Winners and Losers from Week 7 of College Football
Week 7 raised the bar and might have been the best week of the 2013 college football season.
Missouri and Texas opened the day with early upsets of Georgia and Oklahoma, as both schools made emphatic statements as contenders in the SEC and Big 12, respectively.
The afternoon brought a bruising battle in Baton Rouge between SEC hopefuls Florida and LSU, where the Tigers emerged victorious behind a staunch defensive effort.
Oregon made its case for the No. 1 ranking with a dominant effort against Washington. The Ducks were led by a brilliant performance from quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Click on for recaps of all the major action around Week 7 of college football.
Note: This article will be updated through the remainder of Saturday's action.
Winner: Ed Orgeron
Not many coaches earned a Gatorade-cooler dump in Week 7, but USC's Ed Orgeron did.
The Trojans' interim head coach walked off the field drenched after his team took down Arizona, 38-31, in his first game at the helm of Southern California.
USC has been through a lot already this season with the firing of coach Lane Kiffin after a disappointing 3-2 start, so it was clear this team was happy to pick up a quality win.
Orgeron instituted immediate changes to the team upon his promotion to interim head coach. He opened practices back up to the media and created the "Trojan Bowl," where starters coached a game comprised of reserves, walk-ons and redshirts.
All of that apparently worked, as the Trojans played arguably their best game of the season to edge Arizona in a classic West Coast shootout.
Quarterback Cody Kessler threw for nearly 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the way for the USC offense, which tallied 546 total yards.
Loser: Teddy Bridgewater
With few chances to impress against difficult competition, Teddy Bridgewater has little margin for error in his race for the Heisman.
Thursday night against one of UL's toughest opponents of the season, Rutgers, the junior had an off day, though the Cardinals still won, 24-10.
He completed 21-of-31 passes for 310 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but missed on several routine throws and threw an interception in the end zone. That's not a bad night for most quarterbacks, but certainly not enough for one who was trying to make a Heisman Trophy case for himself on national television.
UL remains the American Athletic Conference favorite, but looked nothing like a BCS title contender in the win over the Scarlet Knights.
If you predicted Missouri to lead the SEC East division before the season started, go buy yourself something nice.
The Tigers didn't even make a bowl game last year, but are now at the top of the division race with preseason favorites Georgia, Florida and South Carolina each with an SEC loss. Meanwhile, Mizzou is undefeated at 6-0 and 2-0 in conference play.
It took advantage of a shorthanded Georgia team on Saturday in a 41-26 win.
The Mizzou defense was the big deciding factor, forcing UGA into four turnovers. Also, receiver L'Damian Washington had a big game, hauling in two touchdowns, including this nifty 40-yard, trick-play touchdown thrown by fellow wide receiver Bud Sasser.
The one negative for Mizzou is the loss of quarterback James Franklin, who separated his shoulder in the fourth quarter. CBS' Bruce Feldman reported that Franklin will be out at least six weeks with a Grade 2 shoulder separation.
Mizzou does have a viable option in freshman Maty Mauk as the backup. The Tigers will host Florida and South Carolina over the next two weeks.
Loser: Georgia's BCS Hopes
In one game, Georgia went from the SEC East favorite and an outside BCS-title hopeful back to the middle of the SEC East race.
The shorthanded Bulldogs just didn't have enough on offense to keep up with Missouri in their 41-26 defeat.
Quarterback Aaron Murray did all he could, but without a dependable running back or any rapport with his receivers, the UGA offense struggled.
Georgia won't have much time to sharpen up, either. The Dawgs will head on the road against Vanderbilt next week.
They'll now need Missouri to falter to have a shot at the SEC title.
Just a few weeks ago, Texas and head coach Mack Brown were doomed.
Brown might still be on the way out, but he at least has his team poised to compete for the Big 12 Conference title.
After being beaten in the last three Red River Shootouts, including two straight blowouts, UT came to play at the Cotton Bowl and never trailed in the game.
The Horns turned in a complete performance, scoring on offense, defense and special teams, including an impressive fat-guy touchdown by 295-pound defensive tackle Chris Whaley.
As Brown stated afterward, via FOX Sports Southwest's David Ubben, the Horns aren't "in the grave," and conference-title hopes are still within reach at this point.
Texas will have a bye next week before heading to Fort Worth to take on TCU on Oct. 26.
It was only a matter of time before Oklahoma's inconsistency would come back to bite them.
As Texas solidified itself in the Big 12 title race, the Sooners in turn fell from the top of the league.
OU, at No. 12 in the AP Top 25 and No. 10 in the coaches poll, was the highest-rated team in the conference, but won't be when the new polls are released Sunday afternoon.
The Sooners logged just 263 total yards, including a mere 130 on the ground against a UT defense that had previously allowed 248.4 rushing yards per contest.
Fortunately, a tilt with lowly Kansas will come at the perfect time next week for OU.
Winner: South Carolina
After a week filled with Jadeveon Clowney injury hoopla, South Carolina's offense came out and made any issues on defense completely irrelevant.
The Gamecocks annihilated Arkansas, 52-7, behind 537 yards from their offense.
Quarterback Connor Shaw had a monstrous game, finishing 19-of-28 for 219 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Mike Davis was fantastic as well, running 19 times for 128 yards and a touchdown.
The Gamecocks were also winners at the expense of Georgia, which gave them new life in the SEC East race.
It won't be an easy road, as USC will continue on its three-week trip next week against Tennessee, then against Missouri.
Loser: Iowa State
The poor fans of Iowa State have had to endure four losses already this season, but that doesn't mean that their team hasn't been competitive.
The Cyclones stuck right with Texas Tech on the road but couldn't come up with the win, falling 42-35.
At 1-4, all four of ISU's losses have come by just one possession.
As if things couldn't be worse, the Cyclones will take on two of the Big 12's best teams, Baylor and Oklahoma State, in the next two weeks.
Winner: Michigan State's Offense
Where did that come from?
Michigan State entered its tilt with Indiana at No. 100 in the nation in total offense, averaging just 355 yards per game.
MSU flipped that trend upside down by posting 473 yards in a 42-28 win. Of course, those yards did come against an Indiana defense that ranked No. 105 nationally.
The Spartans got another strong game from quarterback Connor Cook as well. The sophomore finished 22-of-31 for 235 yards and two touchdowns.
Running back Jeremy Langford punched in four touchdowns (three rushing and one receiving) in the victory.
All of a sudden, MSU, at 2-0 in Big Ten play, is a legitimate Legends division title contender.
Loser: Stiff-Armed Ref
If you want to be a high-level football referee, work on your backpedaling and lateral quickness.
That is certainly what the official from the Duke-Navy game will tell you. On a day when big plays were hard to come by for the Navy offense, Midshipmen quarterback Keenan Reynolds was trying to make something happen when a ref got in his way.
The official tried to backpedal out of harm's way but couldn't move fast enough and was tossed aside by Reynolds, sending him tumbling backwards with his hat flopping to the ground.
You can probably catch the play tomorrow on SportsCenter, but for now, check out the GIF from Bleacher Report's Kyle Newport.
Duke won the game, 35-7, while Reynolds tallied just 31 rushing yards on 16 carries.
Winner: Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech's ACC title hopes stayed alive this weekend.
The Hokies once again showed off their suffocating defense in a decisive 19-9 win over Pitt.
While the Panthers gained just 210 total yards, VT never trailed. The Hokies defense exposed the one-dimensional Panthers offense, holding them to just 0.9 yards per carry.
Quarterback Logan Thomas had a solid day, finishing 19-of-34 for 239 yards and a touchdown.
The Hokies are now bowl eligible at 6-1, but they have their sights set on an ACC title. Standing at 3-0 in league play, they'll have a bye next week before taking on Duke on Oct. 26.
Loser: Florida Offense
The Florida defense did an excellent job keeping it in the game as usual.
The Gators held the red-hot LSU offense to 327 yards, including just 152 through the air. However, the UF offense couldn't do much of anything and LSU won, 17-6.
UF mustered just 2.8 yards per carry, while quarterback Tyler Murphy only threw for 115 yards.
That overall ineptitude resulted in just six third-down conversions in 17 tries.
The Gators could have become the SEC East front-runner with a win, but now they're stuck in the middle with Georgia and South Carolina.
Fortunately, UF has a chance for redemption next week against Missouri, who is the only remaining undefeated team in the SEC East.
Winner: LSU Defense
LSU had been written off as a one-dimensional team prior to this week, but its defense came up big on Saturday.
The Tigers struggled offensively, as they possessed the ball nearly 10 minutes less than the Gators in the 17-6 win.
Zach Mettenberger attempted just 17 passes, his lowest pass-attempt total all season. So with the pace of play in favor of UF, LSU needed a big game from its defense.
That defense responded remarkably, holding the Gators to just 3.5 yards per play.
LSU hasn't taken a week off yet this year and will carry on next week on the road against Ole Miss.
Northwestern felt the full force of a post-Ohio State hangover in the worst way.
A week after an emotional loss to the Big Ten-title favorites, the Wildcats fell flat on their face against Wisconsin.
The Badgers out-gained the Cats, 527-241, in a dominant 35-6 win.
Two Wisconsin rushers went over 100 yards, while quarterback Joel Stave put in a solid performance with 241 yards and three touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats couldn't take advantage of three UW turnovers and didn't have a single rusher over 20 yards.
Now at 0-2 in Big Ten play, Northwestern is all but eliminated from the race for the league crown.
Winner: Clemson (Barely)
Somehow, Clemson didn't see one of the most obvious trap games of the season coming.
The Tigers were nearly caught looking ahead to their battle next week with Florida State. They fell behind, 14-10, at home to Boston College in the third quarter, only to rebound late for a 24-14 win.
The CU offense lost two fumbles and converted just four third downs in 17 attempts.
Tajh Boyd accounted for 367 total yards and two touchdowns, one rushing and one passing. It wasn't exactly a Heisman-caliber day, as the Tigers struggled to finish drives, but his real Heisman audition will come next week.
ESPN's College GameDay will be in Death Valley next week when Clemson takes on Florida State, ESPN's ACC blog reported.
The two national-title hopefuls will kick off at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
It was another nice effort from Washington, but that's about it, as the Huskies ended up losing to the Oregon Ducks, 45-24.
The Huskies defense was puffed up before the game, only to succumb to the Oregon offense like every other foe so far this season. UO out-gained UW, 631-376.
Running back Bishop Sankey had a great game, running for 167 yards and two touchdowns, but the Ducks defense harassed quarterback Keith Price all game.
The senior signal-caller threw for just 182 yards with one touchdown and one interception, a major factor in the deflation of the Huskies' upset bid.
Washington has some talent, but just isn't up to par with Oregon in the Pac-12.
Winners: Marcus Mariota and Oregon
Try as it might, the Washington defense just had no answer for Marcus Mariota and the Oregon offense.
UW showed signs of being able to stop the UO attack, but couldn't do it consistently in the 45-24 loss. Mariota had an enormous day, completing 24-of-31 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns.
He still hasn't thrown an interception this season and also added 88 rushing yards and his eighth rushing touchdown of the season.
The Ducks defense was tremendous as well, as it forced two turnovers and held the Huskies to their worst offensive output, in terms of points and yardage, all season long.
With every game, Oregon is looking more and more like the real deal.
Loser: Lache Seastrunk
The vaunted Baylor offense had a slow day against Kansas State and Lache Seastrunk's Heisman Trophy campaign took a major hit in the process.
Baylor escaped with a 35-25 win, but the junior had his worst game of the year, tallying just 59 yards on the ground and zero touchdowns on 12 carries.
It was his first game under 100 yards and without a touchdown this season.
In the crowded Heisman race, Seastrunk couldn't really afford a bad game. He'll have to respond in a big way as the season goes on if he wants to take college football's biggest individual honor.
He'll have his next opportunity when Baylor hosts Iowa State next week.
Winners: Bill O'Brien and Penn State
At the end of a four-overtime marathon that had been defined by missed field goals, Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien finally made the decision to put the ball in the hands of his offense and play for the win.
PSU converted a 4th-and-1 and benefited from a pass-interference call that set up a game-winning two-yard touchdown run from Bill Belton. In front of more than 100,000 fans dressed in white, O’Brien emerged as the superior coach in Penn State’s 43-40 win.
Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons had three chances to end the game but missed all three kicks, one of which was blocked. He hit one to start the fourth overtime to put Michigan ahead, 40-37, but O’Brien decided to put an end to it all, and PSU leaned on Belton for the win.
Chalk it up to an excellent rebound win for the Nittany Lions after starting Big Ten play poorly last week against Indiana.
Losers: Brady Hoke and Michigan
It wasn’t a question of whether Michigan’s luck would run out, only a question of when.
The Wolverines had escaped disaster twice this season, avoiding upsets to Connecticut and Akron, but couldn’t complete the hat trick.
UM was bitten by three failed field-goal attempts late in the game and shrunk on offense and defense in crunch time. The Wolverines had numerous chances to end the game in regulation and in overtime, but never capitalized.
In the end, Brady Hoke's conservative play-calling in overtime left Michigan short of the win.
Quarterback Devin Gardner accounted for 361 total yards and three touchdowns, but lost one fumble and threw two interceptions to give PSU life early. Penn State keyed in on UM running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, who ran for just 27 yards on 27 carries.
The Wolverines went into the game as one of the biggest threats to Ohio State in the Big Ten, but are now back in the middle of the pack in the Legends division.
Winners: The Champs
On a day filled with upsets, Alabama came out and played like the No. 1 team in the nation is supposed to play.
The Crimson Tide wiped out SEC foe Kentucky, 48-7, out-gaining the Wildcats 668-170 in the process.
That nearly 500-yard advantage came thanks to a fantastic performance from running-back duo T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake. Yeldon tallied 124 yards, while Drake added 106. Each also found the end zone twice, and freshman Altee Tenpenny added another rushing score in the rout.
AJ McCarron had a strong day as well, connecting on 21-of-35 passes for 359 yards and a touchdown.
The Tide will roll on and host Arkansas and Tennessee in the next two weeks.
Stanford was out-Stanforded by Utah.
The Utes controlled possession by nearly six minutes, finished 7-of-16 on third and fourth down and out-gained the Cardinal by 33 yards on the ground.
In the biggest Stanford-like moment, Utah halted the powerful Cardinal offense inside its own 10-yard line in the final minute.
Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan fumbled the ball three times, two of which were recovered by Utah, in his first loss as a starter.
Not all is lost for Stanford, but it will have to regroup quickly with UCLA coming to town next week.
Winners: Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M (Barely)
Ole Miss just didn’t have quite enough. Or rather, Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M just had too much.
The Rebels took a touchdown lead with just six minutes to go and looked destined to add another upset to an already crazy Saturday.
Then, Manziel took over.
The reigning Heisman winner led a swift game-tying scoring drive that he personally capped with a six-yard touchdown run. Ole Miss’ answer ended in a three-and-out, and Manziel then took his team right back down the field to set up the game-winning field goal.
The Aggies escaped with a 41-38 win and Johnny Football had another Heisman-caliber game, accounting for 470 total yards and two touchdowns, both on the ground.
A&M will begin a four-game homestand next week against Auburn. Meanwhile, Ole Miss will continue its six-game homestand next week with LSU.
Losers: Late Pac-12 Runaways
Saturday promised some exciting late-night Pac-12 action but didn’t quite deliver.
Arizona State, UCLA and Oregon State all ran away with blowout wins to close the day.
ASU jumped on Colorado 47-6 before halftime and flipped on cruise control in the final 30 minutes for a 54-13 win, amassing 532 yards along the way.
UCLA followed suit, keeping upstate rival Cal at arm’s length throughout its 37-10 win. Brett Hundley lit the way another prolific performance, completing 31 of 41 passes for 410 yards and three touchdowns.
It looked like Washington State and OSU would buck the trend in the final game of the day when they entered the fourth quarter knotted at 24. However, the Beavers chewed the Cougars up in the final frame of the 52-24 rout.
Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks continued their insane statistical assaults in the win. Mannion finished 34-of-51 for 493 yards and four touchdowns. Cooks caught 11 of those passes for 137 yards and two scores, while also running four times for 34 yards and a touchdown.