A thrilling weekend as college football moves to the business end of the season. Upset losses for Michigan State, Wake Forest and Baylor left their Playoff hopes in jeopardy while four top 10 teams - Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State and Cincinnati - all hung on for close wins.
It's all to play for, here's my highlights of the week...
Starting with the Big Ten...
No.3 Michigan State 29-40 Purdue
An early turnover from Michigan State's Heisman-contending running back Kenneth Walker III set the tone in West Lafayette, handing the early initiative to Purdue. The Boilermakers scored their second win over an top 10 ranked team this season, following their defeat of then No.2 Iowa earlier in the year. At times they played like they should be contending.
Purdue quarterback Aidan O'Connell amassed 536 yards passing and the highlight play of the day - a 39-yard double-reserve flea-flicker to Jackson Anthrop, giving his team a 21-7 lead.
Walker, guilty of the earlier fumble, finished with 146 rushing yards and a touchdown, but Purdue remained out of reach for their first win over the Spartans in eight games and a place in the Top 25, handing Michigan State their first loss of the season.
No.5 Ohio State 26-17 Nebraska
Ohio State have been on a roll in recent weeks, although Nebraska ran them close in Lincoln. Cornhuskers quarterback Adrian Martinez's one-yard run reduced Ohio State's early lead to six at 23-17 but Nebraska missed two field goals before Martinez was picked off by Buckeyes' linebacker Steele Chambers with under a minute remaining.
Ohio State's receivers are arguably the most potent in college football and while Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson have been the headline-makers, Jaxon Smith-Njigba was front and centre of Page One against Nebraska. The sophomore receiver caught 15 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown as the Buckeyes won their 27th straight Big Ten win.
Indiana 7-29 No.7 Michigan
Hassan Haskins and a dominant Michigan run game moved the Wolverines back into Playoff contention in a comfortable win over Nebraska in Ann Arbor. Haskins ran for a career-high 168 yards and a touchdown as Michigan move to 8-1 with some big conference matches with Penn State and Ohio State looming.
Elsewhere in the Big Ten...
While the Big Ten East features key matchups with Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State in forthcoming weeks, the Big Ten West division is really tight. In-form Wisconsin and Purdue, Minnesota and Iowa are all sitting on 4-2 conference records.
No.21 Wisconsin recorded their fifth straight win, racking up 305 rushing yards in a 52-3 rout of Rutgers. No.22 Iowa benched quarterback Spencer Petras in favour of Alex Padilla who led them to a 17-12 win over Northwestern, moving the Hawkeyes to 7-2 overall.
No.20 Minnesota's four-game home winning streak came to an end to a gritty Illinois team, losing 14-6. The Illini are finding their feet this season, this win coming off the back of their upset of Penn State two weeks ago. The Big Ten's star performer this week was undoubtedly Jahan Dotson. The Penn State receiver caught 11 passes for a school-record 242 yards, scoring three touchdowns in a 31-14 win over Maryland, moving the Nittany Lions to 6-3.
Jostling for position in the SEC...
LSU 14-20 No.2 Alabama
Alabama have somehow held on to the No.2 spot at this point in the season. If they are going to defend their national crown, they will have to improve an unusually shaky offensive line which failed to adequately protect Bryce Young or get the running game going against an aggressive LSU team.
The Tigers came to Tuscaloosa desperate for a win that could have thrown the Crimson Tide's season into disarray. Coach Ed Orgeron was bold with his play calls, shunning field goal opportunities to try and convert fourth downs instead, and set the tone early with this brilliant trick play from punter Avery Atkins on a fourth-down.
Jameson Williams, the Ohio State transfer, delivered again in another crucial game. His 10 catches for 160 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown reception from Young made the difference, moving Alabama to 8-1.
No.13 Auburn 3-20 No.14 Texas A&M
Texas A&M suffocated Auburn with a stellar defensive performance in front of a lively 108,000 crowd in College Station. The Aggies limited the visiting Tigers to just 266 yards, and turned the ball over twice. With a win over Alabama in their back pocket, Texas A&M, currently 7-2, has a chance to win the SEC West. Their next game is away at the entertaining Ole Miss and they finish their campaign at LSU. Auburn could do them a favour as they host Alabama in the Iron Bowl in two weeks.
Liberty 14-27 No.16 Ole Miss
Hugh Freeze returned to his old stomping ground in Oxford, leading his Liberty team to a showdown at Ole Miss between two standout Heisman-contending quarterbacks, Malik Willis and Matt Corral. Ole Miss and Corral had the better of it, jumping to a 24-0 lead, their quarterback completing 20 of 27 passes for 324 yards but held to just nine yards rushing, due to a lingering ankle injury. The Rebels held on for a 24-17 win, sacking Willis nine times and intercepting him three times.
No.1 Georgia continue to look head and shoulders above the chasing pack in the SEC, and the rest of college football. They made short work of Missouri, winning 43-6 in Athens, with J.T. Daniels and Stetson Bennett IV both seeing playing time at quarterback.
Tennessee upset No.18 Kentucky in a game for fans of the offense. Josh Heupel's team won 45-42. Kentucky QB Will Levis had three touchdown passes. Arkansas moved into the CFP Top 25 with an edgy 31-28 win over No.17 Mississippi State. Florida's season goes from bad to worse. They were thrashed 40-17 by South Carolina and move to a lowly 4-5.
In the mix...
Tulsa 20-28 No.6 Cincinnati
446 yards of offense from Tulsa gave Cincinnati some trouble and perhaps an indication why the College Football Playoff Selection Committee don't rate the Bearcats as a top contender, despite their 9-0 record. Cincinnati's offense misfired, losing leading rusher Jerome Ford to injury early on while a Desmond Ridder fumble gave the Golden Hurricane the ball back on the Bearcats' five-yard line. Thankfully, Cincinnati's defense shut Tulsa out on four consecutive plays and kept their team in the hunt for a place in the Playoff.
No.4 Oregon 26-16 Washington
An atrocious weekend for sailgaters in Seattle as Washington hosted Oregon in this PAC-12 matchup which the Ducks needed to win to keep their national challenge alive. Despite a shaky start for quarterback Anthony Brown, Oregon took command through their ground game, Travis Dye running for 211 yards, filling the sizeable gap left by the injury to C.J. Verdell, moving the Ducks to 8-1.
No.9 Wake Forest 55-58 North Carolina
Image credits: Bradenton Herald (Sam Howell) and BVM Sports (Sam Hartman)
In the battle of bearded Sams, quarterbacks Hartman and Howell of Wake Forest and UNC respectively treated us to another thriller in Chapel Hill. A year after losing 59-53 in this fixture after having a 21-point lead, the Demon Deacons again struggled to hang on in the second half. Sam Hartman passed for 398 yards, his fifth straight game with over 300 yards' passing, throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for 78 yards. His opposite number, Sam Howell, ran for 104 yards and accounted for three touchdowns as the Tar Heels' ground game wore down the Demon Deacons.
North Carolina running back Ty Chandler had a career day. The Tennessee transfer rushed for 4 touchdowns and 213 yards as UNC recovered an 18-point deficit, moving to 5-4. Wake Forest host North Carolina State in a huge ACC game this weekend.
"We have a championship game next Saturday"
- Wake Forest Head Coach Dave Clewson.
Elsewhere in the ACC...
No.19 North Carolina State (7-2) warmed up for Wake Forest with a 28-14 win over Florida State and No.25 Pitt bounced back from their surprise loss to Miami with a 54-29 win over Duke, moving to 8-2. Duke's Jaylen Stinson stole the show, with a sensational 86-yard kickoff return.
Clemson moved to 6-3 with a 30-24 win over Louisville thanks to a critical defensive stop from James Skalski. They are in rebuild mode for next season. Miami's future looks bright in the hands of freshman quarterback Tyler van Dyke. He led the Hurricanes to a 33-30 win over Georgia Tech. He has thrown 10 touchdown passes and just one interception in his last three games, with a 72% completion rate. One to watch.
The Big 12...
No.12 Baylor 28-30 TCU
In the week of their Head Coach Gary Patterson being fired, TCU were fired up for their game at home to Baylor, scoring an upset win in one of the oldest Big 12 rivalries. Horned Frogs quarterback Chandler Morris passed for 461 yards and the TCU defense made a clutch interception with just over a minute left to dent Baylor's postseason hopes.
No.11 Oklahoma State continue to look dangerous in the Big 12, registering eight sacks in a 24-3 win over West Virginia. Texas continue to slump, slipping to 4-5 after a 30-7 loss on the road to Iowa State, who move to 6-3 on the back of 136 yards rushing from Breece Hall. Texas were held to just 207 total yards on offense.
Special mention to...
Arizona. They snapped a 20-game losing streak, the nation's longest, with a 10-3 win over California. They held the Bears to 122 yards on offense.
Games to look out for this week:
No.11 Texas A&M travel to take on high-scoring No.15 Ole Miss. A win for the Aggies keeps them in contention thanks to their win over Alabama. Expect lots of points in Oxford.
No.6 Michigan heads to Beaver Stadium to face Big Ten rivals Penn State knowing a win keeps them in the frame for a potential division-deciding game at home to Ohio State in the last week of the regular season.
In the Big 12, an intriguing matchup sees unbeaten No.8 Oklahoma face No.13 Baylor in Waco, giving the Caleb Williams-led Sooners the chance to force their way into the Top 4.
Here's this week's CFP Top 25...
Rank Team Record
1 (1) Georgia Bulldogs 8-0
2 (2) Alabama Crimson Tide 8-1
3 (4) Oregon Ducks 8-1
4 (5) Ohio State Buckeyes 8-1
5 (6) Cincinnati Bearcats 9-0
6 (7) Michigan Wolverines 8-1
7 (3) Michigan State Spartans 8-1
8 (8) Oklahoma Sooners 9-0
9 (10) Notre Dame Fighting Irish 8-1
10 (11) Oklahoma State Cowboys 8-1
11 (14) Texas A&M Aggies 7-2
12 (9) Wake Forest Demon Deacons 8-1
13 (12) Baylor Bears 7-2
14 (15) Brigham Young Cougars 7-2
15 (16) Ole Miss Rebels 7-2
16 (19) North Carolina State Wolfpack 7-2
17 (13) Auburn Tigers 6-3
18 (21) Wisconsin Badgers 6-3
19 (-) Purdue Bpilermakers 6-3
20 (22) Iowa Hawkeyes 7-2
21 (25) Pittsburgh Panthers 8-2
22 (24) San Diego State Aztecs 8-1
23 (-) UTSA Roadrunners 9-0
24 (-) Utah Utes 6-3
25 (-) Arkansas Razorbacks 6-3