Every week, the magic just keeps coming in this chaotic season. The list of undefeated programs was pared down once again as No. 2 Iowa and No. 11 Kentucky lost to drop the total to 11. The Hawkeyes lost big to Purdue in one of the biggest Power Five upsets in years, while the Wildcats were overwhelmed by No. 1 Georgia. We even had one of the biggest FBS upsets in a decade as ULM shocked Liberty.
Another seven ranked teams overall lost in Week 7, keeping our pace of historic upsets on track. The middle class of college football keeps rising, meaning that the ending of this season cannot be assumed. However, a number of teams set themselves up to enter the national conversation in Week 7, and they deserve to be recognized.
Here are winners, losers and overreactions from Week 7 of the 2021 college football season.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys proved their defense was solid through the first five games, but going on the road and shocking No. 25 Texas 32-24 in Austin provided a message to the nation: Oklahoma State is for real. OSU has now won three straight games against then-ranked opponents for the first time in program history and held every opponent on the schedule to 24 points or fewer, including the high-powered Longhorns offense. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are now on a collision course in the Big 12 title race as the Sooner state partners are the only undefeated teams remaining in the conference.
Baylor: The Bears picked up their second ranked win of the season with a convincing 38-24 victory over No. 19 BYU, and the Bears have now reached bowl eligibility after a terrible 2-7 campaign in 2020. First-year offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes has done a masterful job rebuilding an offense that ranked among the nation’s worst in Dave Aranda’s first season, and the defense has risen to the occasion to match. Suddenly, Baylor is right in the thick of the Big 12 title game race with a bye week to prepare.
UTEP: The Miners ranked as perhaps the worst teams in college football for years, featuring a stretch from 2017-19 with just one FBS victory. The Miners beat Louisiana Tech 19-3 on Saturday to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2014, when Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones was still on campus. UTEP is 6-1 for the first time since 2005. You can’t say enough about the job Dana Dimel and his staff are doing in El Paso. Keep an eye on wide receiver Jacob Cowing — he’s a next-level talent.
Iowa: After beating Penn State, all the Hawkeyes needed to do was survive games against a handful of Big Ten West teams that might not even make bowl games and they would potentially earn a trip to the College Football Playoff regardless of whether they won the Big Ten. It took one week to ruin everything. Iowa QB Spencer Petras threw four interceptions in a 24-7 loss to unranked Purdue. The once fierce Hawkeyes secondary allowed Boilermakers receiver David Bell to reach 11 catches for 240 yards and a touchdown. Iowa can still make the playoff by winning out — but does anyone really think it can accomplish that at this point? This was a catastrophic loss.
Florida: The good news? Florida finally seemed to realize Anthony Richardson is the program’s better quarterback. The bad news? The Gators turned the ball over four times and were historically horrific in a 49-42 loss to a terrible LSU team missing the vast majority of its defensive starters. Suddenly, all Florida has to hang its hat on are wins over two of the worst teams in the SEC, and things are going to get worse with No. 1 Georgia on the schedule on Oct. 30. This Gators team is easily on track to be the second since the Will Muschamp era to finish the season unranked.
Oregon: The Ducks survived — barely — on Friday night against Cal, but the team that went on the road and beat Ohio State in Columbus has never felt further away. Down 17-10 in the fourth quarter, Oregon needed a furious rally and a goal line stand as time expired to beat a Cal squad without a single FBS win to its name. Oregon has lost a number of key players to injuries since the Ohio State game. If this is the version of the Ducks we’ll get heading forward, the Pac-12’s College Football Playoff hopes are dead.
Cincinnati can make CFP history
Heading into the weekend, a matchup with UCF seemed like a good test for No. 3 Cincinnati. For how inconsistent the Knights have been in 2021, they’re one of the most talented programs in the Group of Five, ranking ahead of programs like Iowa, Oklahoma State and Missouri in the 247Sports Talent Composite.
Instead, the Bearcats put together a butt-kicking of epic proportions, going up 35-0 in the first half before pulling off a 56-21 win that wasn’t as close as the final score. The performance could not have come at a better time. With No. 2 Iowa losing, Cincinnati should show up as the second-ranked team in the AP Top 25 on Sunday, the highest ranking in program history.
Since the College Football Playoff started, it’s been obvious that a Group of Five program will need some real luck to make the field. Cincinnati beat No. 14 Notre Dame on the road and crushed Indiana. Its other four wins have been by 38.5 points per game. Five the teams that ranked ahead of UC in the preseason poll have lost, and both Texas A&M and Iowa State lost twice. Everything is lining up. Cincinnati controls its own destiny in a way that no other Group of Five program has in the playoff era.
UTSA should be ranked
It makes sense why UTSA was unranked until this point. The Roadrunners beat Illinois and Memphis, and both teams haven’t played well since the loss. Then, close wins over UNLV and Western Kentucky weren’t quite convincing enough to make a statement.
That ends today. UTSA moved to 7-0 behind a dominant 45-0 victory over Rice for one of the best conference wins in program history, and it’s time to slide the Roadrunners in the the rankings. The win compares favorably to those by Arkansas and Texas over the Owls, but might be even more impressive as the Roadrunners held Rice to just 102 total yards.
In a season filled with crazy upsets and mayhem, UTSA’s consistency stands apart. Only 11 teams in college football remain undefeated after No. 2 Iowa and No. 11 Kentucky, and the Roadrunners are the only ones sitting outside of the rankings. Fix it!