Week 8 of the 2023 college football season has provided fans with the chaos they needed. From a team getting eliminated from College Football Playoff contention in the USC Trojans, a battle between Big Ten powerhouses in Ohio State and Penn State, and a top team in the ACC picking up their first loss of the season in North Carolina. This season has provided just the entertainment that fans have been looking for.
When it comes to the play of the top quarterback prospects in the 2024 class, there was a lot to be concerned about. Whether it was poor performances or injuries, it wasn't the greatest week for those prospects. Let's look at how the top prospects performed in Week 8. NOTE: Shedeur Sanders was on a bye, so he won't be featured.
Previous editions of "In the Market" can be viewed below:
Taking Stock: How top 2024 NFL Draft QBs fared in Week 8
Caleb Williams, USC
The USC Trojans lost their first game of the season in Week 7 against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. It was easily the worst game of Caleb Williams' career. While it was one loss, Williams and the Trojans were still in the Pac-12 Championship Game and College Football Playoff conversations. All they needed to do was win out.
Well, about that.
Williams and the Trojans lost 34-32 to a team that has become their kryptonite, the Utah Utes. For the first time this season, Williams didn't throw a touchdown. He did score a rushing touchdown to give USC a 32-31 lead under two minutes remaining. The thing is, Utah's defense let him score, giving their offense a chance to get into field goal range. Sure enough, the Utes picked up the 34-32 win on a 38-yard field goal by Cole Becker to give the team the win.
In the game, Williams completed 24-of-34 pass attempts for 256 yards, while running for 27 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Williams struggled under pressure, completing just two of six pass attempts for 24 yards while getting sacked four times on 11 dropbacks, per Pro Football Focus.
Next Game: at California, Saturday, Oct. 28, 4:00 p.m. ET
Drake Maye, UNC
The North Carolina Tar Heels were in prime position to earn a spot in the ACC Championship Game. All they needed to do was to keep up with the Florida State Seminoles, who were undefeated on the season. In Week 8, the Tar Heels took on the one-win Virginia Cavaliers. An easy matchup on paper, to say the least.
Yet, the Cavaliers didn't get that memo, as they pulled off the 31-27 victory. The Tar Heels and quarterback Drake Maye simply couldn't capitalize on their opportunities, and it cost them a win.
Virginia took the lead on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Tony Muskett to Malik Washington. From there, the Tar Heels punted the ball away on their next drive. Yet, the Cavaliers gave them a chance on a fumble by Mike Hollins on an eight-yard run. Maye did complete a 33-yard pass to Tychaun Chapman and a 29-yard throw to Tez Walker to set them up in scoring range at Virginia's 28-yard line. Yet, Maye followed that up by getting sacked for a two-yard loss and three straight incompletions for the turnover on downs.
The Tar Heels and Maye did get another shot to win after forcing Virginia to punt, but the quarterback threw an interception on second-and-10 to close out the game.
Maye completed 24-of-48 pass attempts for 347 yards. two touchdowns, and one interception, while running for 17 yards and a touchdown on six carries.
One area that Maye struggled in was passing under pressure. On 12 dropbacks, Maye completed just three-of-nine pass attempts for 45 yards, one touchdown, and one interception while getting sacked twice, per Pro Football Focus.
Next Game: at Virginia Tech, Saturday, Oct. 28, 8:00 p.m. ET
Michael Penix Jr., Washington
What is it with the Arizona football programs and the top quarterback prospects? The Arizona State Sun Devils made for some tough opponents for Shedeur Sanders back this season. Sure enough they did the same against Michael Penix Jr. and the Washington Huskies.
Before this matchup, Penix had never thrown multiple interceptions in a game this season. But the Sun Devils can now be known as the first team to pick off the Heisman Trophy candidate twice this season, and they both happened in two of Washington's first three drives. Penix was leading one of the top offenses in all of college football, yet they could only convert on 3-of-11 third own opportunities.
Washington's lone touchdown came in the form of 89-yard interception returned for a touchdown by cornerback Mishael Powell. That was enough to help Washington escape with a 15-7 win.
Penix threw for 275 yards, zero touchdowns, and two interceptions while completing 27-of-42 pass attempts.
Unlike in previous games, Penix was ineffective on passes further than 20 yards, as he went 0-for-5, with one of those incompletions being an interception, per Pro Football Focus.
Next Game: at Stanford, Saturday, Oct. 28, 7:00 p.m. ET
Bo Nix, Oregon
Bo Nix and the Oregon Ducks saw a victory slip away against the Washington Huskies in Week 7. Even though the team loss, Nix was impressive in the game. He had the chance to help out his Heisman stock against the Washington State Cougars.
Nix and the Ducks defeated the Cougars 38-24 to improve to 6-1 on the year.
In the second quarter, Nix broke a 10-10 tie with a two-yard touchdown run just before halftime. Nix increased said lead to 24-13 with a 42-yard touchdown pass to Bucky Irving. Then, as the game was already out of reach, Nix threw his second touchdown of the game on a 17-yarder to Tez Johnson.
Nix threw for 293 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions while completing 18-of-25 pass attempts.
The quarterback didn't face much pressure from Washington State's defense, as evidenced by the final score. But on four dropbacks in which Nix was pressured, he completed two of four pass attempts for 35 yards, per Pro Football Focus. Nix also thrived on 10-19-yard passes, as he completed four of five attempts for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Nix has another big game ahead of him, as Oregon takes on No. 13 Utah, who handed the USC Trojans their second loss of the season.
Next Game: at No. 13 Utah, Saturday, Oct. 28, 3:30 p.m. ET
Quinn Ewers, Texas
The Texas Longhorns returned from their bye looking to get back in the win column after losing to Oklahoma in the Red River Showdown. The opponents waiting for them were the Houston Cougars. It was far from an easy outing for the Longhorns, despite the fact they were heavily favored to win.
But there was more concern in the game, and it involved quarterback Quinn Ewers. In the second half, Ewers scrambled on a third-down play and lowered his shoulder when he was about to get tackled by Houston defensive lineman David Ugwoegbu. From there, Ewers got checked out before heading to the locker room. When he returned to the sidelines, he had removed his pads and jersey, and sported a sling on his right arm. With that, there was concern about how serious the injury was.
Ewers reportedly suffered a grade 2 AC joint sprain, but the injury isn't serious enough to end his season. However, there is no firm timetable, as head coach Steve Sarkisian declared that he would be "week-to-week."
As for the game, Ewers completed 23-of-29 pass attempts for 211 yards and two touchdowns in the 31-24 victory. When standing in a clean pocket, Ewers completed 23-of-27 throws for 211 yards and two touchdowns on 27 dropbacks, per Pro Football Focus. Under pressure, Ewers was unsuccessful on both pass attempts in seven dropbacks, where he was sacked three times.
It's not known when Ewers will play next this season. What is confirmed is he won't be on the field for Week 9 against BYU.
One 2024 NFL Draft QB sleeper who turned heads in Week 8
JT Daniels, Rice
One sleeper quarterback that has gone under the radar this season is JT Daniels of the Rice Owls. Daniels is the former USC Trojans, Georgia Bulldogs, and West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback and is in the midst of his fifth year in college. Thus far, the move to Rice has paid off for Daniels, as he's playing some of his best football this season.
In Week 8, Daniels led the Owls to a 42-10 victory. Daniels completed 24-of-37 pass attempts for 342 yards and two touchdowns while also picking up a rushing touchdown. If there was one area Daniels thrived in, it was making plays when blitzed. On 20 dropbacks, Daniels completed 13-of-20 throws for 203 yards and two touchdowns, per Pro Football Focus.
On the year, Daniels is the American Athletic Conference's leading passer with 2,173 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Daniels is draft-eligible. It will be interesting to see how he performs for the remainder of this season.
One 2024 NFL Draft QB who needs to show teams more after Week 8
Michael Penix Jr., Washington
It's hard not to look past the performance of the Heisman favorite in Penix. Was this a case of an off-game or a better plan from Arizona State's defense? Or will this be a trend for the rest of the season? Either way, the schedule isn't getting any easier for Washington for the final month.
Updated NFL Draft order: Who's buying in the NFL?
- Chicago Bears (via Carolina Panthers (0-6))
- Arizona Cardinals (1-6)
- Chicago Bears (2-5)
- Denver Broncos (2-5)
- New York Giants (2-5)
- New England Patriots (2-5)
- Green Bay Packers (2-4)
- Los Angeles Chargers (2-4)
- Tennessee Titans (2-4)
- New Orleans Saints (3-4)
- Las Vegas Raiders (3-4)
- Minnesota Vikings (3-4)
- Indianapolis Colts (3-4)
- Washington Commanders (3-4)
- Los Angeles Rams (3-4)
- Arizona Cardinals (via Houston Texans (3-3))
- New York Jets (3-3)
- Cincinnati Bengals (3-3)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3)
- Atlanta Falcons (4-3)
- Buffalo Bills (4-3)
- Dallas Cowboys (4-2)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)
- Houston Texans (via Cleveland Browns (4-2))
- Seattle Seahawks (4-2)
- San Francisco 49ers (5-2)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (5-2)
- Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
- Detroit Tigers (5-2)
- Miami Dolphins (5-2)
- Kansas City Chiefs (6-1)
- Philadelphia Eagles (6-1)
In Week 6 of the NFL season every one-loss team besides the Arizona Cardinals won their game. Even so, the Chicago Bears still hold the No. 1 pick by way of the winless Carolina Panthers, who were on a bye week. Again, it will be up to the Bears regime to determine whether they feel Justin Fields is the answer at quarterback, or to pick Williams if they are on the clock first.
The Arizona Cardinals, meanwhile, are expecting Kyler Murray to return soon. It feels as though the team will pick a position player over a quarterback.
The one-loss teams in the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, and New England Patriots could be in the market for a quarterback if they are to pick early on in the first round.
Other teams picking early in the first that could be in the running for a quarterback are the Las Vegas Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, and Tennessee Titans. In fact, the Titans have already signaled they could rebuild, as they traded safety Kevin Byard to the Philadelphia Eagles.