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Ohio State Football: 3 Startling Statistics Through 6 Weeks

There were high expectations for the Ohio State football team coming into the 2014 season, but after star quarterback Braxton Miller was lost for the year after suffering a shoulder injury in fall camp, the Buckeyes' college football playoff hopes took a serious hit.

Those hopes took a potentially fatal blow in Week 2, when the Virginia Tech Hokies upset Ohio State 35-21 in Columbus. 

But a trio of consecutive blowouts have the Buckeyes back on track heading into their second and final bye week of the season.

Here are three notable statistics after Ohio State's first five games.

 

J.T. Barrett's Video Game Numbers

When Miller went down for the season, it was redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett who emerged over Cardale Jones for the Buckeyes' starting quarterback spot. 

Through five games, Barrett has been sensational—completing 66.2 percent of his passes for 1,354 yards and 17 touchdowns against five interceptions. He also has 276 rushing yards—which ranks second on the team behind Ezekiel Elliott—with another two scores on the ground.

But Barrett's strength is in the passing game. Not only is he leading the Big Ten in passing touchdowns, but he also currently ranks No. 4 in the country in overall passing efficiency. That's a remarkable accomplishment for the first-year signal-caller, especially after his abysmal performance against Virginia Tech. The Buckeyes were blasted by the Hokies, and Barrett completed just 31 percent of his passes and threw three picks in the game.

He has bounced back nicely, though, and he has the Buckeyes playing at a high level.

 

Michael Thomas' Team-Leading Receiving Numbers

Without Carlos Hyde and four multi-year senior starters along the offensive line, Urban Meyer wanted the Buckeyes to shift their offensive philosophy to take advantage of an abundance of talent on the perimeter. 

With player such as Dontre Wilson, Devin Smith and longtime contributor Evan Spencer, Barrett has plenty of options when he drops back to pass.

His best option so for has been Michael Thomas.

The redshirt sophomore out of Los Angeles, California has been the breakout star for the Buckeyes. Thomas currently leads the team in receptions (17) and receiving yards (322) and is tied for the team lead with Devin Smith in touchdown receptions (five). 

His sudden emergence was a welcome development for Meyer, who watched as Thomas' career got off to a slow start.

"He was a mistake guy," Meyer said of Thomas, according to Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch. "Every third play he’d screw up. That’s why last year he wasn’t ready to play. That was really hard for him last year.”

Those struggles appear to be behind Thomas, and Ohio State is much better because of it. 

 

Ohio State's Lack of Sacks

After Meyer told Doug Lesmerises of the Northeast Ohio Media Group that Ohio State's defensive line had the potential to be as good as his one at Florida in 2006—which dismantled the Buckeyes in the '07 title game—the hype surrounding the unit peaked.

Stocked with three potential first-round NFL draft picks, Ohio State's defensive line was supposed to help a rebuilt secondary by getting after the quarterback. Before the season kicked off, the group was touted as one of the best—if not the best—defensive lines in the country.

But through five games, the Buckeyes are averaging just 2.4 sacks per game, which is tied for 47th in the country.

The Buckeyes are certainly missing Noah Spence—a star defensive end who was suspended indefinitely after testing positive for his second drug test in September. 

Joey Bosa has been a consistent presence in the backfield of Ohio State's opponents, piling up 3.5 sacks on the season, according to Ohio State's official website. But no other defensive lineman has recorded more than one sack through five games, as the team has just 12 total on the year.

There's still time for the unit to turn things around, but it's definitely off to a slower start than most had anticipated.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all stats via NCAA.com

David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Rankings 2014: Most Underrated Teams in Week 7 Coaches Poll

Week 6 was one for the ages in college football as a number of upsets created a major shakeup in the latest Amway Coaches Poll.

Starting with Oregon's loss on Thursday, the weekend featured 11 losses by ranked teams, including five squads among the top eight. Meanwhile, the teams that pulled off these upsets, like Ole Miss and Mississippi State, shot up near the top of the polls for the upcoming week.

While this is going to cause a change in expectations for the College Football Playoff, there are still a bunch of overlooked teams through this point in the season. These squads have proven themselves on the field but are still not getting the credit they deserve in the latest polls.

 

No. 6 Mississippi State

After last weekend's fireworks, there are only nine remaining undefeated teams in college football. Three of those teams come from the SEC West, which makes it no surprise the division still has five teams ranked in the top 15.

However, the question remains why Mississippi State comes into Week 7 ranked sixth. Obviously, someone has to be the odd man out with so many quality teams at the top, but it should not be the Bulldogs after what they have shown this season.

Mississippi State has won all five of its games this year by an average of 23.2 points per game. Over the last two weeks, the squad has won at LSU and home against Texas A&M, both of which came in convincing fashion. The team was up at least three touchdowns in each contest before late touchdowns made the games close.

Dan Wolken of USA Today believes the latest ranking was way too low for the SEC squad:

Besides Notre Dame, you can question the merit of putting Baylor at No. 3 despite not facing a single ranked opponent this season.

Obviously, Mississippi State is not used to complaining about being too low and is usually happy to be ranked at all. Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press notes this is the highest the school has ever been in the polls:

Still, this team has proven to be one of the best in the nation and deserves to be ranked as such. With a home game against No. 2 Auburn coming up, the squad will have a chance to move up even more next week.

 

No. 11 Oregon

Oregon was certainly disappointed to drop a game to a conference opponent at home, but head coach Mark Helfrich remained upbeat the day after the loss:

The biggest thing is the spirit of the team and the guys they have the willingness to do something about it and they did. Everyone was in good spirits this morning, as good as could be expected in the situation. Again have to give Arizona a ton of credit but there was a lot of stuff in this game that makes it that much more of a bitter pill to swallow in terms of self-inflicted wounds and some of the mistakes we made.

Between two lost fumbles and a 4-of-14 mark on third downs, there was certainly a lot to be upset about. However, this is still one of the best teams in the nation with arguably college football's top player in Marcus Mariota.

After seeing many other top teams lose on Saturday, the Ducks had to feel better about remaining in the playoff hunt. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case after dropping from No. 4 to No. 11 in the rankings.

Oregon is currently behind four other one-loss teams in the Coaches Poll, two of which do not have a win over a ranked team all season. Another one, Michigan State, lost directly to the Ducks 46-27. Putting the Spartans three spots ahead of a team with the same record that they lost to does not make much sense.

While the Ducks might have had a disappointing loss, it came against a quality opponent in Arizona (which is still undefeated). Considering they also have the best win among the one-loss teams, they should be ranked higher than they are.

The Pac-12 is going to be a fight all season long, but Oregon remains a national title contender and should get that chance by winning out.

 

No. 16 Kansas State

While seemingly every team in the nation dealt with its own craziness on Saturday, Kansas State avoided trouble, as noted by CBS Sports:

Jake Waters posted another incredible performance against Texas Tech, throwing four touchdown passes on 290 yards while also adding 105 and a score on the ground. The quarterback has turned himself into a Heisman candidate with his dual-threat ability while turning Kansas State into one of the best offenses in the country.

Although this team does have one loss, that came against now-No. 2 Auburn by just a six-point margin. A few late turnovers ruined the Wildcats' chances for pulling off an upset.

The good news is this team will get more chances to show what it can do. After a bye in Week 7, Kansas State will go on the road to take on Oklahoma. Big 12 matchups against Oklahoma State, TCU and Baylor also loom later in the schedule.

With loads of talent everywhere on the field, this squad has a chance to be a top contender for the conference title.

Kansas State is only being punished for making a tough non-conference schedule and taking on one of the best teams in the league. In reality, the Wildcats should be higher on the list and a legitimate contender for the College Football Playoff.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Michigan Football: 5 Startling Statistics Through 6 Weeks

There probably aren’t many who thought Michigan would be sitting at 2-4 after six games.

But it’s true: Team 135, for lack of a better term, just isn’t that good. At this point, discussing potential and who needs to “step up” are wastes of time. Now halfway through the season, Michigan should know what it is.

The rest of college football does.

But how did it come to this?

Sure, this past Saturday’s 26-24 loss to Rutgers was bad, but it wasn’t as bad as the setbacks to Notre Dame, Utah and Minnesota. Michigan, particularly its offense, teased its fans with a positive step or two in New Jersey, only to fall three steps behind the next play.

For the first time since 1967, the Wolverines are 0-2 in the Big Ten. Things aren’t going to get any easier, as Penn State comes to town this weekend—then it’s on to Michigan State on Oct. 25, which looks like it’ll be a miserable encounter for coach Brady Hoke, whose job status seems to get iffier and iffier by the week.

 

Giving Away Games

Efficient drives end in points. Needless to say, the inability to string together possessions continues to overshadow Michigan, which averages just 19 first downs and converts just 41.6 percent of its third downs (both marks rank No. 8 in the Big Ten).

On average, the Wolverines gift 2.17 turnovers to the other side each Saturday. Their 15 turnovers (five fumbles, 10 picks) are the most in the league. Turnovers happen from time to time, even to the best of teams. However, Michigan has trouble making up for them, ranking last in the league with a minus-13 margin.

 

Running Backs in No Rush

Evidently, sophomore bruisers Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith aren’t enough. They are on paper. But on the field?

No, they are not. 

Despite having one of his better games in a maize and blue uniform, Green, who carried 12 times for 74 yards versus Rutgers, is long overdue (and behind) in the production department. His team-leading 488 yards and average of 5.7 yards per touch are deceiving.

Part of that is on Green, who just can’t seem to get his wheels turning, and part of that is on the O-line. When it comes to gauging him, glasses are either half-full or half-empty. He’s either doing well with what’s available, or he’s simply the beneficiary of a few defensive mishaps on the part of the opposition.

Neither answer is wrong. 

Smith is another story all together. Like most running backs by Week 6, he’s had a handful of great runs. He ran hard against Rutgers, too. On top of that, he picks up six yards per carry.

But he only contributes 47 yards each Saturday. And he’s spent as much time running into his own linemen as he’s spent running over the other guys.

 

Secondary is a Primary Concern

It doesn’t take an expert to see that Blake Countess is frustrated. Of course, he doesn’t say so during press conferences, but, put it this way: The redshirt junior doesn’t have the best poker face.

The 5’10”, 180-pound corner insists that his position group will come to form. It has to, because—and here’s that phrase again—on paper, Michigan’s too deep at defensive back to fail. Prior to the season, Countess was in consideration for the Jim Thorpe Award.

After watching a trio of touchdowns sail by Saturday, it’s safe to say that he’s no longer in the discussion.

Want another deceiving stat? Good. Here’s one: The Wolverines have the No. 3-ranked pass defense in the Big Ten. But that means nothing when chunk plays are the norm for a group of guys who often find their backs to the ball.

 

Offensive Line Isn’t Carrying Its Weight

Once again, Devin Gardner is a moving target with a gigantic bullseye on his chest and back. In 2013, he was sacked 34 times, the third most in FBS. This season, he’s been sacked 13 times, putting him at No. 20 in that regard, per ESPN.

Running for his life, Gardner, a fifth-year senior quarterback, was sacked twice by Rutgers, which now leads the nation with 24.

 

Points Are at a Premium

Team 135’s scoring offense ranks dead last in the Big Ten. Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier was supposed to bring a new energy to the befuddled scoring attack; but instead, his position group musters just 22.3 points per game, per BigTen.org. As a whole, Michigan has the No. 12-ranked total offense, averaging 354 yards per outing.

Granted, things looked better this past Saturday in New Jersey, but the fact remains this offense is far too inconsistent to compete, let alone win. It’s a stat that won’t go away and for good reason: The Wolverines have been held out of their opponents’ red zone in two of six games.

Despite converting three of three (three rushing touchdowns) red-zone attempts versus Rutgers, Nussmeier’s personnel have miles to go before they’re up to par.

In a perfect world, Michigan would be 5-1 or 6-0. However, its reality is much different. And sadly, there isn’t a rewind button in college football, not even for a team that was thought to be destined for much better. 

However, Wolverines fans probably wouldn’t mind a fast-forward button, as their hopes and dreams are now reserved for 2015.

 

Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Notre Dame Football: Brian VanGorder's Stout Defense Continues to Impress

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Through four games, Notre Dame’s defense had yet to face a potent offense. After Saturday’s 17-14 win over Stanford, Notre Dame made it look like it still hasn’t.

The Irish stymied the Cardinal for four quarters, allowing just 205 yards of total offense. Stanford’s 3.0 yard-per-play output was its lowest since 2006. The 47 rushing yards were the fewest since 2007.

“I think they’ve got an outstanding defensive coordinator,” Stanford head coach David Shaw said of Notre Dame’s Brian VanGorder. “He mixes it up. A lot of pressure.”

The Irish deployed different looks and sent pressure from all over the defense. Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan finished 18-of-36 for 158 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked four times, and Notre Dame tallied seven quarterback hurries.

“They did an outstanding scheme on the defensive side, and their guys played hard,” Shaw said. “They played fast. And you can tell they're very well coached because they're running full speed where they're supposed to be.”

VanGorder’s aggressive and attacking mentality was expected to be more fun to watch than former defensive coordinator Bob Diaco’s bend-don’t-break scheme. It’s been entertaining, yes, and also wildly successful. The Irish rank tied for third in the nation in scoring defense, per CFBStats.com, allowing an average of 12 points per game.

Irish head coach Brian Kelly said Notre Dame’s success on defense starts with aggressive, shutdown cornerback play.

“If you're going to play great defense you have to clamp down [on the perimeter],” Kelly said. “I think that's where we've really made significant improvement over the course of the year.”

Graduate student cornerback Cody Riggs has been rock-solid on one side, while sophomore cornerback Cole Luke had been quietly consistent on the other. Luke spoke up Saturday with his first two career interceptions—picking off Hogan in the first and third quarter, respectively.

Luke also helped key the efforts in containing Stanford speedster Ty Montgomery. Outside of a late 42-yard kickoff return, Notre Dame limited the playmaker to nine touches for 26 yards.

“One thing that was stressed to me before the game is that you have to have no fear,” Luke said. “It does not matter what receiver you are going against or what offense. We knew he was a great player, but when the lights come on and you are on the field, it does not really matter. You just have to make plays and play ball.”

The Irish continually did so Saturday. They now sit at 5-0, poised to rise into the top-five after the college football world crumbled this weekend. They’ve ascended thanks to a defense that has yet to succumb to its opponents.

The real test looms in two weeks when Notre Dame will battle Jameis Winston and Florida State. But for now, the Irish defense has proven itself.

 

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Mike Monaco is a lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco_ on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football's All-Week 6 First-Team: Top Performers at Every Position

There was no shortage of options for the All-Week 6 first team, which makes sense after a three-day stretch that ranks among the craziest in college football history.

Four of the top six, five of the top eight and 11 of the top 19 teams in the Associated Press Poll went down in the span of 80 hours, which means 11 teams played well enough to beat Top 19 teams in the span of 80 hours. And what are those 11 teams if not the aggregate of their standout performers?

This list attempts to reward impressive teams and units but ultimately comes down to individual performance.

Ole Miss, for example, might well have been the most impressive team of the weekend, but it didn't place a single player on these teams. Bo Wallace played well, but other quarterbacks played better. Senquez Golson made an amazing interception, but other cornerbacks did more. Only by adding up all the Rebels' very good solo performances do you end up with the team that beat Alabama.

As always, the list also weighed statistics against opponent. The player who passed or rushed for the most yards didn't necessarily get the nod at quarterback or running back. It depends whom they logged those yards against and how they looked in doing it.

Sound off below to let us know whom you would add.

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5 1-Loss Teams with the Best Chance to Make the College Football Playoff

Well, that was interesting. 

Week 6 of the college football season was its most chaotic yet. Eleven Top 25 teams lost, five of which were ranked in the Top 10. According to Brett McMurphy of ESPN, this was the first time five of the AP poll's Top Eight teams lost in the same weekend in the regular season. 

Normally, that might have sounded the death knell for a team's BCS chances, but the four-team postseason field means teams can get mulligans. 

It's hard to be perfect, no matter the schedule. Week 6 was proof of that, if nothing else. One-loss teams are still very much alive in this postseason race. For that matter, two-loss teams could still be in the conversation. 

Which one-loss teams still have the best shot at a playoff appearance? The answers are in the following slides. 

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Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss Complete Game Preview

The Texas A&M football team will take on the undefeated Ole Miss Rebels at Kyle Field on Saturday, October 11. This is a pivotal matchup for both teams as they compete to win the SEC West. 

The Aggies are 5-1 with a 2-1 record in the SEC. They dropped to No. 14 in the coaches poll with their 48-31 loss to Mississippi State. The Rebels are 5-0 with a 2-0 conference record and moved up to No. 4 in the country with their win over Alabama. 

It is very unlikely that anyone will qualify for the SEC Championship Game with two losses in the west division. The game against the Rebels is a "must-win" for the Aggies if they want to remain in consideration for the College Football Playoffs in 2014. 

This is a look at how Texas A&M and Ole Miss match up with each other. 

 

 

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Cold Hard Fact for Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fact: Arizona's jump from unranked to No. 10 in the AP poll is the largest jump into the poll since it went to Top 25 in 1989. 

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

Source: Ralph D. Russo

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Rankings 2014: Twitter Reacts to AP and Amway Week 7 Polls

The college football season has reached the point where it is logical to question why we even have polls.

After all, if 11 of the supposed Top 25 teams in the AP Poll lose in one week, do we really know anything about where teams stand in relation to other ones?   

Week 6 brought a historically strange set of games, as five of the top eight-ranked teams in the AP Poll lost for the first time ever in a single week. In fact, the Nos. 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 teams in the AP Poll all lost.

Here is a look at the resulting carnage in the AP, Amway Coaches and Bleacher Report Top 25:

With all the chaos going on in the college football world, Marcus Hartman of Fox Sports Ohio and Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com pointed out the ironic part of Saturday's results:

Still, the upsets were incredible, regardless of how meaningful the polls actually are this season. ESPN Stats & Info, SportsCenter and Rachel Nichols of CNN noted just how unlikely all the games truly were in Week 6:

Filling out a Top 25 poll can't be easy after 11 of the ranked teams lose, but it is still noteworthy to see Oklahoma ahead of TCU and Oregon ahead of Arizona after the Horned Frogs and Wildcats pulled the respective upsets.

Ryan Ginn of Scout.com pointed out the backward logic:

Ginn wasn't the only person to acknowledge some of the discrepancies in the Amway rankings. Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman and Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports also commented on the recent polls:

That wasn't as much of an issue in the AP Poll, as Eric Seger of theozone.net said:

Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch pointed out just how drastic some of the movement was in the AP Poll after the upsets:

There has been some recent debate about which team should be rated No. 1 (just look at that spot on the Bleacher Report rankings), but Florida State's coach Jimbo Fisher had an answer for that, via Brendan Sonnone of the Orlando Sentinel: “Polls, we can’t control. All we can control is how we play. We just keep playing ball and we’ll be fine. Polls are for the polls and the voters. If we keep winning and doing what we do, we’ll be fine."

One team that doesn't have to worry about being ranked No. 1. is LSU, which lost in blowout fashion to Auburn Saturday. Ross Dellenger of The Advocate noted what that meant for the Tigers in relation to the polls:

Arash Markazi of ESPN had bad news for fans in the Los Angeles area and the Pac-12 in general:

Perhaps the best part of the new polls is looking forward to the next batch of games. Mandel was doing just that:

That showdown is sure to be the highlight of all the games on deck for Saturday, which isn't a surprise coming from the SEC West. 

With highly ranked teams in Auburn, Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Texas A&M and the typically strong LSU, the only worry now from that division has to be that everyone will beat each other. That could have a trickle-down impact when it comes to the College Football Playoff, as other conference champions gradually move up the polls.

One thing is for sure, though: No position is safe in the AP or Amway Polls if we see any more weeks like we just did.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

NCAA Football Rankings 2014: Hits and Misses from Week 6

A wild Week 6 of the 2014 college football season is over, as folks all across the country ask themselves if what they saw Saturday was real life.

In fact, it was real, and voters everywhere now have to put together a top 25. Martin Rickman of Sports Illustrated has an early preview of what this might look like

As is customary every Sunday, The Associated Press and USA Today released their new Top 25 polls. You can also check out the latest Bleacher Report Top 25 for comparison.

I must let you know ahead of time that everyone who turned in a ballot was in panic mode, so black is bound to be white, up will be down, etc., etc. 

So which teams were appropriately ranked in the latest Top 25 polls? Which ones weren't? The answers are in the following slides.

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AP College Football Poll 2014: Complete Week 7 Rankings Released

Pure, unadulterated anarchy. And Katy Perry. If asked to describe Week 6 of the 2014 college football season, the discussion pretty much begins and ends there.

Four of the nation's top six teams are gone. Five of the top eight. In their place is the rise of Mississippi, the restoration of the national spotlight on one of the nation's biggest powers and the nation's two best teams from 2013 moving on unscathed as the world burns beneath them.   

Florida State earned its first relaxing victory over an FBS opponent (Wake Forest) to make it a school-record 21 straight wins and stay at No. 1. With a nationally televised obliteration of LSU, Auburn re-ascends to its 2013 perch at No. 2. Looking at the remainder of the Associated Press Top 25—and Bleacher Report's iteration—a very clear picture of a college football world turned upside down begins to show:

Let's start in Eugene, where former No. 2 Oregon gave fans a preview of what was to come. Hamstrung by a depleted offensive line and a defense that could not get stops when it needed, the Ducks became the first upset victim in a 31-24 loss to Arizona. Terris Jones-Grigsby finished off a 15-play, 71-yard scoring drive with just under three minutes remaining and Oregon's drive stalled when Marcus Mariota was strip-sacked deep inside his own territory as the Wildcats upset the Ducks for the second straight season.

Freshman Anu Solomon threw for 287 yards and a touchdown, while Jones-Grigsby and Nick Wilson combined for 207 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Under head coach Rich Rodriguez, Arizona is 5-0 for the first time since the height of the boy band era.

"Last year it was really heartwarming because it was the seniors' last home game and it was improbable, of course," Rodriguez told reporters after the game. "This one, I don't know if anybody picked us. I don't know how many people were talking about us, but I bet you most of them weren't thinking this was going to happen, not on the road."

All the excitement in Eugene (or, more accurately, the despair) was less than 48 hours before the world realized that this is Mississippi's world. We're just living in it. First, in Starkville, Mississippi State sent its second straight shot across the bow at a Top 10 SEC opponent. Dak Prescott accounted for five touchdowns (two passing, three rushing) and 336 yards as the Bulldogs defeated Texas A&M, 48-31, in a game that was a much bigger blowout than the score indicates.

Prescott, who has ascended to Heisman favorite status, carved up the Aggies defense with a series of well-placed passes and grind-it-out runs. Tim Tebow comparisons were thrown out multiple times during the broadcast, both because Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen was Tebow's offensive coordinator at Florida and because Prescott's performance was at times Tebowian.

As Prescott was again burrowing his way into conversations nationwide, the thrill was being taken out of Kenny Hill (sorry). Hill threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns, but two garbage-time scores undersold the depths of his struggles. He threw three interceptions, two which came with the game was still in hand, and found no success down the field as Mississippi State forced him to beat them underneath.

“Little miscues here and there, stuff that is easy to fix,” Hill told reporters. “You all will see it. We’re going to get it fixed.”

The Bulldogs ascend to No. 3 with the win. They will have a chance to make it three straight victories against Top 10 opponents next week when Auburn visits. The Tigers' 41-7 thrashing of LSU helped stop the bleeding from all the upsets across the conference.

Of course, for bleeding to stop it has to begin. Which is where we head back to Mississippi. Oxford, specifically. Where the aforementioned Ms. Perry was swinging corn dogs, throwing Alabama headgear off Lee Corso's head and being the most important factor in Ole Miss' 23-17 upset of Alabama.

OK, maybe the latter point is an exaggeration. Perhaps we can credit Bo Wallace for his 251 yards and three touchdowns or the Rebels' defense for clamping down in the fourth quarter, most notably when Senquez Golson got one foot down on a Blake Sims interception to clinch the game. Ole Miss is 5-0 for the first time in more than five decades, per the Associated Press, with this win proving a seminal moment for Hugh Freeze's rebuilding effort.

With an affable charm and deft recruiting touch, Freeze took over his hometown team coming off a 2-10 season and led it to national prominence in three seasons. The Rebels coach has built his core around a suffocating defense and solid aerial attack led by Wallace, who avoided throwing an interception for the second time all season.

"He made some big-time plays," Freeze told reporters. "He just played so solid. On that last touchdown, that ball was right where it needed to be for us."

Speaking of big interceptions, Paul Dawson's 41-yard touchdown off an errant Trevor Knight throw was perhaps the biggest of the weekend. Dawson's return sparked an excellent defensive fourth quarter from TCU, which earned a 37-33 win over then-fourth-ranked Oklahoma. The Sooners and Horned Frogs engaged in an all-out shootout for the first 45 minutes, with both teams putting up 31 points and picking up yards in large chunks.

Dawson's pick ground that to a halt. Both teams strapped up defensively and gave their offenses a chance to win the game, but TCU stopped Samaje Perine on 4th-and-1 for no gain just outside the red zone to halt the Sooners' last good chance of taking control. Oklahoma's final drive ended with a failed Hail Mary that Knight threw out of the end zone.

"This isn't the defining moment of our season. There's a lot of football left," Knight told reporters. "Who knows what's down the road. It's early in the season, a one-loss team can still make it."

On the non-upset front, Everett Golson threw a touchdown pass with 1:01 remaining to give Notre Dame a 17-14 win over Stanford. The Irish host North Carolina next week before their season-defining showdown with Florida State in Tallahassee on Oct. 18.

In East Lansing, Notre Dame rival Michigan State narrowly avoided squandering its 24-point fourth-quarter lead to beat Nebraska 27-22. The Cornhuskers scored the game's final 19 points and had a potential winning drive stall out at the Spartans 37. 

The swings were so big, so consuming that you could've been forgiven for being too exhausted to watch a Utah-UCLA game that got a 10:30 p.m. ET start and promised to end the day with a whimper. 

Welp.

A Tevin Carter pick-six in the first quarter instead set the tone for a perfect capper to a crazy Saturday, as the Utes went into Pasadena and earned a 30-28 upset. Devontae Booker rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown as the Utes pounded the ball 55 times on the ground to control the game's pace. Their game-winning drive, which culminated in a 29-yard Andy Phillips field goal, did not feature a single passing play.

"When you rush for 242 yards against the talent that UCLA has in the front seven, you've done some good work," Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham told reporters.

UCLA's defeat was a long time coming for a team that had lived dangerously all season. Four of the Bruins' five games so far have been decided by one score, with Brett Hundley and Co. somehow finding a way to overcome the previous three times.

In all there were five ranked teams that lost to unranked opponents. BYU, USC and Wisconsin each went down against conference foes. 

The Cougars, Trojans and Badgers lead the quartet of teams ousted from the Top 25. The other joining the club is LSU, which has dropped its first two SEC contests. Taking their places are Arizona, Arizona State, Georgia Tech and Utah. 

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Rankings 2014: Week 7 AP and Amway Standings Revealed

It was a bad week to be a ranked team in college football.

With 11 teams in the Top 25 polls taking a loss in Week 6, the college football rankings heading into Week 7 have been shaken to their core. When top programs like Oregon, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and others fall this early in the season, the turnover in the rankings is huge news.

This was the wildest week of the 2014 season.

Here are the full Amway coaches, Associated Press and Bleacher Report Top 25 polls and a breakdown of Week 6 of the college football season.

 

Breaking Down Week 6

If you missed Saturday’s action, you missed one of the most unpredictable weeks in recent college football memory.

While the Florida State Seminoles were able to win their game against Wake Forest, the majority of the Top 10 teams surrounding them in the standings lost. The biggest surprise was the formerly No. 2 Oregon Ducks falling to the Arizona Wildcats, 31-24, on Thursday night.

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguezspoke to reporters about the underdog win:

Last year it was really heartwarming because it was the seniors' last home game and it was improbable, of course. This one, I don't know if anybody picked us. I don't know how many people were talking about us, but I bet you most of them weren't thinking this was going to happen, not on the road.

Fans should have known the week was going to be wild following Oregon’s stunning loss.

The Top 10 defeats didn’t stop with the Ducks, though. With Alabama falling to Ole Miss, Oklahoma losing a thriller to TCU, Texas A&M blown out by Mississippi State and UCLA stunned by Utah, there was no question that Saturday’s results would rock the rankings.

Ranked teams like BYU, Stanford, Nebraska, LSU, USC and Wisconsin also lost in Week 6.

Brett Edgerton of ESPN.com pointed out just how rare this many ranked teams falling in one week is for college football:

Losses for the aforementioned programs were devastating, but they have opened the door for underappreciated teams. With Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Notre Dame and Michigan State beating their ranked foes and proving their worth as Top 10 programs, it was intriguing to see the shakeup toward the top of the polls.

One of the most impressive wins was Auburn’s victory over LSU, 41-7. LSU was ranked in the Top 15 coming into Saturday’s game, but the team was completely destroyed by Auburn, allowing 566 total yards. If the Tigers weren’t considered serious national championship contenders before, the lopsided win over LSU is all the proof the team needed.

While the Baylor Bears were able to pull out a hard-fought win over Texas, the sluggish performance from Baylor’s high-powered offense should raise some concerns for the team. The Bears are still a viable championship threat, but how the team bounces back against TCU next Saturday will determine if Baylor is a contender or a pretender.

Other ranked teams, like Georgia, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, East Carolina and Kansas State, all managed to take advantage of favorable matchups, but the focus will continue to be on the elite programs that were unable to walk out of Week 6 with a victory.

In case you forgot why you love college football, this week’s schedule of games was the perfect reminder.  

 

*Stats via ESPN.com.

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Goal Post from Alabama-Ole Miss Game Ends Up in Rebels Fan's Apartment

Fans in the Southeastern Conference don't typically rush the field/court, but when they do, they make it memorable.

No. 11 Ole Miss upset No. 3 Alabama on Saturday, 23-17. A win of that magnitude was reason enough for Rebels fans to rush the field. Ole Miss fans proceeded to show why most schools protect the goal posts after a huge win or upset.

Rebels fans took down the goal post at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Then, some fans figured out a way to get the goal post out of the stadium and took it around campus.

Finally, the goal post made it into somebody's apartment.

Even the Ole Miss athletic director wanted in on the fun.

At that point, you can't even be mad at these fans for taking the goal post. You just have to be impressed that they were able to get it into an apartment.

[Twitter, Instagram; h/t SB Nation]

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Auburn Is the Best Team in the Country and Deserves to Be Ranked No. 1

Week 6 will go down as one of the craziest weeks in college football history, with 11 of the Associated Press Top 25 suffering losses, including previous No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma. 

The two teams that battled it out for a full 60 minutes for last season's national championship remain standing.

Florida State topped Wake Forest 43-3 on Saturday to run its record to 5-0, while Auburn obliterated then-No. 15 LSU 41-7 on Saturday night in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated to match the Noles' record. It should come as no surprise that the Seminoles and Tigers are ranked in the top two spots in the new Amway Coaches Poll and AP Top 25.

The order, however, should be reversed—as it is in the new B/R Top 25.

Auburn has proven this year that it not only is the same team as it was last year, but that it has improved by leaps and bounds. The offense has picked up right where it left off, with running back Cameron Artis-Payne stepping in for Heisman finalist Tre Mason and promptly topping the century mark in four of Auburn's five games. 

Quarterback Nick Marshall has replicated his success on the ground and has shown more touch on his passes—particularly over the last three games in which he has tossed seven touchdowns and only one interception. On Saturday, Marshall completed 14 of 22 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns, spreading the ball around to seven different receivers. This was in addition to the 119 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

"Nick played very well," head coach Gus Malzahn said after the game. "He threw the ball well and made some very good runs, and decisions on the read zone. Nick played like one of the better quarterbacks in the entire country."

New wide receiver Duke Williams has joined veteran Sammie Coates to create one of the most dangerous wide receiver one-two punches in the nation.

What stands out with this Auburn team, though, is the defense.

The Tigers currently rank 14th in the nation in total defense (306.6 YPG), 13th in yards per play (4.58) and 13th in rush defense (100.20). This despite opening the season against Arkansas—the seventh-best rushing attack in the country (316.6 YPG). The Tigers have held three opponents—San Jose State, Kansas State and Louisiana Tech—to under 3.2 yards per rushing attempt, and held LSU to 3.83 yards per rushing attempt on Saturday night.

"We know LSU is mostly a run team so we tried to stop that," said defensive tackle Montravius Adams in player quotes released by Auburn. "Whenever we stopped the run they would have to throw the ball and we stopped that too. We played a complete defensive game and that's what we wanted to do."

They've done it.

Meanwhile, the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles were inconsistent yet again.

Sure, the 43-3 score makes it look like the 'Noles dominated Wake Forest, but it took a while. It was just 13-3 at halftime, and quarterback Jameis Winston—the reigning Heisman Trophy winner—wasn't as crisp as he has been against other teams, as Bud Elliot of TomahawkNation.com pointed out.

His stats were certainly good—22-of-39 for 297, one touchdown and one interception—but he's asked to do different things than Marshall.

Florida State boasts the ACC's second-worst rushing attack (133.2 YPG), have allowed the third-most sacks in the conference (13) and allowed opponents to convert 43.21 percent of their third-down conversions—93rd in the nation.

The Seminoles are getting credit for beating Auburn in last season's national championship game, which is a big reason why they've retained the No. 1 spot in the rankings. Since that game —a 34-31 nail-biter in which Florida State scored the game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds left—Florida State has proven that it is one of the best teams in the country, but not the best.

It's struggling to find a running game, the offensive line has issues, Winston hasn't been himself and the defense has proven to be a middle-of-the-pack unit in the ACC (347.8 YPG). Florida State has regressed. Not to a point where it should be out of the top four, but certainly enough to knock it from the No. 1 spot based on this season's body of work.

Auburn has progressed.

The offense has been able to replicate last season's success and added a new dimension with Williams, and the defense has taken a giant leap forward.

Florida State was the best team last year, but last year is history. Auburn has proven that it deserves the No. 1 ranking this year for its work this year, with the Noles battling it out with Baylor, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and others for the No. 2 spot.

It should be no contest.

 

Barrett Sallee is the Lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Connor Halliday Is the Best College Football Quarterback No One Is Talking About

The annual off-the-radar picks for the best college quarterbacks usually involve someone outside the power-five conferences, like Chuckie Keeton at Utah State or Taysom Hill at BYU. (Both quarterbacks, incidentally, are out for the year with injuries. That should detract from much-deserved hype, however.) 

But the quarterback who isn't getting the level of national attention he deserves is Washington State's Connor Halliday. 

That's not to say that Halliday is an unknown player—he's a redshirt senior with 25 career starts—but he's been overshadowed by counterparts in his own conference. 

When pundits talk about the best quarterbacks in the country, the usual names include Oregon's Marcus Mariota, Florida State's Jameis Winston, UCLA's Brett Hundley and Baylor's Bryce Petty. So it's no wonder that Halliday's name comes up less often in that discussion. He's not even considered the top guy in his own league. 

It's time for Halliday to at least enter that discussion. 

In a 60-59 loss to Cal—more on that later—Halliday broke an NCAA record with 734 passing yards in addition to six touchdowns and no interceptions. 

Yes, Washington State's offense relies on the pass almost exclusively. Roughly 75 percent of the Cougars' plays come through the air. Therefore, there's a large degree of truth that Halliday's stats—3,052 yards and 26 touchdowns, and even seven interceptions, through six games—are inflated because of the offense in which he operates.

And yes, Cal's defense is still porous, giving up an average of 40 points per game. All of the passing defenses Halliday has played, in fact, have been bad. 

Halliday is going to get the "system quarterback" label, even though every coach ever has put players in positions that play to their strengths and philosophies. Ultimately, though, Halliday has to go out and execute. So far, he's done just that, and he's been visibly sharper than a year ago. 

The knocks on Halliday about playing in the Air Raid against weak defenses are just a couple of the things that inherently work against him, yet aren't really in his control.

Let's start with the one thing Halliday at least plays a part in: Washington State's 2-4 record. Wins and losses are team efforts, and Halliday contributes, for better or worse, to a team that doesn't have a winning record. 

At the same time, it's hard to pin Saturday's loss to Cal on Halliday, who, as Chantel Jennings of ESPN.com wrote, "did everything he could to get the Cougars the win." Washington State kicker Quentin Breshears missed a 19-yard go-ahead attempt in the final seconds of the game. 

“As a quarterback, you always want things in your hands,” Halliday said via Jennifer Chancellor of Cougfan.com. “I wish we would have taken one more shot in the end zone.” 

Washington State also typically plays late at night. Four of the Cougars' first six games have started at 10 p.m. ET or later. Three of those games have been on Pac-12 Networks, which not everyone gets. 

Put another way, Halliday isn't getting many favors as far as exposure is concerned. 

The senior quarterback has been excellent thus far, but for a variety of reasons, he hasn't garnered as many eyeballs as he should. 

Football has become a stats-happy sport that focuses heavily on quarterbacks. It's a wonder, then, that Halliday doesn't get more recognition since he perfectly fits the mold of what fans and media want. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. Stats courtesy of ESPN.com

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Connor Halliday Is the Best College Football Quarterback No One Is Talking About

The annual off-the-radar picks for the best college quarterbacks usually involve someone outside the power-five conferences, like Chuckie Keeton at Utah State or Taysom Hill at BYU...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Amway College Football Poll 2014: Complete Week 7 Rankings Released

There are weeks with upsets. There are weeks with some moving and shaking in the polls. And then there was this weekend.

This week was crazy. This week was unimaginable. This week was brilliant and fun and exhilarating (well, depending on your allegiances, that is). This week was one we'll never forget.     

Not surprisingly, the Amway Coaches Poll reflects the madness that was. Let's break down the poll and see if we can put this past weekend into perspective.

 

Poll

 

Analysis

Chaos. This week in college football was absolute chaos. Not surprisingly, this week's Coaches Poll reflects just that. 

Oregon? Lost. Alabama? Lost. Oklahoma? Lost. Texas A&M? Lost. UCLA? Lost. USC? Lost. BYU? Lost. Any semblance of sanity in the Top 25? Lost.

Some teams are sitting pretty, of course. After the weekend that was, Florida State should have some security atop the rankings. The Seminoles have beaten Oklahoma State and Clemson (with a backup quarterback), after all. One imagines the battle between who should be No. 1 throughout the season—Florida State and whichever SEC team is respectively atop the conference—will rage on.

Many other teams are left to contemplate their weaknesses, however. Is Oregon's offensive line good enough to keep the Ducks in the running for the playoff? Is Texas A&M's defense good enough to stop anyone? Can Oklahoma survive when Trevor Knight has to beat teams with his arm? Can Alabama rebound in the country's most stacked conference?

It won't be easy, because Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi are all legitimate contenders this season. The Ole Miss win over Alabama in particular shook things up in a major way.

“I don't know if this is the biggest win in program history,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze told Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com. “I can't measure it next to the Archie [Manning] years. We've got to put it in the trash tomorrow.”

Indeed they do, because the SEC West is basically the Wild West at this point. Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama and Texas A&M all have a legitimate chance to win the division and, in turn, the SEC as a whole. As Dan Wolken of USA Today wrote, you don't win championships by lingering on victories over Alabama, however huge the moment was:

Under normal circumstances, what happened here Saturday is something that should be savored, not put under any sort of 24-hour rule. You can argue whether beating Alabama—something the Rebels hadn’t done in the Nick Saban era—was the best win in modern program history or simply the best without someone named Manning at quarterback. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. Moments like this haven’t come often enough to be real picky about putting them in order.

But that’s the whole point for Ole Miss and Freeze, who will find themselves hovering around the nation’s top five this week. If there is going to be more to this season than one sun-splashed Saturday in The Grove, a visit from ESPN College GameDay and one glorious flooding of the field at Vaught-Hemingway, it’s time to get serious because the big goals are suddenly very real and the road to reach them just as daunting as ever.

It's hard to imagine there won't be at least one playoff team from the SEC West. If Ole Miss wants to be in that conversation, it indeed better put this one in the trash.

Of course, it isn't the only team that wants to put this past week in the trash. Ole Miss is just one of the few that is trying to forget so it stays focused on the future, and not trying to forget because the past is a bit too painful. 

Oregon, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC and BYU can attest to that.

 

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ESPN College GameDay Headed to Starkville for Mississippi State vs Auburn Week 7

You're up, Starkville.

One week after watching Ole Miss upset Alabama, the ESPN College GameDay crew is making a short trip south to watch another undefeated team from Mississippi (Mississippi State) take on an undefeated team from Alabama (Auburn) in a game with considerable SEC West and College Football Playoff implications.

The show's Twitter account announced the news Sunday morning:

Auburn and Mississippi State are tied atop the SEC West with 5-0 overall records and 2-0 records in conference play. Both are coming off convincing wins over division rivals: Auburn's a 41-7 win over LSU, Mississippi State's a 48-31 win over Texas A&M. In my prediction of the Week 7 Associated Press Poll (which will come out Sunday afternoon), I had them ranked No. 2 and No. 5 in the country, respectively.

All of this makes Starkville an obvious choice to host GameDay, despite the crew having just visited the state of Mississippi this week. If it ain't broke, don't fix it…right?

Auburn beat Mississippi State in Week 3 last season, setting the stage for its miraculous national-title run with a wild 24-20 win. The Tigers trailed until the final 10 seconds of the game, at which point Nick Marshall found tight end C.J. Uzomah for the game-winning touchdown pass. It was the first of three miracles that would happen in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Earlier in the game, Marshall did something even crazier:

With that loss fresh in its mind, Mississippi State will not spend a long time celebrating last week's win. Especially now that it's considered a national title contender—and rightfully so—Dan Mullen's team is ready to seek revenge on the Tigers for last year's disappointment.

"It's Auburn time now," said offensive guard Ben Beckwith after the Texas A&M game, per Mike Herndon of AL.com. "We're going to go out and celebrate with our fans tonight, our student body, and we're going to be safe, but Sunday starts Auburn week."

The game many though would host GameDay this week during the preseason, Oregon at UCLA, lost a ton of luster when the Ducks and Bruins both fell during Week 6. TCU at Baylor must have been an intriguing option after the Horned Frogs beat Oklahoma—especially since it would have meant a visit to Baylor's new stadium—but it is hard to find fault with heading to Starkville for a game as huge as this one.

It's a great time for football in the Magnolia State.

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NCAA Football Playoff 2014: Latest Predictions After Week 6 Standings

Things have changed.

After a week filled with upsets of the nation's top teams, it's hard to gauge which squads deserve to be in the second, third and fourth spots. The No. 1 Florida State Seminoles manhandled Wake Forest 43-3 on Saturday, but the teams chasing the 'Noles weren't as successful.

On Thursday, the No. 2 Oregon Ducks were stunned by the unranked Arizona Wildcats. The weekend brought more calamity as the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide were beaten by the No. 11 Ole Miss Rebels, and No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners fell to the No. 25 TCU Horned Frogs. 

It wasn't just the top-four teams that slipped. Some of the teams that could have stepped also dropped their games on Saturday. The No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies and No. 8 UCLA Bruins were upset.

What do we do now? Here's the way the top four should look now.

  1. Florida State Seminoles
  2. Auburn Tigers
  3. Ole Miss Rebels
  4. Baylor Bears

Here's a look at the current situation for the contenders.

 

Auburn is Back in the National Championship Picture

Quarterback Nick Marshall and the Auburn Tigers took advantage of the opportunity to rise in the rankings. Marshall sliced up the reeling LSU Tigers' defense for 326 total yards and four touchdowns on Saturday.

Auburn came in ranked fifth, but with every team besides No. 1 Florida State losing ahead of them, the Tigers are a lock to move into one of the top four spots.

 

The Rebels Have Earned Respect

Ole Miss' win over Alabama was huge for several reasons. It was a victory within the tough SEC West division. It came over Bama—a program Ole Miss hadn't beaten since 2003—and the Rebels proved they have a quarterback capable of rising to the occasion against an elite defense.

Coming into the game, Bo Wallace had thrown six interceptions. Against Alabama, he didn't turn the ball over once, and he led a big second-half comeback.

If Ole Miss wants to be a serious contender for a national title, Wallace must continue to take care of the ball.

 

Baylor or Notre Dame?

With the Texas A&M Aggies being upset by the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Saturday, the Baylor Bears are in position to step up right behind Auburn. 

Behind a strong running game and a stifling defense, Baylor smashed the Texas Longhorns 28-7.

Baylor has yet to face a ranked opponent, but that will change when Bryce Petty and Co. take on TCU in Week 7. For the time being, voters may keep the Bears out of the top four because of their weak schedule.

The run against non-ranked opposition will end soon. The Bears face the Horned Frogs next week. A win would solidify a spot in the top four.

Not many expected the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to be in the running for the national championship this year, but behind Everett Golson, the Golden Domers are close to the top of the rankings. Saturday's win over the Stanford Cardinal was the biggest of the season for Notre Dame.

Golson wasn't his sharpest against Stanford, as she threw a pick and completed just 46.5 percent of his passes, but he did come up with the game-winning touchdown pass with just over a minute remaining in the game.

Notre Dame should remain outside of the top four for now, but the Irish are simply waiting on their big chance against Florida State on Oct. 18.

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NCAA Football Rankings 2014: Week 7 Standings for College's Top 25 Teams

No team was safe during a whirlwind college football slate that will force drastic ranking renovations heading into Week 7.

Something had to give during a huge Week 6 pitting several ranked schools against one another. Although the pecking order was sure to fluctuate regardless of the outcomes, several of those marquee matchups ended in upsets.

Of the top six squads, only Florida State and Auburn survived the weekend with undefeated records. Needless to say, those outcomes will produce a seismic shift in the upcoming polls.

Let's take a look at how all AP Top 25 teams fared over Week 6.

 

Winner: Florida State

A week ago, onlookers could have made a convincing case for Florida State deserving to lose the top spot after allowing 41 points to North Carolina State. The Seminoles' standing at No. 1, however, is no longer in dispute after a perfect week from their perspective.

Following a couple of imperfect victories, FSU finally played like a team befitting the nation's top ranking. A slumping defense shut down Wake Forest to a tune of 126 yards during a 43-3 blowout. 

To make matters better, the AP's No. 2, 3, 4 and 6 schools all suffered losses over the week. ESPN Stats & Info showed the rarity of so many prominent defeats.

Their conquerors, most notably Ole Miss and Mississippi State, will now represent some of the new top challengers, but nobody is catapulting from outside the top 10 to No. 1 overnight.

A perfect series of events gives Florida State much more breathing room atop the college football standings. It's not locked in stone, though. Notre Dame's comeback victory against Stanford sets up a monumental clash against the reigning champions in two weeks.

If the Seminoles knock off the Fighting Irish, they'll have no trouble punching a ticket to the College Football Playoff. For now, they'll retain the prestigious lead slot after dominating a team they were supposed to dominate.

 

Loser: Oregon

At least everyone else lost to fellow highly ranked opponents. Oregon, on the other hand, lost to Pac-12 rival Arizona for the second year in a row.

Marcus Mariota threw for 276 passing yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn't enough to upend the Wildcats. Now Oregon is once again on the verge of falling short of a championship.

"It doesn't feel good," Mariota told ESPN.com's Chantel Jennings after the loss. "We left a lot of points on the board, a lot of plays on the board. It's football." 

While Arizona improved to 5-0, the Pac-12's only undefeated squad, it came into Thursday night's game having faced nobody of much significance. The Wildcats had also obtained their last three victories by a combined 14 points.

The Ducks were on the Seminoles' tail after a 4-0 start that included a massive win over Michigan State. That all changed after falling short against Arizona. They can redeem themselves with a victory over UCLA next Saturday, but they'll need some help in order to snag a CFP bid.

 

Winner: Mississippi State

Two straight huge wins over top-10 opponents puts Mississippi State in the forefront of the SEC title discussion. A week after defeating LSU, the Bulldogs responded with a rousing 48-31 victory over Texas A&M, who entered the bout at No. 6.

In a battle of Heisman contenders under center, Dak Prescott delivered the more efficient performance at home. While Hill threw three interceptions and registered 5.9 yards per attempt, Prescott devoured the Aggies through the air and on the ground.

Mississippi State's offense isn't just a one-man show. Josh Robinson and Brandon Halloway combined for 183 rushing yards on 23 carries, highlighted by two Robinson scores.

ESPN Stats & Info also examined the Bulldogs' excellent defensive outing despite what the scoreboard suggests.

With another colossal victory under their belts, they're headed to a cushy top-10 ranking. They get no time to celebrate, however, as Auburn is next on the schedule. If Prescott and Co. escape with another victory on Saturday, they could easily warrant the No. 2 ranking heading into Week 8.

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