Week 8 of the 2021 college football season did us no favors in providing clarity for the future. But big games are still on the horizon, including the battle for the Big Ten East in which Ohio State will take on Penn State and Michigan will battle Michigan State next week. Georgia and Florida also meet, with the Gators trying to play spoiler to the No. 1-ranked team in the country.
Before getting to Week 9, here are the highest-graded college football players through Week 8.
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Power Five: Caleb Williams, Oklahoma Sooners | 94.0
The comeback king Williams continues to lead the way for Power Five quarterbacks after another thrilling win as the Sooners' starting quarterback. Williams converted two fourth-down tries in the fourth quarter on the ground, with the latter being a wild “double handoff” play where he instinctively took the ball from running back Kennedy Brooks, who was in the midst of being stopped short of the sticks.
Group of Five: Malik Willis, Liberty Flames | 92.6
Liberty bounced back from its Week 7 loss to UL-Monroe with a big win against North Texas. Willis still sports an absurd 11.4% big-time throw rate, and he's the only quarterback in the country over 10% with at least 100 dropbacks this season. He’s also on pace to eclipse the highest rushing grade by a quarterback in the PFF College era (2014-). His stunning 96.1 mark is 5.4 points higher than any quarterback in any season.
Power Five: Blake Corum, Michigan Wolverines | 91.7
Corum and fellow backfield partner Hassan Haskins tore up the Northwestern defense Saturday and find themselves first and third, respectively, in the overall running back rankings with Texas’ Bijan Robinson sandwiched between them. Against the Wildcats, the duo produced a 0.58 missed tackle rate and gained a first down or touchdown rushing on 43% of their carries while averaging 5.5 yards per carry and four yards after contact per rush.
Group of Five: Ulysses Bentley IV, SMU Mustangs | 90.3
SMU pulled off a big win against Tulane on Thursday night, but Bentley was absent. Still, he keeps his top spot in the rankings. He is averaging 5.4 yards after contact this season, now up to third-best in the country. He’s run for a first down or a touchdown on 39% of his attempts, 22nd-best in the country. Despite taking just 54 carries on the season, Bentley is averaging 7.6 yards per carry and creating explosive plays every chance he gets.
Related content for you: College Football Week 8 — PFF’s Team of the Week and Player Awards via Anthony Treash
Power Five: Drake London, USC Trojans | 90.6
The Trojans' offense continues to sputter, but London is doing everything in his power to keep it afloat. He leads the country in contested catches by eight and ranks second in overall catches (79). He had another huge game against Notre Dame, hauling in 15 catches for 171 yards — with 103 coming after the catch. He’s had at least 130 yards receiving in six of his seven games this year.
Group of Five: Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers | 92.0
The Chanticleers suffered their first defeat of the season after succumbing to Appalachian State in a midweek Sun Belt tilt. Heiligh continued to perform despite the loss, catching six balls for 103 yards. He made two contested catches on three opportunities. The receiver leads the country in yards per route run (4.97).
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