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What we learned from Week 8 in college football

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  • By Daniel Jeremiah, Bucky Brooks, Gil Brandt, Lance Zierlein and Chad Reuter NFL.com
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Here's a look at what NFL.com analysts learned about prospects in Week 8 of the college football season.

1. After a two-game absence due to an ankle injury, LSU RB Leonard Fournette squashed any concerns about a potential loss of explosiveness or burst with a record-breaking 16-carry, 284-yard effort that featured three long touchdowns on old-school "downhill" sweeps. The 6-foot-1, 235-pounder flashed impressive stop-start quickness and acceleration running between the tackles. He also showed the combination of strength, power and physicality that coaches love to see from RB1s. The LSU star is widely considered the best runner in football, and Fournette's spectacular performance in a marquee SEC tilt reaffirmed his spot at the top of the list. More importantly, it showed evaluators that he can still dominate a game when he's not 100-percent healthy, which is critical for any elite runner playing at the next level. -- Bucky Brooks

2. While Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett received much of the hype (and deservedly so) leading up to the game, Alabama DL Jonathan Allen was the best player on the field in Saturday's battle between the Aggies and the Crimson Tide. In a game littered with future pros, Allen stood out like a sore thumb. Texas A&M couldn't block him. They tried. His superman sack was a perfect example. They dedicated a running back to help out the guard but he quickly swatted away the guard before leaping over the RB to sack the QB. He scored his second touchdown of the season on a fumble return and he generated numerous pressures on Trevor Knight. I have plenty of players left to study for the upcoming draft but from what I've seen, Allen has the highest floor of any draft prospect. He is so technically sound, explosive and versatile. I can't see him being worse than a dependable starter at the next level. He carries very little risk. -- Daniel Jeremiah

3. Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett has been dealing with an ankle injury that has limited his playing and practice time over the past few weeks. Garrett was clearly not in his best football shape Saturday against Alabama. While he still showed off his signature burst upfield, he really didn't make many plays that weren't right in front of him. He relied on his opening burst and then, if nothing came from it, he was pretty much done. Clearly, his athletic gifts and incredible twitch will put him position to light it up at the next level, but he simply has to improve his hand work (his ability to keep blockers off of him with his hands). -- Lance Zierlein

4. LBs Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams were both very disruptive on the edges of the Alabama defense vs. Texas A&M. Anderson is so stout at the point of attack, and Williams showed off his explosiveness as a pass rusher Saturday. Both guys are locks to get picked in the first two rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft. Anderson is a more complete player, but Williams has rare pass-rush potential. Both guys are boosting their stock with their play this fall. -- Daniel Jeremiah

5. I wasn't overly impressed with Alabama OT Cam Robinson this summer when I studied him, and his play has been uneven this season. However, I thought he was excellent today against Myles Garrett and everyone else Texas A&M threw at him. While I expected Garrett to explode past Robinson with his combination of edge speed and inside spin moves, Robinson was almost always first with his hands, which helped him control the flow of his reps against Garrett. Robinson played with consistent balance and had an above-average game as a run blocker. Today's tape should make scouts (and his own coaches) much happier. -- Lance Zierlein

6. Alabama suffered a big loss in its win over Texas A&M, as Eddie Jackson will miss the rest of the season with a broken leg. Jackson has been a playmaking machine as the high safety in the Crimson Tide's defense. He's also been a weapon on punt returns. His absence will take away from the excellent chemistry they've developed in the secondary. They'll have a capable punt returner, but his absence will be felt on defense. -- Daniel Jeremiah

7. Utah RB Joe Williams has one heck of a story, and he's looking like one heck of a player, too. Williams, a senior, retired from last month but returned last week, and he rushed for a school-record 332 yards and four touchdowns on Saturday vs. UCLA. He's well-built at 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds. I'll be keeping an eye on him for the rest of the season. -- Gil Brandt

8. I love the versatility that Virginia safety Quin Blanding brings to the position. Measuring 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, he is the new prototype at the position as a rangy playmaker with corner-like cover skills and rugged run-stopping ability. He plays like a Tasmanian Devil near the box, exhibiting outstanding instincts, awareness and athleticism chasing down runners from sideline to sideline. Against North Carolina on Saturday, Blanding continued to impress scouts with his diverse game when he notched 13 tackles (including one for loss) in a 35-14 loss. Although the number of tackles is certainly impressive, I was blown away with his hustle and effort in a blowout loss. In a game where many players, particularly top prospects, would shut it down, Blanding's intensity and play speaks volumes about his fire and desire as a playmaker. -- Bucky Brooks

9. Texas A&M had to be holding its breath on Saturday when DE Daeshon Hall got banged up vs. Alabama. He returned to the game after being checked out by trainers, and while he doesn't get as much attention as his fellow DE, Myles Garrett, he's a big part of the Aggies' defense. When he's not on the field, defenses can concentrate more on Garrett, which makes his presence so critical. -- Gil Brandt

10. With his eighth straight 100-yard game (dates back to 2015), it's impossible to ignore Texas RB D'Onta Foreman's talent and NFL potential. Foreman is a big back who runs behind his pads and is able to create yardage with power, but don't sleep on his wiggle. Foreman has shown he can operate as a downhill back and an off-set back. He has the speed to get the edge and the burst to live between the tackles. He continues to impress scouts. -- Lance Zierlein

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11. The success of Louisville QB Lamar Jackson has allowed TE Cole Hikutini to show scouts what he can do. The former Sacramento State and junior college tight end shows his impressive athleticism when running down the seam or over the middle, adjusting to passes on the run. He possesses strong enough hands to win contested throws, although he's been a bit up and down this year with his consistency catching the ball. As a blocker, Hikutini isn't the most physical player, but can win on the move. -- Chad Reuter

12. Rutgers WR Andre Patton is getting additional opportunities due to the unfortunate injury to the electric Janarion Grant earlier this year. At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Patton presents match-up problems outside for smaller defensive backs, as Minnesota cornerback Jalen Myrick found out Saturday. Patton's strider speed, foot quickness, and big body can gain him inside position on deep routes. On one such route, he boxed out Myrick and high-pointed the ball in the end zone for a score. -- Chad Reuter

13. The Iowa defense has stood strong this season, thanks to the play of DT Jaleel Johnson, LB Josey Jewell and CB Desmond King. Johnson's play stood out Saturday in the battle vs. Wisconsin for the Heartland Trophy. In the run game, he regularly held up multiple blockers. He even got sacks on two consecutive plays at the end of the third quarter, running over his man both times with explosive movement off the ball, strength and effort. -- Chad Reuter

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