoy the winning ways, Chanticleers. You’ve earned it.
4. Wake Forest
After starting 0-2, the Deacs are starting to hit their stride. With home wins over the Virginia schools, the latter over a ranked Virginia Tech squad, Wake Forest is flying high going into a matchup with putrid Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. A 6-5 season isn’t out of question if they keep up the good work.
3. Jacksonville State
I bet FCS players never forget the game they beat a big boy from upstairs, like Jacksonville State did to FIU last Saturday. Even if the Panthers don’t look very good, Jacksonville knows these wins are special and can remember this one for a long time. It also wrapped up their 4-game season, at least the fall season, so not a bad way to finish either, especially since it was their third win in a row.
Oh, man. This one was HUGE. After forcing six fumbles and two interceptions against the Michigan State Spartans, the Scarlet Knights managed to pull of their first Big Ten victory since 2017 (and only their 8th B10 win since joining in 2014). Is forcing that many turnovers per game unsustainable? Probably. But they did it on Saturday, and they did it on the road in a hostile environment of rowdy cardboard cutouts. And what can I say about Michigan State? They just laid the biggest pigskin egg I’ve seen in a long time, until the one some Nittany Lions laid a few hours later...
...to the Indiana Hoosiers. Oh my goodness, just, wow. That game left me speechless. First, let me get this out of the way. I’ve seen a lot of football collapses and blown leads (especially being a Kentucky Wildcats fan), but Penn State blew the biggest blowing of blewitness I can remember in a long while. That was the collapse of all collapses, and coach James Franklin must’ve felt like he was in a horror movie or nightmare when it was over. The truth was, he was, because he stumbled in there in the first place.
Now that that’s out of the way, let me get to my main point: Indiana played some of the best football of anybody in the entire 2020 season so far, and Tom Herman’s coaching masterpiece gave them their biggest win in decades. Hoosier fans were handed this one by Penn State, but they did what few underdogs have ever done: took it and kept it.
Penn State made a mistake, they took advantage, State recovered, made another mistake, they took advantage, until they won by one point and one inch. I know Indiana fans have been waiting for this one for a long time. I think at the end of the season I’ll do a “5 biggest winners from the 2020 season”.
If I do, I’m pretty sure you’ll see Indiana over Penn State in there because so far, this has been the biggest win any school has gotten in this muppet-crazy 2020 season.