Never taunt college football by saying there's a boring week. There are no meaningless weeks in November and there are no playoff locks with four weeks to play. (Well, not you, Alabama. We'll see you at the Peach Bowl.)
You wanted chaos? You got it -- sort of. We live in a world now where Ohio State not winning its division but making the College Football Playoff is now a very real possibility. So many teams lost that the CFP rankings will just be a jumble behind undefeated Alabama.
Down goes No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Washington, No. 8 Texas A&M and No. 9 Auburn. Setback Saturday marked the second time ever that Nos. 2, 3 and 4 lost on the same day in the regular season. The only other time it happened: Oct. 19, 1985, when No. 2 Michigan (with some quarterback named Jim Harbaugh) lost to No. 1 Iowa, No. 3 Oklahoma lost to Miami, and No. 4 Arkansas lost to Texas.
How wild was Saturday? One of the big winners was No. 6 Louisville, which trailed Wake Forest 12-10 entering the fourth quarter. The Cardinals scored 34 points for a Bobby Petrino Margin of Victory Special. Louisville can't get in over a one-loss Clemson, but could get a spot over a one- or two-loss Pac-12 champion.
How wild was Saturday? Penn State is now potentially in the driver's seat to play for the Big Ten Championship Game. If Penn State beats woeful Rutgers and really bad Michigan State plus Ohio State defeats Michigan State and Michigan, it's Penn State -- not the Buckeyes or Wolverines -- going to Indianapolis.
Good luck to the CFP committee figuring out Big Ten chaos.
If two-loss Wisconsin or two-loss Penn State wins the Big Ten, what do you do with one-loss Ohio State, which presumably will be ranked ahead of both teams yet lost to the Nittany Lions? Does the Big Ten get two teams in the playoff, or only one? And if so, which one? Ohio State would have wins over Oklahoma, Michigan and Wisconsin. The Badgers could actually win the Big Ten despite going 0-2 against Ohio State and Michigan.
And, oh by the way, don't forget Michigan, which could still win the Big Ten and make the CFP if it beats Ohio State and wins the conference championship game. That would give the Wolverines wins over Colorado, Ohio State and Wisconsin (twice). But is Michigan really going to win at Ohio State if it can't win at Iowa? Stay tuned.
Clemson is still positioned to potentially make the playoff as a one-loss ACC champion. The Tigers have three top-25 wins over Auburn (that one took a ding Saturday), Louisville and Florida State. But the Tigers have played with fire so much that it wouldn't be stunning if they somehow lost again vs. Wake Forest, South Carolina or in the ACC Championship Game.
Washington may still get invited as a one-loss Pac-12 champion. But the Huskies' schedule strength is shakier than other contenders. The Huskies are losing key defensive players (Joe Mathis and Azeem Victor) and still have to get past Arizona State, Washington State and the Pac-12 Championship Game, which could be a rematch against USC.
Remember, the CFP offers mulligans in November, unlike the Bowl Championship Series. Don't make the mistake of writing off Clemson, Michigan or Washington.
Instead, think of Saturday as the official start to the playoff debate. You know it's wild when Ohio State players, following their win at Maryland, started joyfully cheering when Pittsburgh knocked off Clemson -- and there were still two more upsets to go.
You know it's wild when Penn State coaches James Franklin feels compelled to tweet this, presumably so his players get the immediate message:
Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers, complete focus on Rutgers nothing else!— James Franklin (@coachjfranklin) November 13, 2016
Let the arguing begin. After weeks of stability with undefeated teams, the playoff race is about to get really loud in a hurry. You knew it would.
What we learned this week
1. Clemson played with fire too long. Deshaun Watson threw for an ACC-record 580 yards. But it was the same old story for the Tigers, who finally got burned. Watson threw three interceptions, including an ill-advised pick late that helped Pittsburgh rally from a 42-34 deficit. Clemson got burned again by its inability to run the ball (50 yards on 25 carries). Twice needing one yard, Wayne Gallman got stuffed on third and fourth downs to give Pitt the ball back with 58 seconds left for its game-winning drive.
But the most surprising development was seeing Clemson's defense allow 43 points and 4.5 yards per play. The Tigers had been giving up 15.7 points and 312.9 yards per game. Pitt quarterback Nate Peterman was brilliant with five touchdown passes. Clemson had allowed five touchdowns through the air all season before Saturday. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada called a great game and is going to be a head coach sooner rather than later. The Tigers are a talented team, but their defensive performance was startling enough to wonder if they might lose again before this season ends.
2. USC is the three-loss team no one wants to play.
Remember USC? The Trojans are rolling and enjoy the distinction of being the best three-loss team in America. After starting 1-3 with an embarrassing 52-6 loss to Alabama, USC has rolled off six straight wins. Clay Helton faced questions if he would even be around in 2017 despite just getting hired last year by former AD Pat Haden. USC players wanted Helton to be their coach and they've played like it since he got heavily criticized.
Since the slow start, USC made a quarterback change to terrific redshirt freshman Sam Darnold, who outplayed Heisman Trophy contender Jake Browning in a 26-13 victory over No. 4 Washington on Saturday night. Darnold: 23 of 33, 287 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions. Browning: 17 of 36, 259 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions. USC and Washington may play again at the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Huskies might want to hope happens to redeem this loss to the CFP committee. But it's a big assumption the Huskies could beat USC at a neutral site in three weeks after losing to them in Seattle.
3. Alabama clinches SEC West
How fitting: Georgia defensive back Maurice Smith, the player Nick Saban tried to block from leaving Alabama, got a pick-six vs. Auburn that clinched the SEC West for Alabama. It's just another part of The Process at Alabama. Auburn's woeful offensive performance takes a lot of juice out of the Iron Bowl. Alabama won the SEC West for the third straight year. That has happened only one other time -- Alabama from 1992-94.
Even better news for Alabama: Quarterback Jalen Hurts had a terrific passing game with 347 yards. How quickly Hurts develops as a passer is a key question for Alabama's national title hopes. Hurts became the first Alabama player to throw for 300 yards and rush for 100 in the same game. Yes, it was against Mississippi State, the 104th-rated pass defense. But if Hurts didn't do well throwing the ball today, that would have been cause for some concern. Instead, he got a very nice building block moving forward.
4. Say hello to the future at Ole Miss.
Lost in the hoopla of a remarkable day of football was Shea Patterson's debut for Ole Miss. When Chad Kelly was lost for the year with an injury, the Rebels decided to pull the redshirt off Patterson, who was one of the top high school quarterback recruits in the country.
Patterson threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns in his debut as the Rebels knocked off No. 8 Texas A&M 29-28 on the road. Not a bad start. You'll be hearing a lot about Patterson in the future.
5. Wild division races. There's Alabama and then everyone else when it comes to clinching divisions. Clemson and Virginia Tech could have wrapped up the ACC divisions on Saturday. You know about Clemson. Virginia Tech laid an egg at home with a 30-20 loss to Georgia Tech. The Hokies can still win the Coastal by beating Virginia on Nov. 26.
You know about the Big Ten East. In the West, Wisconsin moved closer to winning the division by thumping Illinois 48-3. (You know it's bad for Lovie Smith when Wisconsin scores 48 points on your defense.) The Badgers are tied with Nebraska at 5-2 but own the head-to-head edge. Wisconsin finishes with Purdue and Minnesota.
The Pac-12 North will likely come down to Washington at Washington State on Nov. 26. It's possible the Huskies could go from playoff contender to not even playing for the Pac-12 championship. Colorado is the Pac-12 South leader with one loss, and USC and Utah each have two. Utah plays at Colorado on Nov. 26.
The SEC East will be impacted by the makeup Florida-LSU game on Nov. 19. It's now in Baton Rouge instead of Gainesville as originally scheduled. If the Gators win, they get to be beaten by Alabama in Atlanta. If the Gators lose, Tennessee could beat Missouri and Vanderbilt and accept the honor of losing again to Alabama.
Meanwhile, we haven't totally forgotten about the Big 12. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia each have one loss. Oklahoma at West Virginia is a huge game on Nov. 19. One week later, Oklahoma State is at Oklahoma. Oklahoma State already has a win over West Virginia and would win a two-way tie with the Mountaineers.
Score of the Day
UNLV 69, Wyoming 66 in triple overtime. Besides the fact that it's a ridiculous score, the result could have New Year's Six bowl implications. Wyoming previously beat Boise State. Now they're tied in the Mountain West Mountain Division. If Wyoming loses once more and Boise State wins out, the Broncos win the division. Why does that matter? Boise State can't jump into a New Year's Six bowl ahead of Western Michigan without the Broncos winning their conference. There's a lot of money for Group of Five conferences riding on that golden ticket to a New Year's Six bowl.
Stat of the Day
Rutgers lost to Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State by a combined score of 185-0 this season. But hey, Rutgers did its job by giving the Big Ten some more TV eyeballs and a new recruiting area.
Quote of the Week
North Dakota State took to Twitter for a friendly reminder after Michigan's loss at Iowa. Michigan redecorated the pink visiting locker rooms, something the Bison didn't feel they needed to do.