Sports, Thrill of Victory

Winners and losers from college football’s Week 9

LSU coach Les Miles led his team to an upset victory over Ole Miss after losing his mother Friday night.

This week will be notable in that it’s the first week that the College Football Playoff Committee will announce its Top 25 as it inches closer to naming the four teams that’ll be in its playoff this winter, but in a way, the action on the field this weekend did nothing to make its job easier. Here’s a look at the notable things that came out of another great weekend of college football action.

WINNERS

Teams getting their eighth win: Marshall

Teams getting their seventh win: Nebraska, Mississippi State, Colorado State, Oregon, Ole Miss, LSU, Alabama

Teams getting their sixth win (and becoming bowl eligible): Northern Illinois, UCLA, Arizona, Utah, Arizona St., Georgia Southern, Missouri, Auburn, East Carolina, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Kansas State, West Virginia, TCU, Ohio State, Boise State

The still unbeatens: The list is down to three; that of course would be Mississippi State, which won at Kentucky; Marshall, which defeated lowly Florida Atlantic; and Florida State, which didn’t play.

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen and his team are one of just three undefeated squads after this weekend.

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen and his team are one of just three undefeated squads after this weekend.

Teams staying at one loss: East Carolina, Michigan State, Oregon, TCU, Ohio State, Arizona State, Utah, Colorado State, Kansas State, Auburn, Nebraska, Arizona and Alabama were all active this weekend, and each remain with one loss. (One-loss teams Baylor, Georgia, Notre Dame and Duke did not play, while Ole Miss played and lost.)

Georgia Southern: The Eagles picked up that magical sixth win for bowl eligibility. Granted, Georgia Southern plays in the Sun Belt, which may be the nation’s easiest FBS league, but when you consider that the Eagles were playing an FCS schedule a year ago (the only FBS team they played was Florida, which they beat) and that they’re the only Sun Belt team to ever win their first four league games, and that they’re doing it under a rookie head coach in Willie Fritz, that’s pretty impressive. Georgia Southern did it in style, too, whipping Georgia State by a 69-31 score thanks to 660 yards of total offense, 613 of those coming on the ground.

West Virginia: Coming off last weekend’s huge home upset of Baylor, the Mountaineers went to Oklahoma State in a pick ’em game and smacked a respectable Cowboy squad by a 34-10 score. It’s a nice recovery for coach Dana Holgorsen, whose seat had gotten a bit warm after last year’s 4-8 mark, and also for quarterback Clint Trickett, who’s still been dealing with some personal trauma (his dad had a heart attack two Saturday mornings ago). WVU, with losses to just Alabama (10 points) and Oklahoma (12), may be the most underrated team in America.

TCU: An 82-27 pasting of Texas Tech gave us one of those more notable “Wow!” moments we’ve seen this year. It was the fourth-straight week that the Horned Frogs set a series scoring record against an opponent.

LSU coach Les Miles led his team to an upset victory over Ole Miss after losing his mother Friday night.

LSU coach Les Miles led his team to an upset victory over Ole Miss after losing his mother Friday night.

LSU and coach Les Miles: Losing one’s mother as Miles did would leave most of us inconsolable for 24 hours. But Miles not only went out and coached the next day, but beat what I felt was the best team in the country in Ole Miss by a 10-7 score. It still doesn’t appear that Miles has a dependable quarterback, but nights like this only go to show that the Tigers have so much speed anFd athleticism all over the field that they can win without it.

Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs and Vanderbilt quarterback Johnny McCrary: It’s been a rough few weeks for both of the Volunteer State’s Southeastern Conference teams, and both lost again by double digits on Saturday, but at least fans of both teams found some reason for optimism at the most important position on the team. McCrary, one of the most gifted players VU has ever signed, looked as if he might be able to help VU now in a spot it desperately needs, completing 17-of-31 throws for 196 yards, two scores and an interception that wasn’t his fault. Three hours east, the Vols were on the verge of being run out of their own stadium by Alabama until Dobbs (19-of-32, 192 yards, two TDs, one pick) came in and burned his redshirt on UT’s third series. Dobbs’s most important contribution came with his legs, as he ran 19 times for 75 yards and kept Alabama from teeing off on the Vols’ running game. UT has a tough road to a bowl game, but had little to no shot with Nathan Peterman subbing for the injured Justin Worley; that can’t be said now if Dobbs continues to play at this level.

Alabama’s Amari Cooper: Sometimes, you know what’s coming and you can’t stop it. That was the case in Knoxville as Cooper had already registered over 160 yards receiving and two scores just six minutes into Saturday night’s game. It’s not coach Nick Saban’s style to run up scores or let one player go wild in pursuit of stats, but I strongly suspect that Cooper could shatter Cobi Hamilton’s Southeastern Conference single-game mark of 303 yards in a game if given the opportunity.

 

LOSERS

The teams that lost their bowl eligibility. SMU, UMass, Kent State, Troy and Georgia State all picked up a seventh loss, cementing what we pretty much already knew in that each will be home for the holidays.

No longer unbeaten: Ole Miss’s falling in Baton Rouge knocked the Rebels from the ranks of the unblemished, but certainly not out of the national title picture.

North Carolina: Following two good back-to-back wins over Georgia Tech and Virginia on the heels of a close loss at Notre Dame, it would seem to be an odd time to add the Tar Heels to the “losers” list, but read last week’s reports about 18 years’ worth of academic fraud in Chapel Hill and tell me it’s not deserved.

Texas Tech: There’s no shame in losing to TCU, but good grief, did Tech have to give up 82 points and 785 yards? And in case you’re wondering, the Horned Frogs didn’t exactly run up the score, removing starting quarterback Trevone Boykin from the game and pounding it on the ground in the fourth quarter. One irony: former Tech quarterback Sonny Cumbie, the co-offensive coordinator for TCU, led Tech to a 70-35 win over TCU a decade ago.

Washington State coach Mike Leach: It’s Year 3 for Leach in Pullman, and after picking up loss No. 6 to Arizona over the weekend, it looks like Leach is going to exit this campaign without a winning season there. One figured that the Cougars, who beat Arizona 24-17 last year, might have a shot at home, but a leaky defense (451 yards) and special teams effort (two kick returns allowed for scores) doomed WSU.

Minnesota: I didn’t think the Gophers were deserving of the Top 25 honor that the coaches gave them last week. They proved me right in a 28-24 road loss to a below-average Illinois team on Saturday.