"Sand people always march single-file to hide their numbers." -Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Knight
This week's quote may be a little puzzling to you at first, but please, bear with me here. Perhaps the teams that find themselves at the top of the new rankings this week may want to disguise their numbers because things haven't been kind at the top.
We thought that last season was full of upsets, but this season is turning out to be just as unpredictable.
Without further ado, here are this weeks lessons.
There is no safety in numbers
Oklahoma came into the Red River Shootout (I know it's "Rivalry" now, but "Shootout" just sounds so much cooler) with a high-octane offense that had propelled them to the No. 1 ranking.
Many expected Texas' defense to lose the game, but Colt McCoy wasn't hearing any of that talk. The Longhorns walked out of the Cotton Bowl with a 45-35 win and now have to become the favorites to win the Big 12.
What other high-profile upsets did we have this week? No. 4 LSU got rolled by No. 11 Florida, No. 13 Vanderbilt lost to unranked Mississippi State, No. 20 Auburn lost to unranked (and by all accounts, awful) Arkansas, and No. 3 Missouri lost to No. 17 Oklahoma State, proving once and for all that Mike Gundy is indeed a man.
These victims join USC, Georgia, Clemson, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Florida, Kansas, Virginia Tech, South Florida, Wake Forest, Oregon, and Pitt as ranked teams that have all fallen victim to upsets already this season. As teams continue in conference play, look for this list to grow.
These upsets serve two purposes though. Remember last year when West Virginia couldn't take care of their own business and Ohio State took a backdoor into the National Title Game?
This is happening again.
It was widely accepted that USC's loss to Oregon State would kill their National Title hopes, but they'll be creeping back into the picture this week. I said the same thing two weeks ago right after that loss.
Michigan is not a bowl team this season
I'd like to preface this section by saying that nobody has enjoyed the Rich Rodriguez era more than I have. I like seeing the offense run around like chickens with their heads cut off, hoping that the defense will bail them out time after time. But, the rest of this section is almost entirely unbiased.
If you're Michigan, you never want to have to call a game against a MAC team "must-win," but that's exactly what the matchup with Toledo was. Win, and you're 3-3 with a reasonable shot at six wins and a bowl. Probably the Motor City Bowl, but at least you won't be home for Christmas.
Lose and you're 2-4 with only two home games left, and one of those home games (Michigan State) is against a ranked opponent with a coach that hates you. Looking at their schedule, Michigan might only win one more game—when they visit Purdue.
Penn State should slaughter them at Beaver Stadium next week, Michigan State has a great chance to win the following week, then Purdue, then they visit the surprise of the Big Ten up in Minnesota, then Northwestern, and then they close with Ohio State.
We could be looking at a three or four win Michigan team for the first time in decades, since before Bo Schembechler. If not for Wisconsin's offense ineptitude, this team could easily be 1-5 and already looking ahead to next season.
How long will the athletic department and the alums put up with this? Personally, I'm hoping they sign Rich Rodriguez to a 15-year extension.
Look on the bright side Michigan fans, basketball season is just around the corner.
Oregon State was just a hiccup
In their two games since the Malice in Corvallis, USC has obliterated Oregon and held Arizona State scoreless.
Now, I don't want to pretend that the ASU victory was flawless, because it was far from it. The Trojan offense committed five turnovers but found ways to overcome them. This is the mark of a good team, finding ways to win even when you aren't playing at your best.
The Trojans will learn from this performance and come out looking much sharper next week, you can bet on it.
America has no love for Michigan State, but they should
I'll close with the obligatory weekly Michigan State mention.
Before the Iowa game last week, the College Gameday crew were saying that it would be a, "Classic letdown game for the Spartans." This week against Northwestern, they were the trendy upset pick.
Look, you realize that John L. Smith isn't roaming the sidelines in East Lansing anymore, right?
Not only did Michigan State not get upset, clinching bowl eligibility in the process, they dominated Northwestern with their defense and a solid 14 for 20 performance by Brian Hoyer. Javon Ringer added 124 yards and scored two more touchdowns, giving him 14 on the season.
The doubters may point to Northwestern's advantage in total yards to say that the win was deceptive, but the yardage comparison is actually deceptive.
Michigan State started with better field position all day. Their first four drives began in Northwestern territory, and they had seven begin on the Northwestern side of the 50 all day. Northwestern, on the other hand, never started beyond their own 40 and were pinned inside their own 20 an amazing six times.
So can we all agree that Mark Dantonio is turning this program around, while John L. Smith was an idiot?