The most important development in all of this is that The King Is Dead, or at least he was tripped up for a minute (more on that later). Alabama took on SEC upstart Texas A&M Saturday, a team led by a new coach and a redshirt freshman quarterback. A team running that newfangled spread offense.
This went about the opposite of how everyone expected. TAMU jumped out to a quick 20-0 lead -- that part wasn't all that shocking given recent history -- but then somehow held on. When Bama pushed within a score late, Johnny Football uncorked two beautiful passes in a row to move the offense 66 yards and answer emphatically that the Aggies weren't going anywhere.
This might not be the seismic shift in SEC reality that some are pegging it to be. After all, this isn't the first spread offense led by an exciting quarterback to succeed in the conference. It is, however, a potential death knell to the continued SEC hegemony over the rest of the college football world.
That loss, as losses of this sort often do, served to move everyone else of relevance up one place in line. This, of course, still leaves Notre Dame on the outside looking in. In what is almost unthinkable, Notre Dame can't get enough hype and that old Notre Dame bump in the polls is decidedly lacking.
Granted, the Irish have played a tough schedule on paper, but it is also one that included two Big Ten teams that severely disappointed, a few ACC teams -- never a good look; just ask Florida State -- and by the end of it all, three teams that are common opponents with the consensus top two, which also goes a long way in invalidating those marquee wins as factors to consider when thinking about moving the Irish up.
Still, Notre Dame sits a respectable third in the polls and in most years that is good enough once the grand finale of fireworks and batshit crazy upset losses play out. These rankings aren't etched in stone.
In fact, Matt Hinton lays out the scenario that should be all too familiar to college football junkies: the SEC taking the damn thing over anyway, despite all of our objections.
If Oregon loses one of its final 2-3 games (Stanford, Oregon State, or UCLA/USC), Kansas State loses one of its last two (Baylor or Texas), and Notre Dame loses one of its final two (Wake Forest or USC). then the next spot in line is the winner of the SEC championship game, with a still hanging-by-a-thread one-loss Florida team sitting there as well (and in this scenario, bolstered by a win over Florida State). That is to say nothing of two-loss outfits like LSU and Texas A&M if things get really weird.
Regardless of what we expect, something crazy is almost certain to happen over these last few weeks. I mean, a redshirt freshman running the spread just waltzed into Tuscaloosa and beat the Bama death machine. That all but has to be a precursor to some weird shit.
No matter what it is, odds are once it happens we'll all shake our heads and remark how we didn't see it coming.