Not that we needed any more reminders that last week was a three-day period of chaos in college football like none other, but take a look at the impact games in the aftermath for Week 7.
It’s the middle of October, and an Auburn-Mississippi State game and TCU-Baylor game carry more weight than LSU-Florida and Texas-Oklahoma.
That’s what happens when 11 AP ranked teams lose in a week, including five of the top eight.
Teams that just picked up major wins — Mississippi State, Ole Miss and TCU — have little time for rest. And teams that suffered upsets — Alabama, Oregon and UCLA — have immediate opportunities to rebound against major opponents.
Here’s what we have to watch as new contenders try to establish themselves and teams that lost last week try to pick up the pieces.
The Week Ahead: Oct. 11
All times Eastern. All games Saturday.
Auburn at Mississippi State
When and where: 3:30 p.m., CBS
We’re watching because... now we’ll see how Mississippi State handles success. The LSU win two weeks ago was an upset. The Texas A&M win Saturday was an announcement that Mississippi State is a legit contender. Now, the Bulldogs are in the top three, they boast a Heisman contender and they’re facing the defending SEC champions. LSU and Texas A&M might not be as good as they appeared on paper, but Auburn is. With Nick Marshall and Dak Prescott at quarterback, this won’t be a replay of the infamous 3-2 game in 2008.
Vegas says: Auburn by 2 1/2
TCU at Baylor
When and where: 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2
We’re watching because... TCU’s rise means Baylor finally takes on a quality opponent. Shockingly, this game will upstage Texas-Oklahoma as the most important Big 12 game of the day. Baylor is on the radar for a playoff spot, but the Bears have played a light schedule so far. Meanwhile, TCU has added a Big 12-style offense to go with its traditionally stifling defense. Baylor can either solidify its Big 12 credentials or suddenly TCU is the league frontrunner.
Vegas says: Baylor by 10
Oregon at UCLA
When and where: 3:30 p.m., FOX
We’re watching because... one of these teams will salvage its season while the other is in a world of trouble. Makeshift offensive lines have become the weak link on teams that had hoped to contend for the national title. Star quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley were sacked 15 times combined last week alone. A game we thought would determine a playoff frontrunner in the Pac-12 is now just a contest between two teams looking to avoid a 1-2 start in the league.
Vegas says: Oregon by 3
Alabama at Arkansas
When and where: 6 p.m., ESPN
We’re watching because... Alabama will be on meltdown watch. The Crimson Tide aren’t out of the SEC race simply because of a loss to Ole Miss. The West may be too tough for any team to escape unscathed. Facing Arkansas in Fayetteville won’t be easy. The Hogs are rested and have a clear identity on offense. For Alabama, a win would be a relief. A second consecutive loss would throw Tuscaloosa into a state of panic.
Vegas says: Alabama by 9 1/2
Ole Miss at Texas A&M
When and where: 9 p.m., ESPN
We’re watching because... now we’ll see how Ole Miss handles success. The parallel seasons for Ole Miss and Mississippi State continue as the Rebels also face another tough division opponent. The Rebels’ defense enjoyed a breakout day against Alabama, but can they do it on the road against Texas A&M? Ole Miss has intercepted 10 passes this season compared to allowing one touchdown pass.
Vegas says: Texas A&M by 3