What we learned: Florida State loss paves way for Clemson


The course of three major conferences -- the ACC, the Pac-12 and the Big 12 -- took a significant turn on Saturday less than two weeks before the initial College Football Playoff rankings are released.

The ACC's defending champion, Florida State, lost its first game of the season to Georgia Tech, 22-16, and yielded the league's only undefeated record to Clemson (7-0). Utah fell to USC, 42-24, leaving the Pac-12 without an unbeaten team. And one of the most serious playoff contenders in the country, Big 12 unbeaten Baylor, has lost its quarterback, Seth Russell, for an indefinite period of time due to a fractured bone in his neck.

Baylor easily beat Iowa State, 45-27, and improved to 7-0, but with the quarterback position being of utmost important in the Bears' offense, Russell's absence could have a major impact on how the Big 12 season concludes with two other teams (TCU, Oklahoma State) still undefeated as well.

Here are six other things we learned in Week 8 of the college football season:

2. Nkemdiche sidelined. The concussion that knocked Ole Miss DL Robert Nkemdiche out of the Rebels' upset loss to Memphis last week was reportedly serious enough to keep him out of action this week, as well. One of the most athletic interior defensive linemen in the nation, Nkemdiche awoke with headaches Saturday morning that concerned coach Hugh Freeze, according to Ben Garrett of Scout.com.

3. Bulldogs lose top defender. Mississippi State CB Will Redmond is out for the season with a torn ACL, the school confirmed Saturday. Redmond, a senior, is the Bulldogs' top NFL draft prospect.

4. Michigan State can indeed win in blowout fasion. After a three-point win over Oregon in Week 2 and Big Ten wins by no more than seven points in the last three weeks, the Spartans finally ran away with one, 52-26 over Indiana. It took awhile -- MSU led just 28-26 entering the fourth quarter -- but made it look easy late.

5. Alabama's pass protection problems are dire. The Crimson Tide surrendered five sacks to Tennessee in a 19-14 win Saturday, punctuating the team's biggest issue: a porous pocket. First-year starting quarterback Jake Coker isn't elusive, compounding the problem, and left tackle Cam Robinson isn't playing nearly as well as he did a year ago.

6. Barrett looked sharp. J.T. Barrett's first start for Ohio State this season looked a lot like most of his starts last year: outstanding. Barrett completed 14 of 18 passes, rushed for 101 yards, and accounted for five touchdowns in a 49-7 rout of Rutgers. For now, the defending national champion Buckeyes are definitely Barrett's team.

7. Ole Miss hasn't forgotten how to run the ball. The Rebels rushed 51 times for 230 yards, its highest total by far in an SEC game this year, in a 23-3 win over Texas A&M.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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