We’re guaranteed one inexplicable weekend in each college football season. It’s part of the contract, and Week 7 delivered.
Four top-10 teams lost in all, two before Saturday even began. On Friday night, No. 2 Clemson lost to Syracuse, and No. 8 Washington State got obliterated by Cal. On Saturday, the fun continued with No. 10 Auburn falling victim to a huge LSU comeback and No. 5 Washington’s offense no-showing in inexplicable fashion against Arizona State.
How does this year’s nothing-makes-sense weekend compare to those of previous years? And is this it, or will this season provide a two-fer? Let’s take a quick look back at the zaniness of previous seasons.
Since 2007, here’s a list of weekends that featured at least four top-10 teams falling.
This happened a lot in 2007
The 2007 season is the gold standard of craziness, and for good reason. That 2017 weekend we just experienced? Yeah, 10 years ago, we got that about four times.
- Week 5: No. 18 USF beats No. 5 West Virginia on Friday night, then unranked Colorado beats No. 3 Oklahoma, unranked Auburn wins at No. 4 Florida, and unranked Kansas State pummels No. 7 Texas in Austin.
- Week 6: Once again, the fun starts before Saturday. No. 11 South Carolina outlasts No. 8 Kentucky on Thursday night, and Saturday takes it from there: Stanford pulls off one of the biggest upsets of all time against No. 2 USC, Illinois beats No. 5 Wisconsin in Champaign, and, if it counts, No. 1 LSU beats No. 9 Florida in Baton Rouge.
- Week 8: After a semi-calm Week 7, which merely featured No. 1 LSU losing to Kentucky and No. 2 Cal losing to Oregon State, we once again get four top-10 teams falling, three to unranked foes. And it once again starts early: Rutgers takes down No. 2 USF on Thursday, then Vanderbilt inexplicably wins at No. 6 South Carolina, unranked UCLA beats No. 10 Cal, and No. 14 Florida wins a shootout at No. 8 Kentucky.
- Week 13: Ah, one of the most memorable Thanksgiving weekends the sport has seen. On Thursday, No. 11 USC wins at No. 7 Arizona State. On Friday, unranked Arkansas wins at No. 1 LSU in OT. On Saturday, unranked UCLA finishes off No. 9 Oregon, and No. 3 Missouri beats No. 2 Kansas in Kansas City.
Whew. There’s a reason we’re so fond of talking about that season.
From 2008-13, we get one wild weekend each year
- 2008, Week 5: On Thursday night, Oregon State upsets No. 1 USC in Corvallis. On Saturday, No. 8 Alabama takes down No. 3 Georgia in Athens, unranked Ole Miss upsets No. 4 Florida in Gainesville, and unranked Michigan beats No. 9 Wisconsin by two.
- 2009, Week 4: South Carolina beats No. 4 Ole Miss on Thursday night (I’m sensing a trend), and on Saturday, unranked Iowa wins at No. 5 Penn State, Oregon destroys No. 6 Cal in Eugene, and No. 11 Virginia Tech whomps No. 9 Miami in Blacksburg.
- 2010, Week 13: Thanksgiving weekend strikes again. On Friday, No. 2 Auburn comes back to beat No. 9 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and No. 19 Nevada beats No. 3 Boise State in a late-night classic. The next day, No. 12 Arkansas beats No. 6 LSU in Fayetteville, and No. 14 Oklahoma wins at No. 10 Oklahoma State.
- 2011, Week 12: On Friday night, Iowa State famously knocks off No. 2 Oklahoma State. On Saturday, No. 18 USC wins at No. 4 Oregon, No. 25 Baylor upsets No. 5 Oklahoma, and NC State thumps No. 7 Clemson.
- 2012, Week 9: A rarity: a wild weekend that doesn’t feature a pre-Saturday surprise. Four top-10 teams fall on Saturday — No. 3 Florida to No. 12 Georgia, No. 7 Oregon State to unranked Washington, No. 8 Oklahoma to No. 5 Notre Dame, and No. 10 USC to unranked Arizona.
- 2013, Week 8: Friday strikes again: UCF upsets No. 8 Louisville in Louisville. Then on Saturday, No. 5 FSU wins at No. 3 Clemson, unranked Ole Miss upsets No. 6 LSU, No. 24 Auburn wins at No. 7 Texas A&M (kick-starting Auburn’s run of incredible drama), and No. 13 Stanford beats No. 9 UCLA.
2014-15 is a lot sillier than it gets credit for
For the first time since 2007, we had multiple wild weekends in 2014. Then we had even more in 2015.
- 2014, Week 6: After a reasonably stable September, the first weekend of Oct. 2014 is one of the craziest on record. A whopping 11 ranked teams lose, including five of the top eight: No. 2 Oregon falls at home to unranked Arizona on Thursday, and on Saturday, No. 3 Alabama is upset by No. 11 Ole Miss, No. 4 Oklahoma falls to No. 25 TCU, No. 6 Texas A&M is knocked off by No. 12 Mississippi State, and No. 8 UCLA is upset by unranked Utah.
- 2014, Week 11: About a month later, eight more ranked teams fell — four in the top nine — and all on Saturday. No. 3 Auburn loses at home to unranked Texas A&M, No. 13 Ohio State wins at No. 7 Michigan State, No. 11 Arizona State beats No. 8 Notre Dame, and No. 6 TCU whoops No. 9 Kansas State.
- 2015, Week 5: Four of the top eight teams fall, though three are to ranked opponents: No. 3 Ole Miss to No. 25 Florida, No. 6 Notre Dame to No. 12 Clemson, and No. 8 Georgia to No. 13 Alabama. Only No. 7 UCLA (at home to unranked Arizona State) suffers a true upset.
- 2015, Week 11: Things get genuinely weird in mid-November: No. 10 Utah loses to unranked Arizona, No. 7 Stanford falls at home to unranked Oregon, No. 9 LSU gets smoked at home by unranked Arkansas, and No. 4 Baylor falls at home to No. 12 Oklahoma.
- 2015, Week 13: Four more top-10 teams lose over Thanksgiving weekend, though all four losses are to fellow ranked teams. (That’s some good scheduling right there.) On Friday, No. 7 Baylor loses to No. 15 TCU, and on Saturday, No. 4 Notre Dame (to No. 13 Stanford), No. 9 Oklahoma State (to No. 5 Oklahoma), and No. 10 Florida (to No. 14 Florida State) all fall.
2016 had just one week of true mayhem but made it count
We got to mid-November without a silly Saturday, but wow, was Week 12 silly.
- 2016, Week 12: Eight ranked teams lose, seven to unranked foes. And once again, four of the top eight fall: No. 2 Michigan at Iowa, No. 3 Clemson to Pitt, No. 4 Washington to USC, and No. 8 Auburn at Georgia.
Reminiscing is fun, but is there anything to glean from this trip down memory lane?
- It usually starts before Saturday. Of the 16 wild weekends listed above, a top-10 team fell on either Thursday or Friday in 11 of them. Of course, it’s increasingly rare that a top-10 team plays on one of these days, and only two of the last six wild weekends have featured pre-Saturday surprises. Considering only two current top-10 teams play a pre-Saturday game between now and the end of the regular season (No. 5 Washington at No. 23 Stanford on Friday in Week 12, No. 6 TCU vs. Baylor on Friday in Week 14), that recent trend will have to continue if we are to have our chaos cravings satisfied.
- It usually features some top-10 teams that shouldn’t be top-10 teams. There are plenty of legitimately amazing upsets spread throughout the wild weekends above, but for every 2008 Oregon State-USC, there’s a 2015 Arizona-Utah or a 2017 Cal-Wazzu. Thanks to Wazzu’s loss, however, every team in the current AP top 10 ranks 13th or better in S&P+. There’s not much dead weight here now.
- 2017’s craziness was unique. That all four top-10 teams lost to unranked foes certainly earns some bonus points.
The season doesn’t officially begin until we’ve had our WTF Weekend.
Now that 2017 has begun, it will be defined by whether we get a second such weekend.