Coming into Saturday, Oregon and Kansas State had the inside track to college football’s national championship and the Southeastern Conference’s run of six straight BCS titles was in jeopardy.
Then No. 2 K-State got thumped 52-24 by unranked Baylor and top-ranked Oregon fell in overtime to No. 14 Stanford, 17-14.
Now the SEC is alive and well.
And how’s this for a possible national title game: Alabama vs. Notre Dame.
A week after Alabama lost to Texas A&M, more upsets re-opened door for the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide, which shut out lower-division Western Carolina 49-0 on Saturday.
Georgia has a title shot, too. And so does Florida.
But the happiest of all about the Ducks and Wildcats going down had to be Notre Dame and its fans.
The Fighting Irish were third in the BCS standings and the AP Top 25, behind K-State and Oregon entering the weekend. Notre Dame was staring at what must have felt unthinkable for the storied program: Finishing unbeaten and not even getting a chance to play for the BCS championship.
The Irish took care of running their record to 11-0 with a 38-0 shutout at home against Wake Forest.
Then everything fell into place.
Oregon (10-1), the highest scoring team in the country at 55 points per games, couldn’t shake free of Stanford’s tough defense. The Cardinal tied it late on a juggling TD catch that was called incomplete on the field and overturned to a catch by replay.
In OT, Oregon missed a field goal and Stanford made one. The Ducks were done.
“It hurts and as I told them, you’d like to have some words that would take the pain out of it, but there aren’t,” Ducks coach Chip Kelly said. “We’ll feel bad for a little bit of time and we’ll bounce back from it.”
Kansas State’s first loss of the season was far more decisive. Collin Klein and the Wildcats (10-1) lost 52-24 at Baylor, and there went Kansas State’s BCS title hopes and Klein’s status as Heisman Trophy front-runner. He was picked off three times.
It was the first time since Dec. 1, 2007, that the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the AP Top 25 lost on the same day. That year, Missouri and West Virginia were the upset victims, giving Ohio State and LSU a chance to play for the national title. The Tigers won the second of the SEC’s six straight.