Welcome to the Week 7 edition of The Professor, a weekly wrap-up of everything you need to know about the weekend in the college football.

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You had to know it was coming. We didn't necessarily know who, what or when, but the 2013 college football season had gone long enough with the status quo staying relatively undisturbed at the top. This sport thrives on chaotic situations, on regularly reminding us that we don't actually know anything, yet many of our expectations were reinforced through six weeks.

But whereas Week 6 fell just short of providing landscape-shifting upsets of Stanford, Ohio State and Georgia, Week 7 followed through on delivering the first significant recalibration of the year. From the moments Chris Whaley returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown and Marcus Johnson caught a 59-yard touchdown from Case McCoy to give Texas a commanding early lead in the Red River Rivalry, Saturday had the feel of our first day of chaos -- chaos that touched four of the five major conferences, as the ACC waits for its big Clemson-Florida State moment next week.

So from Stanford-Utah to Michigan-Penn State, let's attempt to sort through the madness of the best Saturday of the season, so far, and figure out where we are heading into the second half of the season.


It's hard for a top-five team losing to an unranked team to fly under the radar, but Stanford's 27-21 loss at Utah did just that, as it wallowed in relative obscurity on Pac-12 Network as Penn State and Michigan missed field goals long into the night on ESPN. Oregon-Washington was supposed to be the week's most important Pac-12 game -- if not the most important game in the nation -- and while the Ducks' 45-24 win in Seattle was undeniably big, Stanford losing to unranked Utah is our first seismic shift.

Fresh off its own hard-fought win over Washington, Stanford traveled to a dangerous Utah team that pushed UCLA to the brink and had lost its two games to the Bruins and Oregon State by a total of 10 points. After throwing six costly interceptions against UCLA, Utah QB Travis Wilson settled down and threw for 234 yards, two TDs and a pick against the acclaimed and experienced Cardinal defense. The Utes were bound to trip up someone this season, but it was hard to imagine it would come against a Stanford team that was considered a prime national title contender thanks to its overwhelming physicality, stellar quarterback play from Kevin Hogan and coaching from David Shaw. Instead, despite the best efforts of wideout Ty Montgomery (eight catches for 131 yards, plus a 104-yard kick return for a touchdown), Stanford may be left to play nothing but spoiler for Oregon, again.

Because, unlike Stanford, Oregon certainly looks the part. The Ducks now have the one thing they didn't through the first month of the season: A win over an above-.500 team. Beatdowns of Virginia, Tennessee, California and Colorado were great and all, and scoring 55-plus points every game never stops being impressive. But against Washington, which has been one of the best defenses in the nation, Oregon walked into a hostile environment and won by three touchdowns, 45-24. The game was close into the fourth quarter, but Oregon dominated statistically, out-gaining the Huskies 631 to 376 and forcing two turnovers. That's what makes Oregon even scarier. The Ducks play great defense. They have NFL-caliber players, and the unit doesn't get nearly as much credit as it should, being overshadowed by the justifiably hyped offense.

Make no mistake, this is a complete Oregon team, and even shorthanded, without De'Anthony Thomas, we saw what it can do on the road against a very good Washington team. Stanford's loss to Utah altered the perception of the Thursday, Nov. 5, Cardinal-Ducks showdown at Stanford, but last year Stanford was the only team to slow down Oregon. It's still possible it can happen again. But for now Oregon is clearly ahead of the pack in a competitive Pac-12.

Big 12

Mack Brown may still be on the hot seat, but a win over Oklahoma moved Texas to 3-0 in the Big 12. (USA TODAY Sports)

No, beating Oklahoma isn't suddenly going to change Mack Brown's long-term outlook at Texas. But that doesn't mean Saturday's Red River Rivalry dominance wasn't impressive. After back-to-back embarrassments at the Cotton Bowl, Texas came out and destroyed just about every non-Baylor thought anyone could have about the Big 12, winning 36-20.

This really wasn't a fluke: Texas was just plain better. Of course, that may speak more to Oklahoma being a fraudulent 5-0 than the Longhorns suddenly being worthy of the preseason hype they received in some circles. But for one day at least, Texas played the way Texas is supposed to play. The defense bottled up the Sooners and held them to a miserable 263 total yards and two third-down conversions. The Texas running game controlled things, with Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown both rushing for 120 yards. And Case McCoy, minus a fourth-quarter pick-six, did what he had to do, highlighted by 59-yard and 38-yard touchdown passes. Believe it or not, Texas sits in a tie for first place in the Big 12 at 3-0 with Texas Tech, its two losses coming in nonconference play to Ole Miss and BYU.

Oklahoma's loss, however, leaves one obvious favorite to win the Big 12. For the first time this season, Baylor faced a challenge, and despite some missteps, the Bears passed their test by beating Kansas State 35-25 on the road. Maybe the close win, in which the Bears trailed entering the fourth quarter, will cause some to tap the breaks on the Baylor hype, but this may be what Baylor needed. The game proved the Bears and their high-powered offense are not infallible -- and neither is the defense, which gave up 199 rushing yards and three touchdowns to Wildcats QB Daniel Sams -- and it also proved they're capable of beating someone besides Kansas on the road in the Big 12.

Bill Snyder came out with an effective game plan that saw Kansas State play keepaway, holding the ball for 39:24 and allowing Baylor to run only 58 plays. And after thoroughly dictating the pace the first four games, it was good to see Baylor survive a challenge in which the tables are turned. They can go back to pure dominance the next two games against Kansas and Iowa State, setting up what's now a more confusing game against Oklahoma... and, down the road to end the season, a game that will still probably be Mack Brown's last regular season game at Texas.


After an early knee injury, Johnny Manziel returned to Heisman-like form to prevent an Ole Miss upset. (Getty Images)

Perhaps it was a trendy pick, after all Georgia's been through, but it didn't make Missouri going into Sanford Stadium and winning convincingly, 41-26, any less surprising. The Tigers are the most surprising unbeaten team in college football, and while they may not have beaten a Georgia team at full strength, that doesn't matter. All that really matters is a result that throws the SEC East into chaos.

The natural assumption after Georgia beat South Carolina -- and then beat LSU -- was that the Bulldogs would run away with the SEC East title and get their rematch with Alabama, but a devastating list of injuries combined with a loss to Missouri quickly broke everything open in what's now a four-team race, with 2-0 Missouri leading 3-1 South Carolina, Florida and Georgia. The Tigers will have to play without starting QB James Franklin, after he separated his shoulder in the second half, according to CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman, but they've already successfully wedged themselves into the race and paved the way for a wide-open race to the finish for a spot in Atlanta. Even if Missouri goes on to lose to Florida and South Carolina the next two weeks, a win at Georgia goes a long toward earning respect in the SEC after a lousy first year for Gary Pinkel's Tigers.

Missouri was nearly joined in pulling off a big SEC upset, but the SEC West managed to stick with chalk. Ole Miss desperately tried to reassert itself, to rebound from back-to-back losses to Alabama and Auburn by joining the Week 7 upset party against Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M. But, as usual against Manziel, it was not to be, and the Rebels face a 1-3 SEC record, effectively making them an afterthought with LSU next.

That's just what Manziel does, of course. After getting an early scare when he went down with a noncontact knee injury, Manziel returned to form, overcoming two turnovers to put up 468 total yards and lead the Aggies to a 10 points in the final few minutes to win 41-38 on a 33-yard Josh Lambo field goal as time expired. Manziel was electrifying, making a good Ole Miss defense look foolish at times to allow the Aggies to keep pace with LSU for second place in the West.

That's because LSU returned to previous Les Miles-era form by grinding out a 17-6 win with a dominant defensive effort against Florida's hapless offense. Jeremy Hill ran for 121 yards, while the defense sacked Tyler Murphy four times and held the Gators to 240 total yards. In a year in which LSU has the ability to win shootouts, its defense picked up the slack when it needed to in a matchup against a dominant Florida defense.

And so Texas A&M and LSU both kept themselves alive as long-shot national title contenders out of the West, while Georgia and Florida have abruptly fallen from the ranks, meaning this year's Cocktail Party could end up being played for a spot in the Outback Bowl.

Big Ten

Allen Robinson's acrobatic catches helped lead Penn State to a dramatic upset of Michigan. (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Ohio State already survived its two tests the last two weeks, edging Wisconsin and Northwestern heading into a bye week. So nothing that could happen on Saturday could actually impact the national title race, despite what Michigan's record said. Such is the state of the Big Ten. But Penn State taking down previously unbeaten Michigan managed to steal some of the spotlight away from Utah's upset of Stanford anyway.

It was weird; it was ugly; it went on for too long; it was still brilliant. A turnover fest turned into what appeared to be an easy Michigan win thanks to a dominant third quarter, but Penn State managed to turn its season around, after a loss to Indiana, on an unthinkable drive led by freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg that featured three circus catches, with the help of Allen Robinson, to cover 80 yards in five plays and under 30 seconds.  

Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons missed three of his seven field goal attempts, and Penn State's Sam Ficken had problems of his own, but ultimately Penn State played it more aggressively and won on a Bill Belton touchdown in the fourth overtime, 43-40.

In turn, we are no longer left wondering what exactly Michigan is after weeks of mystery. The Wolverines are 5-1, with a nice win over Notre Dame, two awfully close wins over Akron and UConn and a tough loss at Penn State. They are still contenders in a chaotic Legends Division, but after Wisconsin torched Northwestern 35-6, it appears clear who the two best teams in the league are at the moment. Despite early expectations to the contrary, Michigan isn't one of them. And with the tandem of Hackenberg and Robinson, Penn State will probably give someone else a scare before the Big Ten season is finished.

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With the help of Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina embarrassed Arkansas on Homecoming in Fayetteville. (USA TODAY Sports)

Grading the Weekend

A+: South Carolina. Yeah, so maybe this wasn't a good spot to pick an upset, as South Carolina cruised 52-7. Arkansas' first drive: seven plays, 64 yards, seven points. Arkansas' final 10 drives: 30 plays, 184 yards, 0 points. The amazing thing is the Razorbacks actually averaged more yards per play than the Gamecocks (6.7 to 6.0). The other amazing thing, of course, is that Arkansas ran only THIRTY-SEVEN plays, compared to South Carolina's 89. To compare: Last year, when Arkansas finished a terrible 4-8, it never ran fewer than 58 plays in a game. This should be nearly impossible. But QB Brandon Allen completed 4 of 12 passes for 30 yards, and all the Razorbacks could manage against the South Carolina defense was a couple big plays, while Gamecocks running back Mike Davis ran 19 times for 128 yards and a touchdown and QB Connor Shaw had four total touchdowns. Yes, Jadeveon Clowney played, and he played well, despite recording only one tackle. Please don't read into that number. It's hard to put up numbers as a defensive lineman when the other team runs 37 plays and voluntarily does things like this.

"I do feel badly for Arkansas," Steve Spurrier said. "That's no fun getting your butt beat at home, homecoming and all that."

A: Alabama. Alabama is supposed to mercilessly crush an opponent like Kentucky, and that's exactly what the Crimson Tide did despite some early miscues. After punting and fumbling twice on their first three drives, the Tide rattled off 24 second-quarter points en route to a 48-7 dismantling of the Wildcats. AJ McCarron threw for 359 yards and a touchdown, both T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake ran for 100-plus yards and two scores, and the Alabama defense held Kentucky to a miserable 170 total yards on only 52 plays. LSU and an Iron Bowl miracle are the only things that we can expect to stand in the way of an undefeated regular season for the Tide, who have won their five non-Texas A&M games by the total score of 184-26, even with some uncharacteristic ugliness involved.

A-: Michigan State. The Spartans scored points against an FBS team, and Indiana or not, it represents an unusual turn of events for a team that has played some of the most painful offensive football over the last two seasons. In a 42-28 win over the Hoosiers, Connor Cook completed 22 of 31 passes for 235 yards with two touchdowns and a pick, Jeremy Langford ran 23 times for 109 yards and three touchdowns and Delton Williams ran for 92 yards. The Spartans successfully controlled the clock, held the Hoosiers' up-tempo offense to 351 yards and didn't even have to score on defense or special teams to hit 42.

B+: Virginia Tech. Your 2013 Virginia Tech Hokies in a nutshell. They gained only 315 total yards, and QB Logan Thomas was their leading rusher with 27 yards… but it didn't matter. The Hokies defense was so dominant in all facets of the game on Saturday that Pittsburgh never stood a chance, as Virginia Tech won 19-9, with Pitt scoring its only touchdown with two minutes left. The Panthers managed 3.8 yards per play on offense, as Virginia Tech's outstanding defense racked up eight sacks, led by three from Dadi Nicolas and two from Derrick Hopkins. The Hokies didn't even force a turnover; they just flat-out controlled the line of scrimmage and dominated the game. When the offense takes care of the ball, and when Cody Journell makes four of his five field goal attempts, the formula can work, however boring it may be.

B: UCLA. They breezed through a quiet second half, and the outcome was never really in doubt for the Bruins in a 37-10 win over Cal. Brett Hundley was great, again, while perhaps most impressively, UCLA shut down the Golden Bears' offense, holding them to just four yards per play. Not all was perfect, as UCLA was penalized nine times and couldn't run the ball, but RB Jordon James missed the game with an ankle injury, and really all UCLA needed to do was survive and get to next week. Like Washington, the Bruins somehow got stuck with back-to-back games against Stanford and Oregon, but unlike Washington, both are on the road. Despite the brutal finish to October, UCLA still has a chance to hit the 10-win mark.

B-: Texas Tech. Congratulations, Texas Tech, you are the most anonymous undefeated team left in college football. Playing a one-win Iowa State team at home, the Red Raiders and Cyclones traded scores most of the game, with Texas Tech holding on for a 42-35 to move to 6-0 under Kliff Kingsbury. With QB Baker Mayfield (knee) out, fellow true freshman Davis Webb -- who was more highly regarded than the walk-on Mayfield out of high school -- started and, naturally in this offense, threw for 415 yards and three touchdowns, completing 35 of 56 attempts. It's actually kind of amazing that this was a one-score game: The Red Raiders out-gained the Cyclones 666-311 and doubled their first-down total 36 to 18, but Iowa State ran a kick back for a touchdown and won the turnover battle 3-0. Of course, this 6-0 start is misleading. The Red Raiders are undefeated in the Big 12, having beaten Kansas, Iowa State and a mediocre TCU. Things will certainly get more interesting in the second half of the season.

C+: Louisville. The Cardinals continue to be nearly impossible to talk about and evaluate because of their unbelievably weak schedule, but at least on Thursday they finally played a team with a pulse in Rutgers. Yes, their 24-10 win was somewhat sloppy, and Teddy Bridgewater wasn't sharp. But he still completed 21 of 31 passes for 310 yards with two touchdowns and a pick, and Louisville's defense held Rutgers to 240 total yards and intercepted four Gary Nova passes. If an off night for Louisville still results in a two-touchdown win with a dominant defensive performance, then the Cardinals are probably in decent shape. Style points matter, but unless every major team finishes with two losses, they never really had a good chance at the BCS title game anyway. Next Friday's showdown with UCF may be the biggest game of the American Athletic Conference season and should be the biggest obstacle between the Cardinals and an undefeated season.

C: Northern Illinois. Still quietly undefeated, joining Fresno State as the only non-AQ schools without a loss, Northern Illinois hasn't exactly made it look easy. Sure, Akron nearly beat Michigan, but the Zips are now 1-6, with their only win a two-point escape against James Madison. So Saturday's 27-20 win over Akron wasn't exactly impressive, but the Huskies did what they needed to do to extend their home winning streak to 23 despite a shaky outing from Jordan Lynch, who completed only 16 of 35 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown, with 83 rushing yards and another score. The Huskies are 6-0 with two wins over Big Ten teams (Iowa and Purdue), and we're still a month away from a full-blown MACtion opportunity when they host Ball State on Wednesday, Nov. 13.

C-: Clemson. Clemson just won't let Clemsoning die. Almost. Almost. In the most obvious case of looking ahead imaginable, with Florida State coming to town next week, Clemson failed to score a touchdown until eight minutes into the third quarter before beating Boston College 24-14. The Tigers trailed 7-3 at halftime, and when Tajh Boyd finally connected with Sammy Watkins for a 48-yard touchdown, Boston College answered a few seconds later with a 69-yard touchdown from Chase Rettig to Alex Amidon. But, ultimately, Clemson's defense was too much to handle, minus a couple big plays by the Eagles. Vic Beasley returned a fumble 13 yards for a touchdown to seal it, and Clemson survives to take a 6-0 record into the biggest ACC game in years.

D+: Mississippi State. To be fair, Bowling Green is a solid team with a pretty good defense, but winning 21-20 at home against a MAC team is never a good look for an SEC team, especially considering the Falcons lost 42-10 at Indiana. The Bulldogs rotated quarterbacks, with Tyler Russell completing 12 of 14 passes for 102 yards and Dak Prescott throwing for 75 yards and rushing 15 times for 139 yards and two touchowns, including a 75-yarder. Mississippi State is now 3-3, but with South Carolina, Texas A&M, Alabama and Ole Miss all still left, it's going to take a surprise win to get to bowl eligibility.

D: USF 13, UConn 10. Somebody was forced to win this game, and the result is that South Florida is now, somehow, 2-0 in the American despite not scoring an offensive touchdown in either game. The Bulls beat the winless Huskies 13-10 on Saturday, with quarterbacks Bobby Eveld (USF) and Tim Boyle (UConn) combining to complete 23 of 71 passes for 255 yards and an interception. USF's only touchdown was a 44-yard fumble return by Aaron Lynch; last week, in a surprising 26-20 win over Cincinnati, its only touchdowns were a blocked field goal and a fumble.

D-: Purdue. First, credit to Nebraska, which played a fine game in steamrolling the Boilermakers 44-7 in West Lafayette, again without Taylor Martinez. But wow did Darrell Hazell step into a hopeless situation, at least in the short-term. The Boilermakers, behind freshman QB Danny Etling, didn't score until he connected with DeAngelo Yancey for a 55-yard touchdown with 39 seconds left in the game, meaning they managed a total of 161 yards in the first 59:21. The Cornhuskers appear to be improving on defense, but remember that this is the Nebraska team that melted down in the second half against UCLA, gave up 602 yards to Wyoming and 202 rushing yards to South Dakota State's Zach Zenner.

F: Play-calling by Oklahoma and Michigan. Both teams deserved to lose to Texas and Penn State, respectively. Oklahoma offensive coordinator Josh Heupel simply didn't ask Blake Bell to run, even against a Texas defense that gave up 259 rushing yards to BYU QB Taysom Hill -- and four rushing touchdowns to Bell last season. To be fair, Bell is in a much different situation now as the starting quarterback instead of a short-yardage running QB, but for Oklahoma to run him only three times on designed runs seems inexcusable, especially when his limitations as a passer were so apparent. If he wasn't going to run, then at least have a package ready for backup Trevor Knight. Oklahoma was shockingly vanilla in the game, and now the Sooners will move forward with the quarterback questions blown wide open once again.

Michigan, meanwhile, was maddeningly conservative under Brady Hoke and coordinator Al Borges. Given the kicking game's struggles, perhaps in hindsight it's understandable, but the Wolverines chose to punt instead of try a 52-yard field goal up seven with about a minute left. Two plays later, Penn State got to the same spot where Michigan punted from anyway on its way to a game-tying touchdown. Then, in overtime, Hoke and Borges played for field goals, rushing nine times for 17 yards in four OT periods, despite the fact that starting running back Fitz Toussaint finished with 27 carries for 27 yards behind an offensive line (playing most of the game without All-America tackle Taylor Lewan) that generated little push. As Michigan played it conservatively, Bill O'Brien ultimately decided to go for the win, as Penn State converted a fourth-and-one instead of attempting another field goal, leading to the game-winning touchdown by Bill Belton.

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More Lessons Learned

Keep an eye on Tulane coach Curtis Johnson. If you want to find the small-school surprise of the season, look no further than Tulane. Johnson went 2-10 in his first year as head coach, but that was to be expected: Tulane hasn't finished with more than five wins since 2002. Somehow, he's already hit five wins by mid-October after beating conference heavyweight East Carolina 36-33 in three overtimes (despite the best efforts of Pirates receiver Justin Hardy, who caught 17 passes for 230 yards). In a messy Conference USA, Tulane sits tied atop the West with Rice, and Johnson, the 51-year-old former Saints receivers coach, could start working his way on to some coaching call lists.

USC isn't hopeless this season. Hey, at least the players will apparently play hard for Ed Orgeron.

"No disrespect to the coach who was here before and I'm not getting into that, but you want a coach that you will freaking just go to war for every time [like] this man here to my right," USC quarterback Cody Kessler said after Thursday's 38-31 win over Arizona. "I don't only speak for myself. I speak for the whole team. We would go to war for this guy any day of the week. Any time he needed us we have his back 100 percent. 

So there's your ringing endorsement of Lane Kiffin for the week. The Trojans posted 546 yards of offense, with Kessler averaging 9.9 yards per pass attempt thanks to two 60-yard passes in the first quarter. Obviously, USC still has a lot of problems, and replacing Kiffin with Orgeron on an interim basis isn't going to fix them. But the atmosphere surrounding the team has changed a bit, and if nothing else we know the Trojans do have enough talent to string together a few wins, even against a pretty tough schedule, starting with a trip to Notre Dame next Saturday.

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Marcus Mariota reasserted himself as a Heisman frontrunner against a talented Washington defense. (USA TODAY Sports)

Honor Roll: Week 7's Best Players

Reserved for performances against FBS teams.

1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon. Mariota has lived up to all expectations, maybe even surprassing them in his sophomore season. The Ducks finally played a .500 team, and Mariota dazzled against a Washington defense that entered the game ranked third nationally in yards per play allowed. Without injured RB De'Anthony Thomas, Mariota completed 24 of 31 passes for 366 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, and he ran 13 times for 88 yards and a touchdown.

2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M. There aren't many original words left to describe Manziel's performances. What's great is that, even with a loss to Alabama, Johnny Football has managed to drown out all the over-the-top noise of the offseason to prove that he's still the same great player, still the same great Heisman candidate. In the 41-38 win at Ole Miss, Manziel completed 31 of 39 passes for 346 yards and ran 19 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns, and while he turned the ball over twice, he ultimately put his team in position to win, despite going down early in the game with a knee injury. Somehow, in one and a half seasons as starter he has set the FBS record for 300/100 games with four.

3. Terry Baggett, RB, Army. OK, it was against Eastern Michigan, which entered the game ranked 110th against the run and is frequently one of the worst teams in the country. But Baggett carried the Black Knights to their 50-25 win, with 304 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries, highlighted by a 96-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

4. Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State. Mannion has been putting up video-game numbers against a weak first-half schedule, and in Saturday night's 52-24 win at Washington State, he torched the Cougars defense. He completed 34 of 51 passes for 493 yards and four touchdowns (with one pick), finding Brandin Cooks again and again, 11 times for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Mannion has already thrown for more than 2,500 yards and 25 touchdowns in just six games, and Cooks has 63 catches.

5. L'Damian Washington, WR, Missouri. Dorial Green-Beckham is the more well-known name, but the senior Washington came through with big plays in the 41-26 upset win at Georgia. He finished with seven catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns, including a 17-yarder to give Missouri the lead in the second quarter, and a spectacular 40-yarder with a defender all over him on a trick play from fellow receiver Bud Sasser to kill Georgia's rally.

6. Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor; Daniel Sams, QB, Kansas State. Sams deserves recognition for executing Bill Snyder's plan to lull Baylor to sleep, as he ran 30 times for 199 yards and three touchdowns. But in a disappointing game for Baylor's offense in which Bryce Petty completed only 12 passes, Reese, again, made two of the biggest plays of the game. With the Bears trailing, he broke open to catch a 54-yard touchdown pass from Petty early in the fourth, helping him finish with five catches for 184 yards and two scores. This is after he already had a 93-yard touchdown in the second.

Nate Orchard's two sacks helped lead Utah to the season's biggest upset vs. Stanford. (Getty Images)

7. Nate Orchard, DE, Utah. Somebody from Utah needs to be on this list, so we'll go with Orchard, a junior end who finished with five tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles in the Utes' shocking 27-21 upset of Stanford.

8. David Fales, QB, San Jose State. The Spartans' star has been quiet early in the season, completing only 56 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and seven picks in five games after the departure of coach Mike MacIntyre to Colorado. However, he finally found his rhythm again in a 34-27 win over Colorado State. Fales completed 28 of 35 passes for 431 yards with three touchdowns and a pick, and he also added 33 rushing yards, putting him back on track after he led the nation with a 72.5-percent completion rate last season.

9. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin. Gordon continues to operate on another level as a big-play running back. In Wisconsin's 35-6 dismantling of a drained Northwestern team, he dealt the Wildcats an early dagger on a 71-yard touchdown to put the Badgers up 21-3, and he finished with 22 carries for 171 yards. His ability to effortlessly glide across the field makes him look sort of like Manziel as a runner.

10. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA. Cal's defense has been dreadful so far this season, opening the door for yet another impressive performance by the sophomore Hundley. In the Bruins' 37-10 win, Hundley completed 31 of 41 passes for 410 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.

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Week 8 Syllabus

1. Florida State at Clemson. The biggest ACC game in years. Both Florida State and Clemson have managed to avoid pulling a Florida State or a Clemson, meaning a showdown between undefeated teams with Heisman candidate quarterbacks, Jameis Winston and Tajh Boyd, remains intact for Saturday night in one of the best environments in the sport.

2. UCLA at Stanford. Stanford went ahead and knocked this one down a couple pegs thanks to its loss at Utah, but it's still a big game. One, the Cardinal need it to stay in the Pac-12 title race. Two, it would be a nice stepping stone for the Bruins after they lost to Stanford in back-to-back games last season.

3. Florida at Missouri. The Tigers are 6-0 after their impressive upset win at Georgia, but unfortunately they'll be moving forward without quarterback James Franklin. Missouri still has a lot of weapons, particularly in the running game, but they'll face their toughest test, by far, in Florida's defense, which may be the nation's best.

4. Auburn at Texas A&M. At 5-1, Auburn already has two more wins than it had all of last season, and the Tigers are well on their way to a solid bowl game again. But for as much as Gus Malzahn's squad looks like an entirely different team, Johnny Manziel always provides a unique, unstoppable test.

5. UCF at Louisville. Perhaps Louisville's best chance for a loss. UCF has a win at Penn State and a close loss to South Carolina, and QB Blake Bortles easily provides Louisville with its best quarterback challenge. Weird things often happen in Friday night games, so, hey, you never know.

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Contact me at matt.brown@sportsonearth.com and follow me on Twitter @MattBrownSoE.