Caleb Williams pulled a rabbit out of his hat — or the ball from the arms of his teammate on a key fourth down — to help Oklahoma avoid the ugliest of ugly losses.
Alabama and Ohio State continued to roll in the wake of earlier losses, with the Crimson Tide putting down rival Tennessee and the Buckeyes’ offense pouring it on another helpless Big Ten defense.
There may be few changes near the top of this week’s USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll, but key games in the SEC and Big Ten promise to shake things up before the end of October. Here’s how the top 10 of this week’s poll may look:
1. Georgia (7-0)
The mighty Bulldogs were off Saturday, giving coach Kirby Smart the chance to head down to New Orleans and spend his Friday night watching 2023 quarterback recruit Arch Manning. Georgia now gets set for rival Florida, in a grudge match that could turn ugly for the Gators.
2. Oklahoma (8-0)
What’s the penalty for almost losing to Kansas? Will there be one? Not in this case. For one, knocking Oklahoma down a peg would mean promoting Cincinnati, which might be hard to do after the Bearcats struggled against Navy. Alabama? Maybe, especially based on the way the Crimson Tide have looked the past two weeks. It’s very likely that OU stays at No. 2.
3. Cincinnati (7-0)
The Midshipmen made Cincinnati sweat in a 27-20 win, raising the possibility that Alabama moves ahead of the unbeaten Bearcats and takes over at No. 3. For now, that Cincinnati is undefeated should be enough to fend off the Crimson Tide. But how long can that last? It’s clear that one-possession wins against the bottom teams in the American won’t cut it.
4. Alabama (7-1)
Bryce Young threw for 371 yards with four touchdowns, two on the ground, as Alabama extended its long winning streak against Tennessee. It wasn’t always easy: UT led 14-7 at halftime and drew within a touchdown in the fourth quarter but was eventually washed away by the Tide’s explosive offense. Since that surprising loss to Texas A&M, the Tide have outscored Mississippi State and the Volunteers by a combined 68 points.
5. Ohio State (6-1)
How good is this offense? It’s just the best in college football. It’s also why OSU is suddenly looking more and more like the biggest threat to Georgia’s potential undefeated march to the national title. The Buckeyes have now topped the 50-point mark in four straight games and are the team to beat in the Big Ten. But that’s not enough at this point to break into the top four of the Coaches Poll.
6. Michigan (7-0)
Michigan did to Northwestern what most teams have done to the young and inexperienced Wildcats — dominate, basically. Behind 457 yards of offense and 28 first downs, the Wolverines pulled off a 33-7 win that comes as a breath of fresh air after a run of close games to start Big Ten play.
7. Michigan State (7-0)
After an off Saturday, the Spartans get ready for a brutal conclusion to the regular season. That begins with Michigan on Oct. 30, then Purdue, Maryland, Ohio State and Penn State in November. The good news is that the Wolverines, Terrapins and Buckeyes come at home. Will talk of Mel Tucker being a major candidate at LSU become a distraction?
8. Oregon (6-1)
Does anyone remember that Oregon beat Ohio State last month, and on the road, no less? Unfortunately, the Ducks’ play in the month since has been too spotty to take advantage, allowing the Buckeyes to move way ahead in the polls and in the race for the national semifinals. The Ducks could use a run of blowouts to close the regular season.
9. Ole Miss (6-1)
Ole Miss added another solid win, this time against LSU, and should leap ahead of Iowa and land inside the top 10. Would that be fair? The Rebels are obviously flashier and more exciting than the Hawkeyes, who are neither flashy nor exciting. But Iowa does have Top 25 wins against Iowa State and Penn State. Ole Miss has only one win against a team then in the Coaches Poll, beating Arkansas, but the Razorbacks have since lost that national ranking.
10. Iowa (6-1)
Look for Iowa to climb back into the top 10 after plummeting from No. 2 to No. 11 following a bad loss at home to Purdue. Of course, the Hawkeyes aren’t helped by the Boilermakers’ loss on Saturday to Wisconsin. But after losses from Penn State and Oklahoma State, who else moves ahead of Iowa? The Irish are the only other real option.
Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg