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Week 7 - Washington tops Oregon in a Pac-12 thriller and Notre Dame gives USC a reality check...

No.8 Oregon 33-36 No.7 Washington

Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze had a big game against Oregon (Image credit: AP/Lindsey Wasson)

The refusal of the Pac-12 to drift off into the sunset continues. This is a conference boasting some competitive teams (three in the top 10 going into Week 7) and outstanding quarterbacks running high powered offenses. This showdown, in the most beautiful setting in Seattle, was reminiscent of a gunfight at the O.K. Corral, with Washington's Michael Penix Jr. and Oregon's Bo Nix trading shots, in an enthralling 36-33 win for the Huskies.

Penix, rising rapidly up the Heisman rankings, threw for 302 yards, and impressed with his composure under pressure. Struggling after a mid-game injury, Penix led Washington on a two-play, 53-yard drive, culminating in an 18-yard touchdown pass to Rome Odunze which gave them a critical lead with just two minutes remaining. Odunze finished with 128 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Bo Nix won't be far behind him in the Heisman voting. Oregon's quarterback completed 75% of his passes, 33 of 44 attempts for 337 yards and two touchdowns, one to Patrick Herbert, brother of Chargers' quarterback and Oregon alumnus Justin, the other to Troy Franklin who had 154 receiving yards.

However, the Ducks' failed fourth-down conversion late in the fourth quarter and the missed 43-yard field goal on the last play of the game that was decisive in a fantastic game, handing Oregon their first loss of the season, moving to 5-1.

Expect these two teams to meet again this season, likely for the Pac-12 championship.

“You’re looking at the Heisman Trophy winner right there,” Washington receiver Rome Odunze on his quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

No.10 USC 20-48 No.21 Notre Dame

Notre Dame safety Xavier Watts (0) intercepted USC quarterback Caleb Williams twice. (Image credit: AP/Michael Caterina)

You could see this result coming. USC, having escaped on the road with close victories over Colorado and then beating Arizona in overtime, faced their biggest test of the season in South Bend as they faced Notre Dame in the battle for The Jewelled Shillelagh.

The Fighting Irish, bouncing back from a loss to Louisville, were in less forgiving mood than USC's competition to date. Trojans' quarterback Caleb Williams was harassed and harried by an aggressive Notre Dame defense who registered six sacks and three interceptions. Notre Dame safety Xavier Watts, one of the best in the country, intercepted two from Caleb Williams’ passes and returned a fumble for a touchdown as Notre Dame dealt USC its first loss and moved to 6-2.

Both of Watts's interceptions against Williams were in the first half, the highlight being a 15-yard scoop-and-score. Benjamin Morrison’s interception led to Audric Estime’s 1-yard dive over the line that put the Fighting Irish comfortably ahead.

USC will hope to rejuvenate their season when they host Utah this weekend, while Notre Dame has a bye week before they host Pitt in Week 9.

"Obviously, we were coming off a loss to Louisville. I was kind of angry from that. This was a big rivalry game. I just wanted to come out and dominate." Notre Dame safety Xavier Watts

No.18 UCLA 24-36 No.15 Oregon State

(Image credit: Ali Gradischer/The Oregonian)

Oregon State's defensive back, Ryan Cooper Jr., made a game-changing play by intercepting the ball and returning it for a 67-yard touchdown late in the first half of the Beavers' Pac-12 home win over UCLA.

DJ Uiagalelei had an impressive performance under center for Oregon State, completing 14 of 24 pass attempts for 266 yards and two touchdowns. Kicker Atticus Sappington added three field goals for the Beavers, who improved their record to 6-1, with a 3-1 Pac-12 conference record. Beavers' receiver Jack Velling caught three passes for a total of 83 yards, two for touchdowns.

Freshman quarterback Dante Moore completed 15 of 34 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown, throwing three interceptions. Despite their efforts, UCLA fell to 4-2, and 1-2 in the Pac-12.

No.12 North Carolina 41-31 No.25 Miami

Tar Heels' wide receiver Devontez Walker scored three touchdowns against Miami (Image credit: AP/Chris Seward)

North Carolina receiver Devontez “Tez” Walker caught three touchdown passes for

132 yards on his six catches in his first start for the Tar Heels as Miami were beaten 41-31 in Chapel Hill. Omarion Hampton had another superb game, scoring two touchdowns, one passing and one rushing. North Carolina's running back ran for 197 yards rushing and added 20 yards in the air.

The No.12 Tar Heels, now 6-0, are establishing themselves as Florida State's biggest threat in the ACC. Quarterback Drake Maye has some weapons in his offense. He threw for 273 yards and four touchdowns. Miami counterpart Tyler Van Dyke threw for 391 yards and four touchdowns, two to Xavier Restrepo. Miami move to 4-2.

"His presence is a game changer," North Carolina coach Mack Brown on Devontez Walker

No.11 Alabama 24-21 Arkansas

Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe accounted for three touchdowns against Arkansas (Image credit: AP/Vasha Hunt)

Jalen Milroe showcased his dual-threat abilities, leading Alabama to a hard-fought victory against a resilient Arkansas team visiting Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide managed to stave off a late-game rally by the Razorbacks to maintain their unbeaten record in the SEC.

Milroe orchestrated Alabama's offense with two touchdown passes and added a touchdown on the ground. The Crimson Tide almost lost an 18-point lead in the third quarter before Arkansas mounted a spirited comeback. Alabama's quarterback orchestrated a crucial final drive, successfully keeping the Razorbacks' potent offense at bay during the game's crucial moments.

Last week, they had to fend off Texas A&M, holding on for a 26-20 win after recovering a late onside kick. This week, their offense ground itself back from three consecutive three-and-out possessions, managed to eat up the clock in the final 5 minutes and 19 seconds, securing a critical win.

Alabama kicker Will Reichard broke the SEC's all-time scoring record, with 481 points in his career to date for the Crimson Tide.

Elsewhere in the Top 10...

Despite a rapidly advancing No.7 Washington applying Playoff pressure, the six teams above the Huskies going into Week 7 delivered solid performances.

No.1 Georgia eased to a 37-20 win over SEC rival Vanderbilt, but suffered a scare with Brock Bowers suffering a high ankle sprain. Bulldogs' running back Daijun Edwards helped carry the offensive load with 146 yards and a touchdown.

As you were for the Top 10 teams in the Big Ten. No.2 Michigan thrashed Indiana 52-7, with quarterback J.J. McCarthy remarkably efficient under center, completing 14 of 17 pass attempts for 222 yards and three touchdowns. and No.3 Ohio State started their game with Purdue 34 unanswered points in a 41-7 beating of Purdue. Kyle McCord passed for 276 yards, with two of his three touchdown passes going to impressive tight end Cade Stover.

Awaiting Ohio State this weekend will be No.6 Penn State who moved to 6-0 with a 63-0 shutout of Massachussetts. Nittany Lions quarterback Drew Allar threw for three touchdowns and ran for another. UMass were reduced to just 109 total yards offense.

In the ACC, No.4 Florida State, like North Carolina, remain unbeaten after dismissing Syracuse 41-3. The outstanding Seminoles receiver Keon Coleman caught nine receptions for 140 yards.

No.5 Oklahoma and No.9 Texas had bye weeks.

AP Top 25

The top four and potential places remain occupies by Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State and Florida State. After their thrilling win over Oregon, Washington advance two places to No.5, leapfrogging Penn State and inactive Oklahoma.

Two teams with key conference wins moved up. 6-0 North Carolina broke into the Top 10, while Oregon State jumped up three spots after their win over UCLA. The biggest risers, unsurprisingly, were Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish jumped up six positions to No.15 after their humbling of USC, who, unsurprisingly fell eight places to No.18. In addition to UCLA (down seven places to No.25), Louisville were the other big fallers. dropping to No.21 after their surprise loss to Cincinnati.

College football games to watch in Week 8

No.7 Penn State @ No.3 Ohio State - A huge game in the Big Ten between two top-tier unbeaten teams. Penn State could seize their chance of a Playoff place with a victory over the Buckeyes in Columbus.

No.2 Michigan @ Michigan State - Although the two in-state rivals seem further away than ever, the pride of Michigan and Paul Bunyan Trophy are up for grans for the winner. Michigan needs a win to maintain their high ranking while the Spartans will be looking for a win in front of their East Lansing fans to restore some faith in a forgettable season.

No.16 Duke @ No.4 Florida State - An important showdown in the ACC as the impressive Blue Devils travel to Tallahassee to face Florida State. With Washington impressing by the game, the Seminoles will be keen to hold on to their Playoff spot.

No.14 Utah @ No.18 USC - The Trojans, humbled by their loss to Notre Dame, will be keen to get their season back on track at home to defending Pac-12 champions Utah.

No.17 Tennessee @ No.11 Alabama - The Crimson Tide, unbeaten after their early season loss to Texas, will be keen to stamp their authority on the SEC and exact revenge after their 52-49 loss in Knoxville last year.

Across The Pond College Football Podcast

Rebecca and I are back next week after a couple of weeks' holiday, all episodes so far are available on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

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