It makes perfect sense, really.
We couldn't get to the College Football Playoff selection committee's first rankings of the season without the Mad Hatter having his say.
In what's been a nonsensical season in the SEC West -- one in which Ole Miss paraded goalposts through the Grove after beating Alabama, Mississippi State is the No. 1 team in the country and a Kevin Sumlin-coached Texas A&M team was shut out -- Les Miles added his own touch of drama to the mix, as LSU secured an improbable win over the Rebels on Saturday night. On the day after Miles' 91-year-old mother passed away, the No. 24 Tigers threw a major wrench into the sport's inaugural four-team playoff by upsetting No. 3 Ole Miss 10-7 at Tiger Stadium.
"That was a great game, wasn't it?" Miles said. "One thing about these Tigers: If you put them in Tiger Stadium, and give us a little time to fix things, we are going to be very special. This team wanted to make this night special, and they did."
Of course, what was one of the biggest upsets of the season ended in the only way Miles would have wanted: complete chaos. Not that that's anything new for Miles, whose Tigers celebrated their 24th fourth-quarter comeback win under his watch. That puts Miles best in the FBS in his time at LSU.
With LSU leading 10-7 with nine seconds to play, the Rebels lined up for what would have been a 42-yard field goal to send the game into overtime. But Ole Miss was late in sending its kicking team onto the field and was penalized 5 yards for delay of game.
After Miles used a timeout to try to ice Ole Miss freshman kicker Gary Wunderlich, Rebels coach Hugh Freeze sent his offense back on the field and passed up a 47-yard field goal attempt. Instead of trying to pick up a few yards with a quick pass to the sideline to help Wunderlich's chances, Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace went for broke and threw deep. LSU's Ronald Martin intercepted his pass at the Tigers' 2.
"We've been on the good side of these for seven in a row now. This league is brutal," Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. "Give LSU a ton of credit."
The Rebels aren't out of the playoff picture entirely. They're now in the middle of a deep pack of one-loss teams, with only two unbeaten teams left in Power 5 conferences: No. 1 Mississippi State and No. 2 Florida State.
When the selection committee releases its first top-25 ballot Tuesday night, only one team from Mississippi figures to be in the top four. Mississippi State, which is ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press and coaches' polls for the first time in school history, survived a 45-31 victory at Kentucky on Saturday.
The Bulldogs hardly looked like the team that steamrolled three consecutive top-10 opponents earlier this season (then again, Texas A&M hasn't looked like a top-10 team for weeks now, and LSU didn't until Saturday night), but they moved to 7-0 and remained in control of the rugged SEC West.
"Hopefully, we can get all of this ranking stuff behind us," Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. "I don't know where we'll rank. You can drop us if you want, or you can raise us -- I don't really care on any of that now. I think our kids are going to be over it now."
If Saturday was the day for final (or first) impressions before the first rankings, No. 10 TCU might have been the big winner. The Horned Frogs walloped Texas Tech 82-27, which set a school record for scoring and is the second most by a team in a Big 12 game. TCU piled up 785 yards of offense and scored 24 points in the first quarter and 31 in the third.
"We were not trying to send a message about anything," Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson said. "We did not go into this saying we wanted to run up the score. That's not what TCU is all about it. We're not that kind of football team."
Michigan heard Michigan State's message loud and clear. The Spartans defeated the Wolverines 35-11 for the sixth time in seven meetings in East Lansing, and tacked on a touchdown with 28 seconds to go for good measure. MSU coach Mark Dantonio wasn't happy with Michigan's pregame antics, in which the Wolverines planted a stake in the turf at midfield at Spartans Stadium, and doesn't seem too fond of anything else about his school's biggest rival.
"I can only be diplomatic for so long," Dantonio said. "The little brother stuff, all the disrespect, it didn't have to go in that direction. We try to handle ourselves with composure. That doesn't come from a coach. It comes from the program. Throwing the stake down in our backyard out here and coming out there like they're all that. That got shoved up. ... It got shoved in the last minute and a half."
Hang on. We're about to embark on a brave new world in college football, in which the numbers next to a team actually matter, despite what Mullen and others might say.
Four teams in
1. Florida State: The Seminoles, the defending national champions, had the weekend off before they put their 23-game winning streak on the line at Louisville on Thursday night. Every week, FSU's playoff chances seem to get better and better.
2. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs rebounded from a slow start at Kentucky to pull away for a 14-point win. Will Mississippi State's defense, which surrendered 23 points or more in each of its past four games, hold up when it plays at Alabama in three weeks?
3. Oregon: The Ducks won 59-41 at California on Friday night for their third straight game with 40 points or more. Oregon will try to end a two-game losing streak to Stanford next week. The Cardinal, who've already lost three times this season, controlled the ball for more than 42 minutes in last season's 26-20 win over the Ducks.
4. Alabama: A week after demolishing Texas A&M 59-0 at home, the Crimson Tide took a 27-0 lead over Tennessee on the road on Saturday. But Alabama wasn't nearly as impressive in finishing in a 34-20 win. After an off week, the Tide get two huge tests in successive weeks: at LSU on Nov. 8 and home against Mississippi State on Nov. 15.
Next four in contention
1. Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish played the Seminoles as well as anyone the past two seasons, before they fell in the final minutes in Tallahassee this past week. The Irish had the weekend off before playing Navy at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, next week.
2. TCU: The Horned Frogs couldn't have been any more impressive on Saturday, when they set a school record for scoring in an 82-27 rout of Texas Tech. TCU has a scary road trip to No. 22 West Virginia next week and then hosts No. 11 Kansas State on Nov. 8.
3. Michigan State: Michigan planted a stake in the turf at Spartan Stadium before Saturday's game, and then the Spartans might have provided the final nail in Wolverines coach Brady Hoke's future with a dominant 35-11 victory. MSU gets next week off before hosting No. 13 Ohio State on Nov. 8.
4. Auburn: The Tigers got all they wanted from South Carolina in a 42-35 victory at home Saturday night. Auburn's defense has surrendered 73 points the past two games. It will have to get better if the Tigers are going to survive upcoming road games at Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama.
Heisman Trophy candidates
1. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State: Prescott was so-so throwing the ball in the No. 1 Bulldogs' 45-31 win at Kentucky. He completed 18 of 33 passes for 216 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was much better running, as he finished with 88 yards on 18 carries with two scores. He wore a walking boot to his postgame news conference, which he shrugged off as merely precautionary.
2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon: Mariota made a rare mistake against California on Friday night and threw his first interception of the season. But he also tossed five touchdowns in a 59-41 win over the Bears. The miscue ended his streak of passes without an interception at 253.
3. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU: Boykin looks like the country's most improved player and a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. He threw a school-record seven touchdown passes with a career-high 433 yards against Texas Tech and has 21 touchdown throws with three interceptions in seven games.
4. Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska: Abdullah had a school-record 341 all-purpose yards in No. 16 Nebraska's 42-24 win over Rutgers. He had 225 rushing yards and his fifth career 200-yard game. That's second most in Nebraska history and trails only 1983 Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier.
By the numbers
1. 0: Points scored by Texas in a 23-0 loss to Kansas State on Saturday, the first time the Longhorns have been shut out since 2004 against Oklahoma. It was also the first time a team coached by Charlie Strong has been shut out.
2. 613: Rushing yards for Georgia Southern in its 69-21 victory Saturday at Georgia State. That's a Sun Belt Conference single-game record. The Eagles averaged 9.7 yards on 63 carries and attempted only six passes.
3. 22-32: Michigan's record in Big Ten games since former tailback Mike Hart made his infamous "little brother" comments about rival Michigan State in 2007. The Spartans are 42-14 against conference foes since then, including a 6-1 record against the Wolverines.
4. 8-1: UCLA's all-time record in overtime games after it survived a 40-37 victory in two overtimes at Colorado on Saturday.
1. "He's really a good coach, and I think why all the people in Tennessee are pissed off at him is because they knew he's a good coach, and they were upset when he left. I get that, I understand that, but I know that there's a lot of really good fans here." -- Alabama coach Nick Saban on offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.
2. "I said I thought he was a top-three Heisman guy, and to watch him live, and in person he's got to be a front-runner. He's that good. He's the best player in the country in my opinion." -- Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury on Boykin
3. "Well, what it means to me is that when I first came here, it was the only program that accumulated in NCAA football 500 losses. We caught up. We caught up with our losses somewhere along the road." -- Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, on the Wildcats winning their 500th game on Saturday.
4. "They don't call me 'The Human Bowling Ball' for nothing. I try to live up to that name the best I can. Go to YouTube and type in J-Rob. You'll see that a lot." -- Mississippi State running back Josh Robinson, after he ran for 198 yards with two touchdowns against Kentucky.
1. There are big-guy touchdowns, and then there are big guys throwing touchdowns. Arkansas offensive lineman Sebastian Tretola threw a touchdown to long snapper Alan D'Appollonio on a fourth-down trick play in the Hogs' 45-17 rout of UAB.
2. Jump passes are so Tim Tebow in 2006. But punters throwing jump passes? That's still cool. Wisconsin punter Drew Meyer faked a punt and threw a jump pass to tight end Troy Fumagalli for a first down in the Badgers' 52-7 win over Maryland.
1 Ugh, this isn't how a reverse is supposed to work, Texas.
2. And this isn't how you run a flea-flicker, Michigan.
4. Pittsburgh's James Conner ran 74 yards for an apparent touchdown, but he fumbled short of the goal line, and the ball bounced out of bounds. The Panthers fumbled on each of their first five possessions and tied the FBS record for most fumbles in a quarter in a 56-28 loss to Georgia Tech.
Tweets of the day
RT if you want us to keep tweeting this game. Favorite if you'd rather we just stop.— Mich. Daily Sports (@theblockm) October 25, 2014