For complete results from the weekend in college football, check out Sports on Earth's scoreboard.
Sports on Earth Week 6 stories: Another Sparty party at the Big House | WMU beats Buffalo in 7-OT marathon | Late TD pass raises Canes past FSU | Cyclones storm to upset at Oklahoma | Horned Frogs have leg up on Big 12 | N.C. State packing a punch in ACC
1. Two teams drop from the ranks of undefeated playoff contenders.
Seventeen teams entered October with unbeaten records; 13 left Saturday with those perfect seasons still intact.
Two of the losses were not surprising, as Utah lost at home to Stanford 23-20 and UTSA lost to Southern Miss 31-29. Two others involved top-10 teams losing as heavy favorites on their home fields.
In the biggest surprise of the season, No. 3 Oklahoma was upset by Iowa State for the first time since 1990 and second time since 1961, falling 38-31 in a game in which it scored only seven points in the second half. Then, at night, No. 7 Michigan lost at home to Michigan State 14-10 in ugly weather with a five-turnover performance.
The Oklahoma defeat comes as the far bigger shocker. Had anyone said in the preseason that the Sooners would be 4-1 entering the Red River Rivalry game with Texas, it would have sounded entirely reasonable. After all, they traveled to Ohio State in Week 2. Nobody, however, predicted how Oklahoma would actually get to 4-1. The convincing win in Columbus was the best win anybody recorded in September; now, after getting pushed by winless Baylor, the Sooners lost as 30-point favorites to an Iowa State team that hasn't won more than three games in a season since 2012 and had to rely on two backup quarterbacks: Kyle Kempt, who threw for 343 yards and three TDs, and Joel Lanning, a QB-turned-linebacker who played both ways.
Oklahoma was No. 3, a clear playoff frontrunner with a Heisman candidate quarterback in Baker Mayfield, and that status has been muddled.
Michigan's in a different position, and in some respects, what happened at the Big House on Saturday night was forgivable: Starting QB Wilton Speight sat out with an injury. The weather was miserable. This is a young Wolverines team that was always going to inconsistent, no matter how much talent is on the roster. But even if a performance like this was inevitable at some point, that doesn't make it an easy loss to stomach for Michigan. Michigan State is young, too, coming off a 3-9 season, and the Wolverines spent most of the game giving gifts to the Spartans. They lost the turnover battle 5-0, and they lost to their in-state rival for the eighth time in 10 years.
The Wolverines probably were never capable of being a playoff team this year, given the youth movement, and now a struggling offense has to move forward against a schedule that still includes Penn State, Wisconsin and Ohio State.
Oklahoma is a different matter. The Sooners own that win at Ohio State. They have a star quarterback. They've made the playoff before with a loss to a team with a losing record, rallying to win seven in a row after losing to Texas in 2015. But the past two games against teams in the bottom half of the Big 12 have exposed holes in the Oklahoma defense, and this team still has to face an improving Texas in Dallas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State on the road, TCU and West Virginia at home and a possible Big 12 title game rematch with one of those teams.
After unexpcted losses, the margin for error is gone for both Michigan and Oklahoma, putting them on tightrope walks the rest of the way.
2. Miami and TCU earned Saturday's two biggest wins.
It didn't matter what Florida State's record on Saturday was. Miami's rivalry with the Seminoles is always important, and a trip to Tallahassee was always going to be the biggest game of the regular season for the Hurricanes. After seven years of losing to Jimbo Fisher -- including on a blocked PAT last year -- Miami finally got over the hump and took down FSU 24-20, answering the Seminoles' late go-ahead score with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Malik Rosier to Darrell Langham with just six seconds left.
The Canes have some lingering questions, but against a talented Florida State defense, they made big plays in the second half, led by Rosier, Langham, Braxton Berrios and Ahmmon Richards. They're 4-0 with two road ACC wins, and they have just two road trips -- struggling UNC and Pitt -- left, with Virginia Tech Georgia Tech and Notre Dame all slated to visit. Losses to the Noles have often turned into prolonged funks for the Canes. This time, Miami hopes to build off a dramatic win and extend what's a nine-game winning streak into an ACC Coastal title.
If Miami got the biggest psychological boost of the weekend, TCU got the most practical boost. The No. 8 Horned Frogs outlasted No. 23 West Virginia 31-24 behind Kenny Hill's variety of touchdowns -- one passing, one rushing, one receiving -- in the only game of the day between ranked teams. The game was already important because TCU announced itself as a Big 12 contender by winning at Oklahoma State two weeks ago. The game became even more important because Oklahoma's loss to Iowa State opened up an opportunity for the Horned Frogs to become the frontrunner in the Big 12. They did just that to move to 5-0, standing as the lone unbeaten team left in the conference and a clear playoff contender.
3. The three-team SEC is still a three-team SEC.
Alabama finally got some punches thrown its way in an SEC game. After beating Vanderbilt and Ole Miss by a combined score of 125-3, the Crimson Tide were tested on the road at Kyle Field by Texas A&M, escaping with a 27-19 win. The Tide led 24-3 for much of the third quarter, but the Aggies battled back with a touchdown and a safety -- although the latter came after a disheartening red-zone interception -- and held Bama to 355 total yards. It was the type of game that reminded us that Alabama won't play a perfect game every week. Nevertheless, Alabama never felt like it was in serious danger of actually losing, even if it did not win as convincingly as the top two challengers to its SEC throne: Auburn and Georgia.
No. 12 Auburn steamrolled Ole Miss 44-23, and it wasn't really that close. The Tigers led 35-3 at halftime and got 204 rushing yards from Kerryon Johnson. No. 5 Georgia also had no trouble at Vanderbilt, winning 45-14 behind big rushing performances from Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. It had already been clear that these three teams were rising above the rest of the SEC. Florida could boast about its 3-0 SEC record entering the week, but that undefeated mark is out the window after the Gators missed a third-quarter PAT and lost at home to LSU, 17-16, a week after LSU lost to Troy.
Alabama, Georgia and Auburn are a combined 9-0 in SEC play. They have won those games by a combined score of 413-86. The rest of October has intrigue -- Georgia vs. Florida, Auburn at LSU, Tennessee at Alabama -- but everybody's still waiting for a November that features Georgia-Auburn and Bama-Auburn.
4. We're anxiously awaiting November in the Pac-12 North, too.
As Iowa State-Oklahoma emphasized, surprises are capable of happening at any moment. Just when something in college football appears to be clear, an upset is bound to upend expectations. But it's hard not to look at the Pac-12 North and be excited about what's to come in November rather than the rest of October.
Washington and Washington State both stayed undefeated this week. The Huskies crushed California 38-7, moving to 3-0 in conference play with all their wins by at least 27. Washington State, which beat USC last week, went on the road and crushed Oregon (which was playing without QB Justin Herbert) 33-10 in another impressive defensive performance that swatted away any speculation about a possible letdown.
Then there's Stanford. The Cardinal lost to San Diego State and USC in September, but Bryce Love's big-play running has propelled them to wins over UCLA, Arizona State and now previously unbeaten Utah. There's a solid chance all will keep winning until November, when Stanford visits Washington on Nov. 4, Washington visits Stanford on Nov. 10 and Washington hosts Wazzu in the Apple Cup on Nov. 25. There may be some dull moments now, but it's shaping up to be an exciting finish.
5. Week 6 featured a seven-OT game, a record-setting performance and a two-way quarterback/linebacker.
A Saturday with only one ranked matchup became a memorable Saturday anyway, with fun rivalries going down to the wire (Michigan State over Michigan, LSU over Florida, Miami over Florida State) and, of course, the massive Iowa State upset of Oklahoma. It also featured its share of quirkiness.
The Joel Lanning story dominated the day early, even before Iowa State actually upset Oklahoma. Lanning moved from quarterback to linebacker this season and has shined, but with starter Jacob Park taking a leave of absence, Lanning saw time on both sides of the ball, racking up eight tackles, a sack, a key fumble recovery, 25 passing yards and 35 rushing yards to support the superb effort of Kyle Kempt.
In the middle of the day, in a game hardly anybody was paying much attention to, Western Michigan and Buffalo set an FBS single-game record for points, because they tied the record for most overtimes played. The Broncos beat the Bulls 71-68 in the fourth seven-overtime game ever, a marathon MAC showdown that featured 15 more points (77) after regulation than during the 60 minutes of regulation (62).
Finally, Arizona held off Colorado 45-42 in a big Pac-12 South win for the Wildcats on the road. Starting quarterback Brandon Dawkins left the game with an injury on the first drive, and he was replaced by Khalil Tate. Tate's first run was a 58-yard touchdown. He ended up running for 327 yards on only 14 carries, including TDs of 58, 28, 47 and 75 yards. In doing so, Tate broke the single-game FBS quarterback rushing record set by NIU's Jordan Lynch, who had 27 carries for 321 yards in a 2013 game.