One of the bigger storylines heading into Week 7 was the fact that there were no ranked vs. ranked matchups, the subliminal implication being that this would be an uneventful weekend. As is ofttimes the case, the sport of college football scoffed in the general direction of conventional wisdom.
Friday night begat No. 2 Clemson falling to Syracuse and No. 8 Washington State embarrassing itself against Cal; Saturday afternoon begat No. 10 Auburn coughing up a second-half lead in a loss to LSU.
Early Sunday morning brought additional Top 10 carnage.
Ranked fifth nationally and winners of nine straight in the regular season, Washington entered the weekend comfortable favorites over 2-3 Arizona State. In a game that didn’t feel as close as the final score indicated, however, UW fell from the ranks of the unbeaten as Arizona State laid a stunning 13-7 loss on the Huskies.
UW’s loss means that four of the teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 10 coming into Week 7 went down in defeat ahead of Week 8 in the biggest top-shelf shakeup of the 2017 season thus far. The teams that avoided being caught up in the upset maelstrom? No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Penn State, No. 4 Georgia, No. 6 TCU, No. 7 Wisconsin and No. 9 Ohio State.
The Nittany Lions were on a bye this weekend, while the other five Top 10 teams left unscathed won by an average of 25.4 points; take away UW’s eight-point win over Purdue, and that average jumps to nearly 30. Add it all up and it was, on all fronts, a seismic shift when it comes to the Power Five balance of power.
Then there’s this: when you add in No. 19 San Diego State getting beat by Boise State — a significant development in the Group of Five — five undefeated teams suffered their first losses of the 2017 season this weekend.
And, again, this great sport scoffs in the general direction of what you think may or may not happen any particular weekend.
Trying to figure out who the best tailback in the country is seems like an easy task, right? After all, new Heisman favorite Saquon Barkley returned a kickoff for a touchdown and threw for another in a rout of Indiana. Plus there is San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny, LSU’s Derrius Guice and nearly a dozen others who may have their own claim to the crown after Saturday wraps up too.
None, however, are holding a candle to Stanford’s Bryce Love when it comes to stats.
The Cardinal’s star running back set a new school record on Saturday by rushing for 301 yards on the ground in a rather effortless 34-24 win over Arizona State on the Farm. That mark included three touchdown runs of over 40 yards to boot. The Sun Devils aren’t exactly a stout defensive team but they looked like an FCS squad trying to tackle Love at times.
The crazy thing though? September is not even over and yet Love has crossed the 1,000 yard mark on the season and leads FBS in rushing by a huge margin. In fact, Pac-12 Networks noted that his 1,088 rushing yards — on just 98 carries — is the most through five games in the last 20 (!!) seasons.
Christian McCaffrey who?
Heck, Love’s worst game this year was in that blowout loss to USC and he still managed 160 yards on 17 carries (that’s 9.4 per touch for the non-math majors). There are still seven regular season games left on Stanford’s schedule so it’ safe to say that topping the 2,000 yard barrier remains a possibility for the tailback by the time December rolls around.
Yes the Cardinal already have two losses on their record but that certainly won’t prevent Love from running his way to New York City as a Heisman finalist if he’s able to keep things up after a remarkable start to 2017 in the backfield.
The stage is officially set for a passing of the quarterback torch down on The Farm.
In a Week 3 upset loss to San Diego State, Stanford’s Keller Chryst had his most disappointing and unproductive day as the Cardinal’s starting quarterback, completing just 11 passes — two of which were caught by Aztec defenders — for 72 yards. A week later, Chryst was injured in the first quarter of the UCLA game and was replaced by K.J. Costello, with the redshirt freshman throwing for 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 13-of-19 passing — he added a rushing score for good measure — in helping to snap a two-game losing streak.
There were some calls throughout the week for Costello to replace Chryst as the starter for this weekend’s home game against Arizona State. Chryst’s injury situation, though, makes such talk a moot point — for now.
Saturday’s game will mark the first career start for Costello, a four-star 2016 signee who was rated as the No. 3 pro-style quarterback in the country in that year’s class. For the season, Costello has completed 18-of-28 passes for 203 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s also totaled 40 yards and two touchdowns on three carries.
There could be some good news on the injury front for Oregon. Maybe.
Charles Nelson suffered a lower-leg injury in UO’s win over Wyoming in Week 3. At the time, it was thought that the injury wasn’t as serious as it initially looked. Monday, Willie Taggart indicated that it wasn’t, although the head coach fell short of declaring the senior wide receiver ready to go for the Pc-12 opener against Arizona State in Week 4.
“Hopefully he’ll be back here soon and be ready to go,” the head coach said according to The Oregonian.
Nelson’s 15 catches for 243 yards are tops on the Ducks through the first three weeks of the 2017 season. He also has a rushing touchdown on one of his six carries.
Arizona State dropped a home game last night to San Diego State, losing by a score of 30-20. A week after being pushed to the limit by New Mexico State, the Sun Devils are not off to an inspiring start in Tempe. As such, critics and fans are coming from all angles to hurl their criticisms in Arizona State’s direction, and Arizona State would like to make sure it is the recipient of those attacks rather than the players.
In the hours after the setback dropped Arizona State to 1-1, Arizona State’s official Twitter account posted an update seemingly responding to social media comments made in the direction of individual players.
Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins had three fumbles on the night, including one that was recovered by San Diego State. After the game, some fans were on Twitter suggesting directly to Blake Barnett that he should be playing ahead of Wilkins. It would be unwise to scan the Twitter mentions of Wilkins right now, which is why Arizona State’s social media team stepped in the way it did.
Things may not be going particularly well on the field for Arizona State, but venting and insulting student-athletes is pretty low of some fans. It is good to see Arizona State looking to protect their players from such animosity.
Of course, Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham has certainly been on the receiving end of a good amount of Twitter hate as well, as his seat continues to warm. There is no shielding him from the critics.