The Hypnotoad, a big man cartwheel and the best moments in college football from Week 8


While Clemson outscored Syracuse 17-0 in the fourth quarter after making a (temporary) quarterback change to remain undefeated, Ole Miss and UCLA saw their perfect seasons end, as the Rebels and Bruins each allowed 45 points in respective losses to LSU and Oregon.

Week 8 featured several key upsets, massive comebacks, big plays and other pivotal moments that will impact the College Football Playoff picture. We catch you up on the best moments from the week.


Best celebration

Some penalties are totally worth it, as Maryland offensive lineman Johari Branch showed Saturday.

A man of Branch’s stature — 6-foot-3, 330 pounds — is often miscast for power and brawn alone. But the Terrapins center showcased grace and flair after Maryland teammate Roman Hemby scored the go-ahead 75-yard touchdown against Northwestern in the fourth quarter. An end zone camera captured Branch doing a perfect cartwheel across the goal line before celebrating with his teammates.

Officials assessed a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, but Maryland held on for a 31-24 win to become bowl eligible.

Maryland coach Mike Locksley clearly didn’t like the penalty on Branch, but perhaps he can use Branch’s tumbling talents in the future. That’s what Ohio did in 2019, when offensive lineman Hagen Meservy lined up as a receiver and cartwheeled to distract the defense for a nice gain on a pass play.

Bottom line: Never let a big man’s talents go to waste.

— Adam Rittenberg


Best mascot

It was all Ducks everything Saturday. Before the sun came up on Eugene for College Gameday, Puddles was playing and smashing a UCLA-branded guitar (hopefully it wasn’t part of an NIL deal), before watching Lee Corso handle — or rather mishandle — a real life duck …

… and pick the Ducks over the Bruins.

By the time the day was over and Oregon had won, Puddles had also logged 168 total table push-ups, including 45 in his last set — one for every point the Ducks scored. All in a day’s work.

— Paolo Uggetti


Best catch

Since moving down to FCS, we don’t often get a chance to check in with Idaho. It’s a shame considering the greatness that is the Kibbie Dome. On Saturday, one of college football’s most universally adored venues was home to arguably the best catch of the weekend.

Hayden Hatten, take a bow. Not only was it an incredible display of concentration, the catch came at a pivotal point of the game. Idaho led by just one score and from there it went on to blast Portland State, 56-21, for its fifth straight win of the season. The Vandals are undefeated against FCS competition — having only lost to Indiana and Washington State — and have a massive game next week at undefeated Sacramento State.

— Kyle Bonagura


Best reunion

The game was well in hand. No. 6 Alabama was well on its way to beating No. 24 Mississippi State 30-6 in Tuscaloosa.

But on Saturday night in Bryant-Denny Stadium, there was a rare win-win moment late in the fourth quarter when the Preston brothers found themselves on the field at the same time.

Shawn Preston Jr., a senior defensive back at Mississippi State, dropped into coverage as a pass sailed incomplete toward Christian Leary. And who ran into the same area of the field? Shazz Preston, a seldom used freshman receiver who was trailing the play.

Shazz came up behind Shawn and got his attention. Surprised, Shawn leapt and practically tackled his younger brother to the ground.

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Alabama’s Shazz Preston and Mississippi State’s Shawn Preston get excited when they realize they’re in the game against each other.

No flags were thrown.

The Louisiana natives got to share a mini reunion before getting back to the task at hand.

There’s a chance that Shawn takes advantage of his one remaining year of eligibility and they’ll get to play one another next year in Starkville.

But if that doesn’t happen, at least they got to experience Saturday night.

— Alex Scarborough


Best comeback

It’s been a while for LSU, which has become accustomed to rallying from sizable deficits this season.

So when No. 7 Ole Miss jumped out to a 17-3 lead Saturday at Tiger Stadium, LSU never flinched, and for only the third time as an unranked team, the Tigers beat an AP Top 10 opponent by 14 points or more. They steamrolled the previously unbeaten Rebels over the final three quarters for a convincing 45-20 win.

The last time LSU had beaten a Top 10 opponent as an unranked team was back in 1983 when the Tigers beat No. 9 Washington (26 points). They beat No. 9 Florida in 1977 (22 points).

Even though Ole Miss was ranked No. 7, the oddsmakers had the game even going into kickoff. LSU also trailed Auburn by 17 points in the first half earlier this season, but battled back for the win on the Plains. This comeback was even more impressive. After falling behind 17-3 in the opening seconds of the second quarter, LSU outscored Ole Miss 42-3 the rest of the way. Quarterback Jayden Daniels has been one of college football’s most improved players. He accounted for five touchdowns in the win over Ole Miss. That’s after accounting for six touchdowns the week before in the road win at Florida.

— Chris Low


Takeaways

All glory to TCU‘s Hypnotoad

TCU is on a tear (in the second half anyway) over the past two weeks, after finishing off Kansas State, its fourth straight win over a ranked team. The Horned Frogs became just the second team in the past 20 seasons (along with 2016 Tennessee) to win after trailing by 17-plus points against ranked teams in consecutive games, which they did the week before against Oklahoma State as well.

Dare we say there’s a Hypnotoad who deserves a frog’s share of the credit?

First, a quick Hypnotoad history: The animated amphibian is a character on the show “Futurama,” described on the show’s Wiki as “a large toad-like creature that has large oscillating multicolored eyes and emits a droning hum. His eyes glow all the time. The toad apparently uses these as a power of hypnotism on surrounding people and animals.”

It also claims that the frog can “hypnotize people into writing internet articles about ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD.” Guilty as charged, I guess.

The Hypnotoad has been a thing at TCU games in recent years, being shown on the video board to rouse the Amon G. Carter faithful into a frenzy.

But this week, it entered the mainstream when it appeared on the hoodie of one Sonny Dykes, the TCU coach who has never even lost a single game there.

The true power of Hypnotoad’s impact came with about five minutes left in the third quarter. With Kansas State leading TCU 28-24, facing a third-and-6 at the TCU 30-yard-line, the Hypnotoad made an appearance on the screen. The crowd whipped into a lather, and the pass rush got to Wildcats QB Will Howard, who scrambled and was stopped short of the first down. On the next play, kicker Chris Tennant missed a 44-yard field goal.

Four plays later, Max Duggan hit Quentin Johnson for a 55-yard touchdown pass to give TCU its first lead of the day, 31-28. The Frogs (and the Hypnotoad?) never looked back.

After the game, Duggan wore a “Frogs by 90” T-shirt to his postgame press conference with a Hypnotoad on it.

Coincidence. Hard to dismiss it. ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD.

— Dave Wilson

Ducks flying high … but can they soar higher?

If you caught any of Oregon’s season-opening, 46-point loss to Georgia and thought the Ducks weren’t a team worth taking seriously, well, allow the Ducks to reintroduce themselves as the best team in the Pac-12. Not only has Dan Lanning’s team won every game since losing to his former team, but the Ducks also took down conference flavor of the week UCLA with ease Saturday.

Every facet of the Ducks’ game looked to be rolling against the Bruins, even special teams. A surprise onside kick in the second quarter turned the tide of the game and gave us a glimpse into how much Lanning is coming into his own self as a first-time head coach. Likewise, Bo Nix has made the most of his cross-country move from Alabama to Eugene. Under Kenny Dillingham, his former quarterbacks coach and current offensive coordinator, Nix has looked more comfortable by the game. Surrounded by talent at the skill positions, he’s embraced his role and limited his mistakes.

Plenty of games remain, including a tough matchup against Utah, but for now the Ducks are firmly back in the spotlight.

— Uggetti





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