Big wins for Ohio State and Michigan set up their showdown this weekend beautifully, while No.3 Oregon tumble out of the Playoff picture, replaced by Cincinnati, who finally make the Playoff places. Can they hang on to become the first team outside the Power 5 conferences to make the College Football Playoff?
Also, Star Wars banter, the oldest college football rivalry game was decided and we head into Rivalry Week with most divisions to be decided. Exciting stuff.
Here's my highlights of the week:
No.7 Michigan State 7-56 Ohio State
Wow. Both teams came into this game with 9-1 records, looking to battle for a place in the Big 10 championship. A crowd of 101,858 at "The Shoe" witnessed a massacre. Ohio State racked up 500 offensive yards in the first half, racing to a 49-0 lead. They scored touchdowns on each of their first seven possessions as the stat lines took a hammering. C.J. Stroud lifted himself into Heisman contention with six first half touchdown passes and 17-straight pass completions. Stroud completed 32 of 35 passes overall, for 432 yards before leaving the game in the third quarter. He had quite the arsenal at his disposal. Receivers Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba caught five touchdowns between them, all going over a hundred yards.
Michigan State were overwhelmed by the Buckeyes' defense, with star running back Kenneth Walker III literally limping through and then out of the game, held to just 26 yards rushing before a sore ankle ended his campaign.
“They’re a very talented team. In all three phases they outplayed us. And so it is what it is. Give them credit, they beat us. They were a much better team today, and that was obvious.” - Michigan State coach Mel Tucker
No.6 Michigan 59-18 Maryland
Michigan set the tone for a huge rivalry matchup with Ohio State in Ann Arbor this weekend, easing to a 59-18 win over Maryland. Freshman quarterback Cade McNamara has settled into the Wolverines offense, opening up Michigan's pass attack. He completed 21 of 28 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns, before being rested to give some reps to backup J.J. McCarthy. True freshman receiver Donovan Edwards played in the absence of Blake Corum and caught 10 receptions for 170 yards, the highlight being this 77-yard touchdown.
All eyes on Ann Arbor for the game of the weekend.
No.3 Oregon 7-38 No.23 Utah
The Pac-12 and Oregon's dreams of a Playoff place were brutally ended by an inspired Utah team who effectively ended the contest at half time, going in with a 28-0 lead, thanks to Britain Covey's 78-yard touchdown on a punt return. Utes running back Tavion Thomas ran in three touchdowns, giving him sixteen for the season and Brant Kuithe caught five passes for 118 yards receiving. The Ducks' offense couldn't get going and will be geared up for revenge in a potential Pac-12 championship showdown. Their loss, so frustrating after a headline win at Ohio State earlier in the season, ends their national championship hopes.
SMU 14-48 No.5 Cincinnati
They're in! Cincinnati started fast against Southern Methodist University knowing they needed a big performance to elevate them into the hallowed Top 4 and give them a shot at the College Football Playoff. The Bearcats didn't disappoint, overwhelming the Mustangs and moving to 11-0, likely facing No.24 Houston in the AAC title game next weekend.
Unsurprisingly, quarterback Desmond Ridder was the star of the show. He threw for 274 yards and three touchdown passes, ran for another and caught one, a football version of a full house. Ridder's catch on a flea-flicker pass from receiver Jordan Jones put Cincinnati up 34-0 and out of sight.
Charleston Southern 7-56 No.1 Georgia
Could it finally be their year? Georgia remained undefeated and moved to 11-0 for the first time since 1982, extending their winning streak to fifteen games with a 56-7 drubbing of Charleston Southern. The Bulldogs held the Buccaneers to just 53 yards and gave Jordan Davis, their 6'6" 340lb standout defensive end and arguably the most dominant player in the country on that side of the ball, a rare lineup on offense. Davis ran in a touchdown to the delight of the 92,000 crowd in Athens. Georgia were able to give run outs to both quarterbacks Stetson Bennett and J.T.Daniels, combining for three touchdown passes.
No.21 Arkansas 35-42 No.2 Alabama
A spirited Arkansas team threw everything but the kitchen at Alabama in this lively encounter in Tuscaloosa. Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman, surely a contender for coach of the year with the transformation he has overseen in Fayetteville, threw blitzes and trick plays at the Crimson Tide. The Arkansas defence sacked Alabama QB Bryce Young four times and a fourth quarter fake field goal attempt led to a 31 yard pass and first down from holder Reid Bauer to Blake Kern. Razorbacks receiver Treylon Burks caught eight passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
The Tide and Young showed their class. The Heisman front-runner passed for an Alabama-record 559 yards, breaking a 52-year old record, and was the second highest pass yardage in SEC conference history. John Metchie, with 173 yards and a touchdown, and Jameson Williams with 190 yards and four touchdowns, were his favourite targets.
In the Big12...
No.9 Oklahoma State warmed up for this week's Bedlam match with Oklahoma, shutting out Texas Tech 23-0 in Lubbock. Their rivals, No.13 Oklahoma finally put their recent jinx opponent Iowa State behind them, beating the Cyclones 28-21, winning their tenth straight game at home.
No.11 Baylor held off Kansas State 20-10 but will be concerned about Gerry Bohanon after the Bears quarterback limped off with a hamstring injury. Texas and their leaky defense fell apart again, losing their sixth consecutive game, 23-31 to West Virginia, for their first losing season since 2016. Freshman running back Keilan Robinson, a transfer from Alabama, was a bright spark, running for a 49-yard touchdown. Mountaineers quarterback Jarrett Doege threw for three touchdowns.
In the Big Ten...
Outside of Michigan and Ohio, there were some games with implications for the Big Ten title game. No.15 Wisconsin are on a roll, moving to 8-3 with a 35-28 win over Nebraska at Camp Randall. 17-year old freshman running back sensation Braelon Allen ran for 228 yards and three touchdowns, including a game-breaking 53-yard touchdown run to clinch the win for the Badgers. Stephan Bracey ran in a spectacular 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown...
No.17 Iowa beat Illinois 33-23 with the highlight being a 100-yard touchdown punt return from Charlie Jones.
In the SEC...
Revenge was sweet for Missouri as they beat Florida 24-23 in overtime on a two-point conversion reception by David Parker, Jr. Florida coach Dan Mullen, fired after the loss which put Florida on 5-6 for the season. Mullen had bizarrely worn a Darth Vader costume in the press conference following their win over Missouri last year on Hallowe'en last year. Tigers coach Eli Drinkwitz, in this year's press conference, put his hood over his head, picked up a lightsaber and simply uttered "may the force be with you", much to the amusement of the gathered press corps.
Matt Corral played his last game in Oxford as No.12 Ole Miss moved to 9-2, their best start since 1990, with a 31-7 win over Vanderbilt.
In the ACC...
With the Coastal Division title on the line, No.18 Pitt beat Virginia 48-38 to clinch the title for the second time in school history and move to 9-2 and the ACC title game.
They could face No.10 Wake Forest, who will have to wait another week to win the Atlantic title after a 48-27 humbling loss to Clemson, who are suddenly finding their form, The Tigers defense sacked Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman seven times. No.20 North Carolina State beat Syracuse 41-17, while Florida State beat Boston College 26-23, ahead of their in-state rivalry match with Florida this weekend.
UCLA dominated L.A. rivals USC 62-33 with a huge game from quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The Bruins signal-caller completed 16 of 22 passes for 349 yards and four touchdowns, also running in two scores. Kazneir Allen returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, also running for 115 yards and another touchdown as UCLA recorded their first win over the Trojans in three years.
Cal beat Stanford 41-11 in the other game of note in the Pac-12.
UTSA Roadrunners stayed unbeaten at 11-0 with a 34-31 win over UAB and the oldest rivalry in college football was settled when LeHigh Mountain Hawks beat Lafayette Leopards 17-10, their 157th meeting.
It's Rivalry Week! Games to look out for:
No.5 Michigan hosts No.2 Ohio State in a titanic rivalry game that will decide the Big Ten East and a likely place in the College Football Playoff. Can Jim Harbaugh finally beat the Buckeyes?
No.10 Oklahoma travels to No.7 Oklahoma State in the Bedlam Battle. Caleb Williams will need to stay away from the terrifying Cowboys' defense in a potential Big 12 decider.
No.3 Alabama take on Auburn in the latest instalment of the Iron Bowl that has delivered some classics over the years. Without Bo Nix, I can't see anything other than an Alabama win.
No.14 Wisconsin face Minnesota in this Big ten West showdown and the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe. Wisconsin seals the West title with a win, while Minnesota have to win, hope Purdue win and Iowa lose.
Here's this week's CFP Top 25...
Rank Team Record (previous week ranking in brackets)
1 (1) Georgia Bulldogs 11-0
2 (4) Ohio State Buckeyes 10-1
3 (2) Alabama Crimson Tide 10-1
4 (5) Cincinnati Bearcats 11-0
5 (6) Michigan Wolverines 10-1
6 (8) Notre Dame Fighting Irish 10-1
7 (9) Oklahoma State Cowboys 10-1
8 (11) Baylor Bears 9-2
9 (12) Ole Miss Rebels 9-2
10 (13) Oklahoma Sooners 10-1
11 (3) Oregon Ducks 9-2
12 (7) Michigan State Spartans 9-2
13 (14) Brigham Young Cougars 9-2
14 (15) Wisconsin Badgers 8-3
15 (16) Texas A&M Aggies 8-3
16 (17) Iowa Hawkeyes 9-2
17 (18) Pittsburgh Panthers 9-2
18 (10) Wake Forest Demon Deacons 9-2
19 (23) Utah Utes 8-3
20 (20) North Carolina State Wolfpack 8-3
21 (19) San Diego State Aztecs 10-1
22 (22) UTSA Roadrunners 11-0
23 (23) Clemson Tigers 8-3
24 (24) Houston Cougars 10-1
25 (21) Arkansas Razorbacks 7-4