Life happens quickly in college football. With only one month of the season behind us, quite a few preseason contenders for the College Football Playoff have been pretty much eliminated.
ESPN's Football Power Index maintains that just nine teams still have a chance of making the playoff. Only a single one-loss team is included among those nine – your Penn State Nittany Lions.
According to the FPI, the Nittany Lions have a 15.9 percent chance to earn one of the four qualifying spots, and a 3.3 percent chance to win the national championship.
The Lions' loss last week to Ohio State didn't kill their hopes, especially with the Buckeyes ranked second to Alabama in the FPI findings. They still have plenty of chances to beat ranked teams – Michigan State and Wisconsin at home, and Michigan on the road — in the next five weeks.
Penn State, which is off this week, entered Week 6 ranked 13th in offensive efficiency. And it has one of the nation's best quarterbacks in Trace McSorley, who added to his Heisman Trophy credentials by amassing 461 yards of total offense last week.
And, for the record, 14 FBS teams begin October with unbeaten records.
Sure, Syracuse was disappointed to lose at then-No. 3 Clemson last week on a touchdown in the final minute, but Orange coach Dino Babers was thrilled with how his team played on a big stage.
"It was really, really a big feat," Babers told the Associated Press this week. "That team is really good. I can't even remember the final score, I'm so numb."
The Orange, who were last ranked in 2001, received 74 points in this week's AP poll despite the loss, and Babers hopes that a win Saturday at Pittsburgh can get them into the top 25.
"I'm really proud of them," he said. "We work hard on our culture. I really want to be consistent with these young men. That consistency is what's got to transfer over to the football field. I believe this team has it. We have to prove it, and this is an opportunity right now to prove it.
"We've had a setback, our first one of the year. What are we going to do now?"
Usually known for dominating the SEC in basketball, Kentucky is 5-0 going into Saturday's game at Texas A&M, and, at No. 13, has its highest ranking since 2007. Its offense is led by Benny Snell, who is fourth in the nation in rushing with 639 yards and has scored eight touchdowns.
The Wildcats turned heads by winning at Florida last month for the first time since 1979. It was their first victory over the Gators since 1986.
"I was very confident in the team, just in what we were doing and our approach and the way we've been going about our business," head coach Mark Stoops said in an AP story. "I knew we had some good players that were really working hard and focused."
Mississippi State was the trendy preseason pick to challenge Alabama in the SEC West, with the pairing of new head coach Joe Moorhead, the successful former Penn State offensive coordinator, and senior quarterback Nick Fitzgerald a highly anticipated one.
After scoring 150 points in their three nonconference games, however, the Bulldogs have been stuck in the mud offensively. They have managed just 13 points in their two SEC games, while averaging 3.4 yards per play. Fitzgerald is 27-for-58 for 243 yards in that stretch, adding 52 rushing yards.
"Nick on a weekly basis is looking to improve on the things we ask him to do and getting acclimated to a new system. Certainly we need him … to play better moving forward than what he did against Florida," Moorhead said at his weekly news conference, referring to the Bulldogs' 13-6 loss last weekend.
Mississippi State hosts No. 8 Auburn on Saturday night.
Les Miles doesn't coach Louisiana State anymore, and Steve Spurrier left the Florida sideline a long time ago, but that didn't stop the two long-time rivals from making a friendly wager on Saturday's game between the Tigers and the Gators.
Miles reached out Tuesday on Twitter: "Hey @SteveSpurrierUF, how much you wanna bet your Gators are going down this weekend?"
Replied Spurrier: "CoachLesMiles, shoot, we're going to win on Saturday. If we don't, I'll eat some of that grass of yours. When we do win, you're wearing my visor!"
Miles used to take a taste of grass from time to time while coaching, a quirk he adopted growing up playing baseball. A visor was Spurrier's trademark headgear.
Camden Catholic High School graduate Tyree Rodgers is the second-team free safety for No. 24 Virginia Tech, which will play Notre Dame on Saturday night. Rodgers, a 6-foot-1, 187-pound redshirt sophomore, has played in all four of the undefeated Hokies' games, posting one tackle.
Two Hokies freshmen from the Philadelphia area – 6-foot, 190-pound defensive back Nasir Peoples (Archbishop Wood) and 6-2, 212-pound wide receiver Darryle Simmons (St. Joseph's Prep) – made their college debuts Sept. 8 against William & Mary.
Texas vs. Oklahoma at Dallas, noon, Fox29: For the first time since 2012, the teams meet in the Red River Rivalry as Top 20 squads. Kyler Murray (17 TD passes) leads a high-powered Sooners offense, but the Longhorns, on a four-game winning streak, have shown resiliency all season.
Louisiana State at Florida, 3:30 p.m., CBS 3: Tigers coach Ed Orgeron fashioned a September surprise, going from the hot seat to leading his team to the nation's No. 5 ranking. Now, he goes against the Gators, in what should be a low-scoring game. Florida is No. 1 in the nation with 14 takeaways.
Florida State at Miami, 3:30 p.m., 6ABC: The Hurricanes' defense claimed six turnovers last week, returning two interceptions and one fumble for touchdowns. The unit leads the nation in tackles for loss (12.0 per game), while the Seminoles are in the FBS bottom 10 in TFLs allowed (8.6).
Washington at UCLA, 7:30 p.m., Fox29: There is a morbid fascination with watching Chip Kelly's Bruins struggle so much on offense, ranking in the bottom 10 in the nation with 17.0 points and 312.0 yards per game. Meanwhile, the Huskies are No. 1 in FBS in points allowed (11.6).
Notre Dame at Virginia Tech, 8 p.m., 6ABC: Junior Ian Book's first two starts for the Fighting Irish this season read like this: 73.1 percent completion rate, 603 yards passing, six touchdowns passing, three TDs rushing. The Hokies are tough against the run, but they have given up an average of 304 passing yards.
McKenzie Milton, Central Florida, QB, 5-11, 185, Jr., Kapolei, Hawaii