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Midseason madness in college football's top 25

Last week had implications for many teams chasing the College Football Playoff trophy
Last week had implications for many teams chasing the College Football Playoff trophy

This week marked the halfway point in college football and was perhaps the most exciting week so far. Eight ranked teams lost this weekend, including four of the top eight teams in the country. No. 2 Georgia , No. 6 West Virginia , No. 7 Washington, and No. 8 Penn State all fell in large upsets. No. 15 Wisconsin, No. 16 Miami, No. 19 Colorado, and No. 21 Auburn lost as well. Georgia, Washington, and Wisconsin were the only teams to have been beaten by ranked opponents.

In the SEC, No. 13 Louisiana State defeated Georgia at home in a 36–16 blowout. Fans rushed the field after the game, having witnessed a dominant defensive performance. LSU, sometimes called “DBU” for its reputation for talented defensive backs, forced two interceptions from Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm and the Georgia offense, which had previously averaged 42.8 points a game. After a loss to Florida the week before, LSU improved to 6–1.


Next, West Virginia experienced perhaps the largest upset of the day, suffering a large 30–14 loss to then 2–3 Iowa State. Iowa State’s defense stifled West Virginia and Heisman candidate Will Grier, who only mustered 152 yards and nine first downs for the entire game, with zero points in the second half. Grier threw for only 100 yards, on 11 of 15 passing, perhaps his worst game at WVU.

In the most exciting game of the day, Washington fell to 17th-ranked Oregon in Eugene in an overtime thriller, 30–27. Oregon outlasted the Huskies as Washington went first in overtime, settling for a field goal, which enabled Oregon to walk off with a six-yard touchdown run by CJ Verdell, set up by a 17-yard reception by Dillon Mitchell on third and 11. Verdell enabled Oregon to win through a balanced attack between his 111 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Justin Herbert’s 202 yards through the air with two touchdowns of his own.

Unranked Michigan State delivered the other top eight upset of the day, topping Penn State 21–17 on a go-ahead 25-yard touchdown catch by Felton Davis with 19 seconds left. Penn State has now suffered back-to-back heartbreaking losses to Ohio State and now Michigan State at home, which will likely drop them from contention for not only the College Football Playoff, but also the Big Ten championship. After disappointing losses to Northwestern and Arizona State this year, the Spartans’ win over Penn State gives them extra confidence heading into next week’s rivalry game against the Wolverines.

While LSU made a statement victory over Georgia earlier in the day, Michigan had one of their own as College GameDay came to Ann Arbor for ESPN’s Featured Game of the Week. Michigan trounced Wisconsin 38–13. After Wisconsin’s second drive of the game, Badger quarterback Alex Hornibrook did not complete another pass until the game was out of reach. The only other teams to beat Wisconsin by double digits since 2009, Alabama and Ohio State, have gone on to win the national championship. Coach Jim Harbaugh, often criticized for his poor record against top 15 teams, hopes to continue re-writing the script. The Wolverines’ next two games come against Michigan State (2–1 against Harbaugh) and Penn State. If Michigan wins these games, they could be playing for a spot in the College Football Playoff when they face rival Ohio State Nov. 24. Michigan is 2–15 against Ohio State since 2001, but as defensive end Chase Winovich said after the game, “The revenge tour has officially commenced.”

While Michigan moved up to No. 6, Wisconsin dropped to 23. LSU moved up to fifth in the rankings, Oregon moved to 12th, and Michigan State entered the top 25 at 24. Meanwhile, Georgia fell to eight, West Virginia to 13, Washington to 15, and Penn State to 18. After their losses, Miami, Colorado, and Auburn were not as fortunate, dropping out of the rankings completely after losses to Virginia, USC, and Tennessee, respectively.

Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and Notre Dame, all undefeated, now make up the top four teams in the country. Of the top nine teams in the country, however, Ohio State, Alabama, and Clemson have had the worst strength of schedule thus far, meaning bigger upsets could be in order later in the season.


Next Week’s Biggest Games:

No. 6 Michigan @ No. 24 Michigan State

12 p.m. ET on FOX

Line: MICH -7.0

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No. 16 NC State @ No. 3 Clemson

3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Line: CLEM -17.0

No. 22 Mississippi State @ No. 5 LSU

7 p.m. ET on ESPN

Line: LSU -6.5

No. 12 Oregon @ No. 25 Washington State

7:30 p.m. ET on FOX

Line: WSU -1.5