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With no matchups between Top 25 teams, the Week 7 college football slate looked like it’d be a quiet affair.
A pair of Friday night upsets set the stage for a wild Saturday that wound up reshaping the entire national championship picture.
Alabama remains undaunted as the nation’s top-ranked team but is followed by a new No. 2 in Penn State, which took advantage of Clemson’s upset loss to Syracuse. Georgia, TCU and Wisconsin round out the Top Five.
Here’s a look at how the entire poll played out:
2. Penn State
6. Ohio State
10. Oklahoma State
13. Notre Dame
14. Virginia Tech
15. Washington State
T-16. South Florida
T-16. North Carolina State
18. Michigan State
23. West Virginia
Major changes atop the rankings obviously begin with the defending champions, who fell apart on both sides of the ball in a 27-24 loss to Syracuse. The Tigers amassed just 317 offensive yards and allowed Syracuse to control time of possession, particularly in the fourth quarter. Syracuse held possession for 11:29 of the fourth quarter, including a 12-play drive to seal the game that took the final 6:10 off the clock.
“They came ready to play,” Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell told reporters. “They came out, they saw blood, they saw they had a definite chance to win the game and we just didn’t capitalize on the opportunities we had to make a comeback.”
Eric Dungey threw for 278 yards and three touchdowns for Syracuse, which beat a No. 2-ranked team for the first time in program history. The Orange entered with losses to Middle Tennessee, LSU and NC State and only one win against a Power Five team.
“Quick show of hands. Who thought we were going to win tonight?” Dungey said. “That’s exactly what we’ve been saying. It’s just us. Nobody believes in us except us.”
Clemson’s loss somewhat overshadowed a similarly shocking upset of Washington State, which did not show up in any facet of its 37-3 defeat to Cal. The eighth-ranked Cougars turned the ball over seven times, setting up Cal with short fields for easy scores.
Luke Falk was responsible for six turnovers, five of which were interceptions. He was also responsible for negative-50 rushing yards, thanks to a host of Golden Bears sacks.
“There’s no bright spot. We were pathetic,” Cougars coach Mike Leach told reporters. “We’re a bunch of pathetic front-runners.”
The upset trend continued Saturday with Washington falling at Arizona State and LSU upending Auburn. Arizona State entered the weekend with a 2-3 record and seemingly no hope of upsetting a Washington team that had won each of its first six games by at least 16 points. The Huskies were held to 230 offensive yards and found no success against a brick wall Arizona State front seven and smart secondary.
“We expected to win this game,” Arizona State defensive back J’Marcus Rhodes told reporters. “It’s not a shock to us. This game is what’s going to turn the ship around. We dominated them tonight.”
LSU’s 27-23 win over Auburn is not as much of a shocking upset but is still a major surprise. Auburn raced out to a 20-0 lead and was ahead 23-14 at the break before not scoring again after halftime. LSU scored all 13 of its second-half points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of Connor Culp field goals with under three minutes remaining.
“We’re just becoming a football team. Our whole staff is galvanized. Our football team is galvanized,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron told reporters. “We were going to be resilient. We weren’t going to give up. We were going to block out the noise and we were going to fix the things that were fixable.”
LSU enters the polls at No. 24 after the win. The Tigers join West Virginia and Memphis as the three new teams in the Top 25.