What seemed like a ho-hum day — all of the CFP contenders won — most certainly was not.
Early during its eventual win over North Alabama, the ACC’s lone unbeaten team, Florida State, lost starting quarterback Jordan Travis in a gruesome leg injury that will almost certainly end his season. Travis’ leg twisted while being tackled. He was carted off the field and then transported away from the stadium in an ambulance.
The injury leaves the Seminoles down, arguably, their most important and experienced player with two games left before the CFP selection committee’s final rankings. The Noles (11-0) will play at Florida next week and against Louisville in the ACC championship game with an inexperienced backup.
Can they complete a run to the playoff without Travis? Even at 13-0, is FSU a real threat to contend in the playoff? The CFP committee does consider injuries when evaluating teams.
Many questions linger in what is the most significant injury blow to any CFP contender so far. And, boy, there are plenty of contenders!
There are five 11-0 Power Five teams; it’s believed to be the first time in the modern era for such a circumstance. Throw in one-loss Oregon, one-loss Alabama and one-loss Texas and suddenly, there are still eight teams alive for a playoff run.
But plenty more unfolded away from the CFP battle. James Madison took its first loss of the year (in overtime to App State), Virginia stunned coach Mike Elko and Duke, Jerry Kill and New Mexico State took down Hugh Freeze and Auburn, and UCLA coach Chip Kelly responded to rumors about his future with a rout in the Coliseum.
There was more, too. Northwestern, under recently named permanent coach David Braun, reached bowl eligibility, and off the field, Notre Dame struck an extension with TV partner NBC, continuing the Irish’s existence as an independent.
Enough already. To the Top 10, where there is a new No. 1!
1. Georgia Bulldogs
This week: won 38-10 at Tennessee
Next week: at Georgia Tech
Best win: vs. Ole Miss
This Kirby Smart team is more than just about defense. The Bulldogs can score and score quickly. QB Carson Beck has thrown multiple touchdown passes in four straight games, and UGA has scored at least 30 points in six straight games. Once appearing vulnerable in some early season games, Smart’s team looks like the winner of 28 consecutive games.
This week: won 37-3
Next week: at Michigan
Best win: vs. Penn State
The Buckeyes have outscored their last three opponents 110-22. The Ohio State team that struggled with Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Penn State has been replaced with a juggernaut. Let’s keep in mind the last three opponents (Rutgers, Michigan State and Minnesota), but still, coach Ryan Day’s club enters The Game riding high.
This week: won 22-20 at Oregon State
Next week: vs. Washington State
Best win: vs. Oregon
The Huskies survived the Corvallis Test. In a rowdy atmosphere, Jonathan Smith’s team gave unbeaten Washington a fight. In the end, QB Michael Penix Jr. made enough plays to seal the win, but it was far from easy. He finished the night 13-of-28 for 162 yards. The Apple Cup is only thing standing in the way of an undefeated regular season.
This week: won 31-24 at Maryland
Next week: vs. Ohio State
Best win: at Penn State
In one of their sloppiest offensive performances of the season, the Wolverines can thank their defensive front for moving to 11-0 (two safeties, a blocked punt and scoop-and-score). But did Maryland expose a vulnerability? A week ahead of The Game, Michigan got its first fourth-quarter test of the season. Judging by QB J.J. McCarthy’s performance in College Park, it won’t be the last!
This week: won 58-13 vs. North Alabama
Next week: at Florida
Best win: vs. LSU
Get to know the name Tate Rodemaker. FSU’s backup quarterback is taking over for the injured Jordan Travis. A junior from Georgia, Rodemaker threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns after Travis went out. FSU scored 58 unanswered after falling behind in a 13-point hole to the FCS Lions, but as discussed above, Travis’ injury looms over the Seminoles’ next couple weeks.
6. Oregon Ducks
This week: won 49-10 against Arizona State
Next week: vs. Oregon State
Best win: at Utah
Is there a team playing more dominant football right now than Oregon? Outside of Georgia, the Ducks are playing as well as anyone. Scary good, in fact. QB Bo Nix threw for more than 300 yards and six touchdowns in the first half against the Sun Devils during a thorough beating Saturday that serves as an appetizer to the main course next weekend: the Civil War.
This week: won 26-16 at Iowa State
Next week: vs. Texas Tech
Best win: at Alabama
QB Quinn Ewers seems fully healthy and the Longhorns survived a trip to Ames (not always so easy). Texas continues to keep alive a chance to advance to the College Football Playoff. The Longhorns need a few things to break their way, but the most important part is to keep putting up W’s. Steve Sarkisian’s team has won five straight since the loss to Oklahoma.
This week: won 66-10 vs. Chattanooga
Next week: at Auburn
Best win: vs. Ole Miss
Remember the Tide’s loss to Texas? Boy, that seems like ages ago. Coach Nick Saban’s team has won nine straight games and got a tuneup on Saturday ahead of the Iron Bowl against Hugh Freeze and Auburn. On Saturday, QB Jalen Milroe had as many incompletions (3) as he had touchdown passes. Not bad!
This week: won 33-31 vs. Florida
Next week: at Arkansas
Best win: vs. Kansas State
The magic of Missouri’s 2023 season continues. QB Brady Cook led a last-second, game-winning drive to keep the Tigers’ hopes alive for a New Year’s Six bowl game. A win over Arkansas next week should secure that postseason trip and keep alive a chance to hit the 11-win mark for the first time since 2014.
This week: won 38-31 at Miami
Next week: vs. Kentucky
Best win: vs. Notre Dame
The only blemish on Louisville’s schedule is a dud of a performance at Pitt on Oct. 14. The Cardinals don’t do anything special. They’re not real flashy. And they’ve survived some serious scares. But in Jeff Brohm’s first season, he’s taken UL to the ACC championship game with a real shot at winning the thing.