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Instant analysis: Tracking CFB's top 10 players in Week 8

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Editor's note: In this space we'll track the top 10 players in college football (based on NFL.com analyst Chad Reuter's rankings) through the eighth weekend of the season. Here you'll find each player's final stats and analysis of their performances. The post will be updated throughout the day as games conclude. All times listed are Eastern.

Tracking CFB's top 10 players: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7


1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (vs. N.C. State, Saturday, 12 p.m.)
Last week: No. 1
Week 8 stats: 20-of-34 for 355 yards, 3 TDs. 17 carries for 76 yards (4.5 average), TD.
Reuter's analysis: Once again, Jackson's running ability got the Cardinals out to a quick start, as his speed and willingness to run through tackles earned him a 36-yard touchdown to start the game. When he was set against N.C. State's pass rush, and his primary read was even a bit open, Jackson delivered passes with laser-like accuracy. Scouts will appreciate his ball placement into a tight window in the red zone on one of his three first-half touchdown throws. He's worked on his touch on short passes, as well. Jackson does have work to do when it comes to feeling pressure, though, as he tends to lock onto a target, allowing pass rushers to get home.

2. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M (at Alabama, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
Last week: No. 2
Week 8 stats: 7 tackles (3.5 for loss), 1 QB hurry.
Reuter's analysis: Garrett had a tough matchup against left tackle Cam Robinson today. It didn't look like he was 100 percent healthy (he has been hampered by an ankle injury), and he was often swallowed up when rushing the passer. He lacked his usual explosiveness. Garrett was able to make plays when he wasn't blocked, as you'd expect. For some reason, Alabama thought a running back could take him out of plays -- but he attacked them hard and made plays in the backfield. He also lined up inside and got penetration, chasing plays to the sideline. Garrett didn't make enough of an impact to prevent Alabama from pulling away down the stretch.

3. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (vs. Ole Miss, Saturday, 9 p.m.)
Last week: No. 3
Week 8 stats: 16 carries for 284 yards (17.8 average), 3 TDs. 3 catches for 25 yards (8.3 average).
Reuter's analysis: Through most of the first quarter, Fournette was bottled up on every run or catch. Then, he became unstoppable. He busted out for scores of 59, 76 and 78 yards, all on similar plays where he hit huge holes to the outside as hard as he could, and then accelerated to daylight, leaving defenders in his wake (or stiff-arming them to the ground). Fournette's combination of speed and power allowed him to break the team's single-game rushing record in just eight carries. Also, he showed his ability to stand up defenders (or at least give a strong chip) in pass protection. When healthy, he's the best back in college football.

4. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (on bye)
Last week: No. 5

5. Jabrill Peppers, S/LB, Michigan (vs. Illinois, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
Last week: No. 6
Week 8 stats: 2 tackles. 5 carries for 9 yards (1.8 average), 1 catch for 5 yards. 2 kickoff returns for 58 yards.
Reuter's analysis: He didn't have to make many plays on defense Saturday in his team's drubbing of Illinois, and Peppers got several opportunities on offense. He had just 14 yards on six touches, though, as he was one block or step away from breaking out for big gains. While playing linebacker/safety/nickel back on defense, Peppers did many of the little things that NFL scouts want to see, like hustling across the field to stop a sideline run and taking on pulling guards to keep plays inside. It was a nice, albeit quiet, effort on a day his team dominated.

6. Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State (at Maryland, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.)
Last week: No. 7
Week 8 stats: 5 tackles (1 sack).
Reuter's analysis: After playing mostly inside during his early career, McDowell has played outside more regularly the last few weeks. This week he used his length to contain outside plays, forcing backs to head inside into the hands of Spartan linebackers. He gave tackles everything they could handle when he was rushing the passer, often getting held by the long sleeves he was wearing on a chilly Saturday night. His sack early in the second quarter showed his strength, as he brought the quarterback down with one hand. McDowell was involved in plays in the second half, making four tackles, but his presence couldn't prevent Maryland from getting a big conference home win.

7. Jamal Adams, S, LSU (vs. Ole Miss, Saturday, 9 p.m.)
Last week: No. 8
Week 8 stats: 5 tackles (0.5 for loss), 1 pass breakup.
Reuter's analysis: Adams needed to play in coverage most of the night against Ole Miss' passing attack. Early on, he displayed his excellent open-field tackling skills. He made a nice play near the goal line in the first half, getting through a rub to knock a pass away from Rebels tight end Evan Engram. Adams did attack plays behind the line of scrimmage when given the chance, but his most impressive plays might have been on special teams. He threw his body into two guys at once to help his punt returner get the corner in the second half, and then downed a punt inside the one-yard line with two minutes remaining. Even though Adams didn't fill the stat sheet, this game was a good example of his all-around talent.

8. Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama (vs. Texas A&M, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
Last week: No. 9
Reuter's analysis: Texas A&M's Myles Garrett should have known better from his film study that he wasn't going to get past Robinson with bull rushes. Robinson stoned him with a wide base and consistently reset his hands. Robinson gets into trouble when he lunges at defenders, who are able to easily avoid him with handplay and quickness. Overall, however, Robinson proved himself up to the challenge presented by Garrett. Scouts will take note of this.

9. Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama (vs. Texas A&M, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
Last week: No. 10
Week 8 stats: 6 tackles (1 sack), 1 fumble recovered (returned 30 yards for TD), 4 QB hurries.
Reuter's analysis: Alabama's senior defensive end looked like a bird, a plane, and (why not?) Superman. On his first-quarter sack, he flew over an Aggie to tackle Texas A&M QB Trevor Knight. Throughout the game, Allen took advantage of a young Texas A&M offensive line, powering past or swiping away blocks to make plays against the run and pass. His scored his second touchdown of the season at the end of the third quarter, scooping up a fumble and getting it into the end zone. It was another great performance in a spot where his team needed him.

10. Teez Tabor, CB, Florida (on bye)
Last week: Knocking on the door

6 knocking on the door

DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame (on bye)
Last week: No. 4

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC (on bye)
Last week: Unranked

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (on bye)
Last week: Knocking on the door

Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois (at Michigan, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
Last week: Unranked
Week 8 stats: 1 tackle.
Reuter's analysis: Smoot's quickness and power from the strong-side end spot are easy to see, but Michigan's offensive line play and play calls usually made him a non-factor. If a tight end was lined up against him, Smoot could hold the line or get into the middle to be part of the play. Wolverines right tackle Erik Magnuson kept Smoot at bay most of the day, though Smoot was able to hold the edge and disengage if plays came in his direction. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh brought in the second-string offensive line in the fourth quarter, and Smoot made some plays against them; the outcome of the game was already decided.

Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama (vs. Texas A&M, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
Last week: Unranked
Week 8 stats: 12 tackles (.5 for loss).
Reuter's analysis: An athletic, hard-hitting inside linebacker, Foster's steady play helped him lead the Tide in tackles vs. Texas A&M. Foster tracked down runs to the sideline to prevent four-yard gains from going for 10 yards. If his defensive line gave him a lane, he exploited it to bring running backs down behind or near the line of scrimmage.

Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame (on bye)
Last week: Knocking on the door

Dropped out: Oklahoma CB Jordan Thomas (knocking on the door last week), Clemson WR Mike Williams (knocking on the door last week); Alabama LB Tim Williams (knocking on the door last week).

Follow Chad Reuter on Twitter @chad_reuter.

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