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Sunday Takeaways: Is this football season taking shape?

Christopher Mast/Icon Sportswire

Sunday Takeaways explores the memorable moments, oddities, trivia and trends from college football’s weekend.

As the College Football Playoff prepares for the first reveal of its weekly standings on Tuesday night, don’t things seem a bit too normal?

Four unbeaten teams. Four leaders of major conferences. Nice and tidy.

Alabama, Clemson, Michigan and Washington (presented in alphabetical order).

Of course, college football doesn’t generally do nice and tidy. While awaiting the next round of chaos, let’s look back at the weekend, which presented another round of fun and frivolity.

YOU HAD A BAD DAY: Halloween came early for the Big 12 Conference, which saw its two unbeaten teams, West Virginia and Baylor, go down in the same day. The Mountaineers were beaten by Oklahoma State, 37-20, while the Bears fell against Texas (for the second straight year), 35-34.

The Big 12, the only major league without a conference championship game, could be shut out of the CFP for the second time in three seasons.

Meanwhile, Nebraska and Boise State also dropped from the unbeaten ranks, joining Baylor and West Virginia as teams that had the biggest bummers.

DR. PEPPERS: More amazing feats were forged by Jabrill Peppers, Michigan’s Swiss army knife. In a 32-23 win at Michigan State, Peppers played 72 snaps (64 on defense, eight on offense) and seven different positions (linebacker, safety, kickoff returner, punt returner, nickel cornerback, wide receiver and quarterback).

Peppers had seven tackles, one sack, his fourth touchdown of the season and a two-point play when he returned a fumble on Michigan State’s two-point conversion attempt.
He also did a celebratory back flip for good measure.

FROM RANKED TO RANK: Michigan State (2-6, 0-5 Big Ten) and Ole Miss (3-5, 1-4 SEC) were ranked in the preseason top 25 poll. Now both programs might not qualify for bowl games. Michigan State still must face Ohio State and Penn State. Ole Miss still has Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State (in an Egg Bowl that might be for bowl survival).

RUNNING WILD: San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey had 223 rushing yards in a 40-13 win against Utah State. That moved him from eighth to fifth place all-time in the FBS record books with a career total of 5,741. He’s within striking distance of the all-time record — 6,397 yards by Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne (1996-99).

RUNNING QBS: University of South Florida junior QB Quinton Flowers rushed for 176 yards in a 52-45 win against Navy. That gave Flowers a season-leading total of 921 for rushing yards by a quarterback. That was on a Friday night. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson went back into the lead with his first carry against Virginia. Jackson rushed for 88 yards, giving him 996 for the season. Both Jackson and Flowers are on pace to rank among the top 10 rushing seasons ever for a quarterback.

East Carolina Pirates wide receiver Zay Jones (7) is tackled by UCF Knights linebacker Pat Jasinski (56) and linebacker Errol Clarke (51) in a game between the East Carolina Pirates and the Central Florida Knights at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, NC. UCF defeated ECU 47 - 29. (Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire)

Zay Jones, football star.(Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire)

YOU DON’T ZAY: The nation’s most unknown ridiculous offensive statistics probably belong to East Carolina wide receiver Zay Jones, who has 114 receptions for 1,094 yards. After a 19-reception game in a 41-3 win against Connecticut, Jones became the No. 2 pass-catcher in Football Bowl Subdivision history.

Jones has 355 career receptions, trailing only his former ECU teammate, Justin Hardy, who had 387.

Jones has games of 22, 19, 18 and 17 receptions this season.

HE’S BACK: Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, a strong preseason Heisman Trophy contender who has dropped off the map due to injuries, had 225 all-purpose yards in a 34-10 win against Arizona. That included 169 rushing yards in 23 carries.

THEY’RE BACK: Speaking of dropping off the map, the Oregon Ducks (3-5) avoided their first six-game losing streak since 1991 by defeating Arizona State 54-35. The Ducks, looking like the Ducks of old, rolled up 734 yards of offense. Freshman QB Justin Herbert completed 31 of 42 passes for 489 yards and four touchdowns.

“We got to sing the fight song,’’ Ducks tight end Pharaoh Brown said. “That was amazing. We’ve been waiting five weeks to sing that song.’’

THE UNBEATEN: We’re down to five in the FBS — Alabama (8-0), Clemson (8-0), Michigan (8-0), Washington (8-0) and Western Michigan (8-0).

ONE-LOSS WONDERS: There are 10 one-loss teams in the FBS — Baylor (6-1), Boise State (7-1), Florida (6-1), Louisville (7-1), Nebraska (7-1), Ohio State (7-1), San Diego State (7-1), Texas A&M (7-1), Troy (6-1) and West Virginia (6-1).

The most likely playoff contenders? In order, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Louisville.

THE TWO-LOSS WONDERS: Finally, because we know you’re curious, there are 20 two-loss teams remaining in the FBS — Appalachian State (6-2), Auburn (6-2), Colorado (6-2), Houston (7-2), LSU (5-2), Middle Tennessee State (6-2), Minnesota (6-2), Navy (5-2), North Carolina (6-2), Oklahoma (6-2), Oklahoma State (6-2), Penn State (6-2), Toledo (6-2), Tulsa (6-2), USF (7-2), Utah (7-2), Virginia Tech (6-2), Washington State (6-2), Wisconsin (6-2) and Wyoming (6-2).

At this moment, it’s difficult to imagine a two-loss team making the playoff.

But if I had to guess …

Oklahoma, which was No. 15 in last season’s initial CFP standings, is playing much better after early season defeats against Houston and Ohio State. The Sooners close the regular season against Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State.

Meanwhile, Auburn suddenly has a five-game winning streak and looks like it could be 9-2 heading into its Iron Bowl matchup against Alabama.

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