The upsets have arrived.
Kansas made it two weeks in a row with an unranked team beating a top-10 team, when the Jayhawks knocked No. 6 Oklahoma out of the ranks of the unbeaten Saturday to snap an 18-game losing streak against the Sooners.
OU’s loss comes a week after then-No. 10 North Carolina lost to Virginia at home, and three days before the first College Football Playoff rankings are released. Before the Tar Heels were tripped up, there hadn’t been a top-10 loss to an unranked team since Week 1.
Kansas’ upset wasn’t as stunning of Virginia’s. These are not your older brother’s Jayhawks (6-2). Coach Lance Leipold has Kansas bowl eligible for the second year in a row. That’s only happened one other time in the history of the program.
“It’s time for me to start talking about how far we’ve come,” Leipold said.
In just three seasons in Lawrence, Leipold has turned around what was the worst Power Five program. The Jayhawks won 21 games from 2010-20.
Kansas’ next big win will be convincing Leipold, who won six Division III national titles as coach at Wisconsin-Whitewater and took Buffalo to three bowl games, to stay put. He should expect a call from Michigan State at the very least.
The funny thing is all the Michigan State message board posters fantasizing about the school hiring Urban Meyer should actually be pining for Leipold.
For Oklahoma (7-1), there were signs this could be coming. The Sooners’ defense has been shaky since Red River, but the offense had been good enough to mask the problems.
A sloppy performance opened the door to the upset and threw a twist into the Big 12 race, which now has a four-way tie for first and is the first Power Five conference to have no unbeaten teams left.
“No excuses,” Oklahoma coach Brent Venables said. “We didn’t do the things it takes to win a game — a tough, tight game. But KU did.”
Suddenly, the Kansas State-Texas game next week in Austin looks massive. Both the Wildcats and seventh-ranked Longhorns romped Saturday, but Texas’ offense was low-frills against BYU with quarterback Maalik Murphy starting for the injured Quinn Ewers.
It will also be interesting to see where the CFP selection committee ranks Texas relative to Oklahoma. The Sooners beat the Longhorns in a thriller, but it could be argued Texas has been more impressive overall, with that road victory against No. 9 Alabama at the top of the resume.
Texas also blew out Kansas, for whatever that’s worth.
Most of the other highly ranked teams romped Saturday. None more impressively than No. 8 Oregon.
Bo Nix and the Ducks were too much for No. 13 Utah, which has gamely stayed in the Pac-12 race despite been wracked by injuries.
“That’s a tough team, but so are we,” Oregon coach Dan Lanning said.
That’ll be another interesting call for the committee, too. No. 5 Washington beat the Ducks in a classic in Seattle. Still, a case could be made Oregon has been the better team overall.
No. 1 Georgia crushed Florida to begin what it hopes will be a closing stretch that re-asserts the two-time defending national champions’ dominance. The Bulldogs are up to 25 straight victories.
No. 2 Michigan was off, though the Wolverines are never out of the news these days.
No. 3 Ohio State pulled away in the fourth quarter against Wisconsin.
No. 4 Florida State had no issue with Wake Forest.
It wasn’t all easy. No. 5 Washington had its second-straight sloppy performance against a lower-tier Pac-12 and survived on the road against Stanford.
No. 10 Penn State looked hungover from its loss at Ohio State and needed a late TD and safety to hold off Indiana. The Nittany Lions will get a chance to re-write their story against No. 2 Michigan in a couple of weeks, but it’s hard to consider them a playoff contender at this point.
The line for serious playoff contenders for now is drawn at Alabama, which hosts No. 15 LSU next week in a game that could all but decide the SEC West.
Projecting the first CFP top six. Remember, the committee likes wins against teams in its rankings, which could hold back Georgia and Michigan a little.
1. Ohio State.
4. Florida State.
JUST ANOTHER ACC TEAM
North Carolina State beat Clemson in a game that was broadcast on the CW and that it wasn’t in the least bit surprising says all you need to know about the Tigers right now.
Since Dabo Swinney complained about how Clemson fans were getting spoiled and maybe the team needed to lose a few to empty out the bandwagon, the Tigers (4-4) have lost two straight.
Mission accomplished, coach. Clemson’s streak of 12 straight seasons with at least 10 wins is over.
“This is a really hurt football team and staff,” Swinney told reporters. “We pour a lot into trying to be our best, we pour a lot into trying to win. Right now, it’s not going our way.”
The autopsy is practically complete on the Dabo Dynasty. The offense went stale and even bringing in a splashy coordinator hire (Garrett Riley) didn’t fix it. Not enough work was done in the transfer portal to compensate for a few underachieving recruiting classes.
Nothing lasts forever.
The most-damning assessment of Clemson right now is the simple truth: The Tigers are just another middle of the pack Atlantic Coast Conference team.
AROUND THE COUNTRY: Oklahoma State’s Ollie Gordon II had 19 carries in Oklahoma State’s first three games. He’s run for over 100 yards in five straight since, including an eye-popping 553 on 54 carries in the last two games. The Sooners come to Stillwater next week for the last Big 12 Bedlam Game.
Northwestern knocked off Maryland to improve 4-4 and move into contention — yes, really — in the muddled Big Ten West. The Wildcats are a game behind a four-way tie for first between Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska, all 3-2. Give the Wildcats and interim coach David Braun credit for salvaging a season that seems doomed after the hazing scandal that led to the firing of Pat Fitzgerald. Braun, who had never been a head coach, is coaching his way into serious consideration.
Though Northwestern would be smart to check in on Tulane’s Willie Fritz. Coming off a Cotton Bowl victory last season, the 22nd-ranked Green Wave have won six straight and are tied for first in the American Athletic Conference. The 63-year-old Fritz is a lot like Leipold: A program-builder who has won at various levels. He’s earned a crack at a Power Five job.
Which will be the highest ranked team from outside the Power Five in the CFP rankings? Tulane should be in the running with unbeaten No. 19 Air Force, which beat Colorado State in the snow. No. 25 James Madison (8-0) of the Sun Belt remains unbeaten but ineligible for the postseason in its second transition year to the FBS, and therefore ineligible for the CFP rankings.
Miami won a second straight overtime game, this time against Virginia, which might be the best 2-6 team in the country. The Hurricanes (6-2) are bowl-eligible for the first time under second-year coach Mario Cristobal and this season would feel a lot different but for that Georgia Tech debacle. Miami is still in position to make noise in the ACC though with games against Florida State and No. 18 Louisville, which shut out No. 20 Duke, still to come.
Some teams that have quietly righted their seasons: Iowa State (5-3) is part of that four-way tie for first in the Big 12;Boston College (5-3) has won four straight games and is in good position to become bowl-eligible; UTSA has won four straight — all in conference — since getting QB Frank Harris healthy, and are tied for first in the American.
No. 24 USC snapped a two-game losing streak, beating Cal in very USC-fashion. The Trojans are technically still in the thick of the Pac-12 race, but what’s the chances this team can hold up against Washington and Oregon the next two weeks?
After getting handed one of the worst losses of his nine-year tenure at Pitt by No. 14 Notre Dame, coach Pat Narduzzi said this: “We lost a lot of good players last year. We thought we’d replace them and we obviously didn’t do a good job with that.” An X post of that quote got some notable engagement from several current Panthers’ players. Narduzzi later took to social media to point the finger at himself.