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Ranking college football’s Week 8 final scores by surprising-ness

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In Week 7, college football got weird. In Week 8, it got even weirder.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Purdue Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Technically, Week 8 of the college football season wasn’t weirder than Week 7; it only felt that way because of how it ended. Week 7’s mayhem, which included four top-10 teams losing and four more flirting heavily with the idea, offered us the shake-up this season needed.

Week 8, then, was more of an aftershock. Three top-10 teams didn’t even play, and a fourth (UCF) played a glorified scrimmage against ECU, so the upset potential was minimal. But we still finished Saturday night with crowds rushing the field in West Lafayette and Pullman, with Wazzu the Pac-12’s only remaining CFP contender and Purdue firmly ensconced in the Big Ten West race.

That’s certainly not not weird.

Let’s look back at Week 8 action by looking at the difference between projection and reality. S&P+ had a spectacular week, going 63 percent against the spread and moving to 55 percent ATS for the season. Its absolute error — the average difference between projected and actual scoring margin — in FBS vs. FBS games was an equally excellent 11.8 points per game (anything below 13 or so is solid, and anything below 12 is tremendous).

Whether the numbers were dialed in or not, however, there are always surprises. Using the S&P+ projections as a guide, let’s look at which games played out as expected and which ones very, very much did not.

(Rankings listed below are from the most recent AP poll.)

Right on (projection and reality within 3 points of each other)

NCAA Football: Colorado at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
  • Army 31, Miami (Ohio) 30 (projected margin: Army by 0.7)
  • No. 15 Washington 27, Colorado 13 (projected margin: UW by 15.0)

Washington blew its shot at the College Football Playoff with last week’s loss at Oregon, but from a numbers standpoint, the Huskies are still very much the class of the Pac-12.

  • Akron 24, Kent State 23 (projected margin: Akron by 0.0)
  • FIU 36, Rice 17 (projected margin: FIU by 20.2)
  • No. 10 UCF 37, ECU 10 (projected margin: UCF by 25.7)

ECU is so bad that when the Pirates took a 3-0 lead, it automatically felt like a disappointing overall UCF performance, even though the Knights ended up winning by almost exactly the projected amount despite playing their backup QB.

  • Houston 49, Navy 36 (projected margin: UH by 15.2)

Mostly on (3 to 7 points)

NCAA Football: Michigan at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
  • Arkansas State 51, Georgia State 35 (projected margin: ASU by 12.8)
  • UCLA 31, Arizona 30 (projected margin: UCLA by 4.5)

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s three straight solid-to-excellent performances from Chip Kelly’s Bruins.

  • ULM 20, Texas State 14 (projected margin: ULM by 2.2)
  • Middle Tennessee 21, Charlotte 13 (projected margin: MTSU by 12.1)
  • No. 6 Michigan 21, No. 24 Michigan State 7 (projected margin: UM by 9.6)

The weather was gross, and Michigan State was tied in the third quarter despite being severely out-gained. This felt like exactly the kind of game the Spartans always win. But the Wolverines had other ideas.

  • No. 23 Wisconsin 49, Illinois 20 (projected margin: UW by 24.4)
  • Stanford 20, Arizona State 13 (projected margin: Stanford by 1.9)
  • Georgia Southern 48, NMSU 31 (projected margin: GS by 11.2)

Chad Lunsford’s Eagles are now 6-1, by the way. We aren’t talking quite enough about how awesome a job he’s done there this year.

  • Air Force 41, UNLV 35 (projected margin: UNLV by 0.1)
  • Syracuse 40, North Carolina 37 (projected margin: ‘Cuse by 9.2)
  • Temple 24, No. 20 Cincinnati 17 (projected margin: Owls by 0.8)

S&P+ had this one nailed after regulation, anyway, before Temple took it in OT.

  • ODU 37, WKU 34 (projected margin: WKU by 3.4)

This one was just ... my goodness.

That’s two failed WKU game-winning field goal attempts and an ODU game-winner, all on untimed downs. And all after ODU had scored the game-tying touchdown with nine seconds left.

A little off (7 to 17 points)

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
  • Boise State 56, Colorado State 28 (projected margin: BSU by 20.2)
  • Southern Miss 27, UTSA 17 (projected margin: USM by 18.0)
  • UAB 29, North Texas 21 (projected margin: UNT by 0.1)

Here’s something else we aren’t talking about enough:

  • Utah State 24, Wyoming 16 (projected margin: USU by 16.7)
  • Liberty 48, Idaho State 41 (projected margin: Flames by 15.8)
  • Utah 41, USC 28 (projected margin: Utah by 4.0)
  • Buffalo 31, Toledo 17 (projected margin: UB by 4.9)
  • No. 14 Kentucky 14, Vanderbilt 7 (projected margin: UK by 16.4)
  • No. 18 Penn State 33, Indiana 28 (projected margin: PSU by 14.4)

PSU had this one in hand and by almost exactly the projected margin until the final minute, when Indiana scored on a fourth-and-12, then recovered an onside kick. But that was as far as the miracle comeback attempt got.

  • Northwestern 18, Rutgers 15 (projected margin: NU by 13.3)

I can’t say “Northwestern needs a fourth-quarter comeback to beat Rutgers” was something I expected someone to say yesterday.

  • No. 25 Washington State 34, No. 12 Oregon 20 (projected margin: WSU by 3.1)
  • No. 19 Iowa 23, Maryland 0 (projected margin: Iowa by 10.6)
  • Coastal Carolina 24, UMass 13 (projected margin: UMass by 1.5)
  • No. 1 Alabama 58, Tennessee 21 (projected margin: Bama by 24.3)
  • Louisiana Tech 31, UTEP 24 (projected margin: LT by 19.8)
  • Texas Tech 48, Kansas 16 (projected margin: Tech by 19.0)
  • SMU 27, Tulane 23 (projected margin: Tulane by 9.1)
  • No. 9 Oklahoma 52, TCU 27 (projected margin: OU by 11.9)
  • No. 5 LSU 19, No. 22 Mississippi State 3 (projected margin: LSU by 2.5)

MSU’s Nick Fitzgerald: 8-for-24 passing for 59 yards and four interceptions. LSU’s defense is relentless and nasty ... and Fitzgerald’s passing has been one of the biggest disappointments of 2018.

  • Appalachian State 27, UL-Lafayette 17 (projected margin: App State by 23.6)

Two S&P+ darlings — Utah State and App State — each underperformed by a decent margin. We’ll see if that results in slight drops for either or both.

  • Auburn 31, Ole Miss 16 (projected margin: AU by 1.1)
  • EMU 42, Ball State 20 (projected margin: EMU by 8.0)
  • Florida State 38, Wake Forest 17 (projected margin: FSU by 5.5)

That’s four straight decent or better performances from the FSU offense. Noles certainly still have a ways to go but have turned things around a bit.

  • Fresno State 38, New Mexico 7 (projected margin: FS by 15.5)
  • Arkansas 23, Tulsa 0 (projected margin: Hogs by 6.3)

Not only was this the first ever shutout win for a Chad Morris team, it was the first time a Morris team had ever held an opponent to single digits.

Way off (17-28 points)

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
  • WMU 35, CMU 10 (projected margin: WMU by 7.2)
  • Nevada 40, Hawaii 22 (projected margin: UH by 0.2)
  • Ohio 49, BGSU 14 (projected margin: Ohio by 16.5)
  • Virginia 28, Duke 14 (projected margin: Duke by 5.4)

Mentally prepare yourself for “Virginia, ACC Coastal champion,” just in case.

  • No. 3 Clemson 41, No. 16 NC State 7 (projected margin: Clemson by 14.4)

Damn, Clemson, this was supposed to be a game.

  • Marshall 31, FAU 7 (projected margin: Herd by 3.5)
  • SDSU 16, SJSU 13 (projected margin: SDSU by 24.7)

A result even more surprising than “Northwestern 18, Rutgers 15.”

  • No. 21 USF 38, UConn 30 (projected margin: USF by 34.5)
  • Nebraska 53, Minnesota 28 (projected margin: UM by 1.9)

Hell of a response by Nebraska after watching a 28-0 lead get whittled to 28-22.

Way, way off (more than 28 points)

NCAA Football: Memphis at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
  • Missouri 65, Memphis 33 (projected margin: Mizzou by 0.4)

Mizzou watched a 21-0 lead shrink to 21-17, then went on a 27-3 run. That’ll do.

  • Cal 49, Oregon State 7 (projected margin: Cal by 9.3)

Cal had one of Week 7’s most disappointing performances, getting shellacked by UCLA. Luckily, the Golden Bears had the perfect opponent on which to take out some frustration.

  • Purdue 49, No. 2 Ohio State 20 (projected margin: OSU by 10.1)

Hell of a night in West Lafayette.