This past weekend, the upsets in full swing as several top ten teams went down to unranked opponents throughout the country at all times of day and even on the haunted Friday the 13th.
Friday the 13th: Haunted Doubleheader
Defending national champion Clemson fell on the road to Syracuse in one of the biggest point spread upsets of the season. Syracuse simply did more on both sides of the ball as on defense they swarmed Clemson not allowing them to get very many extended drives by stopping them on third down (2-11 Clemson conversation rate) and limiting them to drives of less than three and a half minutes for the entire game. Syracuse was also the better team on offense as they had a much better conversation rate on third down converting eight of nineteen third downs and both fourth downs that they went for it in the game. They had twelve more first downs and over 100 more yards of production. Simply speaking, Clemson was outplayed on the road by a better Syracuse team and will have to rebound next week.
Out west, Washington State proved that maybe all of the hype surrounding them is not what is should be as they fell in dominating fashion to a much hungrier California team 37-3. Washington State quarterback Luke Falk threw five interceptions in the game. He currently has seven interceptions for the entire season including those five. Those five picks were a part of seven turnovers in the game for Washington State. They also could not get anything going on their running game with 26 carries and only 23 yards which made them predictable for when they needed to pass. There is no need to mention the California offense because their defense took the game over and the offense converted when they had possession. A clear whipping in the PAC-12 and the state of Washington was not done yet.
Saturday’s Top Ten Upsets
Two more upsets on Saturday within the top ten shook up the college football landscape even further. Out west, Arizona State somehow pulled out a good defense against Washington to pull off the biggest upset of the entire day on Saturday night. Both teams struggled to get anything going on the running game with a combined 131 rushing yards which made their passing games important and Arizona State had the better one by far. Both teams also went for a surprise 5-5 on fourth down conversions. Arizona State simply was better on the day a similar situation to the Clemson-Syracuse contest the night before.
In the south, LSU is trying to uphold their credibility with a nice win at home over then then tenth ranked Auburn in a four point contest and a nine yard game between the offenses in which LSU barely won that battle. Possession was also just as riveting as Auburn barely won that battle as well. LSU did what they had to do in the fourth quarter with 13 fourth quarter points. Auburn could not put anything up in the second half with drives either ending on punts or on downs. Auburn learned a tough lesson in that it is the second half that defines a game and Auburn came out flat.
Group of Five Shakeup
The non-power conferences also had a few upsets on the day to make things interesting. San Diego State was in the driver’s seat to try and get a spot in the New Year’s Six bowls for the Group of Five conferences but after a loss to Boise State, that will no longer happen the way they planned it to. The American Athletic Conference will surely grab that spot after Boise State became the more balanced offense that threw the San Diego State defense for a loop. The numbers cannot really separate the two teams that well and Boise State just took advantage of the opportunities that had on offense more than San Diego State. Navy, who was making their season debut in the polls, also lost to Memphis in the American Athletic Conference.
Many more upsets could have happened all over the country. USC, Miami, Michigan State, Michigan, and Oklahoma all won by a touchdown or less. As it is, the polls are shaken up as the teams that did lose all fell five or more spots in the polls this week and even Michigan dropped a couple of spots. Next week could once again produce this same outcome as Michigan goes on the road to Penn State and USC goes to Notre Dame in a doubleheader of Saturday night potential classics at the same time that main event the day’s action. Newly ranked Memphis plays on Thursday night against Houston on the road. If next weekend provides the same drama as the last, there will surely be a lot of chaos in the polls for weeks to come.