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At halftime of the Wisconsin game, when the Badgers were getting shown up by Georgia Southern 7-7, I was thinking about all of the things they weren’t doing very well. And thinking that if they continued to play this like this, they would be in for a rough ride this fall.

Then they fell behind 14-7 to start the third quarter. Oops.

Then they scored 28 straight points to win 35-14. And then Luke Fickell, the new savior, said all the right things about how the Badgers were playing crappy—I’m paraphrasing—but they just needed to get their junk together, make some halftime adjustments and go play.

As the day went on, I noticed that plenty of supposedly superior teams were underachieving on Saturday. Georgia was losing to South Carolina 14-3 at the half in its 24-14 win. Alabama was tied with South Florida at the half and leading by a mere 10-3 before a last-minute touchdown made the final 17-3.

Florida State escaped from struggling Boston College 31-29. Tennessee, which seemed poised to finally break its Swamp drought, flat-out lost 29-16 at Florida, which had looked underwhelming at Utah.

Closer to home, Minnesota, my Big Ten West dark horse, got drilled 31-13 at North Carolina. And Iowa, Wisconsin’s perennial challenger in the Big Ten’s ``other’’ division, was losing to Western Michigan 10-7 until it scored just before halftime.

The Hawkeyes went on to win 41-10, putting offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, who needs to average 25 points a game, in the black for the first time this season.

The point is, college football is up for grabs this fall. More so than usual. Murch more so, actually. 

It’s an emotional rollercoaster. That’’s one of the big reasons people love it.

Two other reasons: School colors.

And most importantly. . . the downfield blocking rule: ``In the NFL, offensive linemen are only allowed to go one yard downfield when blocking on a pass play. In college, they are allowed to go three yards down field. The further the offensive line can go downfield, the more it tricks the defense during play action and run-pass option plays.’’

I mention that rule at length because that rule changes everything. It’s a key reason why college football is filled with unpredictable craziness and the NFL tends to be meat-and-potatoes.

Isn’t it nice, by the way, to see the SEC juggernauts feeling like they’re about to hit an iceberg? Or run aground? I’ll believe it when I see it. In other words, the high anxiety about programs like Alabama, Georgia and LSU is premature.

At least one team from Waffle House country will be in the playoff. And if the SEC rep isn’t the favorite, the teams that are supposedly better will be quaking in their cleats.

The second point is, even with a four-team playoff, each game is a big deal. And teams had better show up. Because there are plenty of underdogs that nobody is thinking about.

The only exception is Colorado. Which dodged a big bullet from Colorado State while we were sleeping on Saturday night. Face it. Coach Prime is Superman.

Does Oregon have the kryptonite? The oddsmakers say so. Deion’s neon Buffaloes are a three-touchdown underdog at Oregon this week (2:30 p.m. Central, ABC). Three touchdowns? Even if two-way star Travis Hunter, victim of a late hit by the Rams. Boo! Expect that betting line to drop.

The headliner this week is especially juicy in Flyover Country: Ohio State travels to Notre Dame (6:30, NBC). 

The Irish have looked more like world-beaters so far than the perennial Buckeyes.

Notre Dame only has one win of modest note, at N.C. State. The Buckeyes, though, have no wins that really have told much. In Wake Forest transfer Sam Hartman, the Irish have found their quarterback. In promoted apprentice Kyle McCord, Ohio State will find out on Saturday night.

If Notre Dame wins, its chief obstacle to an unbeaten season is USC at home on Oct. 14. That assumes that Clemson, where ND plays on Nov. 4, continues to be toothless. We’ll find out about that on Saturday, when the Tigers play Florida State (11 a.m., ABC).

If Ohio State wins, it still has Penn State and Michigan to deal with.

This assumes, of course, that Duke, Louisville and Stanford—which all have home opportunities with the Irish—won’t mess with Notre Dame's plans. And that Wisconsin, which welcomes the Buckeyes on Oct. 28, will be a treat, not a trick.

Speaking of the Badgers, they’ll play an appetizer at Purdue on Friday night (6 p.m., FS1). The chances are that the Boilermakers, a one-touchdown underdog, won’t mess with Fickell’s chance for a first Wisconsin road win, after that dyspeptic performance at Washington State.

Then again. It’s college football. Make assumptions at your own peril.