One weekend can turn the college football season on its ear
This past weekend reminded us why we love college football, as eight of the teams in the Associated Press Top 25 poll lost. Among the victims were four in the top 10 — No. 2 Georgia, No. 6 West Virginia, No. 7 Washington and No. 8 Penn State.
Now to be fair, the Bulldogs, Huskies and No. 15 Wisconsin all fell to ranked teams, but No. 16 Miami, No. 19 Colorado and No. 21 Auburn couldn't escape the upset bug either while several other ranked teams had scares put into them by their respective opponents. The overall impact of this weekend is still TBD since the College Football Playoff allows Power 5 teams to survive one loss.
That, of course, wasn’t always the case. Before the playoff, some seasons were turned on their ear in the course of one weekend. Here are the five most chaotic that come to mind.
5. Sept. 2, 1989
The opening weekend of the 1989 season saw Nos. 5, 6 and 7 all fall. Texas A&M beat seventh-ranked LSU 28-16 in its first game under R.C. Slocum. A Brett Favre-led Southern Miss squad shocked sixth-ranked Florida State in a 30-26 upset. And Illinois quarterback Jeff George threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to beat fifth-ranked USC 14-13 in a game originally scheduled to be played in Moscow. The Seminoles and Trojans would finish the season ranked in the top 10.
4. Nov. 17, 1984
This is the weekend that put BYU in the driver’s seat to become the only non-Power 5 school to win a national title other than Notre Dame. No. 6 Oklahoma beat top-ranked Nebraska 17-7 and Navy upset second-ranked South Carolina 38-21, allowing the Cougars to move into the No. 1 spot and stay there. In addition, both seventh-ranked USC and ninth-ranked LSU were upset.
3. Dec. 1, 2007
Going into the weekend, it appeared that LSU head coach Les Miles would take the top job at Michigan and that No. 1 West Virginia and No. 2 Missouri would play for the national title. Miles put that issue to rest a few hours before the SEC Championship Game, saying he was staying in Baton Rouge. Then, Pittsburgh upset West Virginia 13-9 and Oklahoma whipped Mizzou 38-17 in the Big 12 Championship Game. That left 11-1 Ohio State in the national title game and a bunch of two-loss teams lobbying for the other spot. Miles, whose Tigers had lost two games in overtime, made the argument that his team was undefeated in regulation and made it into the game. LSU went on to beat Ohio State 38-24 in the BCS title game.
2. Nov. 3, 1990
One could argue that every weekend of the wacky 1990 season was chaotic, but this one that saw four of the top five teams upset takes the cake. Fifth-ranked Illinois could not keep up in a foot race in Iowa and lost 54-28. Florida blew out No. 4 Auburn 48-7. Third-ranked Nebraska led Colorado 12-0 going into the fourth quarter, but the Buffaloes scored 27 unanswered points in the final period. And top-ranked Virginia lost to Georgia Tech 41-38 on a last-second field goal. Both Colorado and Georgia Tech would go on to share the national championship.
1. Jan. 2, 1978
No. 1 Texas had Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell in its backfield and looked unstoppable going into the Cotton Bowl, but were rocked 38-10 by fifth-ranked Notre Dame. Sixth-ranked Arkansas blew out No. 2 Oklahoma 31-6 in the Orange Bowl and 13th-ranked Washington beat No. 4 Michigan 27-20 in the Rose Bowl. With its impressive win, AP voters chose to move Notre Dame over third-ranked Alabama, who beat Ohio State 35-6 in the Sugar Bowl, and crown the Fighting Irish national champion. Alabama went on to win national titles in 1978 and '79.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.