Week 7 of the college football season featured no top 25 matchups, but that doesn’t mean it was a dull weekend. It proved to be the opposite with impressive victories (like Ohio State’s), nail-biting finishes, and huge upsets (like Clemson falling to Syracuse) rocking the playoff hunt.
Here are the highs and lows of an exciting weekend in college football:
1. Ohio State leaves its mark in Lincoln
The Ohio State Buckeyes struggled through their first couple of games this season, including an embarrassing 31-16 loss at home to Oklahoma. However, the Buckeyes have since come together and put the nation on notice. Their dominating 56-14 victory over Nebraska places them in position to control their destiny not only for the Big Ten title but also in the playoff hunt.
The passing game proved to be the Buckeyes’ biggest problem early in the campaign. However, Buckeyes senior quarterback J.T. Barrett continues to put those concerns at ease. He completed 27-of-33 passes for 325 yards and five touchdowns with ease against the shellshocked Cornhuskers’ defense.
Winning in Lincoln remains one of the tougher tasks in college football. The Buckeyes made it look like child’s play.
2. Stanford emerging again in the Pac-12
The Stanford Cardinal were left for dead following their 20-17 upset loss to San Diego State early in the season. Four games later, the Cardinal sit in first place in the Pac-12 North Division thanks to upset losses for both washington and Washington State. The surprising turn of events puts Stanford in position to make the conference championship game.
Stanford looked impressive in their 49-7 victory over Oregon on Saturday night. They dominated the game at every level, holding Oregon to only 33 yards passing. The surging Cardinal will have their hands full with Washington State and Washington still on the schedule, but they appear to be over their early season struggles.
3. LSU fights back
LSU’s season appeared to be on the brink following their upset home loss to Troy. They responded with a tough win over Florida, but given the Gators’ season, that wasn’t saying much. However, beating No. 10 Auburn does mean something. The Tigers found themselves down 20-0 early in the second quarter and responded by chipping away at the lead. They made their move in the fourth quarter with a 75-yard punt return for touchdown. LSU followed up with two field goals late to earn the 27-23 win.
The Tigers’ victory serves as a reminder that anything can happen in the SEC. It also showed that there really are only two powers in the conference this season: Georgia and Alabama. The rest of the SEC is full of teams that will beat each other up every week. The Tigers now have a chance to earn a spot in a decent bowl, despite their rough start to the season.
1. Clemson falls
Syracuse once fielded one of the most prestigious programs in all of college football. Unfortunately for Clemson, the Orange chose this weekend to reemerge from the shadows. The Tigers entered the Syracuse game with momentum. They held huge wins over Auburn, Louisville, and Virginia Tech, and a relatively easy road to the conference title game. Then came the trip to Syracuse.
The Orange knocked out Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant late in the first half, but the Tigers still had the talent edge. It didn’t matter. The vaunted Tigers wore out on both sides of the ball against the relentless Orange. They gave up three sacks to the Syracuse defense and struggled to control the line of scrimmage for much of the second half. By the time the fourth quarter came around, the Tigers couldn’t get anything done offensively. What should have been a blowout victory turned into a 27-24 devastating loss. It also casts a doubt over whether or not Clemson will make the playoffs.
2. Washington State lays an egg
Head coach Mike Leach led the Washington State Cougars to an impressive win over Oregon a week ago. His team should have done the same with the mediocre California Bears on Saturday night. Instead, the Cougars choked. No other explanation makes sense. Washington State earned some respect with their great start, reaching No. 6 in the Associated Press poll last week. The game at Cal was their chance to shine.
Instead, Cougars quarterback Luke Falk threw five interceptions and suffered nine sacks as the Bears destroyed Washington State, 37-3. Cougars head coach Mike Leach summed it up well after the game.
”Our guys just sauntered around out there on the field like we’d accomplished something, which is obviously false, and Cal certainly illustrated that,” Leach said.
Maybe next week, Cougars.
3. Speaking of the Great Northwest…
The desert heat cooled off the Washington Huskies offense in a 13-7 loss to Arizona State. The loss possibly ends Washington’s hopes of earning a playoff bid given the team’s weak schedule.
Arizona State held Huskies quarterback Jake Browning to only 139 yards passing and sacked him five times. Meanwhile, the Sun Devils offense did just enough in the first half to put Washington on their heels for the rest of the game. The Huskies proved unable to do much playing from behind. The question now is whether or not they can come back to earn a shot at the Pac-12 title.