College football’s Week 8 is in the books, following a Saturday that had few blockbuster games but a couple that turned out to be really entertaining.
This is America, so it’s time to distill the day into groups of winners and losers. Of course, there are dozens of literal winners and losers at the end of every college football weekend. Consider this a list of extra notable winners and losers.
The Boilermakers pummeled No. 2 Ohio State, sending Urban Meyer to one of his three worst losses ever. They did in on ABC in primetime, on a night when they paid a public tribute to close friend of the program, Purdue student, and terminal cancer patient Tyler Trent, who’d predicted the win and said it was his biggest wish. Purdue pulling off a 49-20 rout of that team on that night in that stadium in front of that person was too perfect to capture in words. It was an all-time wonderful night for the Boilers.
Purdue’s coach could stick around to keep building in West Lafayette, or he could get any number of jobs that come open later this year. He looks like the candidate right now, right when his alma mater may or may not be about to fire Bobby Petrino.
Their Wolverines beat Michigan State, despite having to deal with every omen in the world that would ordinarily portend a Spartan upset against Michigan. Jim Harbaugh and Mark Dantonio bickered by way of their postgame press conferences, but Harbaugh won their exchange because he won the game. Michigan avoided an upset trap and is basically ticketed for a one-off against Ohio State to decide the Big Ten East.
If that wasn’t all fun enough, they then got to watch Ohio State get blasted into the sun. If anyone needs a favor from a Michigan fan, you should ask for it today.
The fired Tennessee head coach-turned-Alabama analyst finally got to taste a cigar on the third Saturday in October. Always on the wrong side of the Alabama-Tennessee “rivalry,” or whatever you’d call it after more than a decade of consecutive Bama wins, Jones now knows what it’s like to be on the winning side. 200,002 things make his victory sweeter.
Reasons 1-200,000: The roughly $200,000 Tennessee is paying him this month and will pay him every other month through February 2021.
Reason 200,001. This Gatorade shower:
Reason 200,002. This cigar:
This man is thriving.
For the second time in two years, the Black Knights won without attempting a pass, beating Miami (Ohio) 31-30. But this time was special, because they did it in double overtime. Army is a winner for staying true to itself and remaining fully blasé about the forward pass.
ESPN, by way of Washington State
For the first time ever, the network took College GameDay to Pullman, Wash., where Washington State fans put on a party for the ages. It was an amazing scene, after Cougs fans spent 15 years calling out via flag-waving for the show to make a trip to their little corner of the Pacific Northwest. Look at how cool this setup was:
Pullman alcohol and weed distributors
The weekend was expected to bring a windfall for the Pullman business whose specialities are selling things you can drink or smoke:
“We are all expecting this to be just about the most crazy thing we’ve ever experienced,” Roxanne Trocino, the general manager of popular local bar Valhalla, says.
Auburn’s head man might have been coaching for his job, $32 million buyout and all. A businesslike 31-16 win at Ole Miss will spare him for now. But given that Malzahn’s buyout is fully guaranteed and doesn’t require him to look for other work, if you want to argue that he’d be a winner if he got fired, I’m not going to disagree with you.
The Huskers beat Minnesota to move to 1-6 and get Scott Frost his first win. Minnesota is bad, and Nebrsaka was a 4.5-point favorite, but the Huskers were starting to look in danger of not getting a single FBS win this year. That horrible fate is now off the table, and Nebraska’s slightly likelier to finish with a moderately respectable record. A game against Bethune-Cookman next weekend should get the Huskers to 2-6.
The Buckeyes, who might have the best roster in the country according to recruiting rankings, were overwhelmed against a team that’s signed one four-star recruit since 2013. The loss exposed serious issues with the Buckeyes’ offensive line, and their rushing average was an even 3 yards. That was actually something of an improvement after a 2.9 mark the week prior against Minnesota. The average had gone down every single game since Week 1. Greg Schiano’s defense also let Brohm’s Boilermakers hold a private track meet against it.
OSU still controls its Playoff destiny, but it’s hard to be confident.
Maybe the sport’s best program to have never finished in the AP Poll’s top 10, the Wolfpack looked like they might make some ACC Atlantic noise. They were undefeated entering their game at Clemson, and while they were 18.5-point underdogs, it wasn’t totally inconceivable that they’d give the Tigers a game. They almost beat Clemson in Death Valley two years ago, weeks before the Tigers won the national title. But it didn’t work out here, as the Wolfpack lost 41-7 and looked horrible doing it.
Clemson was always likely to win the Atlantic and the whole ACC, but the Wolfpack had a chance to take a step forward. They didn’t come close to fulfilling it.
The Bearcats’ undefeated season ended with a 24-17 overtime loss at Temple. No one figured Luke Fickell’s team would go 12-0, and this game was a tossup, with S&P+ giving UC a 48 percent chance to win. But the Bearcats had a touchdown lead entering the fourth quarter. Now they’re looking at a four-game stretch of at SMU, Navy, USF, and at UCF. Though SMU and Navy have both been bad, either could be tricky, and USF-then-UCF is a meat-grinder. This would’ve been a nice win to bag.
Fans who watched the 3:30 p.m. ET slate of games
There was nothing exciting going on in Power 5 games during the usually pivotal mid-afternoon/early evening schedule. The best one might have been, uh, Indiana losing by 33-28 to Penn State and adding to its tortured history against superior Big Ten teams.
The LSU of the future
LSU got a win against Mississippi State, at least. But star linebacker Devin White will have to sit out the first half of the Tigers’ blockbuster game against Bama in two weeks because of a second-half targeting penalty incurred on a high hit against MSU quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. Sitting an entire half in that rivalry game, as a defensive leader, will be brutal.
Mississippi State’s passing game
It’d been a total zero all year, and then Fitzgerald went 8-for-24 with four interceptions in Death Valley. The Bulldogs need to adapt the Army approach and just not pass.
The TCU coach’s reputation as a defensive whiz continued to get no favors from Oklahoma, which won 52-27 in Fort Worth. Lincoln Riley’s Oklahoma teams have scored 131 points on the Frogs in three meetings over the last two years. These meetings between maybe the sport’s most renowned offensive coach and one of its handful of most renowned defense coaches is repeatedly going for Riley. The Horned Frogs are a Big 12 afterthought.
The Wildcats needed to come back to beat Rutgers by 3. They are a loser by rule.
About 24 hours before Washington State kicked off against Oregon, news broke that WSU coach Mike Leach had unleashed a torrent of criticism at the Pac-12 office after some video review shenanigans led to USC getting away with a targeting foul against the Cougars in September. The whole episode’s been embarrassing for the league.
Now Washington State’s the conference’s sole, slim Playoff hope. There cannot be a more satisfied man in the sport today than the Cougs’ head coach.
Who else won? Who else lost? Where am I wrong? Drop a line in the comments.