College Football, Week 8: 4 Winners, 4 Losers

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A few weeks ago, we had maybe the most thrilling college football weekend of the last ten years (possibly since the 2005 weekend that included, among other fantastic finishes, the "Bush Push" game between USC and Notre Dame). It was twelve hours of dramatic endings and pinball scoring stats, everything that's great about this time of the year and the age we live in (multiple games on television, computer streaming, social media).

The great thing about college football, though, is that you don't need great finishes for the sport to be compelling. This past Saturday we had plenty of buildup to marquee match ups and potential career altering twists for some head coaches. However, in the end, there were a lot more blowouts and popcorn farts on Saturday than there were Instant Classics.

And yet, even from the ashes of numerous boring thrashings, we get storylines. Sure, we love the hits, the physicality, the game day pomp and circumstance of a football Saturday (or Sunday), but no other sport has the episodic advantage and storyline arc that college and pro football have.

The games are great, but now they're over, and now we essentially have six days to pore over what it all means. THAT'S AWESOME. So let's commence poring with the winners and losers from this weekend's college football action...


4. Egg Bowl ticket brokers On paper, we remain on a collision course for the Egg Bowl between Mississippi State and Ole Miss to be the most important sporting event ever in the state of Mississippi (surpassing every Kamala match in the state in Mid South Wrestling back in the mid 80's, they're all tied for first right now), and on paper, we should. After all, top ranked Mississippi State was idol this weekend and third ranked Ole Miss had cupcake Tennessee at home. However, I saw an interesting stat given on situations like the one Ole Miss was in on Saturday, given by Chris Fowler of ESPN's GameDay -- teams coming off of two revenge wins in a row (victories over teams they lost to the previous season), are 0-23 ATS in the following week, and have lost straight up in 14 of those games! It's a hyper-specific gambling instance, but makes complete sense. The emotional high of beating not just one, but two teams who'd beaten you the previous season would probably result in a major letdown the following week. The last two weeks, Ole Miss had beaten Texas A&M and Alabama.

Well, you know what else makes sense? Ole Miss kicking the shit out of Tennessee, that's what. And as it turned out, that took precedent over Fowler's immutable laws of wagering. (By the way, ticket prices online start at $300 for the game on November 29 in Oxford. START.)

3. Fans of wagering While we are on Fowler's little gambling nugget that he dropped on us during the Saturday morning show, if I may give kudos to ESPN for finally recognizing publicly that gambling on college football exists. Hell, it's probably the major reason why there is such demand for 80 percent of the dog shit games that flood their networks throughout the day on Saturday. Trust me, nobody is watching Michigan State and Indiana on the afternoon ABC feed unless they're seeing value in the Spartans at -16 (which, as you all know, I did). Thank you for treating us like adults, ESPN, and a major shout out to last season's Saturday morning preview show on Fox Sports 1, which brought gambling talk to the forefront, and forced ESPN to copy them. A small reminder that competition in programming is always a good thing.

2. Notre Dame's playoff chances I'm not going to spend my time and typing energy here breaking down the fourth down play that would have been the game winning touchdown for Notre Dame in a hostile environment against the second ranked Seminoles on Saturday night. Enough people have done that. (For what it's worth, the animated GIF in Jason McIntyre's post on The Big Lead is the easiest way to watch it over and over again) Instead, let's move forward and figure out what Saturday night's game, a drama-laden 31-27 FSU win, means in the big picture of the College Football Playoff race, since this was thought to be the epitome of a regular season "play in game" for the four team playoff.

I originally thought that the loser of this game would be eliminated from the playoff conversation, as I think (for wildly different reasons) college football pundits have been waiting to knock both of these teams off of their top five roost. I was wrong. Florida State still controls its own destiny, and Notre Dame actually came out of this game looking stronger from a loss, especially one they lost in such a controversial fashion. (If you're looking for a WWE doppelgänger for this game, think Steve Austin-Bret Hart "I Quit" Match at Wrestlemania 13 -- Austin passes out in a pool of his own blood, loses the match but never truly says "I Quit," and the quintessential heel becomes a respected babyface. I think America respects this Notre Dame team a little bit more than they did coming in on Saturday night.)

Now, a loss is a loss, so now Notre Dame needs some things to happen to get into the four team playoff, but it's certainly very do-able. At first glance, optimal scenarios would be:

1. Obviously, ND must win the remainder of their games (11/1 at Navy, 11/8 at ASU, 11/15 vs Northwestern, 11/22 vs Louisvllle, 11/29 at USC). There is good equity for the committee to consider still remaining on their schedule.

2. Have Florida State win out, and do so convincingly. If they do, there's a decent chance they'd be the number one team in the country and ND would have, by definition, the best loss of any one loss teams (on the road, at night, controversial ending to a loss to the best team in the country).

3. Have the Big 12 turn into a bloodbath of two loss teams, which it's well on its way to becoming, especially after Baylor's loss at West Virginia on Saturday. This would essentially eliminate that conference from any four team playoff scenarios.

4. Have Alabama win the SEC. The SEC champion, whoever it is, is likely going to get a spot. Any team seeking a spot in the playoff should hope that said SEC champ is Alabama, because a one-loss Alabama team that doesn't win the SEC will get priority for an at-large type berth in the playoff. They just will. Perception is reality, and I think Alabama's 59-0 win over A&M Saturday was an indicator that Darth Saban is getting Death Star primed to destroy some SEC planets come November.

5. Have someone other than a one-loss Oregon team win the Pac-12, preferably Stanford, Arizona State, or USC, since all of them are on the Irish schedule and their winning the conference would allow Notre Dame to say "We beat the Pac-12 champ and played the number one team down to the wire."

6. There's not much they can do about the Big Ten. A one loss Michigan State or one loss Ohio State is going to win that league, they just need whoever it is to look unimpressive in the process.

There's still a ton of football to be played, and hell, Notre Dame will probably lose another game along the way, but as an alum, this process of typing the previous six paragraphs was therapeutic and I thank you for allowing me the chance to do so. I love you all. Go Irish.

1. The Dana Holgorsen Era Prior to the season, Vegas has forecasted the season win total for the West Virginia Mountaineers at 4.5, a total normally reserved for teams that are a) going to finish in the bottom two or three of their conference, b) going to see their coach get fired before season's end, c) coached by Charlie Weis, or d) all of the above (what up, Kansas?). Dana Holgorsen is proving that he is indeed no Charlie Weis. (Now, add three hundred more pounds, a maniacal ego, and a FUPA the size of circus tent, and we can talk.)

On Saturday, West Virginia backers got to cash their "OVER 4.5 WINS" tickets, with the Mountaineers securing an impressive 41-27 win over Baylor, which was actually not as close as the final score would indicate. Baylor certainly helped the WVU cause with a mile and a half worth of penalties (18 for 215 yards, to be exact), but the big takeaway from this game was how tough physically and mentally the WVU defense played. Dana Holgorsen could always coach offense, but if he has a team with even an average defense, they're all of a sudden a dark horse in what's become a very muddled Big 12.

Of course, a big win in Morgantown means a big night for the Morgantown police department, too, so.....


4. The eyeballs of Morgantown residents ....naturally, we saw the usual rash of couch burning and general possibly meth induced chicanery. How do you know this was a big win, though? Well, the authorities went "next level" on the Mountaineer faithful on Saturday night....

Indeed, there is definitely a direct proportional link between the magnitude of a college football win and the degree to which the riots on the streets in the winning town look like Middle East footage from the NBC Nightly News.

3. LenDale White You all remember LenDale White, right? The chunky "thunder" sidekick to Reggie Bush's "lightning" on the USC near-national championship team back in 2005, and chronic underachiever at the NFL level for Tennessee? Well, I have no idea what LenDale White is up to the other 164 hours of the week, but I do know that he still likes to watch his USC Trojans. He also likes to critique them on Twitter, like these little bombs from last weekend....

So when White tried to get into the locker room to see the team after their big win over Colorado on Saturday night, he ran into some resistance from USC athletics director Pat Haden...

Predictably, White did not like this development....

...and shared the footage of what exactly happened....

Poor LenDale White.

2. Jimbo Fisher Without a doubt, the most unsavory part of having to will my school into the College Football Playoff now is the fact that I am forced to root for Jimbo Fisher's success. Say what you will about Jameis Winston, but at the end of the day, he is just a dope whose idiocy will eventually be his own undoing. You can count on that. Jimbo Fisher is much worse to me, the completely tone deaf snake oil salesman who uses his platform to ignore the severity of alleged sexual assault (even saying that because there were no charges then "there was no victim") and equate a college football victory as some confirmation that he and FSU "do things the right way." Fisher repeatedly tells us at every possible turn what a great guy Winston is, and then after the game the cameras catch him having to remind Winston to act like he's not a third grader:

Seriously, can you imagine the head coaches of Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, Everett Golson...honestly, almost anybody NOT named Jameis Winston...having to remind them how to act in victory?

1. William Larry Muschamp Normally, when someone is a murderer, you use their entire government listed name, complete with full first name and a mention of the middle name. In the wake of the 42-13 disaster in the Swamp on Saturday night against Missouri, the Florida head coach is no longer "Will Muschamp." Now that he has officially murdered the Florida football program, he is William Larry Muschamp, program killer...

And yes, the dulcet, overly serious tones of ESPN's Joe Tessitore, who could make an SEC blowout sound like a hostage crisis, were perfect for the atrocities we witnessed at the hands of Muschamp on Saturday.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.

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