With five games matching ranked teams and conference play now in full swing, the first weekend of October was bound to give the national championship race a good shake.
In the day's two biggest games, the higher ranked teams came away with impressive victories.
No. 1 Alabama dominated No. 7 Florida 31-6, handing the Gators their second-most lopsided loss during coach Urban Meyer's six seasons.
Meanwhile, out in the Pac-10, Oregon fell behind by 18 in the first half, then ran away from No. 9 Stanford, 52-31 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene.
No. 8 Oklahoma cemented its place among the contenders with a 28-20 victory against No. 21 Texas in the Red River Rivalry.
The second straight loss for the Longhorns, who played in the BCS title game last season, not only eliminates Texas from the national title chase, it likely will knock them out of the rankings for the first since he 2000 season.
No. 12 LSU needed a big dose of good fortune to beat Tennessee 16-14 in Baton Rouge, in one of the wildest finishes of the season.
Earlier at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Landry Jones threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns, while DeMarco Murray ran for two scores on hurry-up plays for Oklahoma (5-0, 1-0 Big 12).
The Sooners (5-0, 1-0 Big 12) jumped out to a two-touchdown lead in the first quarter, then got bailed out by a muffed punt late for a second straight week. The Longhorns had scored 10 straight points and were set to get the ball back in the final 62 seconds when Aaron Williams dropped a punt and James Winchester recovered it to let Oklahoma run out the clock.
Two plays earlier, Jared Norton had a chance to give Texas (3-2, 1-1) the ball inside the Oklahoma 10 but instead knocked Jones' fumble out of bounds.
The Longhorns lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2007, and following a surprising 34-12 loss at home to UCLA last week, are in danger of falling out of the AP Top 25 for the first time in 10 years.
At Tiger Stadium, LSU squandered what looked like its last chance to pull out a victory, but a Tennessee mistake on the same frantic sequence gave the Tigers one more shot.
LSU (5-0, 3-0 SEC) was confused on third-and-goal from the 1 and allowed the clock to run nearly to zero before a mishandled snap seemingly ended the game and sent Tennessee players streaming onto the field in jubilation.
The celebration was cut short when officials ruled the Volunteers (2-3, 0-2) had 13 defensive players on the field when the ball was snapped. Stevan Ridley then bulled into the end zone from a yard out for the wild win.
(1) Alabama 31, (7) Florida 6
Mark Ingram scored two touchdowns, C.J. Mosley returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown for the Crimson Tide.
Round 2 this season between the last two national champions could come in Atlanta at the SEC title game. Alabama (5-0, 2-0) certainly looked like a team on its way to another championship season.
In front of 101,821 at a blaring Bryant-Denny Stadium, coach Nick Saban's Tide rolled to a 24-0 lead in the second quarter, behind Ingram's two short TD runs and a defense that was buzzing around the ball.
After the Gators (4-1, 2-1) chipped it down to 24-6, Mosley picked off a short pass in the middle of the field by a hurried John Brantley, racing to the end zone for a score that all but wrapped up Alabama's 19th straight victory with 6:10 left in the third quarter.
Ingram ran for 47 yards on 12 carries, Greg McElroy threw for 84 yards and receiver Marquis Maze threw a touchdown pass to Michael Williams out of the wildcat.
Brantley passed for 202 yards with two interceptions, and while he was only sacked once, he took several hard shots.
(2) Ohio State 24, Illinois 13
Terrelle Pryor returned after an injury briefly knocked him from the game, then led Ohio State on a clinching touchdown drive in the closing minutes against Illinois.
Pryor ran for 104 yards and was 9 of 16 for 76 yards and two touchdowns through the air, but he gave Ohio State fans a scare when he needed help off the field early in the third quarter. The star quarterback spent a couple minutes in the locker room before returning to the game.
Illinois (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) put a scare of its own into the Buckeyes (5-0, 1-0) with under 5 minutes to go when it marched down field, but coach Ron Zook elected to kick a field goal on fourth down that made it 17-13, rather than go for the tying touchdown.
The Buckeyes, playing their first road game of the season, responded by going the length of the field for the clinching score.
(3) Boise State 59, New Mexico 0
Kellen Moore was 13 of 18 for 196 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Kyle Efaw, and Boise State shut out lowly New Mexico State.
Doug Martin ran for a 1-yard touchdown and caught a 28-yard TD pass from Moore, as the Broncos (4-0, 1-0 Western Athletic Conference) extended their winning streak to 18 games.
Boise State, guarding against a letdown after victories over Virginia Tech and Oregon State, was the highest ranked team to visit Las Cruces and sure looked the part.
The Aggies (0-4, 0-1) never had a chance. Boise State got 21 points off three New Mexico State turnovers and led 38-0 at the break.
(4) Oregon 52, (9) Stanford 31
Darron Thomas threw for 238 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another 117 yards and a score to lead Oregon.
The Ducks (5-0, 2-0 Pac-10) fell behind 21-3 in the first quarter of the frenzied game, but forced two crucial turnovers in the second half to take control. LaMichael James ran for 257 yards and three touchdowns.
It was Oregon's 13th straight win at Autzen Stadium and 10th consecutive Pac-10 victory.
Stanford (4-1, 1-1) has not won a game while ranked in the top 10 since 1970.
Stanford's Andrew Luck was 29 of 46 for 241 yards and two scores. He was also intercepted twice.
(5) TCU 27, Colorado State 0
Ed Wesley scored twice, TCU's swarming defense forced two fumbles and the Horned Frogs overcame a lethargic start to beat Colorado State.
The Frogs (5-0, 1-0 Mountain West) were making their first trip out of the state of Texas this season and struggled early, leading just 6-0 at halftime.
Wesley's two touchdowns in the third quarter helped TCU pull away from the Rams (1-4, 0-1), who came in as heavy underdogs.
The Frogs rotated in a steady stream of fresh tailbacks all game long as they gained a season-high 346 yards on the ground. Matthew Tucker led the way with 87 yards, while Wesley added 78.
Andy Dalton finished with 67 yards rushing and threw for another 109, including a 39-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Young early in the fourth quarter.
(10) Auburn 52, Louisiana-Monroe 3
Cam Newton connected with Emory Blake on a school-record 94-yard touchdown pass on his first throw and Auburn went on to rout Louisiana-Monroe.
Newton completed 14 of 19 passes for 245 yards with three touchdowns before sitting out most of the second half for the Tigers (5-0), who finally got a stress-free win after three straight close ones. The Southeastern Conference's top rusher, Newton didn't have a carry other than a sack, minimizing punishment in the mismatch.
ULM (1-3) fell to 3-35-1 all time against SEC teams and has been outscored 190-10 in the last four meetings with the Tigers.
Auburn had risen to the Top 10 after three straight wins that weren't decided until the final minutes, but didn't need any drama in this one.
(16) Miami 30, Clemson 21
Jacory Harris tied a career best with four touchdown passes - three to Leonard Hankerson - and Miami opened Atlantic Coast Conference play with a victory.
Harris had all four of his scoring throws in the opening half as the Hurricanes (3-1, 1-0 ACC) led 27-14. Then they called on their top-rated ACC defense to hang on.
Ahead 27-21, cornerback Brandon Harris stopped Andre Ellington on fourth-and-1 from Miami's 20 with 8:20 to go that ended the Tigers comeback.
Jacory Harris followed by leading a mistake-free, 62-yard drive that ended with Matt Bosher's clinching 29-yard field goal.
Clemson (2-2, 0-1) came into the game leading the ACC in fewest turnovers with just two its first three games. But Miami forced the Tigers into three fumbles and three interceptions.
(17) Iowa 24, Penn State 3
Ricky Stanzi threw for 227 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score, and Iowa overwhelmed Penn State for its third straight win over the Nittany Lions.
Adam Robinson added 95 yards rushing for the Hawkeyes (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten), who recorded their biggest win ever over Penn State.
Iowa raced out to a 17-0 lead late in the first half on Stanzi's 9-yard TD pass to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and his 1-yard plunge. The Hawkeyes stopped Rob Bolden on fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the third quarter, and Shaun Prater returned an interception 33 yards for a TD with 1:27 left.
Bolden had 212 yards passing for Penn State (3-2, 0-1), which has scored just six points in a pair of road losses to Alabama and the Hawkeyes.
Washington 32, No. 18 USC 31
Jake Locker engineered a long drive to set up Erik Folk's 32-yard field goal as time expired, and Washington beat USC for the secodn straight season.
Locker passed for 310 yards and rushed for 111 more as the Huskies (2-2, 1-0 Pac-10) racked up 537 yards of offense in their second straight win over the Trojans (4-1, 1-1).
After USC's Joe Houston clanged a 40-yard field goal attempt off the upright with 2:34 left, the Huskies impressively moved downfield in the final minutes of the first meeting between USC coach Lane Kiffin and Washington's Steve Sarkisian, who ran the Trojans' offense together as assistant coaches.
Locker converted a fourth-and-11 from the Washington 24 with 2 minutes left, and Chris Polk rumbled 26 yards to the USC 33 on the next play. Folk's kick set off a celebration of the Huskies' first win at the Coliseum since 1996.
(19) Michigan 42, Indiana 35
Denard Robinson ran 4 yards for a TD with 17 seconds left to give a 42-35 victory at Indiana and complete another spectacular performance by the Wolverines' star quarterback.
Robinson ran 19 times for 217 yards and two scores, completed 10-of-16 passes for 277 yards and three scores and the game-winning drive was almost all about him.
Ben Chappell went 45 of 64 for 480 yards, all school records, and three TDs. Tandon Doss had 15 receptions for 221 yards for Indiana (3-1, 0-1).
The Hoosiers tied the score at 35 when Chappell hooked up with Darius Willis on a 19-yard TD pass with 1:15 to go.
But Robinson answered immediately. With a pass rusher in his face, he found a leaping Junior Hemingway for a 42-yard completion with 21 seconds to go. Robinson ran it in on the next play for the Wolverines (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten).
Virginia Tech 41, No. 23 N.C. State 30
Tyrod Taylor threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Jarrett Boykin with 1:27 left, and Virginia Tech rallied for a victory.
Taylor finished 12 of 24 for 123 yards with three touchdown passes and rushed for 121 yards to lead the Hokies (3-2, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) back from a 17-0 deficit.
Darren Evans rushed for 160 yards and two TDs, David Wilson returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown and Jayron Hosley had three interceptions.
Russell Wilson was 21 of 49 for 362 yards with three touchdown passes for the Wolfpack (4-1, 1-1), whose first appearance in the national rankings since 2003 likely will be a short one.
Josh Czajkowski's 42-yard field goal put N.C. State up 30-28 with 4:42 left.
(24) Michigan State 34, (11) Wisconsin 24
Kirk Cousins lofted a 1-yard touchdown pass to B.J. Cunningham on fourth down with 2:43 remaining, helping Michigan State seal its second straight victory without coach Mark Dantonio.
Dantonio, who had a mild heart attack Sept. 19, planned to return for this game, but the Spartans (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) announced hours before kickoff that he had been hospitalized again Thursday because of a blood clot in his leg. He is expected to recover.
Michigan State overcame three first-half turnovers to remain unbeaten heading into next week's showdown at Michigan.
With Michigan State leading 27-24 late in the fourth quarter, Wisconsin (4-1, 0-1) couldn't stop the Spartans when they decided to go for the touchdown on fourth down near the goal line.
Cousins finished 20 of 29 for 269 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions.
Wisconsin's John Clay was held to 80 yards on 17 carries, snapping his streak of 10 straight games rushing for at least 100 yards. James White picked up the slack, running for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
(25) Nevada 44, UNLV 26
Vai Taua rushed for three touchdowns and caught a fourth as No. 25 Nevada rolled past intrastate rival UNLV to win the Battle for the Fremont Cannon.
The Rebels could do little to stop the Wolf Pack's rushing attack, led by Taua's 188 yards. Nevada scored five touchdowns on the ground on 374 total rushing yards - and never punted.
In a rivalry marked by bad blood between northern and southern Nevadans, Wolf Pack fans poured onto the field as their team let the final seconds tick off the clock.
Taua's scores came on rushes of 2, 3 and 72 yards, along with a 22-yard swing pass from quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick had 97 yards rushing with a touchdown, and 124 yards passing with one touchdown and an interception.
Nevada had 516 total yards, averaging 7.5 yards per play. The Wolf Pack had 29 first downs but faced third down only seven times, converting four times.