College football All-Week 8 team: The best players at each position
Each week, we’ll be taking a look at the All-American first team, with the assessment being for the body of work of that week alone. Because the contributions of offensive linemen are more big picture and difficult to gauge on a week-by-week basis, they will be excluded from this exercise.
ICYMI: The All-Week 7 team
|Running back||Joe Williams||Utah|
|Running back||Leonard Fournette||LSU|
|Wide receiver||Kahlil Lewis||Cincinnati|
|Wide receiver||Carrington Thompson||Western Michigan|
|Tight end||Cole Hikutini||Louisville|
QB: Baker Mayfield | Oklahoma
This might seem sacrilegious to exclude Mayfield’s counterpart Saturday night, Patrick Mahomes II, for this spot. After all, Mahomes set NCAA records with 819 yards of total offense and 734 passing yards.
However, Mahomes fell just short of another record, and that was the most pass attempts in a game with 88. His yardage total was incredible, but it’s certainly cheapened a bit when you throw that many passes. And with Mayfield looking just as amazing on the winning side, he has to get a slight edge.
Mayfield easily set a career high with 545 passing yards on just 36 attempts — 15.1 yards per attempt, a large advantage over Mahomes’ 8.3. Mayfield also threw for seven touchdowns while not tossing an interception for a pretty flawless performance.
RB: Joe Williams | Utah
What an outstanding story Williams was on Saturday. Just a month after retiring from the sport of football, he exploded in his second game back for 332 yards and four touchdowns.
The former UConn and ASA College transfer has been incredible in his two games since returning, rushing for more than 500 yards. His 332 yards in the Utes’ win at UCLA were the national season high this year, and he deservedly received Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week honors.
RB: Leonard Fournette | LSU
Oh yeah, remember that Fournette is amazing? The junior was playing just his fourth game this year while dealing with some injuries, and while he was very good in his first three — eclipsing 100 yards rushing each time — we’ve been waiting for a game like this all year.
Mississippi was overwhelmed by the New Orleans native, as he carried the ball 16 times for 284 yards — a ridiculous average of 17.8 yards per carry. He found the end zone three times, including a 78-yard breakaway, and added three receptions for an additional 25 yards.
WR: Kahlil Lewis | Cincinnati
Bearcats quarterback Gunner Kiel finally got to play his first complete game of the year, and Lewis was clearly very grateful for that.
The sophomore had his first 100-yard receiving game of his career and then some, as Kiel found him 11 times for 150 yards and three touchdowns in the Bearcats’ 31-19 win over East Carolina. In addition to being the first triple-digit receiving game, it was his first performance with multiple touchdowns and double-digit receptions.
WR: Carrington Thompson | Western Michigan
Thompson was the clear favorite target of Zach Terrell against Eastern Michigan on Saturday, as the two connected eight times for 177 yards. Two of those receptions resulted in touchdowns, including a 51-yarder.
Thompson’s speed makes him a good weapon for Terrell to have at his disposal, but he hadn’t made it a point to target him until recent weeks. Thompson now has 13 catches in his last two games after needing the first six games of the season to catch that many previously.
TE: Cole Hikutini | Louisville
When Lamar Jackson wasn’t doing it with his legs against NC State on Saturday, there’s a good chance he was targeting Hikutini.
The tight end pulled in six catches for a season-best 118 yards, finding the end zone once. A lot of his damage came in the first half, where Jackson looked to him in some big spots.
Unfortunately for the Sacramento, California, product, his day was probably talked about most for a complete fail of a hurdle attempt, which Jackson said he gave him grief for throughout the rest of the afternoon. Regardless, it was an impressive performance.
K: Austin MacGinnis | Kentucky
MacGinnis’ day against Mississippi State got off to a rather poor start, as he missed an easy 28-yard field goal on the Wildcats’ opening drive.
From there, however, he certainly made up for it.
The junior converted each of his next four field-goal attempts, the last of which was the most important: a 51-yarder that he nailed as time expired to give Kentucky the 40-38 win.
The life of a kicker is a lot of “What have you done for me lately?” and MacGinnis left a good taste in the mouths of the Kentucky faithful.
|Defensive line||Jonathan Allen||Alabama|
|Defensive line||Jarvis Pruitt||SMU|
|Defensive line||Garrett Sickels||Penn State|
|Linebacker||Brandon Bell||Penn State|
|Linebacker||Jason Cabinda||Penn State|
|Cornerback||Clifton Duck||Appalachian State|
|Cornerback||B.J. Clay||Georgia State|
DL: Jonathan Allen | Alabama
Allen simply had one of those games that make you feel awful for the offensive linemen forced to try to block him.
It didn’t matter how many blockers Texas A&M threw at him, Allen was making an impact on Saturday. He had a scoop-and-score touchdown in which he showed off some very impressive mobility for a defensive lineman and also made highlight reels for a leaping sack that resembled something you might see at a professional wrestling event.
DL: Jarvis Pruitt | SMU
The Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week made it look laughable that Houston was ever considered a Playoff contender and Greg Ward Jr. a Heisman frontrunner.
In what was easily Houston’s worst offensive output of the season, Pruitt was right in the center of seemingly every play. The senior applied great pressure all game long, managing to bring Ward down three times. He also recovered a fumble and finished with five tackles.
DL: Garrett Sickels | Penn State
It’s unlikely that any player was more impressive in Week 8 than Sickels.
He came out for the second half completely fresh while Ohio State had 30 minutes of work under its belt. The results were ridiculous, as Sickels put the Nittany Lions on his back and finished the second half with a line few players could achieve over an entire game: nine tackles, 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss.
There’s a very good chance Ohio State would have pulled away in the third quarter if not for Sickels halting J.T. Barrett’s momentum whenever he got any going.
LB: Duke Riley | LSU
It took until his senior year, but Riley hauled in his first interception in his college career.
That was just part of an extremely impressive all-around game for the linebacker, as he finished with a career-high 14 tackles, 1.5 of which were for a loss. He really stepped up in the second half, directing traffic as the LSU defense clamped down on Chad Kelly and the Rebels and held them scoreless over the final 30 minutes.
LB: Brandon Bell | Penn State
Bell’s return from injury was a godsend for Penn State. Making his first appearance since Week 2, the senior was all over the place to give the Buckeyes a lot of trouble.
Bell finished the primetime game with 18 tackles, including a sack. He also broke up a pass. For his efforts, Bell received Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week recognition.
LB: Jason Cabinda | Penn State
No, this isn’t an accidental copy and paste: Making his first appearance in weeks, a Penn State linebacker was a major factor against Ohio State.
Cabinda had an additional week over Bell to accumulate rust, as he had not suited up for the Nittany Lions since Week 1. He, like Bell, was outstanding in his return, tackling 12 Buckeyes, including Barrett once, and breaking up a pass.
Suffice to say, Penn State was not very likely to pull off the shocker if its depleted linebacker corps hadn’t suddenly become booming with talent.
LB: D.J. Palmore | Navy
Palmore looked good in Navy’s win over Memphis, racking up six tackles, all but one of which were solo, and two sacks.
The junior has been very effective this year at coming in from the middle and getting past the line, as he now has five sacks on the year. That easily puts him in the team lead. In fact, for comparison, the rest of the Navy defense only has seven sacks this season.
CB: Clifton Duck | Appalachian State
Idaho made the mistake of throwing Duck’s way a few times, and he made the Vandals pay.
The true freshman received the first Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week award of his young career by picking off two passes. The first of those was returned 44 yards to the house.
Duck is now tied for third in the nation with four interceptions this season. Certainly an impressive achievement for a true freshman at a position that typically takes a few years of seasoning at each level.
S: Kieron Williams | Nebraska
Nebraska’s offense has been great this year, but many overlook the unbeaten Cornhuskers’ defense, which ranks in the top 15 in scoring defense.
Williams is a big part of that, as he has been a ballhawk this year who is also tied with Duck for third in the nation with four interceptions.
Half of those came in Saturday’s 27-14 win over Purdue. In addition to the two picks, he broke up a pass and finished with four tackles.
S: Tyrell Gilbert | Cincinnati
Gilbert made his presence felt in Cincinnati’s win over East Carolina. The local product intercepted a pass and returned it for 35 yards, forced a fumble and ended the day with seven tackles.
Cincinnati had a two-score lead when the interception happened, but it was still a key play to smother any chance of a Pirates comeback with a few minutes left. Gilbert also intercepted a pass earlier in the game off a deflection, but it was called off due to a hold.
CB: B.J. Clay | Georgia State
Clay was a brick wall against Tennessee-Martin, not letting anything thrown his way get past him.
Two of the throws in his direction were intercepted, while another three were broken up. The second of his two interceptions was returned 38 yards for a touchdown to help the Panthers pull away in the second half.
P: Jake Bailey | Stanford
Stanford was not good at home against Colorado on Saturday, managing just a safety and field goal in a 10-5 loss.
Bailey, on the other hand, was very good. The punter continued his excellent sophomore season by punting the ball five times for an average of 50.6 yards. That was assisted in particular by two very impressive boots measuring 60 and 56 yards.