We all know these games.
Each Saturday, whether you are at work or watching Florida play a cream puff like Florida International, you wait for a game break to hear that 5-5 Duke has a 16-13 lead over No. 20 Miami heading into the fourth quarter (which they did last year, but surrendered 21 points in the quarter).
Those games just make you smile and announce your love for college football. Hell, you might even tell your wife, sister or roommate/avid soccer fan about how if three separate 10-1 teams could just <i>lose</i>, then West Virginia would play in the National Championship.
After reviewing all the games played during the 2009 season, I have selected fifteen match-ups that made my Saturday. Most games are significant upsets, while others are brutal beatings coming at the hands of a similar foe.
I present to you:
"College Football's Most Surprising Game Results From 2009"
No. 20 BYU vs. No. 3 Oklahoma (Arlington, Texas) September 5, 2009
BYU 0-0 (0-0)
Oklahoma 0-0 (0-0)
Line: Oklahoma -22
This match up was extremely anticipated. The Brigham Young Cougars and the Oklahoma Sooners both had explosive offenses. Sam Bradford, 2008 Heisman winner, and Sooner teammates had attained numerous passing, offensive and scoring marks the prior season. Max Hall was also one of the most prolific passers in the nation and the Cougars held a lot of talent surrounding him.
Followers were expecting a shootout. They instead received a 14-13 Cougar win. The last time the Sooners had failed to break 14 points was a 28-10 loss against Texas in 2006. Sam Bradford was lost for the game with a serious injury; one that virtually knocked him out for the season (he saw minimal time against Texas later in the year).
Though both teams were ranked and competitive, the Sooners were 22 point favorites. Needless to say, spectators were stunned. The college football landscape was changed for the year. Many thought No. 3 Oklahoma would be remain unbeaten and ranked in the top 3 heading into their mid-season bout with Texas; the winner eventually rolling through the remainder of the year to the National Championship.
Final: BYU 14 Oklahoma 13
Northern Iowa at No. 22 Iowa September 5, 2009
No. 22 Iowa 0-0 (0-0)
Northern Iowa 0-0 (0-0)
Line: Iowa -24
Just a normal cupcake season opener, right? Iowa had a 13-1 record versus UNI all-time, with thirteen consecutive wins. The last time the two played was in 2005, ending with a 45-21 Hawkeye win.
UNI headed into the locker room at half time with a 10-3 lead. Northern Iowa ended up losing after giving up a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Panthers had out gained Iowa in offensive yardage, and owned the possession clock. However, they committed 10 penalties for 71 yards (Iowa, two for 15 yards). Had UNI been more careful, they might have upset Iowa in Iowa City and changed the Hawkeye's season.
Final: Iowa 17 Northern Iowa 16
Navy at No. 6 Ohio State September 5, 2009
Navy 0-0 (0-0)
No. 6 Ohio State 0-0 (0-0)
Line: Ohio State -22
Heading into the season opener at Columbus, the Midshipmen of Navy had been 2-4 against BCS teams under 2nd year coach Ken Niumatalolo. Their two 2008 wins were home against Rutgers (23-21) and at #16 Wake Forest (33-27). Wake Forest ended up at 8-5 for the year, hardly a top-25 record.
The Midshipmen were 22 point underdogs, pitted against a Buckeye team that had won 30 straight home openers. Ohio State had previously beaten Navy three out of three times.
Trailing 27-29 and attempting a 2-point conversion for the tie, the Midshipmen turned the ball over and the Buckeyes' Brian Rolle returned the extra point 100 yards for a score. The Buckeyes' season nearly took a huge hit at home on opening day. Jim Tressel had previously been 50-6 at home, 13-2 off a loss and unbeaten on opening day.
Final: Ohio State 31 Navy 27
Houston at No. 5 Oklahoma State September 12, 2009
Houston 1-0 (0-0)
No. 5 Oklahoma State 1-0 (0-0)
Line: Oklahoma State -15
Oklahoma State's offense was highly productive. They came off a huge win against a very good No. 13 Georgia team in Stillwater. Ranked at No. 5 in the country, the Cowboys were 15 point favorites over non-BCS offensive power Houston, led by Case Keenum.
This battle was supposed to be an offensive showing, which it was... just not as expected. The Cougars came away with a 45-35 win which put them at No. 17 the following week.
Final: Houston 45 Oklahoma State 35
Jacksonville State at Florida State September 12, 2009
Florida State 0-1 (0-1)
Jacksonville State 0-1 (0-0)
Line: Florida State -34
Ryan Perrilloux left LSU after having many off the field issues. He was very highly touted as a high school recruit and the Gamecocks of Jacksonville State were excited to have him on their team.
The Seminoles of Florida State have not been as powerful as they were in the late 20th century. However, they had a nine win season in 2008, their best since 2004. Christian Ponder was untested and not regarded as a leader by many within the FSU community. Despite these troubles, the Seminoles were still 34 point favorites at home.
Jacksonville State held a lead until 35 seconds remained in the fourth quarter. A one yard run by FSU's Ty Jones put the Seminoles up 13-9. A Gamecock fumble led directly to another Seminole score 14 seconds later. Perrilloux nearly upset the Seminoles in Tallahassee.
Final: Florida State 19 Jacksonville 9
No. 3 USC at Washington September 19, 2009
No. 3 USC 2-0 (0-0)
Washington 1-1 (0-0)
Line: USC -19
Before the game, USC was expected to win. After the game, everyone said, "That's USC's slip for the year!" (Oregon State and UCLA in '06, Stanford in '07, Oregon State in '08).
Although Jake Locker is largely considered one of the best quarterbacks in the country, let alone the Pac-10, the Huskies were three score underdogs. USC had previously been 6-0 against Washington, their meeting in 2008 a 56-0 blow out.
USC had killed San Jose State in week one and won a very tough road game in Columbus in week two. Washington had lost a nine point match with the Tigers of LSU in Seattle, and then beat Idaho in week two. The Trojans were probably still thinking about their win against the Buckeyes because they dropped this game 16-13, which can now be considered the summary of their 2009 season.
Final: Washington 16 USC 13
Arkansas State at No. 13 Iowa October 3, 2009
Arkansas State 1-2 (0-1)
No. 13 Iowa 4-0 (1-0)
Line: Iowa -21
Writers everywhere either hailed Iowa as a stifling defensive team with a knack for winning close games, or an under performing Big Ten team that could barely beat non-BCS programs (20-13 win at Syracuse in 2OT in '06, 16-3 win against Northern Illinois in '07, 17-16 win against Northern Iowa earlier in the year).
The Hawkeyes held a 14-7 lead at half time. They eventually gave up two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, letting the Red Wolves close within 3 points in under three minutes left. ASU nearly beat #13 Iowa in Iowa City but the pollsters still moved Iowa up the charts to No. 12 after their embarrassing victory.
Arkansas State was 21 point underdogs, and had previously been 0-4 against Big Ten teams.
Final: Iowa 24 Arkansas State 21
No. 7 Ohio State at Purdue October 17, 2009
No. 7 Ohio State 5-1 (3-0)
Purdue 1-5 (0-2)
Line: Ohio State -13
The Boilermakers have always been a passing team, seeing fairly good success through the air. Sitting at 1-5 heading into a match with Ohio State, Purdue needed the best efforts of quarterback Joey Elliot.
He managed to complete 62% of his 50 attempts for 281 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. Purdue actually held a 23-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Purude's victory as 13 point underdogs was their first over a ranked team in 19 games. The Boilermakers had been 5-24 against the Buckeyes since 1968. The loss rocked Columbus and threatened the Buckeyes' chances at winning the Big Ten title.
Final: Purdue 26 Ohio State 18
Iowa State at Nebraska October 24, 2009
Iowa State 4-3 (1-2)
Nebraska 4-2 (1-1)
Line: Nebraska -20
In a game not too many people thought would be interesting, the Iowa State Cyclones beat Nebraska's Cornhuskers in Lincoln for the first time since 1977.
The games score would seem to depict a rather uninteresting game, but it was anything but boring. The Cyclones forced eight turnovers (three interceptions of Cornhusker quarterback Zac Lee, and five fumble recoveries).
The Cornhuskers had been 85-16-2 against ISU and 37-3 on homecoming. However, as 20 point favorites they dropped a game in Lincoln to a huge underdog.
Last year was a good year for Nebraska (first 10 win season since 2003), ending with a #14 ranking and a 33-0 win over Arizona in the Holiday Bowl.
Final: Iowa State 9 Nebraska 7
Tennessee at No. 1 Alabama October 24, 2009
No. 1 Alabama 7-0 (4-0)
Tennessee 3-3 (1-2)
Line: Alabama -14
Alabama was expected to win by two scores. Lane Kiffin and Tennessee were one of the most interesting team/coach combinations in the country. They played tough one week (10 point loss at No. 1 Florida, 26 point victory at Georgia), and awful the next (four point losses at home against UCLA and Auburn, 11 point win over Ohio).
Alabama had cruised through their first seven games, beating three ranked opponents and scoring 34.6 points per game, giving up just 11.6 points per game.
The Crimson Tide needed TWO blocked field goals (both by Terrence Cody) to beat the Volunteers.
Final: Alabama 12 Tennessee 10
No. 4 USC at No. 10 Oregon October 31, 2009
No. 10 Oregon 6-1 (4-0)
No. 4 USC 6-1 (3-1)
Line: USC -3
Oregon was working beautifully as a team after their season opener fiasco. If you don't know the story of the Ducks' by now, shame on you.
After dropping an 11 point contest to No. 14 Boise State, the Ducks had won six straight, including two over ranked opponents. But they had yet to face their most difficult hurdle, the USC Trojans.
USC had lost to Washington, but had won four straight since, including two road games over ranked opponents. The Trojans looked like they were supposed to. What resulted was a 47-20 lashing by the Ducks. The 47 points marked the highest amount since a 50-42 victory over Fresno State in 2005.
Many pundits had Oregon winning this match, only three point underdogs and playing in Eugene. No one expected a 27 point rout.
Final: Oregon 47 USC 20
No. 25 Stanford at No. 11 USC November 14, 2009
No. 25 Stanford 6-3 (5-2)
No. 11 USC 7-2 (4-2)
Line: USC -10
The storyline for this game is eerily similar to USC's game with Oregon. The Trojans were 10 point favorites. The last time Stanford had beat USC was in 2007, which many consider to be the greatest upset in college football history (the 43 point underdog Cardinal won 24-23).
Stanford was having an excellent season led by running back Toby Gerhart and quarterback Andrew Luck. The game was played at the Coliseum, where Pete Carroll had compiled a record of 45-3. Carroll was also 32-7 against top 25 teams, and 57-10 against Pac-10 foes. Jim Harbaugh was just 1-5 against top 25 teams with his lone win the upset from '07.
Needless to say, the Cardinals handed the Trojans their worse loss in memory. Gerhart stood out rushing for 178 yards and three touchdowns against the Trojans' defense. Andrew Luck added 205 total yards and three total touchdowns.
Final: Stanford 55 USC 21
No. 19 California at Washington December 5, 2009
No. 19 California 8-3 (5-3)
Washington 4-7 (3-5)
Line: Cal -6
This game did not draw as much attention as it should have. Both teams were riding roller-coaster seasons. Washington had beaten USC, was ranked No. 24 the following week, but lost six of its next eight games. California had been ranked as high as No. 6 and dropped out of the top 25. They beat two ranked teams in Arizona and Stanford (while Stanford was at their peak) before meeting with the Huskies.
California was at 8-3 heading to Seattle. Washington was a mediocre 4-7 coming off a 30-0 win over doormat Washington State. When all was said and done, the Huskies laid 42 points on the Golden Bears, the most points surrendered by Cal since their 42-3 loss at Oregon.
The Huskies were only six point underdogs, but a 32 point victory capped their average year, and surely dazed Cal (lost 27-37 to #23 Utah in the Poinsettia Bowl, despite being three point favorites).
Final: Washington 42 California 10
Nevada vs. Southern Methodist (Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii) December 24, 2009
Nevada 8-4 (7-1)
Southern Methodist 7-5 (6-2)
Line: Nevada -12
Colin Kaepernick is known as one of the most mobile and exciting quarterbacks in the country. The Nevada offense became the first offense to have three separate 1,000 yard rushers in a single season. Nevada's losses were at No. 23 Notre Dame, at Colorado State, home against a BCS team in Missouri and at No. 6 Boise State.
Southern Methodist was a 12 point underdog, and played in a weak C-USA. They had lost to Washington State earlier in the year!
But true freshman quarterback Kyle Padron came into his own. He threw for a school record 460 yards in the Mustangs' 45-10 Hawaii Bowl win.
In all fairness, Nevada was without their top two running backs. Nonetheless, a 35 point loss was not expected, nor was a 10 point offensive output (their worst since the opener against UND).
Final: Southern Methodist 45 Nevada 10
Air Force vs. Houston (Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas) December 31, 2009
Air Force 7-5 (5-3)
Houston 10-3 (6-2)
Line: Houston -4
This bowl match up was similar to the Hawaii Bowl. Houston had a fiery offense led by a record-setting quarterback in Case Keenum.
Air Force played a tough schedule in the Mountain West, but were four point underdogs. The Falcons had lost to Minnesota, Navy, TCU, Utah and BYU, and nearly beat Wyoming. But Troy Calhoun's squad played great defense (+22 in turnovers for 2009). They forced six interceptions off Keenum (career high) and won 47-20.
Final: Air Force 47 Houston 20