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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 8

Senior+WR+Ainias+Smith+%280%29+runs+through+Sam+Houstons+defensive+line+at+Kyle+Field+on+Saturday%2C+Sep.+3%2C+2022
Photo by Cameron Johnson

Senior WR Ainias Smith (0) runs through Sam Houston’s defensive line at Kyle Field on Saturday, Sep. 3, 2022

Winner: Western Kentucky and its new helmets
While the Hilltoppers may not play until Tuesday, Oct. 24, technically Week 9, I couldn’t help but talk about it, as Western Kentucky may have already won before a ball is even snapped. That is, in the uniform department at least.
On Friday, Oct. 20, Western Kentucky debuted its “Big Red” helmets for its matchup against Liberty.
Big Red, the Hilltoppers’ mascot, is emblazoned on the side of the new matte black helmets —all seven of him. Not only is this the first time the Grimace-esque character has been put on WKU’s helmets, but all seven position groups have their own unique sticker of him.
The quarterbacks have Big Red dropping back to pass. The wide receivers have him catching a deep ball and so on and so forth.
Navy and Army did something similar in 2015 with battleships and infantry division logos but notably lacked a lovable oaf plastered on its helmets like Western Kentucky has. Helmet designs by position is such an under-utilized concept, and one that needs to be employed a lot more.
The Hilltoppers also couldn’t have picked a better time to bust these out either, going up against an undefeated Flames team.
Loser: Whoever devised the FCS to FBS transition rules
Nowadays, we are seeing more and more schools transition from Division I FCS to FBS, with the likes of Sam Houston State and Jacksonville State joining the FBS this season and Kennesaw State joining next year.
The jump is supposed to come with challenges, as the difficulty of competition is supposed to increase in the FBS. The Bearkats are becoming increasingly aware of this, as the once-perennial FCS powerhouse is without a win this season.
This is why what’s happening at James Madison is so special, and why it is so heartbreaking to know it’ll be left out of bowl season in favor of less deserving teams.
Last year, the Dukes went 8-3 in the first year as an FBS school and closed the season by throttling No. 23 Coastal Carolina, 47-7.
Now, JMU is 7-0 on the season, No. 25 in the country and could easily finish the year undefeated. But no matter how many wins the Dukes rack up, they won’t be playing in the postseason or even the conference championship, and it’s all thanks to the NCAA’s rules on new FBS schools.
The NCAA imposes a two-year ban on postseason play for new FBS schools. This is to discourage FCS programs from jumping up too often and dropping down when they don’t succeed. This is fine and all, but isn’t there a better way to do this than prohibit worthy schools from their deserved reward for getting six wins, especially when schools like JMU are running their conference?
The Dukes, if not for this ban, would be in serious contention to play in a New Year’s Six bowl, arguably the biggest achievement for a Group of Five school. They are the best team in their conference, and may be the best Group of Five team in the entire country.
Let JMU play, NCAA. The country would rather see this Sunbelt squad square off with a Power Five school than watch Louisiana play in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.
Winner: Ollie Gordon
One of the best individual performances of Week 8 came from Oklahoma State sophomore running back Ollie Gordon. In a must-win game for the Cowboys to stay alive for the Big 12 Championship, Gordon rushed for 282 yards and four touchdowns.
Entering the fourth quarter in Morgantown, West Virginia the Pokes trailed the Mountaineers, 24-20. However, Gordon took over the game from this point, rattling off three touchdowns in the quarter to help his team bring home the victory.
A common factor in the Cowboys’ recent success is the uptick in production from Gordon. In Oklahoma State’s first three games against non-conference opponents, the Cowboys’ offense was putrid. Gordon only rushed for 109 yards on the ground in the three games combined.
Since the start of conference play, the Pokes are 3-1 with the lone loss coming at Iowa State by a touchdown. In the last four games, Gordon has rushed for 121, 136, 168 and 282 yards, respectively.
It looks like the Cowboys have figured out the right recipe for their offense. Feed Gordon.
Loser: New Big 12 Teams in close games
Despite playing up to their competition, three of the four new teams in the Big 12 fell in close games this week. Cincinnati hosted Baylor while the other two faced the two teams headed to the SEC, with UCF playing at Oklahoma and Houston hosting Texas.
After battling back from a 29-14 deficit entering the fourth quarter, the Bearcats had the ball down three with 2:27 left in the game. Unfortunately for Cincinnati, it was unable to complete a 4th-and-11 from their own 42-yard line in the drive, failing to complete the comeback.
In Norman, Oklahoma, the Sooners were coming off a bye week after defeating Texas. Hosting the Knights was a letdown game after a win like that. Through three quarters, it was UCF who led most of the time, but a fourth-quarter comeback from the Sooners helped prevent the upset.
The Knights scored a touchdown to get within 2 points with 1:16 left in the game, but the 2-point conversion try was unsuccessful.
For the first time since the Southwest Conference, the Cougars and Longhorns faced off in a conference game. Texas started out up 21-0 before giving up 21 unanswered points. Both teams traded field goals until the Longhorns scored a touchdown with five and a half minutes remaining.
In the Cougars’ final drive, they made it to the Texas 10-yard line, facing a fourth down. The referees spotted the fourth down a bit shorter than it looked like it should be, causing Houston to have to gain a little more to get the first down.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, they did not reach it, as Texas got the stop on its own 10-yard line to close out the game.
Winner: Kickers from the state of Nevada
Things are finally looking up for the Silver State’s flagship college football programs. In Las Vegas, UNLV is sitting at 6-1 and is bowl-eligible for the first time since 2013 thanks to its last-second 25-23 win over Colorado State. And the state’s other major program, Nevada, broke its 16-game losing streak with a 6-0 win over San Diego State.
Both victories can be almost entirely credited to each team’s kicker. UNLV senior Jose Pizano won the game on a 28-yard field goal as time expired to send the Runnin’ Rebels past the Rams. It was his sixth made field goal of the game, setting a UNLV school record. Pizano outscored the rest of his team 19-6.
Meanwhile, Nevada fifth-year kicker Brandon Talton may not have had Pizano’s total production, but his pair of first-half field goals from 31 and 29-yards out were the only points scored by either team. This is more of an indictment of San Diego State head man Brady Hoke’s offense than anything else, but I digress.
They may be heated rivals, but UNLV and Nevada have one thing in common this week: their offensive coordinators each owe their respective special teams coordinators a steak dinner.
Loser: Anyone who bet the over on Minnesota-Iowa
If you, dear reader, looked at an over/under of 30.5 for Minnesota-Iowa and thought, “Yes, this is an opportunity for easy money,” I’m not quite sure what to say to you.
This was a Big Ten West matchup — the division known most notably for playing like the forward pass was never invented and annually offering a sacrifice for Ohio State/Michigan at the end of the year — and it included Iowa, the team that literally handed its offensive coordinator a contract with a clause that he must average 25 points a game and promptly failed to do so.
Yes, Iowa’s potentially game-winning punt return touchdown was called back for its return man waving his arms about like an inflatable man outside of a car dealership, but that doesn’t excuse you. Because that score would have only given Iowa a 16-12 lead with less than 2 minutes to go – which is still under the ludicrously low line of 30.5 Vegas decided was fitting for the fight for Floyd of Rosedale.
Next time you’re in Las Vegas, go watch UNLV’s kicker score more points than Iowa had total yards in the second half. Because you sure aren’t cut out for the casinos or sports books if that was your bet of the week.

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About the Contributors
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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