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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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College football winners and losers: Week 7

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The 12th Man on third deck during Texas A&M’s football game against Alabama at Kyle Field on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. (Megan Williams/The Aggieland)

Winner: Eli Drinkwitz as SEC Coach of the Year
Where did this Missouri team come from? Through just seven games, the Tigers have already matched last season’s win total with a 6-1 record and 2-1 mark in the SEC. Missouri picked up its second ranked win of the season on Saturday, taking down No. 24 Kentucky on the road after beating No. 15 Kansas State in Week 3.
It’s been a slow build for the Tigers after their success in the early 2010s. Coach Eli Drinkwitz is in his fourth season at the helm of the program and looks to be staring down his first winning season in Missouri following back-to-back 6-7 campaigns. The Tigers’ trust in the process has paid off and earned them a No. 20 ranking in this week’s Top 25.
Junior quarterback Brady Cook has paced a balanced offense with 2,046 passing yards and 14 touchdowns, good for second and third in the conference, respectively. Sophomore wide receiver Luther Burden III is second in the SEC with 808 receiving yards, while graduate running back Cody Schrader has 648 rushing yards and seven scores.
Missouri can beat you in a number of different ways, and upcoming games versus Georgia and Tennessee ought to have the nation’s attention.
Loser: Louisville’s New Year’s Six chances
Last week, Louisville felt the high of a convincing 33-20 win at home over No. 10 Notre Dame that earned the Cardinals their first 6-0 start since 2013. First-year coach Jeff Brohm earned comparisons to Sonny Dykes, who led TCU to the National Championship in his first season in Fort Worth. Vibes were good in The Ville.
Not so much anymore. On Saturday, the Cardinals played with their wings clipped as they fell on the road to Pittsburgh, 38-21. The Panthers entered having lost their last four games, leading to the benching of their starting quarterback. Louisville overwhelmingly outgained Pittsburgh in yardage, 444-288, but three turnovers swung momentum in the Panthers’ favor.
The Cardinals fell to No. 21 in the Top 25 and must still face No. 16 Duke, Miami and Kentucky to round out the regular season. On a positive note, those games are opportunities for Louisville to prove itself as one of the ACC’s top teams. The Cardinals have still exceeded expectations in Year 1 under Brohm, but the loss to Pittsburgh hurts their odds of playing in a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Winner: Michael Penix Jr.’s case for the Heisman
Three years ago, the country was watching Penix dive for the corner of the pylon to beat No. 8 Penn State, a thrilling upset for the Hoosiers and the school’s first top 10 win since 1987.
Now in 2023, Penix still hasn’t stopped beating big-time opponents.
The Tampa, Florida native has been nothing short of electric this season, already passing for 2,301 yards with 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He ranks tops in the country in almost every passing statistic, including No. 4 in passing touchdowns, second in passing yards and No. 1 in passing yards per game.
Penix is special, and after throwing for 302 yards and four touchdowns against a top-10 Oregon team, he has shown that he is the best player in the country.
The only other contender for the top spot was junior Caleb Williams, but after his painful three-interception blowout loss to Notre Dame, there should be no chance he still leads the Heisman predictions.
If Penix continues playing how he has all season, there’s no way he’s not hoisting some hardware in New York. If he isn’t, start smelting the Heisman into some fancy buttons, because the wrong person won.
Loser: Caleb Williams’ first half performance
Speaking of the devil, what a rough half — and game, truthfully — Williams had. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner came into the night as hot as anyone else in the country, but after a double-overtime nailbiter against Arizona, the Washington, DC native seemed out of sorts.
Williams, known for his make-something-out-of-nothing play style that made him the most valuable player in college football last year finally came around to bite him.
In the first half, Williams handed the ball to the Fighting Irish three times, something he had only done once the entire season.
This is largely why Notre Dame went into halftime with a 24-3 lead, and why the Trojans left South Bend, Indiana with a 28-point beating. Forget a second Heisman, USC has shown a weakness that many around the country had already caught wind of: its atrocious defense.
Williams has a knack for winning games that, frankly, the Trojans should not have won. This is why he’s one of the best, but he finally cracked this week, only passing for 199 yards. The Trojans will continue to win a lot of games with Williams at the helm, but the pressure is on. If he is off for even a half, it’s game over in Los Angeles.
Winner: The people who would have to move the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy
No. 22 Air Force — the current holders of the service academy rivalry trophy — look to be in the driver’s seat in the Mountain West as they sit at 6-0 after their 34-27 win over the Wyoming Cowboys this week. Going into the matchup, the Cowboys’ only loss was to Texas, and Wyoming was in the conversation for the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl spot.
Now, the Falcons are the ones currently predicted to fill that slot as well as retain the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy after Army’s 19-0 loss to Troy on Saturday and Navy only being able to muster 14 points in their win over lowly Charlotte this week.
And thank goodness for the poor souls who would have to move the object itself to Annapolis, Maryland or West Point, New York if Air Force was to drop those games. The prize is 170 pounds of glory and silver that would have to be removed from its current place of honor and make the depressing (for Falcon fans) trip East to the home of a rival.
There are no guarantees in service academy football, and games aren’t played on paper. But the way things are looking, the members of the “Chair Force” will get to avoid physical labor once again.
Loser: Anyone who went to bed at halftime of Stanford-Colorado
It’s 10:50 p.m. on Friday the 13th, and the headline game of the weeknight window is 29-0 at halftime. Seems like a good time to relax, head to bed early, and then get up ready for a full day of college football on Saturday, right?
Plenty of folks made that mistake, and missed one of the greatest comebacks (and collapses) you’ll ever see. Stanford was down 29-0 to Colorado at halftime, and the Cardinal came back to win 46-43 in double overtime at about 1:10 a.m., largely due to the performance of sophomore wide receiver Elic Ayomanor.
Ayomanor did not have a single catch in the first half and ended the game with Stanford’s single-game receiving yardage record with 294 yards and three touchdowns. Battling exhaustion and an equally fatigued Colorado sophomore cornerback Travis Hunter in a seemingly endless struggle that would make even Odysseus feel pity, Ayomanor returned home from Boulder, Colorado victorious after making this play to send the game to the final overtime period:
Next time, stay up for Pac-12 After Dark. It’s worth it.

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About the Contributors
Luke White
Luke White, Sports Editor
Luke White is a junior telecommunication media studies major and sport management minor from Round Rock, Texas. He has served as head sports editor since May 2023.
Hunter Mitchell, Associate Sports Editor
Hunter Mitchell is a sport management senior minoring in journalism. Hunter has covered football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, volleyball, softball, hockey, cross country, track and field, along with swim and dive. Hunter's favorite sport is college basketball, and he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association. Hunter also hosts weekly episodes of the Home Turf sports podcast.
Ian Curtis
Ian Curtis, Sports Reporter
Ian Curtis is a journalism freshman from College Station, Texas. Ian has written about football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball, hockey, gymnastics, volleyball and more for The Battalion. Ian's work has also appeared in The Bryan-College Station Eagle and over the airwaves on WTAW and BCSball.com. 
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