Kim O'Reilly, CBS Sports

A Red River runs through it. Well, if you're Texas and Oklahoma headed to the SEC.

The two giants, which accounted for a large part of the Big 12's glory over the years, get a giant sendoff Saturday in the Cotton Bowl. The Longhorns and Sooners, respectively ranked No. 3 and No. 11 in the latest Power Rankings, will battle with the winner not only gaining the inside track to its last Big 12 title but to the College Football Playoff as well.

If you need to be reminded, Texas has never been to the CFP. It has been almost four seasons for OU. So far in 2023, two of college football's top stories are Steve Sarkisian turning around the 'Horns in Year 3 and Brent Venables' quickly turning around his Sooners in Year 2.

Texas is 5-0 for the first time since 2009. Oklahoma is the only team in the country to average at least 47 points offensively and allow less than 11 points defensively. And then there's the bitterness lingering within the OU program after last year's 49-0 skunking at the hands of UT.

Come for the turkey legs, stay for the fried ice cream at the Texas State Fair in what should a 2024 tentpole game.

In other Power Rankings chatter:

  • Is it time to open up the Is-Georgia-really-No. 1 discussion? The Bulldogs have trailed by double digits in consecutive SEC games for the first time since 2016.
  • Welcome to the top 15, Kentucky. Ray Davis' 280 yards against Florida are the second-most ever against the Gators.
  • Alabama-Texas A&M this week looks like an elimination game in the SEC West.
  • Notre Dame had its heart ripped out against Ohio State but remains a playoff contender as the highest-ranked one-loss team after winning at Duke.
Biggest Movers
12 Kentucky
10 Utah
1 Georgia Most unlikely showdown of the season? Kentucky comes to Sanford Stadium this week with the SEC East lead at stake. The Dawgs better not be looking ahead. They barely survived against an Auburn team that proved it could play. -- 12-0
2 Florida State Bye. Take a deep breath, Seminoles, you've earned it. Up next Virginia Tech, Syracuse and Duke, all at home. Take a deeper breath. An undefeated regular season looks more than possible. -- 12-0
3 Texas The Horns set up Red River by scoring the last 20 points of the game against Kansas. This is going to be good. Really good. Oklahoma is much improved in all phases. You might have heard but Texas is back, too. -- 11-1
4 Michigan On the last day of September, Michigan played its first road game. It didn't matter. As the calendar flips to October, the Wolverines just get better with age. The 38-point margin against Nebraska was the largest of the season. The defense had the audacity to allow its third touchdown of the season. 1 12-0
5 Ohio State Bye. Ryan Day took advantage of the off week to go antiquing with Lou Holtz. Day elbowed Lou out of the way for the best bargains because, know, Day is more physical. 1 11-1
6 Washington The Huskies' attention wandered late against Arizona, but we're not going to hold that against them. With a bye coming up, the countdown begins for the Oregon game in two weeks. You can feel the hate from here. -- 12-0
7 Oregon Colorado shouldn't feel bad. Or maybe it should. Oregon beat Stanford by the exact score it clocked CU, 42-6. The Ducks get two weeks to prepare for what might be the Pac-12 game of the year at Washington. -- 11-1
8 Notre Dame You might say Notre Dame needed a ... prayer. Sam Hartman provided it with a 17-yard first-down scramble on fourth-and-16. That kept alive a 10-play, 95-yard scoring drive to win at Duke with 31 seconds left. Marcus Freeman can breathe again. 1 9-3
9 Penn State After a halftime tie against Northwestern, the Nittany Lions outscored the Wildcats 31-3 in the second half. Since losing to Ohio State last season, Penn State has won 10 in a row, all by double digits for the first time in 110 years. Guess who looms in two weeks? (Ohio State, duh.) 1 10-2
10 USC The sideline world has officially become unhinged when Marshawn Lynch stood on the USC sideline wearing a No. 21 Trojans jersey. In other news, Caleb Williams threw a career-high in touchdown passes (six) to beat Colorado. -- 7-5
11 Oklahoma Red River prep couldn't have gone better. Dillon Gabriel continued an All-America(-like) season. The defense slipped in the first half against Iowa State, but when averaging almost half a hundred per game, who cares? 5 10-2
12 Alabama Bama is not only back, it has an identity. In flicking aside Mississippi State, Nick Saban decided to pound Jase McClellan and rely on a series of designed runs with QB Jalen Milroe. Bama has made a mid-course correction. In a wide-open SEC West, don't count it out. 1 11-1
13 Kentucky Somewhere, Florida is looking for pieces of its shattered dreams on the ground. Ray Davis made the Gators his daddy by rushing for that career-high 280 yards and four TDs. A showdown with Georgia is next. 12 7-5
14 Washington State Bye. What would you do if your livelihood was threatened by realignment? God bless Jake Dickert for speaking out. Keep bringing the heat. You're right about everything. It has been painful to watch what has happened to the Cougars and Beavers. 1 5-7
15 Oregon State Remember this name: Silas Bolden. The Oregon State WR scored rushing and receiving to shock Utah. The Utes had been giving up 51 yards rushing per game; they got gashed for 227 against the Beavers. Amaze your friends with this stat: Oregon State is 14-4 in its last 18 games; Alabama is 15-3. 3 8-4
16 Ole Miss Wow did Lane Kiffin need that one over LSU. All it took were 711 total yards, the most by Ole Miss in its SEC history. For the first time in 25 years, the Rebels amassed 300 yards rushing and passing. Oh, and the LSU win probably saved the season after the debacle against Alabama. 3 10-2
17 North Carolina Bye. UNC lawyers spend the week on a working vacation poring over the ACC grant of rights one more time to see if there is a way out. On a more serious note, there is no reason the Tar Heels shouldn't be 9-0 heading into the Duke game on Nov. 11. 3 8-4
18 Tennessee The obliteration of South Carolina showed what the Vols can be. Six sacks of Spencer Rattler. Joe Milton III threw for 239 yards. Bye this week before playing Texas A&M, Alabama and Kentucky in consecutive weeks. 1 8-4
19 Duke There was no shame in losing to Notre Dame. There was a lot of pain -- both physical and mental. Notre Dame converted a last-minute touchdown to win it. Then Blue Devils QB Riley Leonard fumbled, got hurt and eventually left the field on crutches. 5 7-5
20 Miami (FL) Bye. The Texas A&M win looks better by the day. The Aggies took care of business against Arkansas to move back into the Power Rankings. Georgia Tech is next. 1 7-5
21 Missouri Brady Cook might be the most underrated SEC QB. After dispatching Vanderbilt, he has thrown a conference-record 348 passes without an interception. The kid has a brass set -- and a pretty good arm. Sellout this week vs. Jayden Daniels and LSU at Faurot Field. 2 10-2
22 Utah Playing without Cam Rising finally got to the Utes. Nate Johnson completed only 8 of 23 passes, and the offense was held to 3.1 yards per play against Oregon State. After being pulled, Johnson apologized on social media as one does. 10 8-4
23 Louisville You shouldn't have to be told Jeff Brohm was the perfect fit for the Cardinals. They gutted out a 3-point win at NC State to become a factor in the ACC. The Wolfpack blew a 10-point lead at home. NR 10-2
24 Maryland What a time to be a Tagovailoa. Tua is ruling the NFL. Taulia leads the Big Ten in yards and touchdown passes. The Terps are 5-0 for the first time since 2011. We'll see really quick if it all is for real. Ohio State is next. NR 7-5
25 Fresno State The Group of Five front runner won its 14th in a row in taking care of Nevada. The winning streak is the second-longest in school history and the second-longest in the country. NR 8-4

Out: LSU, Colorado, Kansas