The business end of the college football season is upon us. One loss can make all the difference at this time of year as we roll into November where places in the College Football Playoff, conference championships and Bowl games can all be impacted by a shaky weekend or inspiring victory.
Key losses for Oklahoma, North Carolina and Oregon State have dented their momentum. USC hung on for a one-point win, while Oregon and Washington are impressing by the week and are poised to take advantage of any slip ups by teams currently in the highly sought-after places in the top four and a place in the semi-final of college football's national championship. Don't you just love it?
No.6 Sooners slip up against Jayhawks, 38-33.
The race for the Big 12 has pepped up. No.6 Oklahoma, in the driving seat after their Red River Rivalry win over Texas were in the driving seat for a ticket to the conference championship game in Arlington. Their surprising loss on the road in Lawrence to a determined Kansas team has opened the race up again.
The Jayhawks managed to muffle Oklahoma's passing attack, restricting the lively Dillon Gabriel to just 171 passing yards, although he ran in three touchdowns on the ground and gained 64 yards rushing. The Sooners' ground attack was bolstered by 146 yards and a touchdown from running back Tawee Walker, while Kansas ran in four touchdowns with Devin Neal gaining 112 rushing yards.
Kansas secured their first win in eighteen meetings between the two teams and moved to a 6-2 record. They face Iowa State in Ames next weekend. Oklahoma fell to 7-1 and slipped four places in the AP Top 25, critically, three below bitter rival Texas. The Sooners can ill afford another loss in conference play and face a tough "Bedlam" showdown against Oklahoma State on the road in Stillwater.
Yellow Jackets upset No.17 North Carolina, 46-42.
Haynes King completed 23 of 30 passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns as Georgia Tech surprised No.17 North Carolina. King's 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brett Seither with 4:28 to play gave the Yellow Jackets a surprise win in Atlanta. North Carolina were up by 11 points at the start of the fourth quarter, but succumbed to an unranked ACC opponent for the second week in a row, after their loss to Virginia last weekend.
Drake Maye had 310 total yards and three total touchdowns as the Tar Heels slipped to 6-2. One bright spot for North Carolina is the impressive form of their prolific running back Omarion Hampton, who ran for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Hampton has 923 rushing yards for the season already, joint fifth in the country, and ten touchdowns.
With Florida State looking like the cream of the ACC crop, Clemson slipping by the week, Louisville rising, and Miami also 6-2, North Carolina have their work cut out to reach the championship game. The Tar Heels host 4-4 Campbell in Chapel Hill next week, while Georgia Tech travel to 2-6 Virginia.
No.8 Oregon beat defending Pac-12 champion Utah, 35-6.
Bo Nix turned in another composed performance under center as No.8 Oregon eased past back-to-back defending Pac-12 champions No.13 Utah. The Ducks' quarterback completed 24 of 31 passes for 248 yards and three total touchdowns. Running back Bucky Irving was electric. A deceptively tall 5'10", Irving's strength and pace were evident as he bulldozed his way to 119 total yards and a touchdown. Troy Franklin added 99 receiving yards.
Oregon, now 7-1, were rarely troubled and look like they have improved since their three-point loss to Washington in Week 7. These two teams could meet in the Pac-12 championship game. Utah, however, look out of the running. With news of Cam Rising being ruled out for the season, the Utes' chances of a three-peat are slim to none. Bryson Barnes has performed admirably at quarterback in Rising's absence but he was picked off twice, completing just 51% of his passes for 136 yards. Oregon face Cal at home while Utah hosts Arizona State.
"I just want to say it again: Bo Nix is the best quarterback in the nation. Just to be really clear. I don't think there's any doubt about that." Oregon coach Dan Lanning.
No.1 Georgia outclasses Florida in Jacksonville, 43-20.
Florida threatened to make this SEC matchup interesting by scoring on their opening drive, but it was all Georgia after this as the No.1 Bulldogs stamped their authority in a third straight win over the Gators.
In the absence of arguably college football's best tight end in Brock Bowers, Ladd McConkey seemed at ease spearheading Georgia's offense, finishing with 135 receiving yards. Running back Daijun Edwards ran in two touchdowns and 95 yards while Carson Beck threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns.
With the decisive end to the season arriving, Georgia are hitting their stride at the right time. With upstart Missouri up next, their last three games see them take on No.11 Ole Miss, No.19 Tennessee and rivals Georgia Tech, so they still have plenty to do to ensure their spot in the Playoff and retain their crown.
"With Brock out, had Ladd step up and make plays. We've gotta keep him healthy because he's such a weapon. He's such a competitor." Georgia coach Kirby Smart on Ladd McConkey.
In the Top 10...
The top four teams seem to be distancing themselves from a chasing pack.
While No.1 Georgia strolled to victory over Florida, No.2 Michigan (and No.9 Alabama) had a bye week. No.3 Ohio State looked comfortable in a 24-10 win over Big Ten rival Wisconsin. Marvin Harrison caught two touchdown passes, taking his tally for the season to 8, while gaining 123 receiving yards. The Buckeyes welcomed back TreVeyon Henderson, who rushed for 162 yards and a touchdown.
Jordan Travis continues to impress for No.4 Florida State. The Seminoles' quarterback passed for 359 yards and accounted for four total touchdowns in a 41-16 thumping of Wake Forest. Running back Trey Benson scored twice and had 155 total yards of offense.
Closing in on the top four are No.5 Washington. The Huskies beat Stanford 42-33 in a surprisingly competitive game for their fifteenth straight win. New Heisman favourite Michael Penix, Jr had another outstanding game at quarterback, passing for 369 yards and four touchdowns. With 2,945 passing yards this season, he is the leading passer in the country. No.6 Oklahoma's loss meant No.7 Texas had a chance to move back into Big 12 contention, and seized this with a 35-6 win over Brigham Young in Austin. Maalik Murphy stepped in at quarterback for the injured Quinn Ewers, who is listed as week-to-week.
Rounding off the active teams in Week 9, No.10 Penn State beat Indiana 33-24 to move to 7-1.
It's never a dull moment watching USC. The No.24 Trojans hung on for a wild 50-49 victory over Cal, who missed a two-point conversion that would have clinched victory with 58 seconds left. Caleb Williams accounted for four total touchdowns on 369 yards passing, and running back Marshawn Lloyd had 187 total yards on offense, scoring twice. Golden Bears quarterback Fernando Mendoza threw for 292 yards and had four total touchdowns, while sophomore back Jaydn Ott sliced open the USC defense, running in three touchdowns before the second quarter had barely started. He finished on 153 yards.
City rivals No.23 UCLA handed Colorado another loss, winning 28-23. UCLA are 5-0 when they score 25 points or more. The Bruins sacked Shedeur Sanders seven times and held the Buffaloes to just 25 yards rushing. In a disappointing day for Colorado where Shilo Sanders was ejected for targeting, Travis Hunter provided some bright spots after his return from injury, including a spectacular interception, one of two on the afternoon.
No.16 Oregon State fell to Arizona, 27-24 in another upset. The Wildcats move to 5-3 while Oregon State falls to 6-2.
AP Top 25
As you were in the top five places. No.1 Georgia remains at No.1 after their comfortable win over Florida. No.2 Michigan had a bye week. No.3 Ohio State and No.4 Florida State won comfortably to remain in the Playoff places. Oregon moved up two spots to No.6 while Texas, Alabama and Penn State leapfrogged Oklahoma to make up the remainder of the top ten.
In addition to the Sooners, the big fallers were North Carolina, who tumbled out of the Top 25, Oregon State and Utah who now sit at at No.16 and No.18 respectively. Notre Dame, LSU and Missouri climbed two spots each while Louisville (7-1) and UCLA (6-2) jumped up three places.
College football games to watch in Week 10
No.10 Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State - The 117th and possibly last (for a while) Bedlam takes place in Stillwater with the Sooners desperate to revitalise their season against their state rival.
No.13 LSU @ No.8 Alabama - Both teams have a shot at getting into the SEC championship game, but LSU will have to upset the odds against the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa to get there.
No.5 Washington @ No.24 USC - Michael Penix, Jr. vs. Caleb Williams? Two high-scoring teams in a shootout in the Rose Bowl? Count me in.
No.12 Notre Dame @ Clemson - This game looked much more attractive at the start of the season but Clemson will be playing for pride against the Fighting Irish at Death Valley.
No.14 Missouri @ No.1 Georgia - Missouri are 7-1 and looking good. Could they be the first team to really test Georgia, on the road in Athens? Michigan, Ohio State, Florida State and the SEC will be hoping so.
Across The Pond College Football Podcast
Rebecca and I review an interesting Week 9 filled with upsets from Kansas, Georgia Tech and Arizona. We also talk about Washington and Oregon advancing in the playoff picture, and preview Week 10. Please have a listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.