College football scores, winners & losers in Week 7: Alabama continues dominance, Georgia folds
There were a lot of upsets and close calls during an exciting Week 7
Every year, it happens. There's always at least one Saturday that goes completely off script. Practically every ranked and/or favored team plays horribly, and usually half of them go down in some kind of upset. Week 7 was that Saturday.
No surprise, but the results were all over the place. Four top-10 teams lost -- some by a landslide -- while several others needed to rally late. Come Sunday, the new top 25 polls should have an interesting look to them. Furthermore, the College Football Playoff race just got a lot more perplexing. The number of undefeated teams is dwindling, and some of the one-loss teams have some bad optics.
From LSU's statement win over Georgia to West Virginia's embarrassing loss to Iowa State and a few near misses by Notre Dame and UCF, a lot happened around college football in Week 7. Here's what you should know as we cross the midway point of the season.
Alabama: You could look at quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's as a bad thing. And, yes, it's worrisome given how important he is to the offense. But all Alabama has to replace Tagovailoa with is some guy championship-caliber level player named Jalen Hurts, who came off the bench and kept things moving with 115 yards at 14.4 yards per attempt. Seriously, Nick Saban's best coaching job was keeping Hurts on Alabama's roster as a security net. Hurts might not be able to do everything Tagovailoa can do, but he's a good option.
Michigan: So much has been made -- and so many jokes have been told -- about Texas being "back." But, in a major way, Michigan with a 38-13 throttling of Wisconsin. It was the most convincing, well-rounded victory under Jim Harbaugh in a few years. This was a big game, and Michigan outmuscled the Badgers with 320 yards on the ground at 6.7 yards per attempt; almost no one does that to Wisconsin. Back-to-back games at Michigan State and vs. Penn State will test if Michigan can make it through this three-game stretch, but this could all be setting up for yet another major showdown with Ohio State in late November.
Oregon: The Ducks exorcised some demons by beating Washington 30-27 in overtime. Recall that Oregon had its chances to put away Stanford in September, but coach Mario Cristobal mismanaged the end of the fourth quarter, resulting in a 38-31 overtime loss. This time was different. Oregon and Washington were locked all day with three lead changes, none of which were more than a touchdown. The win puts Oregon in a four-way tie atop the Pac-12 North, but candidly, the Ducks are the team playing the best football at the moment, and should probably be undefeated.
Tennessee: To provide some context for what Tennessee's 30-24 win over Auburn means, here's the last time the Vols did, well, just about anything in conference play. The last time it won a conference game? Nov. 19, 2016 vs. Missouri, a streak of 11 games. The last time it won a conference road game? Oct. 1, 2016 vs. Georgia, a streak of eight games. The last time it beat a SEC West team? Nov. 13, 2010 vs. Ole Miss. The last time it beat a SEC West team on the road? Oct. 13, 2007 vs. Mississippi State. It's still going to be a hard climb for first-year coach Jeremy Pruitt, with bowl eligibility probably still unlikely. But, quietly, Tennessee has improved game by game this year. Vols fans should feel good about the way things are headed.
Georgia: It's remarkable in its own way that Georgia could have two excellent quarterbacks and yet look so utterly lifeless in a Jake Fromm wasn't getting the job done with a pair of picks and some truly ugly sacks. However, bringing in Justin Fields just to run the ball wasn't effective, either. If you're Georgia, you don't want to pull the plug on a guy who's gotten you this far and create an unnecessary controversy. However, you also don't want to blindly stick with something that isn't working. It's a precarious situation, to be sure, .. But here's an example in which having those two talented players so close together can come back to haunt you.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions went from Big Ten East contender to middle-of-the-pack team with a quickness. All it took was a go-ahead touchdown from Michigan State with 19 seconds left to win 21-17 in the battle for the coveted Land Grant Trophy. But it was the fact that the Spartans went 76 yards in just eight plays and one minute that set up the touchdown. Penn State coach James Franklin talked at length -- and passionately -- about doing all the little things right following the Ohio State loss in Week 5. Suffice it to say, there's still work to be done.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers scrounged together a whopping 152 yards and a single touchdown in a called it "the worst offensive performance I've seen in my thirty years of coaching." Truth be told, this was always a bad matchup for the 'Eers, who aren't healthy and haven't been playing well. It really wasn't the most surprising result, cringe-worthy stats be damned. What's actually disheartening, though, is that an offense that features quarterback Will Grier and all-conference wideouts couldn't make a single play when the score was a more manageable 20-14. Yes, the players play what the coaching staff calls, but in a day in which a number of ranked teams dug deep to survive and advance, WVU had zero answers.. Coach Dana Holgorsen
Memphis: The Tigers were agonizingly close to at least having a chance of beating UCF. Instead, Memphis squandered its final seconds in a 31-30 loss that saw the Knights score the final 17 unanswered points. The events folded as follows: Memphis got a first down with about 30 seconds remaining remaining to get the ball to the UCF 35-yard line -- right at the edge of field goal range. However, an ensuing false start not only took the Tigers out of range, but caused a 10-second runoff. With no timeouts, Memphis threw a 9-yard pass to Tony Pollard, who was not able to get out of bounds. The clock wound to zero. It was game over and UCF's 19-game winning streak trucks on.
Best of the rest
Kansas State running back Alex Barnes: This was the signature Bill Snyder football K-State had been missing. Barnes had four rushing touchdowns in a 31-12 win over Oklahoma State. It's not been pretty for the Snydercats, but at least the offense was back to being effective.
Northwestern: There's a whole other topic about Nebraska to drop to 0-6 for the first time ever. There's also something to be said, though, for driving 99 yards in under two minutes to tie the game. When Northwestern absolutely needed an offensive drive -- keep in mind that the Wildcats have been an abysmal second-half team -- they got one that literally could not have been longer or more important. That takes guts.
Houston DL Ed Oliver: Remember Oliver, one of college football's most dominant players? Yeah, he still exists, and he was a stud -- again -- in Houston's 42-20 win over East Carolina.
UCLA: The Bruins were one of a handful of winless teams coming into Week 7, but their time finally arrived. Chip Kelly's team got that proverbial monkey off their back with a 37-7 victory over Cal. UCLA has steadily been improving week after week, so it seemed like only a matter of time before things fell into place.
San Jose State: The Spartans, somehow, managed to fumble on four straight offensive possessions in a 52-3 loss to Army. The fumbles led to 24 points for Army, one of which was a scoop-and-score. This play-by-play is museum-worthy.
Rutgers quarterbacks: The stat line for the Scarlet Knights in their 34-7 loss to Maryland is worth at least a double-take, if not a triple-take. Between Artur Sitkowski and Giovanni Rescigno, Rutgers quarterbacks went 2 of 17 for eight yards and five interceptions. Again: that's 2-of-17 passing for eight yards and five interceptions. No words.
Miami's quarterbacks: Don't worry, 'Canes, we didn't forget about Malik Rosier and N'Kosi Perry combining for three interceptions in their 16-13 loss at Virginia. It certainly hasn't been all bad for Miami this year, but in two losses, it's been really, really bad.
Western Michigan's own scoop-and-score touchdown: College football can be a strange sport because even bad things can turn into good things. Case in point, this Keishawn Watson touchdown in a 42-35 win over Bowling Green. Watson had to scoop up his own fumble, but it worked out in his favor anyway.
This fortuitous bounce for Vanderbilt: Speaking of fumbles of the advantageous variety, how on Earth did this fumble stay in bounds for Vanderbilt? It's about the only thing that went right for the 'Dores as Florida came from behind to win 37-27 in Nashville.
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