Upsets Shake Up BCS Picture in Week 7

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Upsets Shake Up BCS Picture in Week 7
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Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.

There always seems to be at least one weekend during the college football season where upsets seemingly come out of nowhere to shake up the BCS landscape.

This was one of those weekends.

No. 5 Stanford, No. 7 Georgia and No. 18 Michigan all had their BCS National Championship hopes dashed on Saturday afternoon, in games that will surely shake up not only the race for the title game, but the BCS in general.

Let's take a look back at a memorable Saturday in college football.

 

No. 5 Stanford Falls to Utah

Nobody saw this one coming. 

Utah outgained Stanford at home in Salt Lake City, took a 27-14 lead into the fourth quarter and got a goal-line stand in the final minute to withstand a late charge to spring the upset on the previously unbeaten Cardinal.

Stanford marched 82 yards on 13 plays to get to a 4th-and-2 on the Utah 6-yard-line with 47 seconds remaining, but quarterback Kevin Hogan was pressured up the middle. His prayer of a pass sailed out of the back of the end zone, and with it went Stanford's BCS title dreams, as the Cardinals lost 27-21 loss to the Utes.

"They're good. They've always been good and we just weren't good enough," Stanford coach David Shaw said, according to ESPN. "This is as well as I've seen Utah play on the offensive side. They really strung things together."

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Stanford head coach David Shaw.

So what does it mean to Stanford's overall BCS picture?

Stanford's margin for error is now razor thin. 

The game versus Oregon on Nov. 7 will likely decide the Pac-12 North, thanks to Stanford's head-to-head win over Washington last week. But it can't slip up anywhere else. With UCLA, a resurgent Oregon State team and the fightin' Ed Orgerons of USC on the schedule, that's easier said than done.

There's still a decent chance that the Pac-12 gets an at-large bid to the BCS, and Stanford still has a shot at winning the conference title and securing the automatic selection. But another conference loss, especially to undefeated UCLA next week, would essentially eliminate the Cardinal from the BCS.

Stanford at Utah highlights.

 

No. 25 Missouri Shocks No. 7 Georgia

Georgia was beat up heading into its showdown with undefeated Missouri, but that wasn't the reason the Bulldogs fell to the Tigers 41-26 between the hedges on Saturday afternoon.

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Missouri wide receiver L'Damian Washington.

The Bulldogs defense was.

Missouri picked on the inexperienced Georgia secondary in the first half, building a 28-10 lead, and then held on to win despite losing starting quarterback James Franklin. The Tigers left Athens 6-0 and BCS bowl eligible, while the loss dropped the Bulldogs to 4-2.

This game shakes up the BCS picture in two ways. Thanks to Florida's loss to LSU, Missouri finds itself leading the SEC East, holding a tiebreaker over Georgia, which sits one game back at 3-1 in conference play. Missouri has games versus Florida and South Carolina coming up, but according to CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman, the Tigers won't have Franklin for those or any more games during the regular season.

With or without Franklin, it's time to start thinking about Missouri in the SEC Championship Game. If the Tigers catch some breaks, a BCS bid isn't out of reach.

For Georgia, it's the end of its title hopes but not necessarily the end of its BCS hopes. The East is wide open, and if running back Todd Gurley comes back for next week's game at Vanderbilt, he can certainly give the offense a boost and keep Georgia's porous defense as far away from the field as possible.

Head coach Mark Richt can still lead his team to a BCS game, but it might have to be as the SEC champ, because that opening-night loss to Clemson could become a factor if the Tigers don't win the ACC.

Missouri at Georgia highlights.

 

Texas Tops No. 12 Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry

Remember when Texas was a lost cause, head coach Mack Brown was making tee times and the Longhorns were a shoo-in to land in the middle of the Big 12 standings?

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Texas head coach Mack Brown.

Yeah, about that...

All Texas did was dominate Oklahoma for a full four quarters, leave Dallas with a 36-20 win and move its conference record to 3-0 with a tiebreaker over the Sooners. As B/R's Big 12 Lead Writer Ben Kercheval notes, it's time to start talking about the possibility of Texas as a contender in the conference title race.

"[The win] puts us 3-0 in the league and still have a chance to win the Big 12 and go to a BCS game," head coach Mack Brown said in quotes released by the university. "That is very, very important to these guys and has been since January."

Oklahoma's loss opens the door not only for another Big 12 team to slide in and grab an at-large bid but for potential BCS busters Fresno State and Northern Illinois to finish in the Top 16 and ahead of an AQ (Automatic Qualifying) conference champ to get a bid.

This was a big game for Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, and in true Stoops fashion, the Sooners tanked.

There is a silver lining for Stoops, though: Maybe the back end of the Big 12 is tough after all.

Texas vs. Oklahoma highlights.

 

Penn State Tops No. 18 Michigan in Four OTs

Michigan was bound to lose at some point, and Penn State finally got the job done 43-40 after four rather excruciating overtime periods in Happy Valley.

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Penn State running back Bill Belton.

The loss drops Michigan into a three-way tie with Michigan State and Nebraska for the Legends division lead, with games against each still on the schedule.

The Wolverines control their own destiny, and if they can get to the title game with a win over Ohio State at the end of the regular season, they still have a shot to get either an at-large or the automatic bid. 

But as head coach Brady Hoke notes, Michigan can't let Penn State beat it twice.

"I think you always work hard at any time, but to lose in overtime, if you let it take a toll, it will," he said, via ESPN.

Michigan's loss also hurts rival Ohio State. 

The Buckeyes hold a two-game lead and a tiebreaker over Wisconsin in the Leaders division, but that's not the ultimate prize. They're still in the thick of the BCS National Championship discussion, but Michigan's loss hurts Ohio State's strength of schedule. 

It's a stretch to think that the Buckeyes would jump the undefeated SEC or Pac-12 champs to make the BCS National Championship Game, and if it's supposedly tough opponents start losing, they'd have no shot.

Ohio State needed that rivalry game against Michigan to mean something from a national perspective. It looks like it won't anymore, which means there will be a lot of scoreboard watching going on in Columbus over the next two months.  

Penn State's game-winning touchdown versus Michigan.

 

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