It was bound to happen. Every year there is that one week that defies the odds. Upsets come in bunches and throw a monkey wrench in the best laid plans.
Time will tell if Week 7 will earn that distinction. Teams with national title aspirations coming into the week may be able to look back and pinpoint just where everything unraveled.
UPSETTING TO SAY THE LEAST: A number of BCS champion hopefuls fell to the wayside this weekend and the ripple-effect will certainly be felt when the first BCS rankings come out next weekend. Starting in order of ranking and the biggest upset, then-No. 5 Stanford went into Salt Lake City but failed to leave with a victory, as Utah upended the Cardinal, 27-21. The problem for coach David Shaw's squad is that there was little room for error prior to the loss thanks to the way Oregon is rolling right now. With a stunning loss to the Utes, Stanford falls to third in the Pac-12 North Division behind Oregon and Oregon State. Not only is Stanford's FBS title hopes all but gone, but a conference crown and BCS bowl berth are fading away as well, especially with showdowns with UCLA, Oregon State and Oregon on the immediate horizon.
Georgia's shootout loss at now-third-ranked Clemson in the season opener was certainly forgivable and definitely understandable. Mark Richt's squad seemed to right the ship with big wins over South Carolina and LSU in September. However, October has painted a much different picture for the Bulldogs, who needed overtime to prevail over Tennessee, before getting beat by Missouri this past weekend at home, ending a 15-game home win streak. The team still has an opportunity to capture a divisional crown and play for the SEC championship, but its destiny is controlled by other teams now. Two losses on the year all but negates any chances of playing for a national title.
Finally, there were some unhappy campers in Happy Valley this past weekend as the Michigan Wolverines fell in a four-overtime shootout with Penn State, 43-40. The loss was the first on the season for Brady Hoke's squad, but one loss could be an abyss in the Big Ten, with Ohio State cruising toward the conference crown. The Wolverines get the Buckeyes in Ann Arbor in the regular- season finale, but they will have to run the table to that point for the game to have any significance beyond the conference title.
TIGERS ON THE SEC PROWL? It isn't South Carolina, Georgia or even Florida in the driver's seat in the SEC East. No, that distinction belongs to the Missouri Tigers. Gary Pinkel's Tigers joined the Top 25 last week and have shot up the national rankings (now 14th) thanks to their big road win at Georgia this past weekend.
Missouri's offensive balance is what stands out. The team is averaging just over 515 yards of total offense and can move the chains at will both on the ground (239.3 ypg) and through the air (276.3 ypg). Of course, quarterback James Franklin is a big part of the success in both areas. He left the Georgia game with a shoulder injury and may miss a game or so. That may be a problem for the Tigers this week, as a showdown in Columbia with the Florida Gators is only a few days away.
Still, Missouri proved something in Athens. Pinkel and the Tigers have put the rest of the SEC on notice with the big win.
"I just think we earned a little more respect," Pinkel said. "The respect level just went up a couple notches."
Still, not sure if that team in Tuscaloosa agrees.
CLOWNEY CONUNDRUM: South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney was universally regarded as the top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft heading into this season. A freak of nature at the defensive end position, the 6-foot-6, 275-pounder had a huge sophomore year in 2012, earning First-Team All-American honors, winning the Hendricks Award (top defensive end) and finishing sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting. An unstoppable force, Clowney won the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, finishing the campaign with 23.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks.
Well, a funny thing has happened on the way to the podium to shake hands with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to kick off the 2014 draft festivities. Clowney has seemed to forget what garnered him so much praise and attention. In fact, last week, Clowney's desire to play came into question when he decided he couldn't suit up for action despite being cleared to play.
Back in the lineup this weekend against Arkansas, Clowney was only marginally more productive than the week he was on the sidelines, finishing with just one stop in a 52-7 rout of the Razorbacks. Sure, Clowney is probably seeing much more attention with double and triple teams, but he has amassed just 13 total tackles and two sacks in five games in 2013.
After a month and a half of football, Clowney's lack of playmaking has probably cost him the No. 1 overall pick. What seems like a lackadaisical approach to his craft could cost him much more by season's end.
TOP PERFORMERS: Oregon State's Sean Mannion showed no signs of letting up, as he once again put up eye-popping stats with 493 yards and four TD passes in the Beavers' win over Washington State.
Other signal callers with big days included East Carolina Shane Carden (480 yards, 1 TD), San Jose State's David Fales (431 yards, 3 TDs), Texas Tech's Davis Webb (415 yards, 3 TDs), UCLA's Brett Hundley (410 yards, 3 TDs), UNLV's Caleb Herring (385 yards, 1 TD), Arkansas State's Adam Kennedy (375 yards, 4 TDs), Georgia State's Ronnie Bell (370 yards, 4 TDs), Oregon's Marcus Mariota (366 passing yards, 3 TDs; 88 rushing yards, 1 TD), Arizona's B.J. Denker (363 yards, 4 TDs), Alabama's AJ McCarron (359 yards, 1 TD), Troy's Corey Robinson (350 yards, 3 TDs), Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel (346 passing yards; 113 rushing yards, 2 TDs), Baylor's Bryce Petty (342 yards, 3 TD passes, 1 TD rushing), Clemson's Tahj Boyd (334 yards, 1 passing TD, 1 rushing TD), Ball State's Keith Wenning (305 yards, 4 TDs), Penn State's Christian Hackenberg (305 yards, 4 TDs) and Wyoming's Brett Smith (247 yards passing, 1 TD; 138 rushing yards, 2 TDs),
Army's Terry Baggett set the standard among running backs this week and was unstoppable in the Black Knights' drubbing of Eastern Michigan, rumbling for 304 yards and four touchdowns on just 18 carries.
Other backs with productive outings included Kansas State's Daniel Sams (199 yards, 3 TDs), Central Michigan's Saylor Lavallii (184 rushing yards, 1 receiving TD), Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon (172 yards, 1 TD), Washington's Bishop Sankey (167 yards, 2 TDs), Connecticut's Lyle McCombs (164 yards, 1 TD), UNLV's Tim Cornett (162 yards, 2 TDs), UAB's Jordan Howard (159 yards), Idaho's James Baker (150 yards, 2 TDs), Tulsa's Trey Watts (142 yards), Syracuse's Jerome Smith (140 yards, 1 TD), Texas State's Robert Lowe (140 yards, 1 TD), Mississippi State's Dak Prescott (139 yards, 2 TDs), North Texas' Brandon Byrd (139 yards, 1 TD), Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey (138 yards) and Auburn's Cameron Artis-Payne (133 yards, 1 TD) and Michigan State's Jeremy Langford (109 yards, 4 TDs).
East Carolina's Justin Hardy's big day went to waste as the Pirates fell in a shootout with Tulane. Still, Hardy did his best impression of a one-man-band, hauling in 17 balls for 230 yards.
SNEEK PEAK: The season is starting to heat up and Week 8 could prove pivotal in the big picture. Four Top 25 clashes are on the docket, starting with a Saturday afternoon clash between 22nd-ranked Florida and 14th-ranked Missouri in Columbia. Staying in the SEC, 24th-ranked Auburn heads to College Station to battle seventh-ranked Texas A&M. A crucial Pac-12 tilt pits ninth-ranked UCLA looking to hand 13th-ranked Stanford a second straight loss. Still, the marquee matchup of the week comes in the ACC as fifth-ranked Florida State and third-ranked Clemson collide in Death Valley for conference supremacy.
Other intriguing matchups involving ranked teams include UCF at eighth-ranked Louisville, 20th-ranked Washington at Arizona State, sixth-ranked LSU at Ole Miss and UNLV at 17th-ranked Fresno State.
The top non-ranked game is USC traveling to South Bend to take on Notre Dame.