Underdog Saturday has a pretty bad ring to it, doesn’t it? But that was really what Saturday was all about — the underdogs that pulled off some serious upsets. A hectic, unpredictable Saturday that was exactly what we needed. It’s that time of year when the polls get jumbled, speculation runs wild, and Mark May gets that strange look in his eye. Let’s take a look at what the heck happened this past weekend.
1. Upset — Georgia falls to Missouri
Missouri’s defense got after Aaron Murray all game long, often pressuring him with only its front four. Georgia was coming off a grueling game against Tennessee, but there should be no excuses in this one, and now Missouri is the surprise team in the SEC. However, the win came with the price of losing quarterback James Franklin. With Franklin at the helm, I liked Missouri’s chances to outscore Florida next week. Without Franklin, the Tigers can still win, it’s just going to be a lot tougher.
Missouri finds itself in unfamiliar territory as it has jumped to No. 14 in the AP poll. The Tigers are finishing up a tough three game stretch, playing Georgia, Florida, then South Carolina. Still, I’ll take the Tigers in those games. Why not? They finish up the regular season when Johnny Football comes to town.
2. Upset — Texas wins?
The conversation before the Red River Rivalry was about if Texas could keep it close. I’ve come to expect the absolute worse from the Longhorns, and still believe they lack anything close to legitimate talent, but what talent they do have came prepared to play Saturday. Texas was the more intense and opportunistic team in an ugly game.
Now we know that Oklahoma isn’t too wonderful, though we could have guessed that. Texas, Texas Tech, and Baylor all remain unbeaten in the Big 12. So can Texas continue to play well and give itself a chance at a conference title? No. I’ll stick with my Baylor pick, despite having about 95% of my confidence drained after watching the Bears play Saturday.
3. Upset scare — Boston College makes another team look bad
Clemson only had three points at halftime and it’s not the only time the Tigers’ offense has sputtered this season. But it’s a long season and there are always down points. I guess. Boston College had the lead going into the fourth quarter, but a Chase Rettig fumble that was picked up and returned for a score by Clemson sealed the game.
The stage is set for the Clemson-Florida State game we’ve all expected. Both teams are undefeated and a win would put each team in a strong position for a spot in the National Championship Game. Each finishes off the regular season with games against SEC opponents, so the road won’t be entirely clear after this one.
4. Upset — Stanford loses to…Utah?
No, Stanford, no! Ugh. What a disappointing loss for Stanford. I thought David Shaw’s team was one that could beat teams it was supposed to. But, alas, the Cardinal couldn’t get the job done.
Stanford beats Oregon and opens the door for Ohio State to go to the National Championship! Yeah, I don’t think so either. Stanford showed that it’s vulnerable, and there’s no room to be vulnerable against Oregon. Plus, the Cardinal can’t overlook a UCLA team that has been playing well.
5. Upset — Michigan finally crashes
Technically it was an upset, but realistically I don’t think many people were surprised by Michigan letting a game slip. I’ve said it many times: Penn State is a team you can never overlook, especially when you’re playing in Happy Valley at night. Now I don’t think Wolverines overlooked them this time, it’s just that Michigan isn’t that good. I felt like the Wolverines would continue to improve as the season unfolded and become a solid team, but maybe the opposite will be the case, and their weaknesses will be exposed.
Michigan’s loss opens things up in the Legends Division for Nebraska and Michigan State, which are both 2-0 in Big Ten play. Of course, all of these teams still have to play each other, so a lot will change.
6. Upset scare — Baylor doesn’t score 70
When I saw Baylor was in a close game going into halftime, I thought it was done for. That’s unfamiliar territory for the Bears, who had crushed every other team they had played this year. But they pulled it out, thanks in part to some major blown coverages by Kansas State’s secondary.
Is Baylor still the favorite to win the Big 12? Who knows with that kooky conference. Struggling against Kansas State doesn’t bode well for the Bears, but when their offense is clicking, they can beat anyone. Anyone in the Big 12, I mean.
7. Upset — Northwestern gets dismantled
Northwestern, what happened? I was not expecting that awful performance from the Wildcats. The dynamic Northwestern offense only mustered two field goals and 44 yards rushing. It makes you wonder how much the hype and home-field advantage aided the Wildcats against Ohio State, when they looked like a team to reckon with. Apparently, that isn’t the case, judging by the way Wisconsin just outright dominated them.
Obviously Northwestern’s conference hopes aren’t completely crushed, but you now have to wonder how strong this team is.
8. Upset scare — Johnny Football didn’t let it happen
I think many sports fans thought they saw the last of Johnny Manziel this season when he went down holding his knee Saturday night. Fortunately for everyone, except Ole Miss, he returned, and though the Rebels actually did a decent job of containing him, he still found ways to make plays. I liked what Ole Miss did by only rushing three at times while spying Manziel, but I think you have to mix in some pressure as well, or else have a very effective three man rush.
Now the Aggies go as far as Johnny Football’s little legs will take them. The more I watch the kid, the more impressive he is. Given the opportunity, and the wild idea of its defense stopping someone, Texas A&M can certainly beat anyone in the country.