Shake-up Saturday leaves carnage

Originally Published: October 12, 2013
By Mitch Sherman | ESPN.com

The carnage of Saturday's shakeup in college football still fresh, let's start by commending Florida State, Miami, Fresno State and Ohio State -- the four unbeatens who had the foresight not to schedule games in this second week of October.

Saturday was anything but friendly to the top teams.

We should have seen it coming on Thursday, when No. 8 Louisville sputtered uncharacteristically on offense in a two-touchdown win over Rutgers.

[+] EnlargeTy Montgomery
Russ Isabella/USA TODAY SportsStanford came up short against unranked Utah.

On second thought, no one could have seen this coming. It was a Saturday unlike any other so far this fall.

Down went seven ranked teams, including Stanford, the first top-five team to lose this season, plus fellow unbeatens No. 12 Oklahoma and No. 18 Michigan

The fifth-ranked Cardinal lost 27-21 at unranked Utah as the Utes used a defensive stand in the final minute to earn the program's first win at home over a top-five opponent.

The Sooners lost 36-20 to unranked Texas at the Cotton Bowl, a shocker considering the Longhorns' recent poor play and 80-point differential in favor of OU in the past two years of this rivalry.

The Wolverines lost 43-40 in four overtimes at unranked Penn State as true freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg came of age with a scintillating end-of-regulation march for the Nittany Lions.

"Nothing should amaze you," PSU coach Bill O'Brien said after the celebration in Happy Valley, made possible by Michigan's Brendan Gibbons' missing a 33-yard field goal in the third overtime.

O'Brien is right. This week showed us as much. Anything can happen, and likely will, to the 14 remaining undefeated teams. Saturday began with a somewhat mundane-looking lineup of games -- just three Top-25 matchups -- but it ended amid chaos.

Many other unbeaten were fortunate to survive.

Be happy if you're No. 2 Oregon, which won its 18th straight road game, 45-24 over Washington, but had to sweat well into the fourth quarter and was held to fewer than 55 points for the first time year.

Be happy if you're No. 3 Clemson. The Tigers, ahead of a showdown next week with the No. 6 Seminoles, escaped against Boston College 24-14 after trailing at halftime.

Be happy if you're No. 15 Baylor, which beat Kansas State 35-25 to move to 5-0 for the first time since 1991. The Bears trailed in the fourth quarter and allowed 327 rushing yards, perhaps offering a blueprint for the rest of the Big 12 to slow Art Briles' machine.

Be happy if you're 20th-ranked Texas Tech, which beat Iowa State 42-35 in freshman Davis Webb's first start at quarterback.

Be happy if you're No. 23 Northern Illinois, which avoided an upset against Akron, winning 27-20.

[+] EnlargeKentrell Brothers
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY SportsMissouri took down No. 7 Georgia on the road Saturday.

Be happy if you're Houston, which stayed unbeaten with a 25-15 win over 1-4 Memphis.

Injury-plagued No. 7 Georgia got bit by the upset bug, losing between the hedges to Missouri 41-26. The Tigers, 6-0 for the first time since 2010, paid a heavy price, too, losing QB James Franklin likely for the season to a shoulder injury.

Yes, good feelings were hard to find for ranked teams on Saturday. Top-ranked Alabama did just fine after a scoreless first quarter, pounding Kentucky 48-7. Same goes for South Carolina after a 52-7 beatdown of Arkansas. No. 10 LSU did enough in a 17-6 win over 17th-ranked Florida. And No. 11 UCLA looked strong against Cal.

No other ranked team won by a margin larger than Missouri's 15 points.

No. 9 Texas A&M avoided the upset at Ole Miss on Josh Lambo's last-second field goal to win 41-38.

Wisconsin dismantled No. 19 Northwestern 35-6.

What does it all mean? Don't book your tickets to Pasadena. Nothing is set. Or even close.

Sure, Alabama is strong. Other than a Nov. 9 LSU trip to Tuscaloosa, its next five weeks appear manageable. And Oregon, behind QB Marcus Mariota, still the Heisman front-runner after his showing Saturday, faces its moment of truth soon with UCLA and Stanford in consecutive games.

The winner next week in the big ACC showdown also remains in good position.

But as Saturday showed, it's still all about survival.

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