Courtesy University of Louisville

NCAA WEEK 12: TOP 25 WINNERS & LOSERS

Gators make themselves at home on the Bayou, West Virginia iced on frigid night in Morgantown, Cardinals Mauled by Cougars and robbed of College Football Playoff hopes

By Ryan Nelson (@TheRyanNelson_)

Scholars 

Florida Gators

This one’s easy, the Florida Gators.

The injury-riddled Florida Gators limped into Baton Rouge for a home away from home game, with the weight of consecutive SEC East Championship aspirations and the collective angst of Gator Nation on their shoulder pads. The Gators sat at least seven starters, including quarterback Luke Del Rio, linebackers Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone, defensive back Marcus Maye, and others. 

With so much chatter of the University of Florida using Hurricane Matthew as a copout to avoid a collision with the LSU Tigers, pressures were intensified in an already heated SEC rivalry. Pressures which erupted in a pregame scuffle.  

The skirmish was all the motivation heralded LSU running back Leonard Fournette needed to suit up for a game he originally planned on sitting out.

But the Gators didn’t flinch in the added heat of the scorching Louisiana sun --- they bathed in it. Austin Appleby lead a Gators offense who put up 16 points on an LSU defense who previously held the Alabama Crimson Tide to 10. 

Florida’s defense made the biggest statement of all, shutting down four consecutive LSU runs in the waning moments of the game to secure the win.

 

Dropouts:

West Virginia Mountaineers 

Another game, another pregame skirmish. The West Virginia Mountaineers and Oklahoma Sooners were at each other’s throats in the moments before kickoff. But it wasn’t the snow clad field that cooled off West Virginia early on, it was the booming Sooners offense.

It only took Oklahoma nine plays to rack up 111 yards and two touchdowns.

Dana Holgerson’s team rolled out a defense leading the Big 12 in scoring. But 485 total yards and 56 Oklahoma points later, West Virginia can kiss their hopes of Big 12 supremacy goodbye.

 

 

Class Clown: 

Louisville Cardinals 

Malik Williams' fumble of the opening kickoff foreshadowed the misery and embarrassment in store for Louisville on Thursday night in Houston. (Which wasn’t much of a surprise considering the Cardinals lead the FBS in total fumbles and fumbles lost.) From the start of the game, things just seemed bound to 'fall' apart for the Cardinals. 

The night only got progressively worse for Bobby Petrino’s team. In the second quarter, the men from the Bluegrass state gave up a fake punt. Houston then converted the momentum to points on a ball which should’ve been intercepted. The Cougars capped the drive, resurrected by a trick-play, with a touchdown.

Fittingly, the Cougars would use more colorful trick plays to propel themselves to a 31-0 lead they took into halftime.

Heisman hopeful Lamar Jackson would only complete less than half of his throws for 211 yards passing, a single touchdown, and quarterback passer rating of 20.4.

The Cardinals program seems to be headed in the right direction, but hopes of a playoff appearance and Heisman trophy winner are postponed for the 2017 season.