When there's silence in the air and few marquee matchups on the schedule, that's when you know college football is in for mayhem. After the dust settled in Week 10, seven ranked teams lost to unranked opponents, and five of the top six teams in the College Football Playoff rankings went down to the wire in Saturday action.
No. 3 Michigan State became the latest victim of what seems to be a Purdue superweapon built to drop only the best of the sport, losing emphatically 40-29. No. 9 Wake Forest finally got nipped by North Carolina in a 58-55 shootout. LSU and Nebraska, both sizable underdogs, had the ball in the fourth quarter with a chance to topple No. 2 Alabama and No. 5 Ohio State, respectively.
Even at the bottom of the rankings, unranked Arkansas edged No. 17 Mississippi State to neutralize the Crimson Tide's best win, while Boise State housed No. 23 Fresno State 40-14, which could have consequences for Oregon's resume. There's no telling how the bottom of the rankings will look when the playoff committee deliberates on Tuesday.
Here are winners, losers and overreactions from another devastating week of college football.
The remaining winless: Only two programs were without a win entering Week 10: UNLV and Arizona. In the same week, both teams finally snapped their winless streaks of 14 and 20 games, respectively, dating back to 2019. The Rebels got a pair of touchdowns from talented running back Charles Williams in a 31-17 victory over New Mexico. Cal, without several of its starters due to COVID-19 protocols, was out of the end zone in a 10-3 loss to the Wildcats. At this point, all there is to play for in Tucson and Las Vegas is love of the game. Shoutout to those two programs for finally getting over the hump – and to head coaches Jedd Fisch and Marcus Arroyo for getting their first head coaching wins.
TCU: A win over 30-28 Baylor won't launch the Horned Frogs into the Big 12 Championship Game conversation. It probably won't even get them to a bowl game. But after a difficult week parting ways with head coach Gary Patterson after 22 years, this team put together its best performance in years. The shock of the weekend came in the form of quarterback Chandler Morris -- a Texas state high school football champion and son of former Arkansas coach Chad Morris -- who stepped in and threw for 461 yards and rushed for 70 more against a Baylor defense that had only surrendered 300 passing yards once this season. There's still plenty of question marks surrounding the future of TCU football, but for one day, everything was right in Fort Worth.
WR David Bell, Purdue: We're running out of words to compliment Bell, one of the great receivers in college football this year. Against yet another top-five opponent, Bell exploded again with 217 yards receiving on 11 catches with a touchdown to key an upset over the Spartans. The performance joins his sensational day against then-No. 2 Iowa, when Bell posted 11 catches for 240 yards and a touchdown. Purdue's offense is solid, but Bell is a freak of nature. Considering the role he plays in this offense, he should be on the short list for the Biletnikoff Award.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons were a longshot to earn a playoff trip, but they didn't want to fall out of their first appearance in the top 10 like this. Wake scored 55 points, but blew a two-touchdown lead against North Carolina to suffer its first loss of the season. North Carolina might be the only offense in the ACC that can keep up with the Demon Deacons. The worst part? Wake Forest scheduled this game against the Tar Heels as a nonconference contest. Luckily, Wake Forest's quest for its first conference title since 2006 is still alive.
Texas: Tom Herman never lost three games in a row. Charlie Strong never lost four games in a row. But after losing 30-7 to Iowa State -- and pulling starting quarterback Casey Thompson in the process -- the Longhorns are on their first four-game losing streak since 2010, the season that spelled the beginning of the end of the Mack Brown era. First-year coach Steve Sarkisian clearly deserves time to build a roster in his own image, but it has to be acknowledged that he was hired to take an already good program into greatness. Instead, the program is back at Ground Zero. The offensive performance was the worst since 2015 and there's nothing to look forward to at quarterback. If Sarkisian has success at Texas, he'll have to build it from scratch. The staff has not gotten any additional blood from the roster's remaining stones.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats have one of the best wins in college football after traveling on the road to beat No. 10 Notre Dame. But after a third straight close call against a lesser opponent -- this a 28-20 nail-biter over Tulsa -- their case is getting more tenuous. Commanding a national spotlight, Cincinnati had a perfect opportunity to put together a complete performance and make up some ground in the next playoff rankings. Instead, it just gave the committee more excuses. Not helping the strength of schedule was SMU losing an embarrassing game against Memphis and Houston barely surviving a shootout with South Florida. Cincy needs every break to go its way to earn a trip to the playoff and almost none of them are happening.
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Dan Mullen isn't coming back from this
Florida might not fire Dan Mullen tomorrow. It might not fire him at the end of the season. Regardless, a 40-17 loss to South Carolina was a point of no return for one of the proudest programs in college football.
Just weeks ago, South Carolina needed late heroics just to beat Vanderbilt. Against the Gators, the Gamecocks were down to their third-string quarterback, Jason Brown, a transfer from FCS St. Francis. And yet, the 'Cocks didn't just beat the Gators. They wiped the floor with them.
South Carolina outgained Florida by more than 100 yards of total offense and by more than 200 yards on the ground. Mullen's team was thoroughly undisciplined, unprepared and completely outclassed on both sides to the point that even South Carolina coach Shane Beamer sounded surprised at halftime.
Earlier this week, Mullen made headlines by declining a recruiting question and declaring this time period "Football Time." After that SNAFU, all media availability was cancelled for the rest of the week. Apparently all the extra time didn't do him much good.
This has to be the year, Georgia
Week 10 was a generally underwhelming day for the top 10 in college football ... and then there was Georgia demolishing Missouri 43-6 to cruise to 9-0 and win its eighth straight game by three scores. The Bulldogs are the only team that has won every one of its games convincingly. Its defense is on pace to finish as one of the greatest in the history of the sport.
This is the year, Georgia. It has to be. The Dawgs haven't won a national championship since 1980, despite coming as close as humanly possible in 2017. With Alabama looking so uncharacteristically vulnerable in the SEC West, the Bulldogs have to take advantage. The stars may never align on Kirby Smart's rising superpower again like they have in 2021. I'm declaring it now: if not this year, Bulldogs, when?