"The Year of the Upset" is what the media dubbed this year's college football season, and it's what the college football faithful have heard throughout the entire season. The question is, have they really been upsets, or just teams playing hard, week-in and week-out.
Everything started when Appalachian State of the FCS (formally I-AA) beat #5 Michigan 32-30 in the first week of the season. It was considered the greatest upset in college football history—but was it an upset or just a good team beating someone they were continuously told they couldn't?
The following week, South Florida took down #17 Auburn. Again, this was considered an upset, but South Florida later became the #2 team in the nation in Week Seven.
Week Three was the Week of the Upset, as #11 UCLA lost to unranked Utah, 44-6, #9 Louisville lost to unranked Kentucky, 40-34, #16 Arkansas lost 41-38 to Alabama, and #21 Boston College defeated #15 Georgia Tech, 24-10.
Syracuse pulled off the only real upset in Week Four, as they defeated #18 Louisville for one of their two wins on the year. Other upsets included Michigan defeating Penn State and the Miami Hurricanes taking down Texas A&M.
In the fifth week of the college football season, #4 Florida fell to Auburn, #3 Oklahoma was taken down by the Colorado Buffaloes, the 13th-ranked Clemson Tigers were demoralized by the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech, and #5 West Virginia was shocked by the South Florida Bulls—but the most amazing win of the week was probably the Maryland Terrapins' 34-24 win over the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers.
In the sixth week of games for the season, the improbable happened again as the #2 USC Trojans fell 24-23 to the Cardinal from Stanford, and the twelfth-ranked Bulldogs from Georgia lost to the unranked Tennessee Volunteers.
Week Seven produced one of the most exciting, and seemingly impossible finishes in college football, when the Tigers from Baton Rouge went into Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington to take on an upset-minded Kentucky Wildcats team. The Wildcats prevailed against the top-ranked Tigers—43-37 in triple overtime.
Week Eight again showcase a great game, considered to be an "upset," as the unranked Scarlet Knights of Rutgers took down the second-ranked South Florida team. Along with that game, the sixth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks lost to the Vanderbilt Commodores, 17-6.
In Week Nine, the #18 Georgia Bulldogs took down the #11 Florida Gators 42-30. Two other upsets happened in the SEC that week: the Volunteers of Tennessee took down the #16 Gamecocks of South Carolina, and the Mississippi State Bulldogs knocked off the #14 Kentucky Wildcats.
Week 10 also provided some upsets ,as an unranked Florida State team went into Boston College and took down the #2-ranked Eagles along with their hopes of a National Championship. While that was happening, the Kansas Jayhawks continued to roll over teams destroying the Nebraska Cornhuskers 76-39.
Three weeks from the end of the regular season, Illinois "bucked off" #1 Ohio State, Wisconsin "badgered" the #11 Michigan Wolverines, and the Terrapins of Maryland shot the #8 Boston College Eagles out of the sky.
Playing in Week 12 wasn't too good if your team was an even number less than ten in the rankings.
The #2 Oregon Ducks learned this first-hand against the Arizona Wildcats, as they lost their premier quarterback Dennis Dixon, and their hopes of a BCS title. #4 Oklahoma was shocked by Graham Harrell and the rest of the Texas Tech Red Raiders, 34-27. #6 West Virginia looked like they would join the pack, but held on against the #22 Bearcats of Cincinnati 28-23.
Lucky Week 13 wasn't so lucky if you were a top team—just ask the Tigers of LSU. They were back to #1 by Week 13, on the Arkansas Razorbacks and were plagued by multiple overtimes again, losing in four, 50-48. Again this was considered to be an upset.
In Week 14, #14 Tennessee takes on #7 LSU. If Tennessee wins it will be a great win, but not necessarily an upset. #2 West Virginia takes on arch-rival Pittsburgh—if Pitt were to win, it would be considered one of the greatest upsets of all-time. \
The #8 USC Trojans look to get into the Rose Bowl as they prepare to do battle with their hated cross-town rival UCLA. Last year, UCLA destroyed USC's hopes of a BCS Title, beating the Trojans 13-9, and this year UCLA will look to play the role of spoiler again.
In retrospect, wins by the underdog are called upsets, but are they really? Most games considered to be upsets this year were really just great wins. Take the Auburn–Florida game for example: last year, Auburn handed the Gators their only loss, but it wasn't considered an upset.
Kentucky beating LSU was a great win for the Wildcats but not an upset, as many people believed that the Wildcats could beat the Tigers. The Tigers also lost to the Razorbacks and it was considered an upset—but again, people believed that the Razorbacks could win.
An upset is when a team that no one believes can win actually wins. The only two games thus far that are actually worthy of being considered an upset are the Appalachian State win over Michigan and the Stanford win over USC.
There is only one more game in the regular season that could count as an upset, and that's if the Panthers of Pittsburgh can defeat the Mountaineers of West Virginia.