The New England Patriots are an immense sporting franchise built on the back of mercurial coaching, brilliant quarterback play, and a revolution at the tight-end position.
We’re past the halfway mark of the season and the field of contenders for national championship glory is starting to sort itself out.
Another weekend of interesting and sometimes shocking results allows us a little more clarity, but there are still lots of big match-ups to come, so you can expect the landscape to shift yet again.
In case you missed the action across the weekend, read on for a look at who covered themselves in gridiron glory and who didn’t with the Week 8 edition of winners and losers.
The Bruins beat Stanford quite handily, 34-16, on Friday night, which surprised me because I didn’t think they were going to win another game all season.
The Badgers lost to Illinois with a last-second field goal. Everything they’ve done so well up to this point is for naught. A disastrous and nearly unfathomable loss to a team in the lower tier of the big ten, whose quarterback managed to complete only nine of 21 passes and who haven’t beaten a top-ten team since 2007. This one will sting.
The Ducks defeated Washington 35-31 in a battle for Pac-12 supremacy by scoring 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. I now have them as the best team in that conference. A conference championship is theirs to lose. The win also keeps their slim play-off hopes alive.
The Wildcats were belted by Ohio State 52-3 on Friday night, dropping to 0-3 in Big Ten conference play and scoring 12.5 points per game – and 9.5 in Big Ten play – a year after winning the Big Ten West division by three games. Pat Fitzgerald has a tonne of work to do in Evanston.
Winner: Oregon State
A good day for teams out of Oregon. While the Ducks took care of business against Washington, the Beavers defeated Cal 21-17 as 11.5-point underdogs in Vegas.
Loser: Arkansas’s ground game
The Razorbacks managed just 52 rushing yards at 1.9 yards per carry in their 51-10 loss to Auburn. They’ve now lost 15 straight SEC games.
Winner: Jonathan Taylor
Although the Badgers lost to Illinois, the star running back from Wisconsin still ran for 132 yards and scored a touchdown, in the process becoming only the fourth player to rush for more than 5000 yards before the end of his junior season.
A ranked Tigers squad lost 21-14 to a Vanderbilt squad who were resoundingly beaten a week ago by UNLV. The bottom rungs of the SEC ladder are wild and unpredictable.
Winner: Joe Burrow
The Louisiana State quarterback broke the school’s single-season passing touchdown record in just seven games. He had four touchdowns and 327 yards, his fourth being the record-breaker, to Justin Jefferson. The LSU machine rolls on.
Loser: The Sooner Schooner
The horse-drawn carriage brought out prior to every Oklahoma game to get the crowd going suffered a pretty spectacular crash before the Sooners’ game against West Virginia. Spectacular vision, and thankfully no-one was hurt. It wasn’t an omen, as Oklahoma easily handled the Mountaineers 52-14.
Winner: Penn State
I’m not sure there’s a more spectacular setting in college football than a Saturday night white-out in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions players turned up just like their fans did, outlasting a plucky Michigan squad 28-21 to continue their unbeaten run. Receiver KJ Hammer had 108 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Loser: North Carolina
They lost 43-41 to Virginia Tech in six overtimes, thus becoming the first team to be defeated under the new NCAA rules brought in to shorten the length of games requiring multiple overtime that now have teams trading two-point conversion attempts from the three-yard line after four overtimes. Not a record the Tar Heels will look back on all that fondly.
Winner: Cameron Dicker
It’s just as well Dicker the kicker is around! He pulled Texas’s irons out of the fire in a massive way, landing a 33-yard field goal to ensure the Longhorns defeated Kansas 50-48 in a wild game that raises serious question marks about UT’s play, especially in defence.
Loser: Ronnie Bell
The Michigan receiver dropped a potential game-tying touchdown catch in a fourth-and-two situation late in the fourth quarter against Penn State. Making things worse, Bell had the ball in his hands but couldn’t make it stick.
Winner: Colton Richardson
The Idaho Vandals quarterback accounted for three touchdowns as the Vandals beat in-state FCS rivals Idaho State 45-21 in Moscow’s Kibbie Dome.
Loser: Boise State
The Broncos let Brigham Young race out to an 18-point third-quarter lead and couldn’t reel the Cougars back in. They lost 28-25, their first loss of the season, and with the end of their unbeaten run goes their inside track to be the group of five representatives in the New Year’s Six. Not a good night for the Broncos in Provo.
The Cavaliers rebounded nicely from their surprise loss to Miami with a strong 48-14 win over Duke off the back of five turnovers by the Blue Devils. At 3-1 in conference play they sit atop the ACC Coastal division.
Keeping it in the ACC, and the wheels appear to have fallen off the Hurricanes wagon following a 28-21 loss to Georgia Tech in overtime. They’re 3-4 overall and 1-3 in ACC play and need to win three of their remaining five games to reach a bowl. It’s not how anyone envisaged Manny Diaz’s first season going.
Winner: Southern Methodist
One of the great stories of the 2019 season rolls along. The Mustangs are 7-0 after an emphatic 45-21 win over a ranked Temple. Quarterback Shane Buechele threw for 457 yards and six touchdowns, and with Boise State’s loss the Mustangs are looking good to make their way into a New Year’s Six bowl.
Potential loser: Alabama
The Tide lost star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to an ankle injury at half-time against Tennessee, a match Alabama won 35-13. While there’s no news yet about a possible stint on the sidelines for the Alabama signal caller, if he does miss games, his absence could well have massive repercussions for the play-off picture. A story to watch in the next few days.
Winner: Charles Salary
This one from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), where Salary, playing for Marian Knights, whose campus is in Indianapolis, ran for 309 yards and a touchdown on 46 carries as the Knights beat No. 10 Concordia 28-13. Outrageous numbers.