It feels like we say this every single week, but the nation was treated to another wild week of college football action with performances from the top college football players that will define the direction of the 2023 campaign. Who were the standout players amongst the best of the very best?
Introducing the CFN College Football Players of the Week for Week 8.
Week 8 College Football Players of the Week
Quarterback of the Week: Jordan Travis, Florida State
Some moments in college football are unequivocally bigger than others. They define a season, they define a team, they define a player’s legacy. For some, they even define a player’s candidacy for the Heisman Trophy, the highest individual accolade. They are moments like the early-fourth quarter drive that Jordan Travis orchestrated and ended himself to give FSU a Week 8 win.
Down 20-17 to the impressive Duke Blue Devils, the FSU quarterback drove the Seminoles methodically down the field on a 14-play, 96-yard scoring drive that he converted himself with a two-yard touchdown run. The drive gave FSU their first lead of the night, one they wouldn’t relinquish. Travis ended the night with three touchdowns and 330 total yards, though the numbers did little justice to his impact for the undefeated Seminoles.
Honorable mentions: Diego Pavia, New Mexico State; JT Daniels, Rice; Dylan Hopkins, New Mexico; Gavin Wimsatt, Rutgers; Jayden Daniels, LSU; Bryson Barnes, Utah; J.J. McCarthy, Michigan.
Offensive Player of the Week: Ollie Gordon II, RB, Oklahoma State
There were lots of preseason concerns about the Oklahoma State Cowboys offense, mainly based on uncertainty over the quarterback position. As Mike Gundy’s team raced out to a 48-34 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers, there was one player who makes those questions seem like a moot point. Sophomore running back Ollie Gordon II is the Oklahoma State offense.
In a career-performance, Gordon took 29 carries for 282 yards and four touchdowns as the West Virginia defense simply had no answers for his skill set. The Cowboys running back scored the first and last touchdowns of the game, using his combination of vision, straight line speed, agility, and contact balance to terrorize on every single carry. He was simply unstoppable.
Honorable mentions: Bucky Irving, RB, Oregon; Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State; Nay’Quan Wright, RB, USF; Sam Wiglusz, WR, Ohio; Terion Stewart, RB, Bowling Green; Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU.
Defensive Player of the Week: Jalen Green, DL, James Madison
James Madison defensive lineman Jalen Green came into the 2023 college football season with 4.5 career sacks. In Thursday night’s 20-9 win over the Marshall Thundering Herd, the Dukes dominant defensive piece logged a program record-tying five sacks to assert himself as one of the college football’s top players. He leads the nation with 13.0 sacks through Week 8.
Green was the leader of a defense that limited Marshall to 169 total yards, as the now-vaunted Dukes defensive front ensured it was less Thundering Herd and more lame duck when it came to the ground game. Marshall threw double teams at Green and it didn’t matter. He was constantly in the backfield and unstoppable on his route to the QB. A ludicrous display of defensive ability.
Honorable mentions: Amari Jackson, CB, Boston College; Nathaniel Watson, LB, Mississippi State; Bo Richter, DE, Air Force; Dallas Gant, LB, Toledo; Chris Braswell, EDGE, Alabama; Darren Anders, LB, Bowling Green; Sidney Houston Jr., LB, Ball State; Romello Height, EDGE, USC.
Co-Special Teams Players of the Week: Ryan Hanson, P, James Madison and Jose Pizano, K, UNLV
Those were two special teams performances in Week 8 that were so special that we couldn’t separate them. So, we didn’t. For the first time this season, we have co-Special Teams Players of the Week, with James Madison punter Ryan Hanson and UNLV kicker Jose Pizano establishing themselves amongst the top college football players in Week 8.
Hanson was a midweek marvel as his punting prowess saw the Dukes maintain their unbeaten run with a 20-9 win over Marshall. The premier punting product routinely put the Marshall offense under pressure with his perfectly placed pings. The domination of field position was pivotal to the win, with all seven of his punts landing inside the 2, four of them inside the six.
We were convinced that performance would meet no parallel, but Saturday night in Las Vegas saw a sensational showing from UNLV kicker Pizano. The Rebels’ standout accounted for 19 of their total points in a 25-23 win over Colorado State, including a walk off field goal following a late-game drive down the field. Pizano set a program record with six field goals in a single game.
Honorable mentions: Alen Karajic, K, Jacksonville State; Tory Taylor, P, Iowa; Dragan Kesich, K, Minnesota; Deuce Spann, KR, Florida State.
Freshman Player of the Week: Jermaine Matthews, CB, Ohio State
It’s easy to argue that Ohio State cornerback Jermaine Matthews will face much more difficult offensive assignments than in the 20-12 win over Penn State in college football Week 8. In fact, he might not face a more vanilla offensive attack than the Nittany Lions mustered up. However, until he faces Michigan in November, the young Buckeye won’t face a bigger game all year.
The true freshman corner was imperious replacing the injured Denzel Burke. With one pass breakup and three tackles solo tackles, he’s not a statistical standout, but that’s exactly the mark of excellent cornerback play. He was tasked with one-on-one coverage and was so proficient that Penn State often avoided throwing his way. A mature performance from an elite talent.
Honorable mentions: Peyton Bowen, S, Oklahoma; Avery Johnson, QB, Kansas State; Cedric Baxter, RB, Texas; Matayo Uiagalelei, EDGE, Oregon; Kaden Feagin, RB, Illinois; Reuben Bain Jr., EDGE, Miami (FL)