In the Year of the Upset, memorable moments were plentiful

Originally Published: December 4, 2007
ESPN.com

The 2007 regular season was coast-to-coast chaos, and bowl season promises more excitement and shocking upsets. Our writers shared their favorite moments and what they're looking forward to in the next month.

Back pedal: What 2007 moments resonated?

Heather Dinich: This is why you never turn the television off, or leave the game early. Because in the final 2:11 at Virginia Tech in a driving rain, Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan led his team to two touchdowns and erased a 10-0 deficit and beat the Hokies 14-10. The two best teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference put on the most memorable show of the season in Blacksburg, Va., in what would be a prelude to the conference title game. It also proved the ACC needed the boost from the Big East to keep things interesting.

Pat Forde: In the Year of the Upset, I got to see two seismic shockers in person. The first was Kentucky's beating No. 1 LSU in triple overtime. Watching the fans pour onto a field that has seen much misery for the home team, it was impossible not to think back five years to when Kentucky had LSU beaten but forgot to finish the game before celebrating, losing on a 75-yard bomb on the last play while students hung from the goalposts. I was there for that one, too. The second shocker had a more profound impact on this season's dizzying plot: the Backyard Brawl. It truly was hard to believe what I was watching. Although I felt badly for all those demoralized West Virginia fans and players, it was hard not to think that this was the fitting ending to the season.

[+] EnlargeSylvester Croom
AP Photo/Jim LytleSylvester Croom directed the Bulldogs in their first bowl game since 2000.

Chris Low: The first thing you realize about Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom is that there's not an ounce of phoniness about him. He says what he believes and believes what he says. So when Croom, overcome with emotion, went speechless during a television interview just moments after Mississippi State's stirring fourth-quarter comeback to beat Mississippi in the regular-season finale, it was a poignant reminder of just how much heart and soul Croom had poured into reviving the Bulldogs' program. It was also a reminder that it pays to stick behind good people who are committed to doing it the right way. The Bulldogs closed the season by winning three of their last four games and will face Central Florida in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, their first bowl trip since the 2000 season. Mississippi State's four SEC wins matched its total from Croom's first three seasons in Starkville combined.

Ivan Maisel: In a season of upsets, Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, fresh out of the shower after the Hogs knocked off No. 1 LSU, glowed with the joy of victory and a little bit of take-that to the Arkansas fans who wanted him gone. Two years ago, Illinois lost at Ohio State 40-2. Coach Ron Zook and quarterback Juice Williams promised each other the next visit would be different. The Illini, with Williams at the helm, knocked off the Buckeyes, 28-21. And South Florida coach Jim Leavitt, his shirt drenched in sweat and Gatorade after his Bulls knocked off No. 5 West Virginia, 21-13, failed in his attempt not to get too excited. He started this program, which played its first game in 1997. "I really did think it would happen," Leavitt said after the game. "I just didn't know when." This season, it happened every week.

Mark Schlabach: My favorite memory of the 2007 college football season was one of the first moments. While covering Virginia Tech's Sept. 1 opener against East Carolina, I noticed Michigan was struggling against Division I-AA Appalachian State at Michigan Stadium. The Appalachian State campus was about 2½ hours away in the North Carolina mountains, but I wasn't about to miss the aftermath of one of the greatest upsets in college football history. When the Mountaineers completed their shocker over the Wolverines, I hit the road. The party was just beginning when I arrived in Boone at 7 p.m. I met two Appalachian State students outside a bar. They were my campus guides the rest of the night. They showed me how students had torn down the goal posts in Appalachian State's stadium and dragged them across campus to the front yard of the chancellor's home. Several hours later, the football team returned to Boone in several buses. There were hundreds of fans waiting at the football complex. It's a scene I'll never forget.

Forward spin: What 2007 bowl season moments will resonate?

Dinich: The chaos. C'mon, let's hear it. Georgia got hosed. But LSU has two losses! Why is Illinois in the Rose Bowl? The best team is not playing in the national championship. Who is the best team? They all lost! This is why a playoff should never exist. For the next month, argue over the matchups. Argue over the BCS. Argue over Christmas dinner. It's as entertaining as the games themselves. Which you'll watch no matter who is playing. And when LSU beats Ohio State for the national championship, and that sense of finality sets in, you'll already be longing for the chaos of next season. Because this year, your team got hosed.

[+] EnlargeJohn David Booty
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PresswireJohn David Booty and USC enter the Rose Bowl on a roll.

Forde: I anticipate seeing USC pole-ax BCS interloper Illinois in the Rose Bowl the way UCLA once demolished an overrated Illini in the '84 Rose 45-9. And I hope it rains on the Rose Parade as well. The Rose deserves it for clinging to outdated ritual instead of trying to set up the best possible game.

Low: A quick glance at the NFL rosters suggests it, and many of the NFL scouts come right out and say it: The best football in the country is played in the SEC. Come Jan. 7, the SEC gets another chance to prove it on the field. LSU can become the third SEC team in the past five years to walk away with the national championship. It could easily be the fourth team in five years had Auburn not been shafted in 2004. Florida won last season and LSU in 2003. What makes this run for the title all the more intriguing is that the Tigers twice lost this season while holding down the No. 1 spot in the polls. Though it hasn't played like the best team in the country over the last month, LSU is easily the most talented team in the country. The BCS system isn't set up to give third chances, but the Tigers won't need another opportunity after they beat Ohio State in New Orleans.

Maisel: Oklahoma and West Virginia are conference champions playing in a BCS game. This season, that may be reward enough for a Virginia Tech at the Orange Bowl, or USC at the Rose Bowl. But the Sooners and the Mountaineers will arrive in the Valley of the Sun with chips on their shoulder pads. The Sooners believe they should be in the BCS National Championship Game. The Mountaineers want to prove they're not the team that lost to Pittsburgh. Oklahoma's speed and physicality on both sides of the ball will be too much for West Virginia. The Sooners will keep quarterback Pat White hemmed up, and that will make all the difference in the Fiesta Bowl.

Schlabach: Last year, Boise State stunned Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl with a series of trick plays to finish one of the most exciting games in college football history. For the second season in a row, a WAC team has a chance to upset one of the sport's big boys. Undefeated Hawaii plays No. 5 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. I saw the No. 10 Warriors play at Nevada in November and was thoroughly impressed. Even though QB Colt Brennan played sparingly against the Wolf Pack, the Warriors' high-octane passing game was effective. Much to my surprise, Hawaii's defense was fast and physical. Georgia was disappointed it wasn't selected to play in the BCS title game. If the Bulldogs don't get over that disappointment quickly, they might end up finishing the season like Oklahoma did a year ago.

Pat Forde, Heather Dinich, Chris Low, Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach cover college football for ESPN.com.