We entered Saturday knowing that we were in for some treats. With three top-12 matchups on the docket, fireworks, shake-ups and I-can't-believe-that-happened moments were sure to occur.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, could have prepared us for the final 10 seconds in Ann Arbor.
After leading the entire game -- and then stifling Michigan State on their final drive -- Michigan, 5-1 and in the midst of a miraculous turn-around season under first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh, simply had to punt, and walk away the victors.
If you haven't seen it yet, they didn't get the punt off. Watch the whole video -- it was a wild day -- but see the end. I still can't describe it.
So, apparently, Michigan State, inexplicably, is still alive in the playoff hunt. So, too, is LSU. And Alabama. Both SEC juggernauts survived showdowns with top-10 foes -- Florida and Texas A&M, respectively -- setting the wheels in motion for yet another mid-November showdown between the Bayou Bengals and the ever-present Crimson Tide.
Where else do we go from yesterday? So much happened, with so much more being set up for down the road, that 2015 is beginning to resemble, in a frighteningly similar manner, the 2007 season, when everyone faltered, leaving a two-loss LSU team standing atop the rubble.
Utah survived a tricky Arizona State team. Ohio State will sadly remain number one, with another yawn-inducing victory over Penn State. Baylor put up 60+ points for the sixth straight game -- you can't make that stat up -- and Oklahoma shattered Kansas State, on the road, by 55.
Now, we breathe.
Here's the top-25 matchups from this weekend, which started Thursday night and went right up through Saturday night. The season, no longer just #Pac12AfterDark, is simply #HANGONANDSURVIVE
(15) Stanford 56 (18) UCLA 35
The freight train known as The Cardinal continues to gain speed. And the next stop appears to be San Francisco for the Pac-12 Championship.
Kevin Hogan became the first QB ever to defeat a team five times while they were ranked, knocking the Bruins -- two weeks removed from being a dark-horse playoff contender --directly into a very UCLA-like tailspin.
Christian McCaffrey, the diminutive running back with deceptive speed, launched himself into consideration for 2nd-place in the Heisman -- I'll explain later -- with 369 all-purpose yards, as Stanford continues to rebound from a disheartening opening week loss at Northwestern.
With McCaffrey establishing himself, Stanford appears to have an answer for their defense, which, after years of being the stabilizing force, is still struggling to find an identity.
"We've got a big back in a little body," coach David Shaw said of McCaffrey, who some critics once questioned if he was strong enough to thrive in Stanford's power running game. "He's a heck of a football player, not just a great runner."
And now, he appears ready to lead the Cardinal back to the top.
(7) Michigan State 27 (12) Michigan 23
Talking about this game almost seems like an injustice to what actually happened. In the pantheon of college football, the last play of this one will rest in lore, right alongside the Pick-Six and Flutie's Hail Mary.
Before there was The Gift Six (that's what we'll call in until there is an official title), there was the game itself, a bruising bloodbath between bitter rivals. It was supposed to be the game that put a defibrillator to a rivalry that had grown stale due to Michigan's fall and Sparty's climb.
It did all of that, and more.
Michigan, who had pitched three straight shut-outs entering the game, seemed poised to put a statewide stamp on their return to glory, knocking Michigan State out of the playoff picture in the process. For the first 59 minutes and 50 seconds of the game, they did just that.
It was all a twisted, cruel tease.
"That's why football is loved so much in America," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "It's because things like this happen. Every now and then, they happen."
More than 100,000 people packed the Big House for this monumental showdown. Gameday was there. Desmond Howard was shrieking like an unintelligible hyena.
College football's most storied program, it seemed, was back.
Then, it happened.
Michigan will be fine. Michigan State lives to see another day. And we will forever have The Gift.
(6) LSU 35 (8) Florida
Welcome back, Mad Hatter, we've missed you.
For the first half of the season, LSU's game plan has been simple. Pound the rock, play some defense, walk away victorious.
Remember when I mentioned that Christian McCaffrey is in a race for second in the Heisman? That's because first place is wrapped up, etched in stone by Leonard Fournette.
Coming into the game, Florida had yet to allow more than 135 yards rushing by any player -- and they knew the only threat LSU had to offer was Fournette -- but it didn't matter. He carried the ball 31 times for 180 yards and two touchdowns; it wasn't his highest production game, but, saddled with a quarterback situation in flux, it was just enough for the Tigers.
Oh, and he got a little help from ol' trick-play, Les Miles.
This time, it was a fake field goal with just over 10 minutes to go in the game -- LSU's only points of the second half. Deadlocked at 28, after having given up a punt return for a touchdown, LSU needed a spark. They found one.
"We studied it and kind of felt like it was there," Miles said, adding that during practice this week, his field goal unit "did everything they could do to sell us on running it. We are not going to run it if they are not just great at it. They were great at it all week."
With the win, LSU remains the only undefeated squad left in the SEC -- and, if the season ended today, they would have a rematch in the title game with Florida. We can only hope that one would be half as fun.
(10) Alabama 41 (9) Texas A&M 23
Remember in 2012, when, after a shocking, out-of-nowhere win by Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel, people feared that the book was out on how to dethrone the Tide?
Three years, and three losses later, we can end that narrative.
One year after being bludgeoned and embarrassed in a 59-0 loss, the Aggies entered Saturday's game riding high from a 5-0 start to the season. Their offense, seemingly unstoppable to this point, was designed to strike the heart of Alabama -- by outwitting and outlasting, with the simple goal of wearing down a defense that appeared vulnerable up-front.
It didn't work.
"We had a lot of guys play a lot of plays," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "They got hot, they got tired, and we got our second wind and kept playing."
Instead, the Tide capitalized on unforeseen errors, scoring three defensive touchdowns -- all on interceptions -- and proving once again that the magical 2012 defeat was just that -- a trick, plucked from thin air, never to be seen again.
Next week, it appears we crash back to earth, with no top-25 matchups. But, with the way this season is shaping up, it could be the recipe for another wild day.