Winners and Losers from Week 7 of the 2015 College Football Season
College football: There's nothing else quite like it.
Michigan State's odds-defying win over Michigan in the Big House will be talked about for weeks, months, years and generations. It was the most stunning ending to a college football game since Auburn's "Kick-Six" in 2013, and we may not see anything like it for a while.
Of course, that wasn't all that happened in Week 7. Memphis made its case as a playoff dark horse, and Alabama and Baylor grabbed statement wins against conference opponents. We had fat-guy two-point conversions and flying quarterbacks.
All in all, it was a busy day.
Who were the winners and losers from Week 7? We break down all that was good, bad, ugly, gorgeous and more in the following slides.
Winner: The Most Miraculous Ending Since the 'Kick 6'
If we took the time, we could probably parse through all the things that were great and not so great between Michigan and Michigan State.
For example: Michigan defensive back/do-it-all weapon Jabrill Peppers? He was a total playmaker, doing things in all three phases of the game.
The officials, who wrongly ejected Wolverines linebacker Joe Bolden for a targeting foul that never actually occurred, and who gave Michigan a controversial touchdown at the goal line? Horrific.
All of those things will likely be forgotten, however. They pale in comparison to college football's most miraculous, stunning and heartbreaking loss since Auburn's "Kick-Six" in 2013. With just seconds remaining and leading 23-21, Michigan snapped the ball to punt to the Spartans.
If everything had gone smoothly, the punt would have taken enough time off the clock to end the game. Or, at the very least, Michigan State would have had time for one more play but faced nearly impossible odds on a Hail Mary.
Instead, Michigan's punter fumbled the snap, and Michigan State immediately scooped it up for the game-winning touchdown and the 27-23 final score.
The 2015 college football season has been eventful, but you will not find an ending to a game this year that will render more people speechless like this one.
There are no words, just the screams of joy mixed with screams of horror and a need to watch what happened over and over again.
Winner: College Football's Catch of the Year?
Holy shades of Tyrone Prothro.
Stanford's 56-35 win over UCLA was an even greater beatdown than the score indicated, and it officially welcomed Stanford back into the periphery of the playoff conversation. The player of the game was Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey, who totaled 369 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns.
The play of the game, however, was the the reverse-pass from quarterback Kevin Hogan to receiver Francis Owusu for a 41-yard touchdown.
We only have one question here: How long have the Cardinal been holding onto this one? Stanford has been the textbook definition of conservative under head coach David Shaw. To break this play out now—up 18 points, no less—is sort of like Verbal Kint fabricating a narrative to the police and escaping before anyone can realize he's the real Keyser Soze.
As (Warning: link contains NSFW language) Kint said "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."
As we found out Thursday, Evil David Shaw does in fact walk among us. And the limp was fake the whole time.
Loser: Boise State's 8 Turnovers
It might not be possible for anyone to have a worse week than Boise State did in a 52-26 loss to Utah State. The Broncos had not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven, but eight turnovers against the Aggies.
Seven of those turnovers came in the first half on consecutive possessions. Boise State also fumbled on its first possession of the second half.
Yes—the Broncos gave away the ball on eight straight possessions. (This was triple-checked, by the way, because I didn't believe it, either.) Five fumbles. Three interceptions. That's more than Boise State lost total in the previous six games (six turnovers). It's also more than 35 teams have committed all year.
Not all of the turnovers were created equally. Some were sack-fumbles, others were tipped passes. Either way, four resulted in Utah State taking over in Boise State territory and scoring on the ensuing drive. One was an end-of-half pick-six.
"You try to stop the bleeding as fast as possible," Boise State coach Bryan Harsin stated, via ESPN.com. "You've got to go make plays. You've got to hang on to the football."
That's probably a good place to start.
Winner: Baylor Wide Receiver Corey Coleman
Just how prolific has Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman been this year? In a 62-38 win against West Virginia, Coleman broke the school's single-season record with his 15th touchdown grab. (Coleman finished with 10 catches for 199 yards and three touchdowns on the day and 16 touchdowns on the season.) Kendall Wright's 2011 campaign marked the previous record with 14 touchdown catches.
As a reminder: The last time we checked, it's still Oct. 17, and Baylor has six more regular-season games. If Coleman remains on pace, he will surpass the NCAA FBS single-season record of 27 touchdown catches. held by Troy Edwards of Louisiana Tech.
The amazing thing is Coleman could have broken Baylor's touchdown record last year, but he sat out the first three games with a hamstring injury and finished with 11 scores.
Coleman's a legitimate favorite for the Biletnikoff Award, given every year to college football's best wide receiver. He might even be in the Heisman conversation.
"You can put me on record for that. Corey Coleman is the best player in college football," West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen said, per Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News.
Loser: The Northwestern Fairy Tale
Stanford is thriving as a possible playoff contender while Northwestern is slipping. The Wildcats began the year 5-0 with wins against the aforementioned Cardinal and Minnesota. However, in the last two weeks, Northwestern has lost to Michigan and Iowa by a combined score of 78-10.
Granted, the Wolverines are much-improved under Jim Harbaugh, and Iowa could very well go undefeated in the regular season, but this has 2013 written all over it for Pat Fitzgerald's team. That year, Northwestern was 4-0 entering a showdown against Ohio State. It left that Saturday with a 40-30 loss to the Buckeyes, which would be the first of seven straight losses.
Northwestern needs just one more win to be bowl-eligible, so another collapse like two years ago seems unlikely. Still, the Wildcats were once ranked and one of college football's best stories not that long ago. Now, it looks like the dream season is fading fast and reality is setting in. If the offense remains this lifeless, it's going to be tough to get to nine or 10 wins.
Winner: Ohio State Quarterback J.T. Barrett
It's probably time to stop the show. Maybe it's been time for a while. But, with each passing week, it's harder and harder to deny: This Ohio State offense works better with J.T. Barrett at quarterback. A 38-10 win over Penn State showed as much.
Head coach Urban Meyer once again split reps between Barrett and Cardale Jones with Barrett getting red-zone reps. The redshirt sophomore finished the day 4-of-4 passing with two touchdowns and 102 yards rushing with two more scores on the ground.
Per Bill Landis of Cleveland.com, Ohio State is 11-of-11 in red-zone possessions with 10 touchdowns over the last two games.
The question that needs to be asked going forward is: Can Barrett do what he does in the red zone everywhere else on the field? If so, then Meyer might have to make a tough decision that's going to disappoint someone.
For now, however, it appears Jones is still the guy for Ohio State. "We'll make some assessments...but I don't anticipate there to be any changes...there was a reason Cardale was starting," said offensive coordinator Ed Warinner, per Eric Seger of Eleven Warriors.
Interjecting Braxton Miller into the quarterback rotation as a Wildcat player is one thing. It's understandable that Meyer would want to let everyone get a shot at playing quarterback, but things seem to clearly run better when Barrett is playing.
Winner: A Group of 5 Playoff Team?
"Separation Saturday" featured a loaded schedule: Iowa-Northwestern, Michigan State-Michigan, Florida-LSU, Texas A&M-Alabama.
But how about Ole Miss-Memphis?
The Tigers, unranked in the Associated Press poll, picked up a program-defining 37-24 win over the Rebels. Quarterback Paxton Lynch had his fifth straight 300-yard passing game with 384 yards and three touchdowns.
So, how about Memphis as a dark-horse playoff contender?
The notion sometimes gets thrown around, especially in the early part of the season, for programs like Boise State and BYU. However, Memphis has a win that, on a grand scale, equates to the days when Boise State was beating Virginia Tech and Georgia.
Again, it would take nothing short of an undefeated season by Memphis, coupled with chaos across the college football landscape, for the Tigers to make the final four. But it's hard to ignore that we could be heading down that road.
There are—and don't scoff—challenges ahead for Justin Fuente's team. Memphis travels to Tulsa on a short week to play one of the top offenses in college football. Navy, Houston and Temple all await the Tigers in the month of November.
There's more for Memphis to do, but now college football has what appears to be a legitimate Cinderella.
Loser: Ole Miss
Maybe, possibly, Ole Miss can't have nice things.
Since beating Alabama in September, the Rebels are 2-2, with wins against Vanderbilt and New Mexico State, and double-digit losses to Florida and Memphis.
Ole Miss is still very much in the SEC West title race, but its playoff hopes are done. Moving forward, there are concerns on the field as well. Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche left the game with a concussion while running the ball during a short-yardage play and did not return. His status for Texas A&M next week is unclear.
The Rebels jumped out to a 14-0 lead but were then outscored 37-10. That simply can't happen for head coach Hugh Freeze. Despite having loads of NFL-caliber talent, the Rebels are still falling short.
Winner: Texas Tech's Fat-Guy 2-Point Conversion
Texas Tech needed a late pick-six to put away Kansas 30-20. When you think about it that way, the Red Raiders should probably be losers—or the Jayhawks should be winners for trying. Either way.
But the highlight of the game came early when Texas Tech successfully punched in a two-point conversion—by using 6'6", 308-pound lineman Le'Raven Clark for an 11-0 lead. Let's go to the video.
We can't post GIFs on here for formatting reasons, but we've found the next best thing: a YouTube clip of the two-point conversion on loop and in slow motion. Just take a moment and revel in the sight of a big ol' boy taking a shot-put snap from an overloaded formation and barreling into the end zone.
There's so much more about Texas Tech's win that was ugly, so we're just going to pretend this is the only thing that happened.
Winner: Alabama Running Back Derrick Henry
A major question mark for Texas A&M coming into the game against Alabama was how the defense would contain Tide running back Derrick Henry. In short: It didn't.
Henry ran wild against the Aggies in a 41-23 win with 32 carries for 236 yards and two touchdowns. The junior had 153 of those yards in the first quarter alone.
Per Suzanne Halliburton of the Austin American-Statesman, the last running back to gain 200 yards against A&M was Texas' Cedric Benson in 2003.
The first two meetings between Alabama and A&M in SEC play (in 2012, '13) resulted in quick starts for the Aggies. In the last two games, however, Alabama has been the team getting off to a hot start. The Tide's establishing the run with Henry was a big reason for that this time around.
Loser: Texas A&M Quarterback Kyle Allen
It's hard to upstage Alabama's special teams blunders, which included giving up a punt return for a touchdown and a blocked punt. But, somehow, Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen managed to do it.
That's what happens when you throw three pick-sixes.
Not three interceptions. Three interceptions returned for touchdowns.
The alternative to Allen, freshman Kyler Murray, wasn't any better. Coming off the bench, Murray went 2-of-4 with an interception of his own. In all, Alabama picked off four passes and had 207 return yards on them. By comparison, Texas A&M had 316 yards overall.
There may be some questions about re-opening the quarterback competition after Saturday's performance. However, Allen's typically been solid. This was by far his worst game of the season, and Murray still looks like he has a long way to go as a passer.
Winner: Oklahoma Cornerback Zack Sanchez
Really, Oklahoma's entire bounce-back performance against Kansas State was excellent. The Sooners were put on blast last week in a loss to one-win Texas in the Red River Shootout but needed a huge victory against the Wildcats to stay in the Big 12 title race.
Oklahoma got the win, bashing K-State 55-0. It was the worst home shutout loss in the history of the program, per Kellis Robinett of the Kansas City Star.
If there's one performance that stands out, it's Sooners cornerback Zack Sanchez's. The best player in Oklahoma's secondary had two picks, one of which he returned 38 yards for a score. The junior hasn't had as many interceptions as he did in 2014 (six), but he's the most reliable player Oklahoma has in the weakest part of its defense.
K-State isn't close to the best passing team in the Big 12—its quarterbacks went 5-of-22 for 45 yards on Saturday—but it was a nice day defensively for Oklahoma after getting clocked by Texas a week ago.
Winner: Cowboy Up!
Look, Winners and Losers has its snarky moments, but at the end of the day, we’re supportive of everyone.
That means, you, Wyoming. Look at you, getting your first win of the season, 28-21 over Nevada.
It’s been a tough go for Cowboys coach Craig Bohl, who isn’t used to losing at all. Bohl ran a powerhouse program in the Football Championship Subdivision with North Dakota State. Wyoming has been a tougher building project. The Pokes lost their last nine games heading into Week 7. To be sure, bowl eligibility still looks like a long shot.
But going winless is such a demoralizing experience. For all the work these coaches and players put in every week, it’s nice to see something tangibly go right for a change.
Loser: Hoosier Down!
Don’t worry, Michigan. You weren’t the only Big Ten team to suffer heartbreak.
(OK, that probably doesn’t help anything. Apologies. Carry on.)
Either way, Indiana has to be sick after losing 55-52 to Rutgers. The Hoosiers blew a 25-point lead and were outscored 22-0 in the fourth quarter. Compounding the misery was the game-winning field goal from Scarlet Knights kicker Kyle Federico.
The 25-point comeback tied a previous Rutgers record, which came against Maryland in 2014.
Indiana actually got out to a 24-13 lead in the second quarter but gave up a pair of touchdowns in the final seven minutes and 38 seconds of the first half. After scoring 28 straight points in the third quarter, the Hoosiers wouldn’t get on the board again.
What a devastating loss.
Winner: Syracuse Quarterback Eric Dungey
Sometimes, you just have to let a video speak for itself.
This touchdown run by Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey is something special. First, he hurdles a Virginia defender, full stride and all. Then, he takes a wicked hit in the air on his way to the end zone. Somehow, he still holds on to the ball for the score.
If somebody could dubsmash this to Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You," that would be great.
Syracuse lost 44-38 in triple overtime, which is a brutal way to go down, but that's a lot less exciting by comparison.
Winner: LSU Quarterback Brandon Harris
It's established that LSU running back Leonard Fournette is a star and the front-runner for the Heisman trophy, according to OddsShark.com. But what we were still waiting on ahead of the Tigers' game against Florida is whether quarterback Brandon Harris could keep making strides. Because, presumably at some point, he's going to need to make some plays in order to win a game.
Harris took those steps in a 35-28 win over Florida, going 13-of-19 for 202 yards and a pair of touchdown passes.
With Fournette "held in check" with 180 yards and a pair of touchdowns, LSU asked Harris to make more plays in the downfield passing game against the Gators. For the most part, he was able to do just that. A flea flicker in the first half required an underrated amount of accuracy on Harris' part. A touchdown pass to Malachi Dupre required touch.
Harris is making more and more plays in the passing game. This offense still revolves around Fournette, but it's good to see Harris developing as well.
Loser: The Nick Chubb-Less Georgia Bulldogs
As far as injuries go, last week's season-ending knee injury to Georgia running back Nick Chubb was about as devastating as it gets. The Bulldogs offense is already showing signs of struggle without him.
Yes, Georgia beat Missouri 9-6. A win is important, since Mark Richt's team had lost its last two games. But the rushing attack just isn't the same. The Bulldogs are doing things by committee. Sony Michel was the leading rusher with 87 yards on 26 attempts, but Keith Marshall and Brendan Douglas got involved as well. However, Michel averaged just 3.3 yards per rush, and no one had a run longer than 12 yards.
Georgia's offense in general wasn't explosive. There was no room on the perimeter to make plays in the screen game and stretch out the defense, so it's not like the power running game could get going even if it wanted to.
Chubb was valuable. That doesn't need to be corroborated. But if Saturday was any indication, it's going to be a tough rest of the season offensively without him.
Winner: Notre Dame
It shouldn't have been any surprise that USC came out inspired against Notre Dame. Sometimes, big shake-ups, like the firing of head coach Steve Sarkisian, can bring teams closer together. Though the Trojans lost 41-31, they looked loose and confident, busting out some trick plays early in the game.
So give Notre Dame some credit. USC might have a hard time finding a coach, but it's still a talented team. The Irish held off what they knew would be an emotional night and found a way to keep winning.
Quarterback DeShone Kizer looks way more confident in the offense. He averaged nearly 10 yards per pass attempt and hit William Fuller downfield for an early touchdown. Running back C.J. Prosise led all rushers with 143 yards and two scores.
On defense, cornerback KeiVarae Russell had a beautiful interception and broke up another pass that forced a second Cody Kessler pick.
Notre Dame may have lost to Clemson, but, despite injuries, it keeps playing at a high level. Provided it can get through the next four games, the season-ending tilt against Stanford could be significant for national implications.
Loser: Utah's Odd Special Teams Safety
It ultimately didn't matter, since Utah escaped Arizona State, 34-18, but there was a moment when the Utes had the second-worst special teams miscue of the day.
It happened in the third quarter with Utah up 14-13. Receiving the kickoff, one Utah returner began running out of the end zone before stopping and throwing the ball across the field to another return man. However, it was an illegal forward pass, and because the whole thing occurred in the end zone, Arizona State benefited from a safety.
So not only did Utah give up two points, but it lost a possession and gave ASU a 15-14 lead.
Perhaps the whole thing would have worked if it was properly executed. But, it wasn't. Not by a long shot. Instead, it goes as one of the best-worst plays of the day.