The one thing this wild season is still lacking ...
Posted: Sunday October 30, 2005 6:27PM; Updated: Sunday October 30, 2005 10:04PM
Brandon Breazell made this catch in OT to ensure UCLA wasn't victimized by an Upset.
Robert Laberge/Getty Images
For all its frantic comebacks, wild finishes and heroic individual performances so far, the 2005 college football season is still missing one key ingredient: an Upset.
Some of you might nominate TCU over Oklahoma, USF over Louisville or Virginia over Florida State, but with all due respect, those were just upsets. Since the advent of the BCS in 1998, there has been at least one full-blown, jaw-dropping, national-title altering Upset -- as in, a top-five team in the BCS standings inexplicably losing to an unranked team in late October or November -- in every year but one:
Oct. 30, 2004: North Carolina (3-4) shocks No. 3 Miami (6-0), 31-28, on Connor Barth's 42-yard field goal as time expires.
Oct. 22, 2003:Quincy Wilson and West Virginia (2-4) pound No. 3 Virginia Tech (6-0), 28-7, in a Wednesday night game.
Nov. 24, 2001: Oklahoma (10-1), set to move up to No. 2 following Nebraska's baffling loss to Colorado, loses to Oklahoma State (3-7), 16-13.
Nov. 13, 1999: Arkansas (5-3) exacts revenge for the Clint Stoerner fumble a year earlier, knocking off No. 2 Tennessee (7-1), 28-24.
Nov. 7, 1998: No. 1 Ohio State (8-0), having blown out every previous opponent, somehow falls at home to Michigan State (4-4), 28-24.
There was a point Saturday night when it looked like we might witness two such Upsets on the same night: Lowly Oklahoma State over No. 2 Texas and Stanford over No. 5 (after Georgia's loss to Florida) UCLA. My friend Bruce and I have a little game we like to play while watching such potential Upsets-in-the-making: We say what we think the percentage chance is of the losing team coming back, then alter it as the game goes on.
With the Longhorns down 28-12 to the Cowboys at halftime and the Bruins trailing Stanford 17-3 in the fourth quarter, we both went with 60 percent for Texas (not much faith in the Pokes) and 25 percent for the Bruins. Bruce, mindful of UCLA's recent run of fourth-quarter comebacks, stuck with 25 percent even after it got to 24-3 Stanford with eight minutes remaining. I, being a short-sighted idiot, declared UCLA's chances to now be 2 percent. It looks pretty dumb in retrospect, but c'mon, UCLA's offense hadn't scored a touchdown in 53 minutes and now it needed three of them in seven minutes. You and I both know the Bruins were as good as done.
But wouldn't you know it, almost as quickly as Vince Young broke an 80-yard touchdown to start the second half en route to a 47-28 victory, UCLA got those three touchdowns and added the winning one in overtime. As has been a recurring theme this season, another Saturday came to a close without an Upset.
This is supposed to be the era of parity, people. So why are the nation's top-ranked teams proving to be so Upset-resistant? USC (against Oregon, Arizona State and Notre Dame), Texas (Oklahoma State), Alabama (Ole Miss) and UCLA (nearly every one of its Pac-10 games) have all been threatened, but as the number of remaining games dwindles, so too do the prospects for seeing an Upset.
Sure, Virginia Tech could lose to Miami on Saturday, or Alabama could fall to LSU, but those wouldn't count as Upsets. Meanwhile, three of USC's four remaining opponents are ranked (though, at this point, any win over the Trojans would be considered an historic Upset). And while Texas' next opponent, Baylor, has all the makings of a Cinderella, after Saturday the Longhorns aren't likely to come out sleep-walking again.
And yet, as the above list indicates, history says that an Upset is almost certain to occur between now and the end of the season -- and that it almost certainly will involve one of the top three. Could it be that the Hokies handle Miami but lose to Virginia? Will Texas A&M break out of its season-long display of mediocrity in time to thwart its arch-rival? Could the Trojans get caught looking ahead to UCLA and stumble against Fresno State?
None of those scenarios seems particularly likely. But then again, it wouldn't be an Upset if you saw it coming.
Player of the Week
Vince Young, QB, Texas
It figures that a week after covering Texas' game against Texas Tech and writing a "This Team Is More than Just Vince Young" column, the junior star pulls one of his all-time "I'm Going to Win This Game For My Team and There's Nothing You Can Do About It" performances. Young ran for a career-high 267 yards, including the aforementioned 80-yard touchdown dash to cut Oklahoma State's lead to 28-19. He also scored on an eight-yard run to make it 28-26, and threw for 239 yards and two scores, including the go-ahead 21-yard pass to tight end Neal Tweedie and ensuing conversion toss to fullback Ahmard Hall. Texas gained 606 yards on the night, and Young accounted for all but 100 of them. His 506 yards of total offense set a school record.
Young had to do all this, mind you, in part because his own fumble and interception set up two of the Cowboys' three first-quarter touchdowns. Perhaps it was a Heisman ploy. After hearing how he'd wasted his last great showcase opportunity of the season with a modest performance against Texas Tech, and facing a seemingly overmatched opponent, Young perhaps felt he had to do something to steal the spotlight from Reggie Bush for a week. If so, mission accomplished.