Arthur Christory / Gavel Media

Week 7 College Football Upsets and Surprises

While our beloved Boston College Eagles were on their bye week, the rest of the college football world certainly made up for their absence. This past Saturday featured one of the most anticipated slates of matchups in the past few years, and the games did not disappoint. 

 

Minnesota vs. No. 24 Illinois

After not finishing with a winning record since 2011, the Fighting Illini defeated Minnesota 24-16 to claim first place in the Big 10 West. Second-year coach Bret Bielema has coached this team to a 6-1 record and the No. 18 spot in the AP Poll. Running back Chase Brown has been electric this season, with 180 rushing yards in the game bringing him to 1,059 on the season just seven games in. Quarterback Tommy Devito also impressed, with 252 yards and a touchdown through the air. Illinois faces a tough road to the Big 10 West title, having to play Purdue and No. 4 Michigan in the coming weeks. However, with how they have surprised thus far, anything looks possible. 

 

No. 18 Syracuse vs. No. 15 NC State

The Orange defeated NC State 24-9 and now claim second place in the ACC Coastal behind No. 5 Clemson. Running back Sean Tucker had another big day, rushing for 98 yards and a touchdown, while wideout Oronde Gadsden II had 141 receiving yards and caught 2 touchdowns in a statement win for the upstart Orange. After the win, Syracuse is now ranked No. 14 in the AP Poll, just the second time in 21 seasons they have been in the top 15. NC State fell to No. 23 after the game and is without star QB Devin Leary for the remainder of the season. A pivotal game for Syracuse awaits at Clemson next week and will determine who sits in the driver's seat in the ACC Coastal.

 

No. 6 Tennessee vs. No. 3 Alabama 

In what was arguably the game of the decade so far, the Volunteers defeated the Crimson Tide for the first time since 2006 by the score of 52-49. Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker delivered what could very well be his Heisman moment with 385 passing yards and 5 touchdowns, with all 5 being caught by wide receiver Jalin Hyatt. Alabama quarterback and 2021 Heisman winner Bryce Young was also fantastic, with 455 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. After a go-ahead field goal attempt by Alabama sailed wide left with 15 seconds remaining, the game seemed destined for overtime. However, Hooker cooly led the Vols down the field, setting them up for the walk-off 40-yard field goal. The ensuing celebration by Tennessee fans was nearly as entertaining as the game itself, as they tore down the goalposts and paraded them through the surrounding city. Tennessee now finds itself at No. 3 in the AP poll and looks to have a real chance of winning its first National Championship since 1998. 

 

No. 13 TCU vs. No. 8 Oklahoma State

TCU defeated Ok. State in a 2OT 43-40 thriller and moves to 6-0 under first-year head coach Sonny Dykes. With the win, the Horned Frogs took sole possession of first place in the Big 12. The game featured an impressive comeback by TCU, who trailed 24-7 at one point. Notable performers included TCU running back Kendre Miller, who had 104 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground, and wide receiver Quentin Johnson, who caught 8 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown. TCU has a crucial game at home against No. 17 Kansas State next weekend which holds major Big 12 championship implications, as the teams hold the top two spots in the conference. 

 

No. 20 Utah vs. No. 7 USC

In yet another game that came down to the very end, the Utes took down previously undefeated USC 43-42 in a must-win game to keep their Pac-12 Championship hopes alive. Both quarterbacks came to play, with USC QB Caleb Williams throwing for 381 yards and 5 touchdowns, and Utah QB Cam Rising passing for 415 yards and 2 touchdowns while also adding 60 yards and 3 scores on the ground, including the game-winning rushing touchdown and 2 point conversion with 51 seconds remaining. The Trojan's porous defense, which many expected would hold them back from national championship glory this year, proved to be unable to handle the more experienced Utes. This now leaves the Pac-12 wide open, with four teams that have a serious chance at winning the conference championship.

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