Illinois pulls off a miracle, top 5 remain undefeated

Christopher Gibson, Courier Staff

Another week of college football is in the books, so let’s take a look at how things stand now after week eight. There were some doozies this week.

The first game that had huge implications for the CFP and the Big Ten having a team make it was Illinois versus Wisconsin. Wisconsin came into the game with a perfect 6-0 record and was ranked number six in the nation. The Badgers are led by Heisman candidate Jonathan Taylor, who has been phenomenal for them in the run game this season. On the other sideline was Illinois. The Illini came into the game with a 2-4 record with losses to Eastern Michigan, Nebraska, Minnesota and Michigan. They came into the game with trouble at the quarterback position with their junior quarterback Brandon Peters, who transferred over from Michigan, struggling to recover from an injury, and the other backups have very little experience.

The game started out just as expected: Wisconsin scored early off of an 18-yard strike to Jake Ferguson with 9:15 remaining in the first quarter. The Badgers then tacked on another three points midway through the second quarter, putting them up 10-0. Illinois would then get on the scoreboard off of a bomb from Peters to his wideout Donny Navarro for 48 yards. Wisconsin would kick another field game before the half ended, bringing about a 13-7 score at halftime.

The second half was a little slower to get started, picking up right where things left off with Wisconsin scoring off of a five-yard run for a touchdown. Illinois responded close to 10 minutes later with a touchdown of their own off of a 43-yard run. Wisconsin scored a field goal with 9:46 remaining in the fourth quarter, putting the Badgers up 23-14. Illinois ended up taking advantage of a Wisconsin fumble a couple of drives later and scored a touchdown, bringing the score to 23-21. Then, Wisconsin did the unthinkable: they threw an interception in the final three minutes of the game. Illinois would end up driving down the field and James McCourt would nail the 39-yard field goal for the upset.

As a college football fan, watching this game was both heartbreaking and entertaining. This current college football season hasn’t seen that many good undefeated teams continue to win week in and week out. Wisconsin had been one of those few teams who were leading the way. They have the great talent that would be so exciting to see in the CFP. But, with Illinois beating them, their chances of making it are a lot smaller. The Badgers losing also hurts the Big Ten’s chances of sending a team to the CFP. Yes, the Big Ten still has Ohio State, but both teams had the potential, albeit very slim, to send both teams if they had met undefeated in the Big Ten championship. Now, the Big Ten will have to rely on Ohio State not losing from here on out. However, as an Illini fan, this game was so sweet to watch. Illinois hardly ever wins big games, no matter the sport, so watching them pull off the upset was so nice.

Another game that saw an upset was the Boise State, BYU game. The game was supposed to be all Boise State, who had come into this game undefeated. BYU came into the game with a 2-4 record. However, that didn’t stop them from pulling off another upset. BYU won pretty handily. While the final score, 28-25, doesn’t give off that impression, BYU was able to score three touchdowns in the third quarter, which helped to seal the deal for them. Boise State wasn’t getting much coverage, but they had been a pretty solid team who had just been climbing the ranking since week one and were able to end up in the 14th spot in last week’s rankings. However, after their loss last night to BYU, Boise State’s chances of making the CFP, which weren’t necessarily high, are down the drain.

The remainder of the games went as expected. The top five managed to win their games by a combined margin of 220 – 53. This means there probably won’t be too much of a shakeup at the top of the top 25, but the remainder of the top ten will see some definite changes. The first CFP rankings don’t come out until Nov. 5th, so there is still plenty of time for big wins, and big losses, to happen. Let’s see how the next 15 days shake out.