Reading Time: 3 minutes

Upsets abound in the first week of college football

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

email

Montana quarterback Cam Humphrey lets out a yell as he celebrates with teammates after they beat Washington in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Seattle. Montana won 13-7. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Montana quarterback Cam Humphrey lets out a yell as he celebrates with teammates after they beat Washington in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Seattle. Montana won 13-7. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

While fall may not officially start for a couple more weeks, this past weekend marked the changing of seasons for many around the country. College football is back, and the first week’s slate of games reminded us of just how crazy and unpredictable life can be when you place your emotional well-being in the hands of a bunch of eighteen- to twenty-two-year-olds. 

In total, six of the teams that entered the season ranked in the top-25 were upset, with No. 20 Washington’s loss to Montana of the FCS the most surprising. The FCS is the division of teams that are considered below the 130 teams that play in the FBS, and Montana’s win marked the first time an FCS team beat a top-25 ranked opponent since 2016. 

However, No. 16 LSU’s resounding loss to UCLA marked perhaps the most consequential upset of the week. LSU won the national championship two years ago and were expected by many to bounce back from a lackluster 2020 campaign. Instead, the loss seems to indicate that fans of the team may be in for a similarly disappointing 2021—a conclusion further reinforced by the fact that they have already fallen out of the newly released Top 25

That said, it could also be that many of these upsets will not seem nearly as surprising in a few months. 

The rankings to open the season are often more the result of educated guesses based on past results and brand-name recognition than what teams will actually look like this season. As such, while they serve a purpose in providing a baseline against which we can assess progress throughout the year, they should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism as well. 

What’s guiding your choices?

In the same way, many of the upsets or surprises we face from time to time would seem less shocking if we weren’t also relying more upon educated guesses and past history than on the wisdom and guidance of God. 

That’s not to say that a life fully submitted to the Lord and dependent upon the Spirit to direct our decisions would not also come with its fair share of surprises. As finite creatures, there is a limit to how much about the world around us we can fully grasp at any given moment. 

Apart from God, the degree to which even our most thoughtful, educated plans come to pass will always be heavily dependent upon the whims of circumstance and the decisions of other people. 

But while God’s plans still involve many of the same factors, he is able to take the unforeseen into account in ways we simply cannot. The result is that we are better prepared to take the surprises in stride and continue on undeterred. 

So what’s currently serving as the guiding force for your decisions today? 

Whether they are of the potentially life-altering variety or the more seemingly mundane, we will always be better off going to God first and relying upon his direction as we traverse the path that lies ahead. 

Will you?