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College Football: 5 Winners, 5 Losers Week 8

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Posted at 10:26 AM, Oct 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-25 11:29:25-04

Just when you think you are starting to get a feel for what's up and what's down in the college football season, the sport has an amazing ability to turn things upside down on you.

Ohio State looked like the cream of the crop in the Big Ten, destined for a monumental showdown with "that school up north" Thanksgiving weekend. The Buckeyes were 6-0 and coming off a huge road win in a hostile environment at no. 8 Wisconsin the previous week.

There was no reason to think they would slip up, even in a more hostile environment, at Penn State. But they did.
College football never disappoints, unless, in this case, you're a Buckeye fan.

Here are this week's winners and losers:

WINNERS:

1. James Franklin
The upset of Ohio State shot Penn State back into the top 25 this week and will help State College continue to move on from the Jerry Sandusky scandal. But no one benefited more from the win Saturday night than Franklin.

The third-year coach came with so much promise and hype, but has left many Nittany Lion fans wanting more. Until Saturday night. That's when his team ran off 14 fourth quarter points to stun the second-ranked team in the country in front of a delirious whiteout crowd of 100,000 and change. The win means Franklin can pull some of those for sale signs out of his front yard. After just 14 wins over his first two seasons, Franklin has Penn State at 5-2, and they may very well be favored in their final five games. A nine or 10-win season would return the happiness to Happy Valley.

2. Middle Tennessee 
A week after losing to their biggest rival on a blocked extra point in double overtime, the Blue Raiders bounced back in a monster way winning at Missouri. MTSU took it right at Missouri's defense, racking up 584 total yards. Brent Stockstill threw four touchdown passes and I'Tavius Mathers added 215 yards on the ground in the 51-45 victory, one of the biggest in school history.

3. Alabama
The Crimson Tide were already the no. 1 team in the country, but no one can doubt that after what they've done the past two weeks. Facing a pair of top 10 teams, Alabama beat Tennessee and Texas A&M by a combined score of 83-26. Those are complete beat downs. And it’s why, barring a major surprise, the Tide will roll into a third straight College Football Playoff as the favorites.

4. Louisville
Perhaps the biggest benefactor from Ohio State's loss is the one loss Cardinals. Lamar Jackson and company keep piling up the points and wins, beating N.C. State 54-13 Saturday. The Heisman Trophy frontrunner, Jackson, added four more TD's against the Wolfpack bringing his total for the season to a whopping 34. Yes, I know they lost to Clemson (in Death Valley), but the Cards may be the better team this year.

5. Gus Malzahn
Talk about another coach going from the outhouse to the penthouse. The Malzahn era on the Plains looked to be in serious trouble after a September loss to Texas A&M dropped Auburn to 1-2. But four straight wins, including Saturday's 56-3 smackdown of Arkansas has got the Gus Bus back on track. The Tigers are averaging more than 50 points per game the past three weeks now that they have figured out their quarterback rotation with Sean White and James Franklin III. And the defense has allowed more than 19 points just once this season.

LOSERS:

1. Houston
My how the mighty Cougars have fallen. After beating Oklahoma in week one, Houston was a top 10 team many thought could battle for a playoff berth under hot shot coach Tom Herman. But Navy sunk the Cougs' postseason hopes in a disappointing loss a couple weeks ago, and may have sunk their season. Saturday's 38-16 loss to a 3-4 SMU team was as much stunning as it was disappointing, taking some of the shine off Herman as well.

2. Defenses In Lubbock
I like offense as much as the next guy, but 1708 total yards? Come on. I'm told the defenses did suit up for the FBS record-setting offensive performance between Oklahoma and Texas Tech, but it sure didn't seem like it. Patrick Mahomes threw 88 times for 734 yards and five touchdowns and the Red Raiders LOST 66-59. Baker Mayfield threw for 545 yards and seven TD's for the Sooners, who also got 263 yards rushing from Joe Mixon and 202 yards receiving from Dede Westbrook, becoming the first team ever to have a 500-yard passer, a 200-yard rusher and a 200-yard receiver in the same game.

3. Ole Miss
The Rebels fell to 1-3 in the SEC in a 38-21 loss at LSU, but it's how they lost that's so alarming. The Ole Miss defense was just pummeled over and over by Leonard Fournette. The Tigers' star running back rushing for 249 yards and three touchdowns on his first seven carries before coasting to a school-record 284 yards on the ground. Auburn's rushing attack must be licking its chops for this week.

4. Charlie Strong
The embattled Texas coach watched his Longhorns battle back at Kansas State only to lose 24-21 after missing a field goal late. Then Texas AD Mike Perrin refused to talk about the game or the state of the football program after the game. With Texas now 3-4 overall and just 1-3 in the Big 12, Strong's days in Austin seem to be numbered.

5. PAC-12 Powers
Traditional PAC-12 contenders Stanford, Oregon and UCLA all lost again last season and now sit a combined 9-13 on the season. They're a combined 3-11 in conference games. The Ducks have it the worst sitting at 2-5 overall, likely sealing the fate of head coach Mark Helfrich. But both UCLA and Stanford were expected to contend for the conference title this year. Neither team's star (Josh Rosen, Christian McCaffrey) has gotten going like they were expected to and the teams have fallen out of the race by the midway point of the season.