I cannot repeat enough that anything can happen at any given moment in college football. Week 8 of 2011 has affirmed this statement with authority: Two top ten teams bit the dust for the first time this season, the USC Trojans took back the Jeweled Shillelagh from Notre Dame, and Michigan State proved its national legitimacy by knocking off the sixth ranked Wisconsin Badgers in East Lansing. This explosive week in college football has been not only the most riveting thus far, but also long overdue. Let us look back on Week 8, when perfect records were shattered, winning streaks were lengthened, and the race for the BCS National Title Game was shaken up in the highest proportions.
Team of the Week: Texas Tech
The Red Raiders marched into Norman, Oklahoma with swagger and great determination to derail the third ranked Oklahoma Sooners from the ranks of the unbeatens. With home field advantage, Bob Stoops’ Sooners were the favorites with a -29 point spread. Surprisingly, the Sooners found themselves trailing Texas Tech, 24-7, at the half. With a 39 home game winning streak on the line, quarterback Landry Jones put together a decent comeback for Oklahoma, as they would pull within seven points of Texas Tech in the fourth quarter. Though Jones finished the game with 412 yards passing, Tech quarterback Seth Doege outduel Jones with 441 yards passing, and engineered the 41-38 upset behind his supreme passing ability and four touchdowns. In addition to having their 39 game home winning streak snapped, the Sooners squandered away their undefeated record and BCS title hopes.
“Play of the Week”: Michigan State
With ESPN’s College Gameday on site in East Lansing, Michigan, the showdown between Wisconsin and Michigan State held massive BCS title implications, as the sixth ranked Badgers looked to improve to 7-0. Quarterback and Heisman hopeful Russell Wilson led Wisconsin to a two touchdown lead by the end of the first quarter, but Michigan State then scored twenty-three unanswered points by halftime. With both teams trading leads in the fourth quarter, time began to run thin. With the score tied at 31 with four seconds to play, Spartans signal caller Kirk Cousins heaved a desperation pass to the end zone, into a sea of Wisconsin defenders. Though the defense would deflect the pass, receiver Keith Nichol would snatch the ball out of the air at the goal line for the winning score. With no time left on the clock, the play was reviewed to see if the ball crossed the threshold of the end zone. With Wisconsin preparing for overtime the officials ruled the play a touchdown, spoiling the Badger’s perfect season and giving the Spartans their second straight impressive victory. Though the touchdown ruling was controversial, the football did ultimately sneak into the end zone by mere inches.
With excitement overflowing in Week 8 of college football, the best part is that college football is far from over. With seven weeks remaining, along with the approaching bowl season, this week is just the beginning of it all. I can confidently state that it is weeks like this that remind us why we love college football: The pageantry, the upsets and the excitement.
Featured image courtesy of espn.com.