Let’s Normalize Upsets: The 2007 College football Season

2007: 'The Year of the Upsets'

2007 does not only represent the year of my Nissan Altima, but it also defines the wackiest year of NCAA college football probably ever in the history of the sport. Nicknamed, “the year of the upsets,” it ended with Kansas and Missouri battling to get to the national title. Yes, you read that right; Kansas and Missouri.

Embed from Getty Images


Let’s start with one of the biggest upsets that kicked everything off, Appalachian State vs. #5 Michigan in the big house. App State, a Division I-AA school, had never beaten a school of Michigan’s caliber, and the Mountaineers pulled off the enormous 34-32 upset, causing the Wolverines to fall entirely out of the AP top 25. This was the biggest drop in the history of the 71 years of AP poll publishing.


Georgia fell to unranked South Carolina. #17 Auburn lost to unranked South Florida, but we’ll get back to the Bulls.


Kentucky beat in-state rival #9 Louisville and Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy went on his infamous “I’m a man. I’m 40” rant.


Michigan, who lost 39-7 to Oregon the week after they fell victim in the most famous upset of all time, beat their big ten rival #10 Penn State.


This is where things get hectic. A grand total of eight teams fell to upsets, seven by an unranked opponent, three in the top five, and half of them in the top 10. For perspective, that’s ⅓ of the “best” teams in the country losing on the same day. #3 Oklahoma and #4 Florida lost on last-second field goals. #5 West Virginia lost to South Florida. #7 Texas got manhandled, losing to Kansas State by 20. In something that seems like a virtual season out of EA’s NCAA football, Cal entered the top 5, and South Florida, Kentucky, and Boston College entered the top 10.

Embed from Getty Images


#2 ranked USC was looking to overcome #1 LSU with a convincing win over 1-3 Stanford, who was starting their backup QB. Favored by six touchdowns, the Trojans could not get off the bus and still beat Stanford. But this article is all about upsets, so I think you know what happens. With Richard Sherman (yes, that Richard Sherman) playing WR, the Cardinals converted on 4th and 20 and scored on the next play to send USC home, making USC just another victim of this wild ’07 season. #12 Georgia lost to Tennessee. #5 Wisconsin lost to Illinois and Kansas started to gain recognition after beating ranked Kansas State. To top it off, LSU beat Florida to remain #1.


In week seven, things actually returned to normal… kind of. There were only two truly big upsets, but they were THE upsets. In a triple-overtime thriller, #17 Kentucky beat #1 LSU after trading touchdowns until the Tigers finally came up short. This opened the door for #2 California to become the #1 team in the country with a win over unranked Oregon State. In the 3rd quarter, OSU stopped Cal three times on their own five-yard line. Cal still had a chance with 14 seconds left, but their backup QB got tackled in the middle of the field, and while trying to rush the field goal unit on, time expired. The Golden Bears would go on to finish 6-6 after starting 5-0.


The BCS was in its first week, and the polls looked like something out of a dream. Hawaii was #18. Historically bad Kansas was 6-0 and ranked #13. 7-0 Arizona State was #8. #7 Kentucky hadn’t been ranked this high since 1984. #3 Boston College saw its highest ranking since before World War II. South Florida, who only had been in Division I-AA for seven years, was ranked #2. All they had to do was get past Rutgers and it would be smooth sailing to the national title. After an offensive pass interference call brought back a 4th and 22 conversion, a failed Hail Mary gave the Scarlet Knights the win 30-27. #7 Kentucky and #6 South Carolina also lost that week.


New #2 Boston College almost came up short vs. #10 Virginia Tech until Matt Ryan unleashed a beautiful throw on 3rd and 20 for a touchdown with 11 seconds left in the game. BC broke the trend of the #2 teams losing for three weeks in a row.


Remember #2 Boston College? Yeah, they lost to Florida State. South Florida also lost again.


Nothing should be shocking at this point. Especially #1 Ohio State losing to unranked Illinois. The win made for the Fighting Illini’s first win against a #1 team since 1956, making way for LSU to reclaim the #1 spot.

Embed from Getty Images


A spot they’d relinquish after another triple OT thriller, a 50-48 Arkansas win left the Tigers with two losses, seemingly dashing their title hopes. Oregon had limped to the #2 team in the nation and seemed to have it all together with star QB Dennis Dixon after beating #6 Arizona State the week before. Dixon then re-aggravated his torn ACL against unranked Arizona, who they eventually lost too. #4 Oklahoma also lost to Texas Tech.


Here we are. #2 and #4. 11-0 Kansas vs. 10-1 Missouri in a game where whoever wins goes to the Big 12 title game. Then if they won that game, they’d go onto the National Championship. In 116 meetings of this rivalry, this by far was the most important. But in pure 2007 season fashion, Missouri beat Kansas 36-28. Wow.


Oklahoma crushed Missouri in the Big 12 title game (because of course), so that left West Virginia only needing to beat a 4-7 Pittsburgh team at home to get their shot to play for the championship… And they came up short. You can’t make this up.


Ohio State and LSU ended up back at #1 and #2 to play for the national title, where OSU lost for the second year in a row. Kansas beat Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl and finished 12-1for the Jayhawks’ best season in school history. Oklahoma got torched by West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl, USC stomped out Illinois, and the SWAT team should be looking for Georgia over what they did to Colt Brennan and Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl.

The 2007 season included:

  • Sixty-two (62!) times when a ranked team lost to an unranked or lower-ranked opponent.
  • The #1 team lost four times.
  • Top-10 teams lost 29 times
  • The #2 teams lost seven (7) times in the final nine weeks of the season.
  • The number #1 and #2 ranked teams lost in the same week three times.

It truly was a season that we will probably never see again.