It's reached the time of year where just surviving is going to be enough. Recent history suggests that there will only be about a handful of undefeated or one-loss teams at the end of the regular season, and heading into Week 8 there were 21 teams in the AP Top 25 with less than two losses. The elimination game usually plays out two ways: unexpected upsets in conference play and shake ups from big-time games between ranked teams. 

Notre Dame was the big winner from one of those top 25 battles this week, not only beating USC but dominating nearly every aspect of the matchup. The Irish looking like a College Football Playoff team is the story of the week as they cashed in on a spotlight game with one of their best performances of the season. Notre Dame will jump a few teams in the new college football rankings on Sunday and land as one of the top-ranked one-loss teams in the country. If Notre Dame can keep that profile alive down the stretch, it will have a great argument for the playoff. 

For teams like Miami, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, Week 8 was all about survival. All three top-10 teams were on the ropes against conference foes, each delivering just one more play than the opponent in the final minutes to keep their status as a conference and national title contender. None of the three teams would count Saturday's win a spotlight game for a playoff debate, but avoiding the loss keeps them in the discussion. 

The polls won't see a ton of changes thanks to these favorites surviving, but Week 8 should be yet another reminder that more upsets and shake-ups are coming for the teams in the top 25.   

Here's how we think the new AP Top 25 poll will look on Sunday.

1. Alabama (Previous -- 1): Until (or if) they lose, the Crimson Tide will not only remain in the No. 1 spot but likely remain as the unanimous or near-unanimous No. 1 team in the polls. Alabama can yawn its way through entire quarters as long as it flips the switch in crucial moments like it did in a 45-7 win against Tennessee. I like it refer to these moments as times when their collective superstardom is "activated," and often it's inspired by the competition among teammates. They push each other because the opponent is not competitive enough for their hunger, and even when Nick Saban calls off the dogs the second, third- and even fourth-string players are just as good as most FBS starters. While everyone else was surviving, Alabama was thriving.     

2. Penn State (2): The hype for next Saturday's game in Columbus against Ohio State is already at a fever pitch; it started when Saquon Barkley broke free for a 69-yard touchdown run on the first offensive possession of the game against Michigan. The Nittany Lions' offense showed all of its weapons against one of the better defenses in the country and never seemed to struggle in the blowout whiteout win. 

3. Georgia (3): The Bulldogs were off in Week 8. 

4. TCU (4): The Horned Frogs blasted Kansas. The win was never in question, but the Jayhawks had just 3 yards of offense and just one first down at halftime as TCU cruised to an easy 43-0 win. 

5. Wisconsin (5): It seems like the Badgers are the most-questioned top-10 team. The slow rise as one of the last undefeated teams has put Wisconsin in a position that would suggest playoff contention, but few experts seem ready to jump on board because of the strength of schedule. Wisconsin can't control who it plays, but it can control how it wins and this 7-0 start has been defined by beating teams up on the ground. Freshman running back Jonathan Taylor just broke the 1,000-yard mark and will likely end up taking down some school freshman records on the way to leading a Big Ten title run.   

6. Ohio State (6): The Buckeyes were off in Week 8.

7. Clemson (7): The Tigers were off in Week 8.

8. Miami (8): As the playoff debate heats up, Miami's string of narrow wins could become a data point used against the Hurricanes, but I'm on board with Mark Richt in thinking that these performances will only make the team stronger and the program better moving forward. These experiences will be the reference points when things get tough against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame later this year, with confidence already established in the Canes' ability to come up big in clutch moments. 

9. Notre Dame (13): The Irish ground game is dominant. The 49-14 win against USC was the fourth time in seven games this year that Notre Dame has had multiple 100-yard rushers in the same contest. Brandon Wimbush had one of his best games yet with four total touchdowns (two passing, two rushing), and a Notre Dame defense that hadn't been tested much since the Georgia game showed up in a big way against the Trojans.   

10. Oklahoma (9): Speaking of clutch moments, it doesn't get much better than Baker Mayfield leading the Sooners down the field for the game-winning score in the final minute at Kansas State. Sophomore running back Rodney Anderson had the best game of his career with 147 yards on 19 carries and 30 receiving yards and a score on four catches, but it was the moment that he broke free on the sideline for a 22-yard go-ahead score with seven seconds left that could end up as one of his finest moments as a Sooner. 

11. Oklahoma State (10): Like TCU, Texas had a gameplan and the personnel to humble Oklahoma State's high-flying offense. The Cowboys had just one touchdown on 16 offensive drives, but their defense stepped up to carry the team and even sealed the win with an interception in the end zone in overtime. Oklahoma State was 0-12 coming into the game when scoring 14 points or fewer under Mike Gundy, and now the 13-10 win also represents the fewest points scored in a win in the Gundy era. The problem now is that TCU and Texas have put together a blueprint that West Virginia and Oklahoma can copy in the next two weeks. Oklahoma State survived, but staying in the top-10 will require some adjustments. 

12. Washington (12): The Huskies were off in Week 8.

13. Virginia Tech (14): Far below the headline games of Week 8 was Virginia Tech pounding a depleted North Carolina team at home, winning 59-7 in a get-right game coming out of the bye week. The Hokies came out of the loss to Clemson with a low-scoring win at Boston College, but Josh Jackson and the offense looked stellar on Saturday at home as they head into a final stretch that includes back-to-back road games against Miami and Georgia Tech in the first two weeks of November.   

14. Washington State (15): The Cougars got back on track with a dominating win over Colorado at home. Bouncing back from their 37-3 loss to Cal was impressive, but maybe more impressive was their defense. The Cougars could be on their way to proving that Friday night loss was nothing more than a blip on the radar.  

15. NC State (16): The Wolfpack were off in Week 8.

16. South Florida (16): Credit USF for avoiding the trap game spot at Tulane and shutting down a Green Wave offense that has rolled it up on a few American Athletic Conference opponents. The Bulls did all their work on the ground, finishing with 378 rushing yards in the 34-28 win. 

17. Michigan State (18): The Spartans are getting a lot of credit in the polls for its Michigan win, but I think Saturday's grinding win against Indiana is more reflective of the 2017 Spartans. They've got a tough defense and strong ground game with L.J. Scott and Brian Lewerke, but Michigan State is not explosive enough on offense to scare anyone. A top-25 team? Sure. But the next couple of weeks could change that status.  

18. UCF (20): Saturday's win at Navy is one of the best of UCF's season so far and the beginning of the country waking up to the Knights as this year's Group of Five darling. McKenzie Milton has made tremendous improvements since his freshman season in 2016 and orchestrates Scott Frost's offense with an expertise that should scare everyone in the American Athletic Conference, especially I-4 rival USF. 

19. Auburn (21): This was another example of a get-right game as Auburn steamrolled Arkansas behind more than 600 yards of offense. After blowing the lead at LSU this was just the kind of performance Auburn needed heading into a November schedule that includes Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama.   

20. USC (11): The chances of USC staying in the top 25 after losing to Notre Dame are helped by the uncertainty surrounding many of the other two-loss teams occupying spots on voters' ballots. Getting run over by Notre Dame is concerning, but USC is still loaded with talent and has only lost to top-15 teams. 

21. Stanford (22): The Cardinal were off in Week 8.

22. West Virginia (23): The Will Grier-David Sills V connection is among the best in all of college football. It's hard to know where the Mountaineers fit in the Big 12 title picture, but there's no doubt that when Grier is on a hot streak WVU is one of the toughest teams to stop in the entire country. 

23. LSU (24): After one of his healthiest weeks of practice yet this season, Derrius Guice became the first player in SEC history to rush for 250 or more yards in three different career games with 276 yards on 22 carries against Ole Miss. Three straight SEC wins and a healthier star running back make LSU a much more dangerous foe for the Alabama when the two SEC West titans meet on Nov. 4 in Tuscaloosa. 

24. Memphis (25): After trailing 17-0 at halftime, the Riley Ferguson led five straight touchdown drives and Tony Pollard added a 93-yard kickoff return touchdown for a 42-point second half in an insane 42-38 win at Houston. As bad as Memphis looked in the first half, some voters might bump them from the top 25, but my hunch is the win was enough to keep them nationally ranked.  

25. Iowa State (NR): Welcome to the big time, Matt Campbell! Iowa State received votes in last week's poll and should see a jump into the top 25 after dominating Texas Tech. The Cyclones don't yet have an argument as one of the best two-loss teams in the country but with road wins at Oklahoma and Texas Tech they've got a great argument to be one of the ranked two-loss teams in the country. 

Projected to drop out: Michigan (19)