Apart from the titanic clash between No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia, week seven of the college football season looked pretty tame on paper. However, we ended up with a few surprise results, including a couple more upsets in the SEC. Here are the winners and losers from week seven:
Winner: Florida State
For the Seminoles, last week’s victory over then-No. 5 North Carolina must have felt like a glass of cold water in the middle of the Sahara Desert. Prior to that win, Florida State (2-3, 1-3 ACC) had produced its only win of the season against Jacksonville State. The Seminoles’ results this season include being handled comfortably by Notre Dame, losing at home to lowly Georgia Tech and getting walloped by in-state rivals No. 11 Miami (FL). The argument can be made that FSU is in its worst stretch in a long time. The ‘Noles are coming off two losing seasons in a row, the first time they have done that since the 1970s (excluding seasons where they had wins vacated by the NCAA). For a fan base that is frustrated with this football program, getting a victory over a top-five team in front of a raucous home crowd must have felt good. It looks like the Seminoles have also found their future starting quarterback in sophomore Jordan Travis. Hopefully, for FSU, the UNC win is the first step in returning this program to its former glory.
Coming into the season, the two teams at the top of the competition for an SEC East title, like every year, were Georgia and Florida. Beyond them, though, Tennessee was possibly in the best position to challenge those two heavyweights and pip them to the post in the race for a spot in the SEC Championship Game. After winning their first two games of the year, the Volunteers (2-2, 2-2 SEC) skyrocketed into the top 15 just in time for a big matchup at Georgia, a game that they started very well. It all fell apart in the second half, however, as Georgia (3-1, 3-1 SEC) ended up seeing them off comfortably. Even more embarrassingly, the Volunteers then lost their following game at home to Kentucky by a 27-point margin. Tennessee now finds itself outside the AP Top 25 altogether and has no chance at reaching the SEC title game.
Winner: Texas A&M
Who would have thought coming into the year that the second-best team in the SEC West would be Texas A&M? After getting swept aside by No. 2 Alabama early in the season, Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies (3-1, 3-1 SEC) responded with two impressive wins in a row, included a thrilling upset victory over highly regarded No. 10 Florida (2-1, 2-1 SEC). Now, A&M finds itself ranked seventh in the nation. After everyone thought they’d been dismissed from the College Football Playoff conversation after losing to the Tide, the Aggies aren’t totally done for yet. Their head-to-head loss against ‘Bama does hurt them — in order to win the division they’ll need to run the table and Alabama needs to lose twice, which is a tall order. Still, this is the best the Aggies have looked in years, and a New Year’s Six bowl is very much on the table for them.
We’re only five games into the season, and it already looks as though the season’s over for Syracuse. I understand that Syracuse isn’t much of a football school, but after having found some recent success under head coach Dino Babers, surely the Orange should have higher expectations than 1-4. Other than their victory over Georgia Tech (2-3, 2-2 ACC), the Orange (1-4, 1-3 ACC) hasn’t mustered much of anything this season. The season hit a new low last week with a 17-point loss at home to Liberty, who is only in its third season in the FBS. The Flames (5-0) are a well-coached team with Hugh Freeze at the helm, but it isn’t too much to expect a Power Five school to at least make it a game against the Flames at home. It won’t get any easier for the Orange, as it travels to the South for a road game at Clemson, who is just coming off a 73-point performance against the Yellow Jackets. Don’t hold your breath, Orange fans.