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A FOOTBALL SEASON FULL OF SURPRISE
November 6, 2007

SCS.comThe renowned American historian Henry Adams once said, ďChaos often breeds life when order breeds habit.Ē Those words certainly reflect what has thus far been a topsy-turvy college football season. While the last few seasons have seen many of the same faces near the top of the polls, this season has produced plenty of unexpected players on the national scene. This year has seen more than just BCS party crashers though; major upsets, disappointments, and new faces amongst the players have all played a roll in what has been a season unlike any other. With that said, here is a look at some of the biggest surprises of the season.

Kansas

It isnít uncommon at this time of year to see Kansas ranked 5th in the country; of course that ranking is usually in the preseason basketball polls and not in football. The first four weeks of the season the Jayhawks looked much like that low-level BCS conference team that was having a good time beating up on weaker opponents, but of course when Big 12 play started the fun would end. Someone must have forgotten to pass that message around Lawrence, because the winning hasnít stopped. Victories over Kansas State, Colorado and Texas A&M were nice, but just in case they still werenít being taken seriously at 8-0, Kansas thrashed Nebraska 76-39 this weekend for good measure. All of a sudden the Jayhawks find themselves 4th in the BCS polls with a legitimate shot of playing for a national championship if they run the table.

Dennis Dixon

What a difference a year makes. In 2006 Dixon threw for just over 2000 yards, had 12 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. In 2007 he is now the leading candidate for the Heisman trophy after Matt Ryanís poor performance against Florida State. His leadership has pulled Oregon within a hair of the national championship game and his stats can compare with the best of them. Having already eclipsed the 2000 yard mark, Dixon is averaging better than 5 yards per rush as well and has 28 total touchdowns. Even if the Ducks donít wind up playing for a title, if Dixon keeps up his play, at the very least he is getting an invitation to New York City after the season is over.

Michigan

Usually when one thinks of a team rising tremendously and crashing in the same season, they think of someone like South Florida, who after being ranked #2 at one point in the BCS polls, isnít even in the top 25 anymore. Michigan, on the other hand, decided to do things in a different order. After being ranked 5th in the preseason AP polls, the Wolverines suffered a historic defeat to Appalachian State, and were run out of the Big House the following weekend by Oregon. It looked like the season in Ann Arbor was over before it really began. Behind the determined play of senior running back Mike Hart though, Michigan decided to right their ship. Since the week two loss to Oregon, Michigan has won 8 straight games, including all 6 conference games. They are now 12th in the BCS polls and are just a win away from playing Ohio State on November 17th for the Big Ten title.

Michael Crabtree

Sure he was fairly high level prospect coming out of high school, earning a four-star rating from Rivals.com, but no one could have anticipated a freshman season like this. Through ten games, the Texas Tech receiver has caught 104 passes for 1,512 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has topped 10 catches in seven games, had five 3-touchdown games, and has registered more than 150 receiving yards in five games. Itís been a while since a freshman receiver had numbers like these, but Red Raider fans can look forward to at least a couple more seasons of Crabtreeís phenomenal play.

The Big East

What a remarkably strange season it has been in the Big East. The only teams that have performed how they were expected to have been West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse; aside from them, it has been a season to remember. Connecticut is atop the standings at 8-1 overall, and is the only team that hasnít dropped a conference game yet. The Huskies have shocked the country by climbing to 13th in the country, and with three straight wins over Louisville, South Florida and Rutgers, they have finally proved that they are a team to be reckoned with. The surprises donít end there though, not by any means.

Louisville and Rutgers have been disappointments. The Cardinals were supposed to be in the hunt for a national championship behind the arm of Brian Brohm, but they seemed to have forgotten that at least some defense is necessary to win games, and allowing 27 points per game just wonít cut it. Rutgers found themselves in the top ten earlier in the season, but a loss at home to Maryland started a chain of four losses in six games that dropped the Scarlet Knights out of the top 25 and the Big East title chase.

South Florida and Cincinnati have gone above and beyond expectations. The Bulls were at one point ranked 2nd in the country, and despite having lost three straight games, still showed they are a team that is up and coming. The Bearcats find themselves at 7-2 and knocking on the door of the AP poll. Also in site for Cinci is a shot at the Big East championship game if they knock off West Virginia in a couple of weeks.

Notre Dame

No one expected the Irish to necessarily appear in a BCS bowl game this year after losing a lot of talent from a season ago, but certainly not many could have foreseen a 1-8 season to this point. Granted Charlie Weissís squad has had a tough schedule, but their most recent loss to Navy, a team they hadnít lost to since 1963, just added to an already atrocious season. Weiss who has been praised for his offensive coordinating prowess finds himself at the helm of a team that is averaging just over 200 yards per game and scoring less than 14 points. A defense that has allowed over 31 points per game hasnít made life any easier. This is a season South Bend residents will try to forget as quickly as they can.

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