THE 2007 COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON WILL DEFINITELY GO down as the Year of the Upset. That is, if it's not remembered as the Year of BCS Armageddon. Or the Year of Notre Dame's Train Wreck, Tim Tebow's Touchdowns or Coaches' Temper Tantrums. Perhaps fans should have thought to expect this most unexpected season on Jan. 9, 2007—the day after Florida toppled Ohio State for the '06 national championship. Since then, what has traditionally been up has been down ( Michigan, Nebraska and Notre Dame) and what has traditionally been down has been up ( Connecticut, Kansas and Missouri). For an example, look at Nebraska, which was routed by Kansas 76-39 on Nov. 3 and then blasted fellow Big 12 member Kansas State 73-31 the following Saturday. With that much week-to-week uncertainty, the chase for the national championship turned into a wild ride, with teams falling off the championship carousel as quickly as they got on. Upstarts with little to no championship pedigree, such as South Florida, Boston College, Oregon, Kansas and Missouri, were all in the thick of the title hunt at some point. Entering the final weekend, No. 1 Missouri and No. 2 West Virginia needed only to win to reach the BCS championship game. But both failed, setting up Ohio State versus LSU. So though fans from Chestnut Hill to Honolulu might try, this season cannot be tagged with one, neat Year of the (insert noun here) label. But one thing is certain: We're unlikely to see a season like this one again.
IT STARTS in Week 1, when Appalachian State (left) stuns No. 5 Michigan in the Big House, and continues through the final week of the regular season, when 28-point underdog Pitt takes out No. 2 West Virginia in Morgantown. In between, upsets rule the college football landscape. Stanford over USC. Syracuse over Louisville. Colorado over Oklahoma. In all, 13 Top 5 teams lose to unranked opponents. The No. 2-ranked team loses seven times, and three times the No. 1 and No. 2 teams lose on the same weekend. That hasn't happened even once since 1996.
WHAT SPORT IS THIS?
POINTS, POINTS and more points are a major theme as '07 is the highest-scoring season in Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly I-A) history. Teams average 28.4 points a game, breaking the record of 27.3 in 2002. The year also gives fans the highest-scoring game in FBS history. And the 74-62 Navy victory over North Texas (above) did not even go into overtime.
FEAR, FEAR FOR OLD NOTRE DAME
THE IRISH do not score an offensive TD until the fourth game of the season, rank last in the country in total offense and do not win until Oct. 6 over UCLA. On Nov. 3 they lose 46-44 in triple OT to Navy (left), ending their 43-game winning streak over the Midshipmen, the longest run of domination over one team in college football. At 3-9 the '07 Irish finish with the most losses of any Notre Dame team.
FOR THE RECORD
DANNY WOODHEAD (3), a running back for Division II Chadron ( Neb.) State, ends his career with 7,962 yards to become the NCAA's alltime career rushing leader. Also, Hawaii QB Colt Brennan breaks former BYU quarterback Ty Detmer's FBS record for passing TDs by throwing 131 for his career.
OREGON'S DUCK is suspended for one game after the two students who don its costume get into separate altercations with Houston's Cougar on Sept. 1. The Ducks win the fight on the field 48-27.
COACHES GONE WILD!
OKLAHOMA STATE'S MIKE GUNDY (left) is one of several coaches who needs a TO in '07. Reacting to a newspaper column that disparages one of his players, he goes on a screaming rant in a news conference, yelling, "I'm a man! I'm 40!" Texas A&M's Dennis Franchione is publicly chastised by his athletic director for selling inside information in a weekly e-mail newsletter for $1,200 a year. Texas Tech's Mike Leach is fined a Big 12-record $10,000 for questioning the integrity of the officials after a 59-43 loss to Texas. And Wyoming's Joe Glenn is reprimanded by the Mountain West Conference for giving a single-finger salute to the Utah bench after the Utes attempt an onside kick while leading 43-0.
SOPHOMORE HIGH JINKS
FLORIDA QB TIM TEBOW (right) accounts for 3,970 yards of total offense and 51 touchdowns, becoming the first player in FBS history to have at least 20 TDs both rushing and passing in the same season. On Dec. 8 the sophomore becomes the first underclassman to win the Heisman Trophy.
ON OCT. 27 Division III Trinity ( Texas) University channels its inner Cal. Trailing Millsaps (Miss.) College 24-22 with just two seconds remaining, the Tigers use one forward pass and 15 laterals for a game-winning 60-yard touchdown (above) and a 28-24 victory. The band is not on the field, but it still might be the most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-rending, exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football.
HE SAID WHAT?
ONE WEEK after losing to Mississippi State, Alabama is upset 21-14 at home by lowly Louisiana-Monroe of the Sun Belt Conference. Two days after the ULM shocker, Tide coach NICK SABAN (above) compares the defeats to the Sept. 11 and Pearl Harbor attacks. "Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event," he explains. "It may be 9/11, which sort of changed the spirit of America relative to a catastrophic event. Pearl Harbor got us ready for World War II or whatever, and that was a catastrophic event. And I don't think anyone in this room would have bet that we would lose back-to-back games to a Mississippi State or ULM, no disrespect to either one of those teams."