GameDay Final: Ohio State stumbles, but it's not out of the race yet

— -- Penn State's White Out turned into No. 2 Ohio State's wipeout.

The Buckeyes, who at times this season have looked like defending national champion Alabama's biggest threat in the College Football Playoff race, were stunned 24-21 at Penn State on Saturday night.

The Nittany Lions blocked a field goal and returned it for the winning touchdown with 4:27 left, handing Ohio State its first road defeat in Urban Meyer's tenure, ending a streak of 20 games.

Penn State's stunning win is the signature victory of coach James Franklin's three-year tenure.

"I'm just happy for our kids, I really am," Franklin said. "Our kids, the former players, the lettermen, this town have been through a lot. This is the start of our healing process tonight. I couldn't be prouder."

Penn State's victory will undoubtedly shake up the top four teams in the polls before the CFP selection committee releases its first rankings of the season on Nov. 1.

Here's a look at what's left for Ohio State and some other burning questions in college football after Week 8:

Did Ohio State's playoff hopes go bust in Happy Valley?

The surprising loss to Penn State will not only knock the Buckeyes out of the top four spots in the polls, but it also drops them one game behind No. 3 Michigan in the Big Ten East standings.

But Ohio State isn't entirely out of the playoff race. As long as the Buckeyes don't drop one of their next four games -- home contests against Northwestern and No. 8 Nebraska, followed by road trips to Maryland and Michigan State -- they'll still have a chance to win the Big Ten East and be a CFP participant.

The Buckeyes will still have to beat No. 3 Michigan at the Horseshoe in their regular-season finale on Nov. 26, which is still likely to be a make-or-break game for both teams. Obviously, their playoff chances will be enhanced if at least two of the top contenders -- Alabama, Michigan, Clemson, Washington and Louisville -- lose again.

But the Buckeyes are going to have to get better in a hurry. They passed for only 93 yards in a 38-17 win over Indiana two weeks ago and then needed overtime to beat Wisconsin 30-23 on the road last week.

"Every goal is still alive," Meyer said. "We're not a great team right now. We've got to regroup, get guys healthy and come back and keep swinging."

Remember that each of Meyer's previous three national championship-winning teams (Florida in 2006 and '08 and Ohio State in '14) won titles after losing once in the regular season.

Is there a worthy adversary for Alabama?

I can't see the Crimson Tide losing, at least not during the regular season.

The Crimson Tide actually trailed in the second half against Texas A&M. Quarterback Jalen Hurts was turning the ball over, Alabama's kicking game was shaky, and its red zone offense was sputtering. But after falling behind 14-13 with 12:54 left in the third quarter, the Tide's defense scored six points and had four sacks, while holding the Aggies scoreless the rest of the game.

The game-changing play came when linebacker Ryan Anderson forced Aggies tailback Keith Ford to fumble, and star defensive end Jonathan Allen scooped up the ball and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown, helping the Crimson Tide pull away for a 33-14 victory, their 20th consecutive win.

It was Alabama's 12th nonoffensive touchdown of the season and the 10th game in a row in which it scored on either defense or special teams.

"I think that was the real turning point in the game, because it changed the momentum of the game," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "Those plays are always huge in games, but that one was especially huge."

That's why it's going to be so difficult to knock off the defending national champion. Alabama's defense and special teams mask its offense's mistakes. Whenever Hurts looks like a freshman only months removed from high school, the Crimson Tide do something on defense or special teams to make up for it.

Alabama had five sacks and 11 tackles for loss against Texas A&M. Opponents can't run up between the tackles against college football's most formidable front, and there aren't many that can throw over the top of the Crimson Tide defense, either.

But Alabama might not roll over resurgent LSU and Auburn like we once thought it would. No. 25 LSU improved to 3-0 under interim coach Ed Orgeron with a 38-21 win over Ole Miss, and No. 21 Auburn crushed No. 17 Arkansas 56-3 for its fifth straight victory by running for 543 yards, a school record in SEC games.

Will <a href="http://www.espn.com/college-football/player/_/id/3916387/lamar-jackson" target="_new">Lamar Jackson</a> have any company in New York City at the Heisman ceremony?

It sure looks like Jackson has the Heisman wrapped up as long as he stays healthy or doesn't lay an egg in any of Louisville's remaining five regular-season games.

Jackson added four more touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) in the No. 7 Cardinals' 54-13 rout of NC State, giving him 34 total touchdowns this season -- that's best in FBS and set a Louisville single-season record. It was his 10th straight game with a touchdown rushing and passing, which is the longest active streak among FBS players.

The Cardinals will be heavy favorites in their last five games, including a Nov. 17 trip to No. 11 Houston, which was stunned 38-16 at SMU.

What does <a href="http://www.espn.com/college-football/player/_/id/559752/leonard-fournette" target="_new">Leonard Fournette</a> have in store the rest of the way?

It's probably too late for Fournette to make a serious Heisman run, but it's hard to argue that he's not the best player in the country when he's healthy (and LSU is throwing the ball somewhat adequately).

After missing three weeks with a sprained ankle, Fournette made quite a return in the Tigers' 17-point win over Ole Miss. He ran for a career-high 284 yards on only 16 carries and scored three touchdowns. It was the highest single-game rushing total by an LSU player, breaking the previous record of 250 yards set by Alley Broussard against Ole Miss in 2004. It was the fifth 200-yard performance of Fournette's career, which also broke another LSU record.

Fournette ran for touchdowns of 78, 76 and 59 yards, but his most impressive run might have been when he lowered his shoulder and plowed over Rebels defensive back Deontay Anderson in the second quarter.

"It's either he hits me, or I hit him," Fournette said. "I don't like to be hit."

Will Mark Helfrich and Charlie Strong make it to the end of the season?

Neither embattled coach probably helped his chances of keeping his job beyond this season.

The Ducks lost 52-49 in two overtimes at California on Friday night in a game that included a combined 203 plays and more than 1,000 yards of offense. It was Oregon's fifth straight defeat, its longest losing streak since 1996, and it dropped the Ducks' record to 2-5, 0-4 in the Pac-12.

The Ducks have allowed an average of 49.8 points during their losing streak.

"I feel awful that we couldn't get it done for them, of how they've stuck together and weathered through a lot. They've had a lot of opportunities to splinter, and they haven't," Helfrich said.

Meanwhile, Texas fell to 3-4, 1-3 in the Big 12 after losing 24-21 at Kansas State. It was the Longhorns' fourth loss in the last five games, and they made many of the same mistakes they've made in their previous defeats. A bobbled snap cost UT a red zone opportunity late in the game, and then it missed a 35-yard field goal with 4:03 left.

The Longhorns are trying to avoid their third consecutive losing season under Strong, whose record fell to 14-18 at UT. The Longhorns probably need to win their last five games for Strong to keep his job, and they still have to play No. 9 Baylor at home next week and No. 12 West Virginia on Nov. 12.

"You have to move on," Strong said. "You have to think about next week at home, and we just have to get ourselves back together."

The Longhorns are running out of time to do it.

Playoff teams after Week 8

1. Alabama : The Crimson Tide trailed in the third quarter but finished with a 33-14 win over No. 6 Texas A&M 33-14 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. They'll get a much-needed bye week before playing at No. 25 LSU on Nov. 5. The Tide lost starting safety Eddie Jackson for the rest of the season after he broke his leg against the Aggies.

2. Michigan : The Wolverines improved to 7-0 for the first time since 2006 with a 41-8 victory over Illinois at the Big House. It was the 10th time in coach Jim Harbaugh's tenure that the Wolverines held an opponent to 10 points or fewer, the highest total in FBS since the start of the 2015 season.

3. Clemson : After last week's closer-than-expected 24-17 win over NC State in overtime, the Tigers had the weekend off in preparation for next week's showdown at No. 13 Florida State. The Seminoles have won three of four games against the Tigers, but lost 23-13 at Clemson last season. The Tigers haven't won at Doak Campbell Stadium since a 27-20 victory in 2006.

4. Washington : The Huskies easily defeated Oregon State 41-17 at home, and they get a major test at No. 19 Utah next week. The Huskies won their 10th consecutive game, which is their longest winning streak since winning 12 in a row during the 2000-01 seasons.

Next four in contention

1. Louisville : A week after struggling at home against Duke, the Cardinals didn't waste any time in dismantling NC State in a 54-13 blowout. The Cardinals led 17-0 after the first quarter and outgained the Wolfpack 244 yards to minus-1 yard of total offense in the first 15 minutes. Louisville probably won't be tested in its next two road games at Virginia and Boston College.

2. Baylor : The Bears, who are 6-0 under acting coach Jim Grobe, had the weekend off before next week's trip to reeling Texas. The Longhorns beat the Bears 23-17 in their regular-season finale last season, which cost them a trip to the Sugar Bowl. The game was marred by an ugly first-quarter melee.

3. West Virginia : Skyler Howard threw four touchdown passes and the Mountaineers' vastly improved defense shut out TCU in the second half of a 34-10 victory. West Virginia is 6-0, 3-0 in the Big 12, its best start since winning its first seven games in 2006. The Mountaineers play at Oklahoma State next week.

4. Nebraska : The Cornhuskers had to come from behind in the second half to beat Big Ten cellar dweller Purdue 27-14 at home. They're 7-0 for the first time since 2001, but will have to play a lot better in next week's trip to No. 10 Wisconsin. Quarterback? Tommy Armstrong Jr.?set a school record with his 13th career game with 300 yards or more of total offense.

Heisman candidates

1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: Jackson accounted for four more touchdowns (three passing and one rushing) in the Cardinals' 54-13 rout of NC State, which gives him 34 this season, setting a new Louisville single-season record with five regular-season games to play. Jackson passed for 355 yards with no interceptions and ran 17 times for 76 yards.

2. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: Watson didn't play this weekend, but he'll have a chance to impress Heisman voters again when the Tigers play at Florida State next Saturday. His most impressive outing to date was a five-touchdown performance in Clemson's 42-36 win over Louisville on Oct. 1. He's completing 63.6 percent of his passes for 1,950 yards with 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

3. Jake Browning, QB, Washington: Browning threw for 291 yards with three touchdowns and ran for a fourth score in the Huskies' 41-17 win over Oregon State. He has 26 touchdown passes and only two interceptions this season. He'll have a big opportunity to impress voters in next week's trip to Utah.

4. Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State: Pumphrey ran for 135 yards with two touchdowns in the Aztecs' 42-3 win over San Jose State on Friday night. He's the leading rusher in FBS with 1,246 yards in seven games, and his 58 career rushing touchdowns and 63 touchdowns overall broke Marshall Faulk's school records.

Best moments

Tweets of the night

Best plays

Worst plays

1. How does Missouri lose to Middle Tennessee? By fumbling into the end zone for a touchback after a 40-yard gain on a bizarre play.

2. Eastern Michigan's Kwanii Figueroa had a chance for a scoop-and-score against No. 20 Western Michigan, but the the turf monster tripped up the big man.

3. Things got a little testy between Boston College and Syracuse. A hard tackle on an interception return resulted in a near-brawl and three personal fouls.

4. A team never wants to be accused of, ahem, quitting, but it sure looked like Arkansas' defense stopped playing with much effort or emotion in an ugly 56-3 loss at Auburn. The Tigers ran for 543 yards, the most ever allowed by the Hogs, including Stanton Truitt's 31-yard touchdown run? right up the middle.

Quotes of the night

1. "This style in particular is a tip of the cap, a nod to Woody Hayes, to Michael Douglas in the movie 'Falling Down' and also a tip of the cap to Malcolm X. In honor of those three men." -- Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, on the stylish eye glasses he wore during the Wolverines' game against Illinois.

2. "I didn't have anybody tell me that they thought it had been a waste of time. They thought they were treated respectfully, and that was certainly my aspiration. I wanted to keep them informed. I wanted to feel like they had the opportunity to put their best foot forward. I guess you wouldn't call them joyous conversations, but everyone was complimentary in the manner in which they were treated." -- Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, on his conversations with potential expansion candidates after the league announced it was staying put at 10 schools.

3. "I'm almost in tears and got chills all over me." -- Purdue interim coach Gerad Parker during his on-field interview, after the Boilermakers took a 14-10 lead into halftime over No. 8 Nebraska. The Cornhuskers came back to win 27-14.

4. "We have one goal, and that's Pac-12 champions. Winning six games, that's cool, it's cute. But we have to continue to move on. We have bigger things to worry about." -- Colorado running back Phillip Lindsay, after the Buffaloes beat Stanford 10-5 to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2007.

Stats that matter

1. 332: Utah running back Joe Williams, who quit the team two games into the season and then came back three weeks later, set a school record with 332 rushing yards on 29 carries in the No. 19 Utes' 52-45 win at UCLA. It was the highest rushing total by an FBS player since Oklahoma's Samaje Perine set an FBS record with 427 yards against Kansas on Nov. 22, 2014.

2. 82-1: Alabama's record under coach Nick Saban when it holds opponents to 14 points or fewer. The only loss was a 9-6 defeat against LSU in 2011. The next closest Power 5 team in holding opponents to two touchdowns or less is Ohio State, which has done it in 56 games.

3. 1: Stanford has scored one offensive touchdown in its last 13 quarters after a 10-5 loss to Colorado. The Cardinal's lone offensive touchdown during that span came on the final play of a 42-16 loss to Washington State on Oct. 8. Stanford hasn't scored a first-half offensive touchdown in five straight games.

4. 819: You can take your pick of offensive records set during Oklahoma's 66-59 win over Texas Tech, but the standout is Red Raiders QB? Patrick Mahomes II?setting an FBS record with 819 yards of total offense. He attempted 88 passes for 734 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns on 12 rushing attempts. Only 12 FBS teams have run more than 100 plays in a game all season.?