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After a wild college football weekend, let's all calm down

 After a wild college football weekend, let's all calm down
Mississippi quarterback Bo Wallace passes in front of Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson during the Rebels' upset win over the Crimson Tide on Saturday. (Rogelio V. Solis / Associated Press)

The only thing more stunning than an incredible weekend of games, perhaps, was the stunning overreaction to them.

We warned you that wild times were coming and that the polls were about to get poached and scrambled.

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It happened, just as predicted, yet some people still went screaming into the night.

ESPN website headline on Sunday: "Pac-12 unlikely to have a playoff team."

Oh, well, guess it's time to Pac-12 it in.

Then the Associated Press released a poll with six Pac-12 Conference schools ranked in the top 25. Arizona checked in at No. 10, the highest leap for an unranked school since the AP went to a 25-team format in 1989.

We told you that, at this time last year, Auburn and Michigan State were not even ranked in the AP top 25.

Both ended up playing their final games in a stadium called "the Rose Bowl."

And that was in the old Bowl Championship Series system, which allowed only two teams to compete for the title cookie and used the goofy USA Today coaches' poll as a guiding tool.

Those days are as gone and forgotten as the Southwest Conference.

This is a new system, a new game with a shiny new set of rules.

We might need a new metric to dial back the hyperventilation.

There are four teams in the new playoff, not two, and no computers involved that can put undefeated Marshall in the playoff discussion.

In other words … everyone calm the Fort Worth down until the 13-person selection committee releases its first top 25 in three weeks.

That will be the template for further discussion, not a coaches' poll that watched its No. 1, No. 3, No. 4, No. 7 and No. 9 teams all lose this weekend.

There is no way, at this point, to make any definitive claims, so long as:

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• California is leading the Pac-12 North.

• Northwestern, which lost at home to Cal and Northern Illinois, is atop the Big Ten West.

• Missouri, which lost at home to Indiana, which lost to Bowling Green, which lost to Wisconsin (68-17), which lost to Northwestern, is leading the Southeastern Conference East.

• Arkansas, which has lost 14 straight games in the SEC, is receiving 14 points in the AP poll.

Enjoy the craziness but keep it in context. It was a weekend worth celebrating for Mississippi and Mississippi State, so joined at the hip the schools are tied for No. 3 in the AP.

It is Ole Miss' highest ranking since 1963 and Mississippi State's highest ranking ever.

It is cool that Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott is an emerging Heisman Trophy candidate and that, after beating Texas A&M in Starkville, he said, "We made a Mississippi STATEment."

Also remember that Mississippi, coming off its huge home win over Alabama, must now hit the road against a Texas A&M team boiling mad after its loss at Starkville U.

Happy as Mississippi State is, and should be, it has to host No. 2 Auburn on Saturday.

Those who fear independent Notre Dame, at No. 6 in the latest poll, is going to steal a playoff spot from a Power 5 league champion?

The Irish have remaining road games against Florida State, Arizona State and USC.

In the short term, despite having six ranked teams, it was a bad weekend for the Pac-12.

Notre Dame put a second loss on Stanford, and UCLA and Oregon were handed first losses by Utah and Arizona.

Yet, this is what we expected could happen in a conference that has never been top-to-bottom better.

Washington State, the worst team, has a quarterback who has already thrown for 3,000 yards this season.

Three games involving six Pac-12 teams were decided on the final play.

Stanford lost at Notre Dame when its No. 1 defense inexplicably allowed a game-winning touchdown pass in the final minutes.

Stanford Coach David Shaw, asked after the game what coverage his defense was playing, responded, "There was no coverage."

Oregon State's 36-31 win at Colorado wasn't decided until the final 1 minute 42 seconds and Arizona's seven-point win over Oregon wasn't over until Marcus Mariota fumbled with 43 seconds left.

UCLA lost in the last second, twice, to Utah.

"It's a meat grinder," Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham said of the Pac-12. "You better have depth, you better have playmakers and be stout up front. If you've got a weakness in this conference you're toast."

The Pac-12's problem in recent years is that its best teams don't know how to close out games. Maybe Commissioner Larry Scott should hire Mariano Rivera as a special advisor.

Stanford's last eight losses under Shaw have been by 33 total points.

Is that good … or bad?

Maybe this is why Pac-12 schools still don't command national respect.

UCLA inexplicably fell 10 AP ranking spots after a last-second loss to a good Utah team.

Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley said the locker room was quiet after Saturday's loss.

"We knew we missed an opportunity," he said.

The new four-team playoff, though, allows for a little more wiggle room.

How much is to be determined.

The winner of Oregon at UCLA still has a path to the playoff if it wins out. The problem is the Ducks and Bruins wasted their mulligans in home games they were expected to win.

The other problem is every Pac-12 team thinks it is good enough to be champion.

Arizona (5-0) stands alone ahead of seven teams at 4-1. Washington State and Colorado are the only conference teams with losing records.

Utah has already won this year in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Pasadena.

You may be able to sneak a few seconds, minutes or hours off between now and December — but that's it.

"There are no weeks off," Whittingham said, "unless you have a bye."

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