We have already reached the halfway point of the inaugural FBS Playoff season and the projected playoff line-up looks nothing today like it did at the start of the season. And, my bet is, it will look nothing at the end of the season like it looks today. The Mississippi schools have muddied the water, the Pac 12 schools have thrown in a wrench and the B1G Ten schools have vacated the premises. Not to mention that the lone remaining team from most analysts’ original playoff predictions is currently involved in a scandal that could cost them the services of their high profile, Heisman-holding quarterback. Looking ahead, every one of the remaining weeks shows promise of further changing the playoff landscape and keeping us all on our toes and biting our nails.
Week 7 of the 2014 college football season didn’t quite match the fury of Week 6, but it did offer up plenty of excitement and plenty of opportunity to shake up the Top 4 and Top 25 rankings. Week 7 included a total of 54 games with at least one FBS football team participating in which 26 (48%) were won by teams that never trailed. Marshall, with its 49 – 24 victory over Middle Tennessee State, is left as the only FBS team to have never trailed at any point this season. Baylor gets removed from that list in remarkable fashion, but, more on that later (spoiler alert).
SMU, by virtue of having a bye this week, remains the only FBS football team to never hold a lead in any of their contests so far. But, I don’t think the Mustangs will stay there for much longer. Hopefully, a week off is just what the doctor ordered and they can find themselves on the positive end of the scoreboard sometime soon.
The list of teams that have played in games in which the lead never changed hands has been trimmed down to two. That is also true for the list of teams that have played in games that always included a comeback of some sort. In the case of the latter list, Georgia Tech remains on that list, but, for the first time this season, they were on the losing end of the score, having lost to Duke after having a 3 point lead at one point in the game.
Of the 28 Week 7 games that involved some kind of comeback, 12 of those games experienced comebacks of 10 points or more, and, for the first time this season, two games tied for the honor of the largest come-from-behind victory for the week. Four teams – LSU, East Carolina, Texas San Antonio (UTSA), and Eastern Michigan – all rallied back for victories after trailing by 10 points at some time in their games. Kentucky overcame an early 11 point deficit before easily dispensing UL Monroe, 48 – 14. And, a total of five teams – Hawaii, Houston, Notre Dame, West Virginia and Central Florida (UCF) – had to come from two touchdowns, 14 points, down before securing their victories in Week 7. But, no teams had to overcome a larger deficit than the two teams that tied for this week’s Safe Harbor Consulting College Football Crisis Management Award did.
And, the winners are … the Baylor Bears and the Western Michigan Broncos!!
Baylor entered its game against Texas Christian (TCU) as one of only two teams that had yet to trail at any point in 2014. This game was one of Week 7’s highest profile games, featuring two Top 10 ranked teams that promised to have serious playoff picture implications. The build-up leading into this game promised plenty of fun and excitement, and, it delivered all of that in spades.
These two teams include high octane offenses, so it was not too surprising to see lots of points put on the board. TCU jumped out to a quick 14 – 0 lead, but the scoring was fast and furious and the game remained close through the first three quarters. TCU held the lead most of the time, although Baylor did manage to tie the game once, at 24 – 24, and, generally, remain within striking distance of the Horned Frogs.
When TCU padded their lead with two quick touchdowns in the 4th quarter, to go ahead by 21, 58 – 37, it looked like the Horned Frogs were going to vault themselves into the playoff picture, but, Baylor was not yet done.
Baylor immediately answered TCU’s last touchdown with a 4 play, 45 yard touchdown drive that took all of 59 seconds off of the clock to draw back to within 14 points. After getting the ball back 2:39 later at their own 8 yard line, the Bears marched 92 yards in 5 plays to pull within one touchdown of a tie.
With the Bear defense holding TCU to a 3 and out, the offense started their next drive at their own 9 yard line and moved 91 yards in a 5 play, 59 second drive to tie the game up at 58 – 58.
On TCU’s next possession, while trying to get within field goal range to reclaim the lead, the Baylor defense stopped a 4th down and 3 attempt at the Baylor 45 yard line to take possession of the ball with just a little over 1:00 left on the game clock. The Bears were able to move the ball down to the TCU 11 where Chris Callahan booted a 28 yard field goal as time ran out on the clock, to win the game. It was Baylor’s only lead in the entire game and put the finishing touch on a remarkable, 21 point, come-from-behind victory. Not only was it the first time Baylor had ever trailed in a game this season, but they trailed by 21 points before claiming their hold of the Safe Harbor Consulting College Football Crisis Management Award for Week 7. An honor they would share with Western Michigan.
The Western Michigan vs Ball State football game was, admittedly, a little less of a high profile game than Baylor v TCU. A few less TV sets and fans were watching this game, and no playoff implications rested in the balance of the outcome. But, a 21 point, come-from-behind victory is no less amazing when two teams from the same conference take the field against one another.
The Broncos of Western Michigan dug their 21 point hole deficit earlier in the game than Baylor did, finding themselves down by a score of 28 – 7 late in the 2nd quarter. A 75 yard touchdown pass near the end of the first half – followed up by a Ball State field goal – made the halftime deficit 17 points.
Two Western Michigan touchdowns against one Ball State touchdown in the 3rd quarter allowed the Broncos to enter the 4th quarter down by 10. A 54 yard touchdown run by Jaryion Franklin followed up by a 12 yard touchdown pass from Zach Terrell to Daniel Brayerman put the Broncos on top for the first time, 42 – 38 with just over one minute to play.
The Cardinals, trailing for the first time, marched the ball down field in attempt to rescue back the lead, but failed to get the ball into the end zone, being stopped on a 4th and goal play after four incomplete passes from the Broncos 8. It was a nail biter at the end, but when the final gun sounded, the Broncos were 21 point come-from-behind winners and co-winners of the Safe Harbor Consulting College Football Crisis Management Award for Week 7.
Congratulations to both the Baylor Bears and the Western Michigan Broncos. A great way to end the half-way point of the 2014 season! This week just goes to show, that there is just as much fun, excitement and entertainment in a mid-major conference football game as there is in a game of national attention with playoff implications – college football at its best.
Now, let’s go ahead and shake up the playoff picture again in Week 8!
You can read our Week 1 report by clicking here.
You can read our Week 2 report by clicking here.
You can read our Week 3 report by clicking here.
You can read our Week 4 report by clicking here.
You can read our Week 5 report by clicking here.
You can read our Week 6 report by clicking here.