The college football world was turned upside down this week as 7 Top 25 teams were upset, including No. 1-ranked Ohio State, and 3 of the 7 saw their unbeaten seasons -and national championship dreams – all but vanish before their eyes.
Throw out almost everything you thought you knew for sure. The good old boys from the south have choked on their chewing tobacco. The voters will now be embarrassed to put their undeserving, favorite team on top of the football polls. It is a new order of virtual parity at the top in college football.
The best realization of this is that it is impossible to just pencil in Alabama, Florida or Ohio State as the No. 1 team.
South Carolina knocked off then No. 1 Alabama last week, and this week the Wisconsin Badgers hosted No. 1 Ohio State and gave Ohio State a most unfriendly 31-18 whipping while completely dominating the Buckeyes, who came in with their privileged reputation and a 6-0 record.
Ohio State was ranked 6th nationally in scoring offense, and 6th in scoring defense. Someone forgot to tell Wisconsin’s players, who could give a flip about the Buckeyes stats. Wisconsin would rather smash you in the mouth, and they did.
The Badgers led 21-3 at the half, and the Buckeyes were wondering if they shouldn’t get on the bus home at halftime. Ohio State, favored by 4 on the road, failed to cover by 18 points. The defeat was so bad that the Buckeyes dropped to 11th in the weekly AP Poll.
Earlier in the season, then No. 1 Alabama put a 31-6 thrashing on the Florida Gators, who won the national championship two years ago and four years ago.
All bets are off now – the national championship race is wide open, and apparently getting wider by the week.
No. 5-ranked Nebraska fared no better. The Cornhuskers (5-0), who hosted Texas, are sorry they ever showed up. The Longhorns, who had previously lost to UCLA and Oklahoma, led 17-3 at the half and won, 20-13.
The fact that Nebraska was ranked 9th in scoring offense nationally, 7th in total offense, 4th in scoring defense and 12th in total defense, did not mean squat. Cornhusker coach Bo Pelini can obsess over those stats all he wants, it doesn’t matter, Nebraska, favored by 10, failed to cover by 18, exactly like Ohio State.
Nevada was the third unbeaten team to fall. The 19th-ranked Wolf Pack brought their perfect 6-0 mark to Hawaii, the land of pineapples and passes. The Warriors shut down Nevada’s 7th-ranked scoring offense (43 points per game) while winning, 27-21, after leading 17-zip at the half.
Hawaii also has a high-scoring offense, averaging 39 a game. The Warriors (now 5-2) had more total offensive yards and passing yards. Hawaii leads the nation in passing offense.
The loss was Nevada’s 6th straight at Hawaii. There is, of course, no truth to the rumor that Warrior players throw pineapples as well as passes, they just have a lot of very big, talented Samoan athletes on the island.
Now there are only 10 major schools that are unbeaten going into the 8th weekend of the season – TCU, Auburn, LSU and Michigan State all are 7-0, and Oregon, Boise State, Oklahoma, Utah, Oklahoma State and Missouri are all 6-0.
Besides Ohio State, Nebraska and Nevada, 4 other ranked teams lost – South Carolina, Florida, Air Force and Oregon State.
The South Carolina Gamecocks, who had just upset Alabama to rise to 10th in the AP Poll, led unranked Kentucky 28-10 at the half, but were outscored 21-zip by the Wildcats in the second half as Kentucky held on to upend the Gamecocks, 31-28.
South Carolina just did not play the second half, and failed to finish off its opponent.
Florida, ranked 22nd, hosted Mississippi State, rated 33rd by Sagarin, and found itself on the short end of a 10-7 stick. The Gators offense has just collapsed; two weeks ago they only scored 6 on Alabama, and now they have just dropped out of the Top 25 with a 4-3 record following consecutive losses to Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State.
The Mississippi State loss meant that Florida coach Urban Meyer suffered 3 consecutive losses for the first time in his coaching career. Apparently, when there is no Tim Tebow, there is suddenly no Florida. That’s tough luck, for Florida, not Mississippi State.
Air Force, which debuted in the Top 25 last week at 23rd, took a flying leap back out of the poll this week after being beaten by unranked San Diego State, 27-25. The Aztecs, who led 10-6 at the half, made it official with the final score. The Air Force Falcons will have to regroup for some strategy.
The seventh team to miss victory this week was the 24th-ranked Oregon State Beavers, who were beginning to look for real. The Beavers paid a visit to the up-again, down-again Washington Huskies. They had won 6 in a row against Washington, and had won 7 of their past 9 Pac-10 road games.
That said, the Huskies have a real headliner in Jake Locker, who would be winning more games if his receivers would stop dropping passes, and his defensive teammates would start playing defense.
Locker threw a career-high 5 touchdown passes, including 2 to Jermaine Kearse in a double-overtime game, and Oregon State’s 2-point conversion attempt for a win in the 2nd overtime period fell incomplete as the Huskies beat the Beavers 35-34.
Washington needed a defensive stop at a critical moment and finally got one when the conversion pass to Joe Halahuni went through his hands as he was hit by linebacker Cort Dennison.
Locker was 21-of-35 passing (60%) for 286 yards and the 5 TD strikes. Locker also picked up 60 yards on 12 carries (5.0 ypc), and Chris Polk added another 105 yards. Kearse had 9 catches for 146 yards and his school-record 4 touchdowns came on 16, 45, 17 and 21-yard passes.
Both Oregon State and Washington are now 3-3 on the season.
Eight other Top 25 teams had great wins to keep moving onward and upward.
They included really good road wins by 3rd-ranked Boise State over San Jose State 48-zip, 11th-ranked Utah over Wyoming 30-6, 20th-ranked Oklahoma State over Texas Tech 34-17, and 21st-ranked Missouri over Texas A&M 30-9.
Great home victories included 7th-ranked Auburn outlasting 12th-ranked Arkansas, 65-43, in the game of the week that featured offense and no defense, 4th-ranked TCU over BYU 31-3, 6th-ranked Oklahoma over Iowa State 52-zip, and 13th-ranked Michigan State over Illinois 26-6.
In a side note, Auburn barely led Arkansas 37-35 after the 3rd quarter, but the Tigers outscored the Razorbacks 28-8 on some miscues in the last quarter to go on and win 65-43. Imagine for a moment a SEC game with 108 total points scored. Whatever happened to that thing called defense?
Six other top-ranked teams had much less impressive victories. They included 8th-ranked Alabama’s really lame win at home over 79th-ranked Mississippi 23-10, 9th-ranked LSU’s pathetic triumph over 149th-ranked, AA McNeese State 32-10, and 15th-ranked Iowa’s 38-28 victory over Michigan.
Also, 16th-ranked Florida State’s narrow 24-19 effort hosting 110th-ranked Boston College, 17th-ranked Arizona’s weak 24-7 win at Washington State, and 25th-ranked West Virginia’s 20-6 escape against 100th-ranked South Florida.
No. 2-ranked Oregon and No. 15-ranked Stanford were idle this week.
Seven other unranked teams deserve a mention.
Here are 3 thumpings – Georgia shutting out Vanderbilt 43-zip, USC taking it to California 48-14, and Kansas State ripping Kansas 59-7 after leading 52-zip after 3 quarters.
Here are 4 upsets – East Carolina, ranked 71st, knocking off North Carolina State 33-27 in overtime, 189th-ranked Eastern Michigan beating 124th-ranked Ball State 41-38 in overtime, 161st-ranked Rice nipping 77th-ranked Houston 34-31, and 159th-ranked UAB (Alabama-Birmingham) upsetting 112th-ranked UTEP (Texas-El Paso), 21-6.