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Ranking college football’s Week 6 games by surprising-ness

Week 6 may not have packed the most drama we’ve ever seen, but there are always surprising results if you look hard enough.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Texas A&M John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

While there were plenty of oddities as always, week 6 of the college football season didn’t feature any massive surprises. Texas did knock off Oklahoma, but Tom Herman teams almost always play well against the best teams on the schedule. Quite a few top-15 teams lost, but mostly to other good teams.

Still, in the always silly sport of college football, there are always some jarring results if you dig deep enough.

Let’s look back at Week 6 action by looking at the difference between projection and reality. S&P+ had another excellent week overall, going 32-23-1 against the spread (58 percent) and 34-22 on over-unders (61 percent). Its absolute error — the average difference between projected and actual scoring margin — was 12.8; generally, anything in the 12- to 14-point range is solid, and anything below 12 is excellent.

Using the S&P+ projections as a guide, let’s look at which games played out as expected and which ones very, very much did not.

Projection and reality within 3 points of each other

NCAA Football: Maryland at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
  • WMU 27, EMU 24 (projected margin: WMU by 2.9)
  • Michigan 42, Maryland 21 (projected margin: UM by 20.9)
  • Troy 37, Georgia State 20 (projected margin: Troy by 16.7)
  • South Carolina 37, Missouri 35 (projected margin: SC by 1.1).

Yep, just a totally run-of-the-mill, exactly-as-expected game right here.

  • UCF 48, SMU 20 (projected margin: UCF by 28.9)
  • Washington State 56, Oregon State 37 (projected margin: Wazzu by 17.9)
  • Houston 41, Tulsa 26 (projected margin: UH by 16.4)

Houston needed a late-game explosion to make this an “expected” result but did so.

  • Colorado 28, Arizona State 21 (projected margin: CU by 5.4)
  • Ohio State 49, Indiana 26 (projected margin: OSU by 21.3)

A lot of gamblers rejoiced when Ohio State elected to kill the clock instead of scoring one last time late in the game.

  • Wisconsin 41, Nebraska 24 (projected margin: UW by 19.1)
  • USF 58, UMass 42 (projected margin: USF by 18.1)
  • Georgia 41, Vanderbilt 13 (projected margin: UGA by 25.6)
  • Fresno State 21, Nevada 3 (projected margin: FS by 15.4)

3 to 7 points off

NCAA Football: Boston College at North Carolina State James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
  • NC State 28, Boston College 23 (projected margin: NC State by 8.1)

BC scored the last 20 points to turn a Wolfpack blowout into something far more standard.

  • Buffalo 34, CMU 24 (projected margin: UB by 13.6)
  • Memphis 55, UConn 14 (projected margin: UM by 36.1)

Somehow UConn is still failing to clear a really, really low bar.

  • Arizona 24, Cal 17 (projected margin: UA by 1.5)
  • Hawaii 17, Wyoming 13 (projected margin: UW by 1.6)
  • Texas A&M 20, Kentucky 14 (projected margin: UK by 0.05)

If overtime didn’t exist, S&P+ would have absolutely nailed this one.

  • Florida 27, LSU 19 (projected margin: UF by 1.8)

If Florida’s late pick six had been a simple interception, followed by a draining of the clock, S&P+ would have nailed this one, too.

  • Alabama 65, Arkansas 31 (projected margin: Bama by 27.3)
  • NIU 24, Ball State 16 (projected margin: NIU by 1.2)

7 to 17 points off

NCAA Football: Tulane at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
  • Cincinnati 37, Tulane 21 (projected margin: UC by 8.6)

Cincinnati continues to exceed expectations. The Bearcats are very much a year ahead of schedule.

  • FAU 52, ODU 33 (projected margin: FAU by 11)

Some gamblers probably rejoiced when FAU elected to keep scoring late, if you get what I’m saying.

  • Ohio 27, Kent State 26 (projected margin: OU by 9.4)
  • WVU 38, Kansas 22 (projected margin: WVU by 26.5)

This basically played out as expected, only WVU’s Will Grier threw two red zone interceptions in the first half.

  • Baylor 37, Kansas State 34 (projected margin: BU by 14.5)
  • Colorado State 42, San Jose State 30 (projected margin: CSU by 0.4)
  • Toledo 52, Bowling Green 36 (projected margin: UT by 27.8)
  • Iowa 48, Minnesota 31 (projected margin: Iowa by 5.1)
  • UL-Lafayette 42, Texas State 27 (projected margin: UL by 2.6)
  • NMSU 49, Liberty 41 (projected margin: Liberty by 5.4)

Game one goes to the Aggies. If Liberty ties the series in the rematch, can we arrange for them to play a rubber-match bowl game?

  • Pitt 44, Syracuse 37 (projected margin: Cuse by 6.4)
  • Notre Dame 45, Virginia Tech 23 (projected margin: ND by 8.2)
  • Mississippi State 23, Auburn 9 (projected margin: AU by 0.9)

It’s a game of inches, friends.

  • Texas 48, Oklahoma 45 (projected margin: OU by 11.8)
  • UTSA 20, Rice 3 (projected margin: UTSA by 1.7)
  • Miami 28, Florida State 27 (projected margin: Miami by 17.5)

Miami pulled off a fierce rally, but from a statistical standpoint, this was still a disappointing performance.

Way off (17-28 points)

NCAA Football: Utah State at Brigham Young Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports
  • Utah State 45, BYU 20 (projected margin: USU by 7.8)

Man. S&P+ has been very high on USU this year but still wasn’t nearly high enough on Friday night.

  • Washington 31, UCLA 24 (projected margin: UW by 24.5)

Signs of offensive life for Chip Kelly’s Bruins?

  • Illinois 38, Rutgers 17 (projected margin: UI by 2.0)
  • Iowa State 48, Oklahoma State 42 (projected margin: OSU by 13.2)

That’s four home upset losses in two years for the Pokes.

  • San Diego State 19, Boise State 13 (projected margin: BSU by 13.3)

My first thought in seeing this score midway through the game: “Oh no, is Brett Rypien hurt?” Nope. But he did throw two picks and get sacked four times.

  • UAB 28, Louisiana Tech 7 (projected margin: UAB by 1.2)
  • Miami (Ohio) 41, Akron 17 (projected margin: Miami by 3.6)
  • Utah 40, Stanford 21 (projected margin: Stanford by 4.8)
  • MTSU 34, Marshall 24 (projected margin: Marshall by 13.8)
  • Northwestern 29, Michigan State 19 (projected margin: MSU by 14.0)

Michigan State is having itself one strange season. Actually, both teams are, aren’t they?

  • Ole Miss 70, ULM 21 (projected margin: Rebels by 24.0)
  • Georgia Southern 48, South Alabama 13 (projected margin: GS by 9.8)

Way, way off (more than 28 points)

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
  • Temple 49, East Carolina 6 (projected margin: Owls by 14.3)
  • Georgia Tech 66, Louisville 31 (projected margin: GT by 5.9)

There was no “Paul Johnson has been waiting a long time to run up the score on Brian VanGorder” adjustment baked into S&P+. A clear flaw in the algorithm.

  • North Texas 27, UTEP 24 (projected margin: UNT by 32.9)

Two weeks ago, UNT looked like maybe the best team in the entire Group of Five. And then the Mean Green lost at home to Louisiana Tech and tried really hard to lose to what has been the worst team in FBS.

  • Clemson 63, Wake Forest 3 (projected margin: Clemson by 23.9)
  • Air Force 35, Navy 7 (projected margin: Navy by 10.4)

This is truly one of the nation’s most underrated-ly strange rivalries. What is supposed to happen almost never seems to happen.

  • New Mexico 50, UNLV 14 (projected margin: UNLV by 6.5)

UNLV’s star quarterback, Armani Rogers, didn’t play. The effect was, um, noticeable.