Georgia did what championship teams do: it found a way to win when it didn’t have its best stuff, beating Auburn on the road, 27–20. In the Dawgs’ case, it was more about the fact that they’re just not a fully formed unit as they continue trying to find a consistent identity this year. We don’t really know what the best stuff this team has to offer really looks like, but for now, their good is still certainly good enough.

It’s hard to divorce what we’ve seen from the last two seasons from the Dawgs of 2023. Repeating is hard, three-peating is seemingly impossible—no major college team’s done it since the 1930s, and only the Packers have done it in the NFL with one NFL Championship and then the first two Super Bowls. This Georgia team has looked mortal so far. This is the natural state of regression from one of the best defenses we’ve seen in the last two decades in college football to merely just pretty damn good. They lost talent on offense as well and had to replace it with new faces. They’re certainly nowhere near a finished product. But the key player they didn’t lose? Brock Bowers.

There are few better players in college football than the reigning Mackey Award winner. In a tough road spot against Auburn with a rabid crowd, the Dawgs just hit the Bowers button over and over again when they needed it the most, proving that, of all things, a nominal tight end can take over a game.

In the last 20 minutes of the game, Bowers had six catches for 148 yards and a go-ahead TD that ended up being the difference in the game. There was one one-handed catch …

… followed by another that was negated by a penalty. Bowers is quite the security blanket for quarterback Carson Beck, who, as Kirby Smart noted, had not played in a rabid SEC environment before this. He has now—and, thankfully for the Dawgs, he had Bowers to lean on.

SI top 11 (of the week)

1. Texas

Texas finished the 40–16 win over Kansas with 661 yards. It’s a record for the Horns in a Big 12 game right as they look to exit the league. The Horns got a surprise when the late scratch of Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels during warmups forced Jason Bean to start, and after taming the Jayhawks’ varied run game, the Horns exerted their will. Jonathan Brooks’s 218 yards paced Texas as the Red River Showdown beckons next week.

2. Michigan

If you paid attention to Michigan’s 45–7 win over Nebraska, it might have seemed familiar. They’ve played this game before this season, in fact it’s basically the same script every week. The Wolverines get up, and stay up, and there’s nothing you can do about it. We’ll see if anyone can test Michigan before Veterans Day when they face Penn State.

3. Georgia

The Dawgs ended up on top in the end, defeating Auburn in the hotly contested rivalry tilt. Don’t forget about the Georgia defense, by the way. Auburn may not have the offensive threat to push them, but the Dawgs held up and gave their offense enough chances to get going.

4. Oregon

Ho-hum Oregon ripped the Cardinal limb from limb on Andrew Luck’s Stanford Hall of Fame induction day. The Ducks continue their streak of absolutely dominant play with the 42–6 win. Next up? A bye week, followed by Washington.

5. Penn State

The Nittany Lions struggled a bit in the early stages with Northwestern before their quality won out in the end. Penn State has a bye week and then UMass before the showdown with Ohio State.

6. Washington

The Huskies rolled again in another passing showcase over Arizona who, without quarterback Jayden deLaura, simply didn’t have enough firepower to keep up. Then again, who does in college football at the moment?

7. USC

The Trojans got up early on Colorado but had to hold on for a bit at the end in order to win. The problem was, again, the porous defense that let Colorado score at will in the second half to the point Deion Sanders said after the game he was confident if his team had gotten the onside kick they would have scored. But they didn’t, and the Trojans roll on undefeated.

8. Notre Dame

Irish eyes are smiling after gutting out a one-score win in a tricky road environment. Duke gave Notre Dame everything it could handle, but the Irish were able to win 21–14 thanks to late heroics from Sam Hartman.

9. Oklahoma

Oklahoma played a complete game against a worthwhile opponent, dominating in all phases to beat Iowa State, 50–20. Hitting one’s stride the week before Red River is just what the doctor ordered.

10. Alabama

Remember them? Don’t bury the Tide just yet. Remember what Alabama is: a talented, yet flawed team that will hang its hat on defense and hopefully a rushing attack. When things work, as they did Saturday night, it looks like a sweet symphony of Jalen Milroe giving the offense an added dimension. A pick-six from the defense doesn't hurt either.

11. Oregon State

The Beavers hosted Utah on Friday night, and this isn’t your familiar Utah. The Utes just did not have any offense whatsoever to pose a threat against the Beavs. In the end, Oregon State outlasted the Utes and rebounded from the tough game against Washington State last week.

SI Players of the Week: Ray Davis, Kentucky RB; Walter Nolen, Texas A&M DL

  • Anytime you’re on a list with a guy named Shipwreck Kelly then you know you’re doing something right. Davis exploded for 280 rushing yards against the Gators. According to ESPN, the number tied him with Mr. Kelly—who rushed for 280 in 1930—for third all-time in Kentucky history. It was also the second-most rushing yards allowed by Florida in a game.
  • Pick anyone from Texas A&M’s defense, which notched 15 tackles for loss against Arkansas in Jerry World. But Nolen is living up to his lofty recruiting ranking with three TFLs, one of which was a sack. It was a big day all around for the Aggies’ defense.

Did you see that?

  • You won’t see many catches better than this from Roman Wilson against Nebraska:
  • A penalty made UAB head coach Trent Dilger angry. You won’t like him when he’s angry:
  • Incredible move from Sam Hartman to wait after the game to give props to his injured counterpart, Riley Leonard. An incredible display of sportsmanship:
  • Where’s my Rice student ID when I need one?:
  • I still have no idea what this meme means but it’s great in this context:
  • UCF didn’t win, but Timmy McClain’s Herculean effort to try and keep the game alive did not go unnoticed: