Anything can happen. Anything always does.
This is where sanity leaves you. Yesterday college football fans got a collective shock to the system as they sat Shiva over the wildest ride in history and the death of the status quo. Over the long televised weekend the #2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19 teams all lost.
On Thursday night the Ducks started it off by slipping on the ice in Autzen, manhandled by a confident, physical Arizona team 31-24. For Oregon it was their first loss at home to an unranked team in 28 games.
Nationally, it was the first time in history that half of the Top Ten had lost in a single weekend.
#3 Alabama fell 23-17 at Ole Miss. #4 Oklahoma lost 37-33 to TCU. #12 Mississippi State tipped over the sports car in Starksville, defeating #6 Texas A&M 48-31. PAC-12 favorite #8 UCLA stunned their home crowd by dropping a 30-28 decision to Utah, who had lost the previous week at home to Washington State, who tasted ashes after losing 60-59 to Cal in Pullman by missing a 19-yard field goal with 19 seconds to play.
Stanford lost to Notre Dame 17-14, and USC collapsed on the game’s final play, six Trojan defenders watching in confusion as Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong pulled down a 46-yard Hail Mary from backup quarterback Mike Bercovici for a shocking 38-34 victory in the Coliseum. Bercovici struck for 73 and 46-yard touchdown passes in the game’s final three minutes for the win. USC falls to 3-2, and already Steve Sarkisian’s honeymoon in Hollywood is over.
In the UCLA-Utah game the Utes punched the Bruins in the mouth early by intercepting Brett Hundley and returning it for a touchdown, then pounding them with a physical running game and a dogged defense. The Utes sacked Hundley 10 times. Devontae Booker led all rushers with 156 yards and backup quarterback Kendal Thompson chipped in 83, another 95 on 10-13 passing.
The game amped up the crazy in the fourth quarter. Brett Hundley hit Eldridge Massington with a 40-yard touchdown pass for a 28-27 lead, then Utah ground out a 10-play, 63-yard drive for a go-ahead field goal, with Kyle Whittingham craftily lining up the ball between the hash marks on third and three, Andy Phillips nailing the 29-yard kick with 34 seconds to play.
Out of timeouts, Hundley drove UCLA quickly past midfield, where the legendary PAC-12 refs took over. With 8 seconds to play the official spotting the ball fumbled it, giving the Bruins a full stop and a reset of the clock to spike the ball. A field goal try from 55 yards fluttered short and left, but the officials flagged a Utah player lying on the ground for “running into the kicker.” Replays showed the Bruins Ka’imi Fairbairn had executed an Raspberrry-worthy swan dive.
The C movie script got even weirder when Fairbairn missed again, this time from 50 yards, and the Utes had their upset.
The nightcap game between Washington State and Cal was weirdest of all. Jared Goff and Halliday combined for 1261 passing yards and 11 touchdowns. The host Cougars built an 11-point lead in the second half but kept kicking off to Trevor Davis, who returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, 100 and 98 yards.
Connor Halliday set an NCAA passing record with 736 yards (he threw 7 touchdowns) but had to watch helplessly from the bench as Quinten Brashears’ kick hooked wide right from the right hash.
The improbable victory means Cal, who lost last week to Arizona on a Hail Mary to Austin Hill on the last play of the game, moves into first place in the PAC-12 North at 2-1, 4-1 overall with wins over Northwestern, Portland State, Colorado and the Cougars.
After another weekend of brain-damaged hilarity, the race for the PAC-12 Championship and the College Football Playoff remain wide open. Florida State, Auburn, Baylor, Notre Dame, and the Mississippi schools are still undefeated. #10 Michigan State, which fell to Oregon in week two, will move up after outlasting Nebraska in East Lansing 27-22. Oddly, the Spartans will be ranked ahead of the Ducks, who will be ranked ahead of Arizona. It’s just the way it works.
In week 7, Oregon travels to UCLA, Ole Miss is at Texas A&M, Mississippi State hosts Auburn, and TCU squares off with Baylor. No longer invincible, Alabama has to trek to Fayetteville to face 3-2 Arkansas.
In the PAC-12, Washington State and Stanford continue the Thursday night madness in Palo Alto while PAC-12 North leader California hosts Washington. Undefeated Arizona meets dangerous, physical, enigmatic USC in Tucson.