Coming into Week 7, the college football upsets this year had been few and far between.
Then, as generally happens, everything fell apart in a single weekend.
Georgia, Stanford, Oklahoma and Michigan all lost. A week before the release of the first BCS standings, no less.
Given that Florida State and Clemson play this weekend, many teams are starting to get the losses they need to creep up in the standings.
So let’s dive into the Starting 11.
1. Alabama and Oregon have created a substantial gap between themselves and the rest of the country
It’s starting to feel increasingly like the entire 2013 season is an elaborate prelude to Oregon-Alabama in the BCS title game.
Sure, Alabama could lose to LSU — by far the toughest remaining game on the Tide’s schedule — but it’s beginning to look like whoever emerges from the SEC East will not be as tough in the title game as we expected.
So if the Tide can get past LSU, they’ll be 13-0. Meanwhile, the Ducks started the tough stretch of their schedule last week with a thorough road beating of Washington. UCLA and Stanford in back-to-back weekends will be good challenges soon, but I think the Ducks will win both games by 10 or more. Oregon has to get past the Pac-12 title game as well, but the Ducks will play at home as a substantial favorite.
That doesn’t mean either team can’t be upset, just that it becomes more and more unlikely with each passing week.
‘Bama-Oregon in the title game should be the substantial favorite at this point.
2. The SEC East is wide open
Florida and Missouri control the division right now, but the two teams meet in Columbia this weekend and both still have tough games remaining no matter what transpires in that contest.
Given that both teams are now on their second-string quarterback and boast strong defenses, we should expect a low-scoring, ugly game.
Mizzou could take complete control of the SEC East with back-to-back home wins over Florida and South Carolina. Then the Tigers would have a 1.5-game lead over Florida, South Carolina and Georgia with just four conference games remaining.
Welcome to life as a Mizzou football fan: You get your first road top-10 win since 1981 and in the process you lose your starting quarterback for the final six games of the season.
As for Georgia, what a tough loss.
I feel bad for Aaron Murray. The team was so debilitated by offensive injury that he was like Jaime Lannister trying to fight with a sword after his right hand was chopped off.
3. Baylor survived on the road and now has a clear path as the top non-Oregon and Alabama team
I think Baylor would leap an undefeated Ohio State if the Bears finished 12-0. The reason?
First: Baylor’s better than Ohio State. Second: The Big 12 is better than the Big Ten. Third: Right now Las Vegas would have Baylor installed as at least a touchdown favorite over Ohio State.
Sure, the road win at Kansas State wasn’t a work of art, but Baylor is still a young team. That was the Bears’ first road win in the Big 12 since 2011. Now that they’ve proven they can do it on the road too, look out.
Will Baylor run the table?
I’m not sure, but the Bears will be favored in every game for the rest of the season. Wins over Iowa State and Kansas should have the Bears 7-0 when Oklahoma comes to town. (As I predicted before the season started, by the way). Then the final five games of the season give Baylor a chance to demonstrate how good they really are: Oklahoma, neutral site against undefeated Texas Tech, at Oklahoma State, at TCU, Texas.
Don’t sleep on the Bears.
4. The Big Ten is just awful
Ohio State is ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll. The only other ranked Big Ten team is Wisconsin at 25.
It’s possible Ohio State could finish the regular season without a win over a single top 25 team.
Hello, Louisville part two.
5. How bad is Homeland season three?
It’s worse than the Big Ten.
The first season was extraordinary. The second season, while filled with glaring plot holes, at least provided a ton of exhilarating individual moments.
It’s an unmitigated disaster of awfulness.
6. Johnny Manziel is the best reality television show star in the country
Consider that Alabama has given up just 68 points all season, and 42 of them came to Manziel and A&M. The other five opponents on the Tide schedule have scored just 26 combined.
Want an even crazier stat? A&M scored more points in the second half against Alabama than its other five opponents have combined this season.
So did anyone out there think Manziel and A&M weren’t going to score at the end of the Ole Miss game when Johnny took over with two minutes remaining?
A&M should be 9-1 when the Aggies go on the road at LSU. That game is going to be monumental.
7. LSU may well be the third-best team in the country
One thing you could always rely on at Tennessee: By the end of the year, John Chavis would have a young defense much improved.
Last weekend, LSU’s defense dominated Florida. Now, I know, Florida isn’t a very good offense, but LSU strangled them.
The Tigers, who still haven’t had a bye yet this season, go on the road this week to Ole Miss. That’s a bit of a tricky game, but I think LSU will take care of Ole Miss to get to 7-1. Then comes Furman, so you can pencil in 8-1. Then LSU has a bye week, Alabama, a bye week and Texas A&M.
If LSU beat both top-10 teams, finished 11-1 and won the SEC title game over another top-10 caliber opponent, are you really telling me 12-1 LSU — with a three-point road loss at Georgia — wouldn’t deserve to be ranked above 12-0 Baylor or 13-0 Ohio State?
The only two teams that I could see deserving to be ranked above LSU at that point would be undefeated Oregon and an undefeated Florida State or Clemson.
Otherwise, LSU would be the top team in the country.
8. The SEC now has eight teams ranked in the AP top 25, a first for any conference
That’s a pretty extraordinary accomplishment.
Remember when some people questioned whether Texas A&M and Missouri were good additions to the league? The two teams are presently 11-1 combined.
It’s impossible for the integration of these two teams to have gone any better at all for Mike Slive and the SEC.
9. Bob Stoops helped prove the Big 12 was "bottom heavy" by getting whipped by Mack Brown and Texas
Is it worth mentioning that the 10th-best team in the SEC (Ole Miss) beat Texas by 21 in Austin, the same Texas team that Oklahoma just lost to by 16 at a neutral site? Or is that just rubbing it in?
I’d love for a reporter to mention the eight top 25 teams, Ole Miss’ 21-point win over Texas and then ask, "So do you still think the SEC is top heavy?"
10. My national top 10 based on games that have been played so far
5. Florida State
7. Texas A&M
10. South Carolina
11. My SEC rankings — including Ohio State — based on games that have been played thus far
3. Texas A&M
5. South Carolina
6. Ohio State
10. Ole Miss
How do we know the bloom is off the Ole Miss rose? Hugh Freeze had to be restrained from going after a fan after the loss to A&M.