See how much the season matters?


To the knuckleheads who pulled out their eyebrow hairs with worry when the College Football Playoff was announced, I'd like to introduce you to Oct. 4, 2014: The Day All Hell Broke Loose.

Ole Miss and Katy Perry over No. 3 Bama.

Frog legs over No. 4 Oklahoma.

Cowbell State over No. 6 Texas A&M.

Utah over No. 8 UCLA.

Sparty over No. 19 Nebraska.

And did I mention The Day All Hell Broke Loose Jr.? That would be Oct. 2, when Arizona knocked the quack out of No. 2 Oregon. And TDAHBL II? Utah State over No. 18 BYU on Oct. 3.

It was "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" meets "Transformers" meets "X-Men" all on the same big screen. It was carnage. It was wonderful.

But remember what the nervous anti-CFP contingent had said months and months ago?

A playoff system will neuter the regular season! One loss and you're out! It isn't fair!

Well, you can uncurl yourself from the fetal position now. Everything is going to be OK. Oct. 2, 3 and 4 proved that if anything, the regular season means more when it's attached to a playoff system.

According to ESPN's Football Power Index, there was a 0.3 percent chance that Bama, OU, A&M, UCLA and Oregon would lose in the same week. But it happened. And something nutty, unexpected and totally cool will happen again.

We went from 17 unbeaten teams to 10 in the time it takes to say, "Hotty Toddy, Gosh Almighty." We'll have another survival-of-the-fittest weekend soon enough.


None of the 10 remaining undefeated teams are safe. Wait, I take that back -- Marshall's remaining schedule is as soft as cashmere. But the other nine unbeatens all have toughies left to play. And because of the way the schedule shakes out, at least four of those nine will lose another game.

Here's the list of undefeated teams and the regular season games that could cause distress:

Florida State: Notre Dame, at Louisville, Virginia, Boston College, Florida (don't laugh).

Georgia Tech: Duke, Virginia, Clemson, at Georgia.

Baylor: TCU, at West Virginia, at Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State.

TCU: at Baylor, Oklahoma State, at West Virginia, Kansas State, at Texas (don't laugh).

Notre Dame: at FSU, at Arizona State, Northwestern (I wouldn't have said this two weeks ago), Louisville, at USC.

Auburn: at Mississippi State, South Carolina, at Ole Miss, Texas A&M, at Georgia, at Bama.

Marshall: Move along, nothing to see here.

Ole Miss: at Texas A&M, at LSU, Auburn, at Arkansas, Mississippi State.

Mississippi State: Auburn, at Kentucky, Arkansas, at Bama, at Ole Miss.

Arizona: USC, at Washington State, at UCLA, Washington, at Utah, Arizona State.

So Notre Dame or Florida State is going to lose. Baylor or TCU is going to lose. Auburn or Mississippi State is going to lose. Ole Miss or Mississippi State is going to lose. And we'll worry about the conference championship games later.

The anti-CFP contingent thought a playoff would degrade the regular season, but all it's really done is heighten the nerve endings. Not only do you have the remaining undefeated teams, but you also have a growing list of one-loss teams that could easily work their way into one of the coveted four spots.

The one-loss teams best poised for a comeback (in no order, and subject to future change): Oklahoma State (still has at TCU, West Virginia, at K-State, at Baylor, at OU), Michigan State (Ohio State, Rutgers, at Penn State), Bama (at Arkansas, A&M, at LSU, Miss State and Auburn), Ohio State (Rutgers, at Penn State, at Michigan State, at Minnesota), Kansas State (at OU, Okla State, at TCU, at West Virginia, at Baylor), Oregon (at UCLA, Washington, Stanford, at Utah, at Oregon State), Georgia (at Mizzou, Arkansas, Florida, at Kentucky, Auburn, Georgia Tech), A&M (Ole Miss, at Bama, at Auburn, Mizzou, LSU), Louisville (at Clemson, FSU, at BC, at ND, Kentucky), UCLA (Oregon, Arizona, at U-Dub, USC, Stanford).

I'd love to make a case for East Carolina, but it isn't going to work right now.

Anyway, more carnage and chaos is on the way, which means the CFP selection committee had better strap in like they're pilots of F-22 Raptors. You're in it now. That means Condi Rice can't tap her helmet and ask Madam Secretary Tea Leoni to sub in for her. Steve Wieberg the former sportswriter? Do us proud. Committee chair Jeff Long? Remember, transparency ... transparency ... transparency.

Week 6 was a gas. Week 7 and beyond will be even better.


In: Northwestern football relevance, the Magnolia State, Katy Perry: Vegas oddsmaker (she picked Mississippi State over the Aggies, Ole Miss over the Tide, Auburn over LSU, Ohio State over Maryland, Michigan State over Nebraska, Rutgers over Michigan), East Carolina's Shane Carden, Washington State's Connor Halliday, Notre Dame's Everett Golson, upsets, Ole Miss' Bo Wallace, Hail Mary, TCU's Trevone Boykin, FSU's Roberto Aguayo, Auburn's Nick Marshall, Arizona's Rich Rodriguez, Mississippi State's Dak Prescott, Ohio State's J.T. Barrett, Northwestern backup safety Godwin Igwebuike (three interceptions vs. Wisconsin), Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon, Michigan State's rush defense (held the nation's leading rusher, Ameer Abdullah of Nebraska, to just 45 yards and no gain longer than 9 yards. Abdullah entered the game with 29 gains of 10 yards or longer), Florida dominance over Tennessee, Kansas State's Jake Waters.

Out: Florida State's rushing game, BYU's Taysom Hill and Alabama's Kenyan Drake (each with a broken leg), field goal kicking (Bama, Notre Dame, Texas, Michigan, UCLA, Washington State), Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard and Christmas cards for Big 12 officiating crews, Miami of Ohio 21-game losing streak (it beat UMass, which takes over the nation's longest losing streak at 12), goalposts at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Miami dominance over Georgia Tech, Oregon offensive line, UCLA offensive line (Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley was sacked 10 times in the loss to Utah), defense (Cal and Washington State combined for 56 points in the third quarter of their game, which featured, in all, 1,401 yards of total offense).


And the Heisman Trophy goes to ... Georgia's Todd Gurley.

Everybody gets a Heisman bump when they play Vanderbilt.

Also in attendance for the presentation ceremony: Notre Dame's Golson, East Carolina's Carden, Oregon's Marcus Mariota, Wisconsin's Gordon, Mississippi State's Prescott, Auburn's Marshall.

In a parallel universe where all the other Heisman candidates are injured in a tragic kiln accident: FSU's Jameis Winston.


You like numbers? Then send your thank you notes to ESPN's Stats & Information folks.

• In the win against LSU, Auburn rushed for 199 yards between the tackles.

• The 34-point loss was the largest defeat suffered by Les Miles since he took the job in 2005.

• Since the start of the 2012 season, Michigan State has held opponents to 50 rushing yards or fewer 12 times. Louisville, Alabama and Stanford are tied for second with eight.

• Winston has five interceptions this season. He didn't throw his fifth INT until the eighth game of the season in 2013.

• Steve Sarkisian is 0-4 against Arizona State.

• Remember the early-season hand-wringing about Ohio State's Barrett? He has been responsible for 15 touchdowns and only one turnover in the past three games.


It's a pretty simple: For a conference to matter, its biggest brand programs have to matter too. And right now, the winningest program in major college football history -- Michigan -- is a maize-and-blue shadow of itself.

For the moment, forget about the Shane Morris medical debacle of a couple of Saturdays ago. Michigan's problems go far beyond what athletic director Dave Brandon knew about Morris' head trauma and when did he know it. It goes beyond the bumbling, almost comic effort of Michigan to control the message and to initially massage the Morris injury timeline.

Devin Gardner hasn't thrown for 200 yards or more this season. The Wolverines rank 109th in passing yards and 103rd in points. The offensive line is a mess. No wonder they're 2-4 overall and winless in the Big Ten.

Is coach Brady Hoke going to get the hook? Got me. Maybe ... probably. If it were up to the disgruntled and embarrassed Michigan Men masses, he would be gone at season's end -- or before. And Brandon would be gone with him.

But nobody knows for sure if Brandon's previously solid power base has been forever kneecapped by recent controversies. Brandon was a one-man decision-maker. He hired Hoke. It was presumed that he would fire him too, if it came to that.

Of course, that was before Michigan president Mark Schlissel issued a scathing public statement that called into question Brandon's oversight relative to in-game medical protocol and included the words, "necessary accountability," which was a not-too-subtle way of putting Brandon and Hoke on notice.

Schlissel, who has only been on the job less than four months, never had these issues when he was a provost at Brown University. He likely figured that Brandon had things buttoned up when it came to Michigan's massive athletic department.

But now he has done more than simply dip his toes into the football dynamic. He has made it clear that he'll act if needed.

Everyone can make a guess when it comes to Hoke's future. It's a multiple-choice quiz:

Will he survive no matter what?

Will he keep his job if he beats Michigan State or Ohio State?

Does he have to defeat both?

Is he gone no matter what?

Brandon works in quiet, mysterious ways. But it certainly wasn't an accident that after Schlissel issued a university apology for the Morris medical screw-up and promised future transparency, that Brandon was suddenly available for media interviews and mea culpas.

Three weeks ago you would have said Brandon would be the guy making all the Hoke-related decisions. But that was before the Morris incident, and the 2-4 record, and the growing uprising of Michigan Men.

Can Michigan and Hoke recover? The Wolverines have six regular-season games remaining. If you do the schedule math, it's difficult seeing this team winning more than one or two more games, tops. Beat Sparty at East Lansing? Uh, no. Win at the Horseshoe? Uh, no.

Then again, look at Northwestern. The Wildcats were in freefall after two weeks of the season. Now they're fresh off of wins at Penn State and Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, the cottage industry of "who's next?" is well underway at Ann Arbor. It ranges from hiring Les Miles, to romancing one of the Harbaughs (Jim or John). There also are the Wolverine fanatics who wonder if they could flip Mark Dantonio from Michigan State to Michigan. (Sure, and while you're at it, why not see if Rich Rod will come back; he's doing great at Arizona!)

The Big Ten needs Michigan to be Michigan again. It needs it for TV ratings, competitive balance, brand enhancement, bowls and the playoffs.

Michigan State and Ohio State have done their parts. Penn State will eventually return to its "We Are" glory. Wisconsin has been a consistent contributor. Northwestern is a factor. The others are trying.

If buy into the Bill Parcells mantra, that you are what your record says you are, then Hoke is in serious trouble. He has six games to change the conversation. One way or another, change is coming.


Top 10

1. Auburn

Tigers intimidated and confounded LSU freshman quarterback Brandon Harris (3-of-14 for 58 yards) in the blowout against LSU. But now they have to go to Starkvegas and face the experienced Dak Prescott.

2. Florida State

Winston says the Seminoles haven't reached their full potential yet. They had better start soon.

3. Ole Miss

The home win against Bama will mean nothing if the Rebels suffer the classic big-win letdown at Texas A&M.

4. Mississippi State

The same goes for the Bulldogs and their game against Auburn.

5. Notre Dame

It took a medium-sized miracle for the Irish to beat Stanford. Now they get North Carolina, which has been a major disappointment this season.

6. Baylor

The win against Texas was kindling. TCU is real firewood.

7. Georgia

The Bulldogs travel to Mizzou, which beat UGA 41-26 last year. Just a reminder: Gurley didn't play in last year's game because of an ankle injury.

8. TCU

The two best teams in Texas meet in Waco.

9. Alabama

Nick Saban says he wants to know how his team will respond after a loss. A road game against well-rested Arkansas will provide an answer.

10. Oklahoma

The Red River Rivalry didn't have a lot of juice even before OU lost. Now it has gotten even less interesting.

Waiting list: Arizona, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Michigan State, Texas A&M.


Who's in:

No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 4 Mississippi State

Or in other words, Oct. 11.

No. 2 FSU vs. No. 3 Ole Miss

The two teams have met once, in 1961. Ole Miss won 33-0. I don't know what that has to do with anything.