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THE MOST STABLE FORCE OF 2007

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IDENTIFIED THROUGH RIGOROUS SCIENCE

Kentucky v Vanderbilt Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

What’s that? You haven’t heard about the big, beautiful anthology we put together about the avalanche of small fire tornados better known as the 2007 college football season? Well, get right on that! (And then come back here. I’ll wait.)

2007 was a season of upheaval for plenty of teams. Kansas doubled their win total and Illinois went from 2-10 the year before to the damn Rose Bowl. Minnesota fired Glen Mason after finishing 6-7 in 2006 and then watched Tim Brewster go 1-11; Notre Dame didn’t score an offensive touchdown until their fourth game and lost more games in September than in the entirety of the 2006 season.

But it had to be a relatively normal year for somebody, right? In the Special 2007 Episode of the Shutdown Fullcast, I picked South Carolina. That was after about 70 seconds of research, though.

So I decided to figure out who had the most predictable, easygoing season while everyone else’s house was burning down, using the following factors.

1. WIN DIFFERENTIAL COMPARED TO 2006

If you got to the end of the Most Unpredictable Season Ever with the same win total you hit the year before, maybe things were relatively placid for you. Of course, that doesn’t take into account how you got to that number, but let’s start our exercise with the 18 teams won exactly as many games in 2007 as they did in 2006.

Army, BYU, Florida State, Iowa, Kentucky, UNLV, New Mexico State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Purdue, South Florida, Texas, Toledo, Troy, Tulane, USC, West Virginia

2. ACTUALLY ANY GOOD

Still too many candidates. Let’s cut out all the teams that didn’t win at least six games. Sure, it’s technically predictable for a team that’s bad in one season to be bad the next, but there’s no real degree of difficulty to it. That leaves our list looking like this.

BYU, Florida State, Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Purdue, South Florida, Texas, Troy, USC, West Virginia

3. AVOIDING EITHER SIDE OF AN UPSET

Because I’m lazy, we’re going to count two things as an upset. Number one - ranked team loses to unranked team. Number two - ranked team loses to lower ranked team.

FSU’s knocked out in Week 1 when they, ranked 19th, lose to unranked Clemson, though they also beat two ranked teams after they drop out of the polls, including the win that knocks Boston College out of the number two slot. Iowa starts 2-4 and then beats #19 Illinois, so they’re out. Kentucky beats a top 10 Louisville team (at the time, at least) and is the first team to beat LSU; they’re for sure out.

Ranked Oklahoma, Texas both lose two games to unranked opponents. Oklahoma State beats #25 Kansas State. Penn State loses two road games to unranked teams, drops out of the poll, and beats #19 Wisconsin shortly thereafter.

Oh, and South Florida, USC, and West Virginia all climb to number two and get upset by an unranked team. List is pretty small now, ain’t it?

BYU, Purdue, Troy

4. EXPOSURE TO OTHER EXCITEMENT

Troy beat Oklahoma State in Week 3 (on a Friday, in Alabama, way to go whoever agreed to that trip) and they’re 0-21 against power conference opponents since that win. Troy fans tore down a goalpost after this game so yeah, that’s enough to eliminate the Trojans.

BYU converted a 4th and 18 from their own TWELVE to keep their final drive going and beat Utah and blocked a 28 yard field goal at the end of the Las Vegas Bowl to beat UCLA (who they’d lost to earlier that season). Maybe that’s only around a poblano on the 2007 Scoville scale, but that’s still a little spice.

Which leaves us with Purdue.

Let’s go over what Purdue did in 2006.

Started by beating an FCS team and two MAC teams
Went 5-3 in conference
Lost to Notre Dame
Made a December bowl game and lost

How does that compare to 2007?

Started by beating an FCS team and two MAC teams
Went 3-5 in conference
Beat Notre Dame
Made a December bowl game and won

Swap two Big Ten wins for a bowl victory and beating Notre Dame, and that’s almost the entire difference between these seasons. In the season where up was down and wrong was right, Purdue was still Purdue.

(Well, ok, there’s one more thing. Purdue was never ranked in 2006. In 2007, they started 5-0 and made it to #23 before losing to Ohio State. The Boilermakers never got ranked again. Not just in 2007. EVER since then.)