You know what the lamest phrase in all of sports is? “The biggest winner of all is the fans.”
You might've heard that phrase leading into the Tampa Bay/New Orleans matchup where legends Tom Brady and Drew Brees faced off. It's an often-used statement in the fight game, as well.
It makes my skin crawl every time. I think I prefer people saying, “at least we had fun,” if I’m being honest.
So I'll admit, when that happy-go-lucky saying crossed my mind this weekend after watching 24-plus hours of football, shame covered me. Because the truth is, we can’t all be winners. That’s not how this gig works, and that’s why I wanted to break down the biggest losers — and yes, winners — of this past weekend.
Winner: Sun Belt
Heading into last Saturday, the Sun Belt was just 1-20 against the Big 12 in its prior 21 meetings. Well, let’s just say that winning percentage hit a nice bump after a 3-0 showing Saturday.
I know most fans in Northeast Louisiana share a mutual disdain for the Cajuns down south, but it’s hard not to feel good about their 31-14 victory against No. 23 Iowa State Saturday.
A 35-31 Arkansas State victory against Kansas State followed, while Coastal Carolina’s 38-23 victory against Kansas in the nightcap served as a nice exclamation point to what was a strong showing for the conference.
Oh, and the conference was awarded for its efforts too. The ensuing AP Poll had Louisiana-Lafayette No. 19 and Appalachian State also made its debut at No. 24. The Cajuns, by the way, found their way into their first college football ranking since 1943.
Loser: Matt Campbell
The coaching game is a cruel one, and it typically finds the most promising coaches on the hottest of seats before it’s too long. Now, that’s not to say Iowa State’s head coach is in any real danger of losing his job. But the honeymoon may be over.
Campbell has transformed Iowa State into a serious contender in the Big 12, and it’s become a school that’s garnered respect around the country. Heck, it was a preseason Top 25 team. But after the offense failed to move the football consistently against a Sun Belt foe, it’s clear this team was never going to actually contend for a Big 12 title this fall like many thought. And for many Iowa State fans, that’s less of a comedown and more of a crashing down to earth from reality.
Practically everything went right for the Patriots in Week 1.
Start off the season with a win? You betcha. The Patriots defeated Miami 21-11 in a game that showcased once again why Bill Belichick is a defensive mastermind. Although, AFC East teams clinging to "FitzMagic" (quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick) certainly helps him in that regard.
Cam Newton strong debut? His 75 rushing yards were the most by a Patriots quarterback since 1977, and he finished the game with 79-percent completion rate to go along with 155 yards, two rushing scores and no interceptions.
The division didn’t particularly look impressive either, and Tom Brady threw multiple picks in a loss against the New Orleans Saints.
Loser: Baker Mayfield
Perhaps the best thing on television this past weekend that featured the Cleveland Browns quarterback was a Hulu Live commercial that comically placed Mayfield’s head on perhaps the least athletic person they could find. No really, that was actually comedic. Mayfield even poked fun at himself for being in too many commercials.
Mayfield's 54-percent completion rate in a 38-6 loss against the Ravens was also laughable. With weapons like Kareem Hunt, Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham and David Njoku surrounding Mayfield, he continues his regression in the accuracy department. You can blame the offensive line and head coach for 2019 season if you feel so inclined. But you can’t continue to point the finger after Mayfield continuously distributes the ball inaccurately down the field.
If you can’t put up a fight with that assortment of talent, maybe, just maybe, you were never worthy of a No. 1 overall pick.
Winner: Aaron Rodgers
After all the whining, complaining and pontificating from the media all offseason, Aaron Rodgers flexed on the entire league and reminded everyone exactly who he is.
After the Packers selected quarterback Jordan Love with the No. 26 overall pick and passed on numerous offensive weapons that could have helped the team in the draft, Rodgers silenced doubters with a 364-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday.
Now that’s a bad man.
Loser: DeAndre Swift
Some rookies balled out this weekend, and we’ll get to them in just a second. But for rookie running back DeAndre Swift, he’s going to have a hard time sleeping after costing his team a victory on Sunday.
With six seconds remaining in the game, Swift left a wide-open touchdown pass slip through his fingertips, as the Lions fell to the Chicago Bears in a 27-23 heartbreaker.
Winner: 2019 LSU Tigers
Last year’s LSU team already possessed a gaudy resume for greatest team of all time, but like the 2001 Miami team, the case can only get stronger with players elevating their legacies in the pros. Several former Tigers already did that.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed for 138 yards and two scores in his debut with the Kansas City Chiefs. Patrick Queen recorded a sack and forced a fumble with his new team in Baltimore. Damien Lewis helped the Seahawks post 38 points in a victory against the Falcons. And Joe Burrow showed that he truly has ice in his veins with what should have been a game-winning drive for the Bengals. (A.J. Green was called for offensive pass interference on a game-winning touchdown, and a missed kick one play later cost LSU’s second Heisman winner a chance for victory.)
It’s just one week, but those former Tigers are already well on their way to greatness at the next level.