Rivalry week lived up to the hype. Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines got their season defining victory over Ohio State, Mike Gundy finally beat the Sooners and Alabama narrowly escaped Auburn at Jordan-Hare. With Ohio State & Oklahoma losing, there are 6 teams left with a very realistic shot at making the college football playoff. Here is the latest edition of my top 50 rankings.
1. Georgia (12-0, 8-0) ↔️
Georgia capped off their undefeated regular season by shutting out Georgia Tech 45-0. The Dawgs have done enough to make the playoff already. It doesn’t matter what happens against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Georgia is the only lock for the playoff at this moment because of their season long dominance.
2. Michigan (11-1, 8-1) ⬆️4
Jim Harbaugh finally beat Ohio State. He got that monkey off his back. Hassan Haskins & Aidan Hutchinson both had big time performances. This defense held the nation’s best offense to 27 points. The Wolverines just need to beat Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game to make the playoff.
3. Cincinnati (12-0, 8-0) ↔️
Cincinnati finished the regular season undefeated after their win at East Carolina. The Bearcats are in a great position to make the playoff especially considering that they won at Notre Dame back in October. All Cincy needs to do is beat a ranked Houston team to notch another quality win & a playoff berth.
4. Oklahoma State (11-1, 8-1) ⬆️1
Oklahoma State slides up after their huge win over Oklahoma. The Cowboys defense came up big once again. Defense wins championships folks. Mike Gundy has a shot at redemption after the BCS snub from 10 years ago. First of all, they have to beat Baylor. An Alabama, Michigan or Cincinnati loss wouldn’t hurt either.
5. Alabama (11-1, 7-1) ⬇️1
Alabama moves down a spot after their lackluster win at Auburn. They were unable to run the ball & it really hurt their offense. Bama didn’t score a touchdown until the last minute of the game. They do deserve credit for fighting & staying in that game. The Tide need to win against Georgia this weekend. If they don’t, they need a lot of help for a playoff spot.
6. Notre Dame (11-1) ⬆️2
Notre Dame slides up to 6 after the Ohio State & Oklahoma losses. The Irish are 2-1 against top 50 opponents. That loss to Cincinnati & a lackluster resume has hurt the Irish. Notre Dame not having a conference title game also hurts their playoff chances. They need some teams to lose above them if they want a spot in the playoff.
7. Oregon (10-2, 7-2) ⬆️2
Oregon finished the regular season with a rivalry win over Oregon State. The Ducks still have an outside shot at the playoff, but they need a lot of help. First of all, they need to avenge their loss to Utah in the Pac 12 Championship Game on Friday night. If they do that, we will see Oregon in the Rose Bowl at the very least.
8. Ohio State (10-2, 8-1) ⬇️6
Ohio State’s defense was all out of sorts against Michigan. It didn’t help that the offense was held in check as well. The Buckeyes fall below Oregon because of their head-to-head loss in September. The Buckeyes will not play in the Big Ten Championship Game, but they still could make a Rose Bowl Game appearance depending on the results from Saturday.
9. Michigan State (10-2, 7-2) ⬆️2
Despite the flu bug, Michigan State picked up a solid win over Penn State in the snow. Mel Tucker has done a great job in just year two at MSU. With that win over Penn State, the Spartans are likely headed to a New Years Six bowl. The most likely destinations are the Fiesta Bowl or Peach Bowl.
10. Ole Miss (10-2, 6-2) ⬆️3
Ole Miss picked up a huge road win over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. That win gave Ole Miss their first 10-win regular season in program history. The Rebels have a good chance at making a New Years Six Bowl game. Lane Kiffin has done a great job so far in Oxford.
11. Baylor (10-2, 7-2) ⬆️1
Baylor narrowly escaped going to overtime with Texas Tech after a missed field goal. With that win & the Oklahoma loss to Oklahoma State, the Bears are headed to the Big 12 Championship Game against the Cowboys. Baylor has a chance to avenge their loss from earlier in the season & knock Oklahoma State from playoff contention.
12. Oklahoma (10-2, 7-2) ⬇️5
Oklahoma didn’t score an offensive touchdown in the 2nd half of Bedlam. That was one of the main reasons for the loss at Oklahoma State, as well as the poor defense, which has been on display all season. Now with Lincoln Riley bolting for USC, will the Sooners be able to focus on their bowl game? That remains to be seen.
13. Wake Forest (10-2, 7-1) ⬆️1
Wake Forest picked up a win at Boston College to clinch the ACC Atlantic & head to the ACC Championship Game. The Deacs will play a fellow 10-win team: Pitt. This has been a magical season for Wake & they have a shot at getting to 12-2 with a conference title & a bowl win. Also, Dave Clawson just signed an extension. Expect the success to continue in Winston-Salem.
14. Houston (11-1, 8-0) ⬆️1
Houston picked up an easy victory over UConn as they prepare for the undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats. The Cougars have won 11 straight games & they are one of the hottest teams in the nation. A win over Cincy gives them the AAC Championship, but also a possible New Years Six bowl appearance. It all depends on the committee’s rankings though.
15. BYU (10-2) ⬆️1
BYU was challenged by a resilient USC team on Saturday night. That win over the Trojans gave BYU 10 wins. The Cougars have an outside shot at making a New Years Six bowl game. We’ll see where they end up. Either way, it has been a great season for Kalani Sitake & BYU.
16. San Diego State (11-1, 7-1) ⬆️2
The Aztecs sealed their spot in the Mountain West title game after they beat Boise State. They were down 16-3 but scored 24 unanswered points to end the game. Brady Hoke’s team is playing for a conference title & a possible New Years Six bowl if Cincinnati loses. They have to get through Utah State first.
17. Pitt (10-2, 7-1) ⬆️2
Pat Narduzzi sealed his first 10-win season as the coach of Pitt after their win over Syracuse. The Panthers have a huge ACC title game clash with Wake Forest this Saturday in Charlotte. Pat Narduzzi can put the hot seat talk to bed with a win. It also helps they have an NFL quality quarterback in Kenny Pickett running the offense.
18. Louisiana (11-1, 8-0) ⬆️2
Just like Houston, Louisiana also has an 11-game winning streak headed into Championship Saturday. Billy Napier is headed to Florida, but he will coach Louisiana’s conference title game against Appalachian State. Will the Ragin Cajuns be focused on the task at hand or will they be distracted due to the coaching change? We will find out Saturday.
19. Utah (9-3, 8-1) ⬆️2
Utah faces Oregon again in the Pac 12 Championship Game. Just a week and a half ago, they dominated the Ducks 38-7. It’s hard to beat Oregon once & it’s even harder to beat them twice. Mario Cristobal & Oregon will make adjustments. Utah needs to stick to what their good at & that is defense. If Utah can stop the run game, they will be in a good position to win.
20. Iowa (10-2, 7-2) ⬆️4
Iowa secured their 10th win of the year in comeback fashion against Nebraska. The Hawkeyes’ opponent in the Big Ten Championship Game, Michigan, also struggled against Nebraska. An Iowa win secures their spot in the Rose Bowl against the Pac 12 champ. They can also ruin Michigan’s playoff hopes with a win.
21. NC State (9-3, 6-2) ⬆️2
NC State picked up a big-time comeback rivalry win over North Carolina this week. The Pack were down 30-21 with just over 2 minutes to play. They scored two touchdowns in just over a minute to take the lead & they held on to win. That was a great way to cap off the regular season for NC State.
22. UTSA (11-1, 7-1) ⬇️12
UTSA’s undefeated run came to an end on Saturday against North Texas. It was a disappointing end to the regular season, but they still have a lot to play for. The Roadrunners will play in the CUSA Championship Game on Friday night. The Alamodome will be rocking.
23. Clemson (9-3, 6-2) ⬆️5
Clemson shoots up the rankings after a shut out of their rival South Carolina. Not to mention, it was a hostile environment & the Gamecocks were coming off of a big win to get the bowl eligible. Clemson will not play for the ACC title, but they still can reach 10 wins with a bowl game victory.
24. Appalachian State (10-2, 7-1) ⬆️1
Appalachian State picked up a rivalry win over Georgia Southern. The Mountaineer defense really showed up, holding the Eagles to three points. App State plays Louisiana on Saturday in the Sun Belt Championship Game. App State can avenge their bad loss from earlier in the season.
25. Arkansas (8-4, 4-4) ⬆️1
Arkansas is back in the top 25 after their win over Missouri. Sam Pittman has done a great job with the Hogs. They finished a very respectable third place in the toughest division in college football. Arkansas should get in a solid bowl game to cap off the year.
26. Kentucky (9-3, 5-3) ⬆️1
Mark Stoops is one of the most underrated coaches in the country. He led Kentucky to second place in the SEC east. The Wildcats are a bowl win away from a 10-win season. The only disparity about this Kentucky team is that they are 0-3 against top 50 opponents.
27. Texas A&M (8-4, 4-4) ⬇️10
The Aggies lost a close game in Death Valley on Saturday night. Texas A&M took a step back this season. They did have some key injuries especially at quarterback. The loss at LSU will motivate the Aggies in their bowl game.
28. Minnesota (8-4, 6-3) ⬆️7
Minnesota took Paul Bunyan’s Axe back after their big win over Wisconsin. The Gophers also spoiled Wisconsin’s hopes for a Big Ten Championship. Despite starting 2-2, Minnesota finished second in the Big Ten west without Mo Ibrahim. A bowl win would cap off a fun season for Minnesota.
29. Wisconsin (8-4, 6-3) ⬇️7
Wisconsin fell short of a Big Ten Championship Game appearance after their loss to rival Minnesota. With that loss, the Badgers’ seven game winning streak was snapped. Wisconsin had three top 50 wins in those seven games. The Badgers can end their year with a win though.
30. Coastal Carolina (10-2, 6-2) ⬇️1
Coastal Carolina slips down a spot even after their win over South Alabama. They did need overtime to defeat the Jaguars though. Despite the 10-win record, Coastal Carolina will not play for a conference title. The future is still really bright for Jamey Chadwell & the Chanticleers.
31. Purdue (8-4, 6-3) ↔️
Purdue won in blowout fashion against Indiana on Saturday. The Boilermakers still finish a respectable 8-4 on the season. That includes wins against Iowa & Michigan State. Purdue was 3-4 against top 50 opponents this season.
32. Mississippi State (7-5, 4-4) ⬇️2
Mississippi State drops down a few spots after their loss to Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. 7-5 is still a solid record for Mike Leach’s second year. The Bulldogs were also 3-3 against top 50 opponents. Those wins were all against top 30 teams as well.
33. Fresno State (9-3, 6-2) ⬆️3
Kalen DeBoer did a great job at Fresno State. Hence why he got a big-time job at Washington. Also, star quarterback Jake Haener just entered the transfer portal. We’ll see how Fresno State fares in their bowl game without their coach & without their start quarterback.
34. Arizona State (8-4, 6-3) ⬆️4
Arizona State beat Arizona for the Territorial Cup in a heated contest. Herm Edwards has done a solid job with ASU so far. With Lincoln Riley going to USC, the Pac 12 south division will get a lot better. We’ll see if Arizona State can contend a few years down the road.
35. UCLA (8-4, 6-3) ⬆️4
UCLA ended their regular season with a win against Cal. The Bruins took advantage of their easy November slate as they were 3-0 in November. This has been a good season Chip Kelly & company, but they need to keep taking steps forward especially since Lincoln Riley is across town at USC now.
36. Utah State (9-3, 6-2) ⬆️4
Utah State has been one of the big surprises of the season. Gary Andersen has done an incredible job in just his first season in Logan. The Aggies are 2-1 against top 50 opponents this season & they have a shot to improve that record to 3-1 as they face San Diego State this week.
37. Tennessee (7-5, 4-4) ⬆️5
The hiring of Josh Heupel has been a success so far. His offense has given SEC defenses trouble. The Vols played tough against Alabama & Ole Miss this season. The next step is to beat those teams. A bowl win would be a cherry on top of a solid season in Knoxville.
38. Army (8-3) ⬆️10
The Black Knights won the trenches against Liberty on Saturday. They also won the game which extends their winning streak to four games. Army goes into their huge clash with Navy with a chance at reaching 10 wins. The Black Knights have a rest week before that big game.
39. Air Force (9-3, 6-2) ⬆️10
Air Force’s win over UNLV was not enough to get them in the Mountain West Championship Game. Their loss to Utah State keeps them behind the Aggies in the conference standings despite having identical records. The Falcons also have a shot at getting to 10 wins with a victory in their bowl game.
40. Miami (7-5, 5-3) ⬆️10
Miami ended their regular season with a blowout win at Duke. The Canes have won five out of their last six now. Miami also has an impressive 3-2 record against top 50 opponents. Tyler Van Dyke has been a revelation for this team & we’ll see if he can continue his good performance into the bowl game.
41. Iowa State (7-5, 5-4) ⬆️3
There has been a lot of talk about Matt Campbell going elsewhere. As of now he is still in Ames & his team is going bowling despite the step back. Iowa State lost three of their last five, but they will be heading into their bowl game coming off of a 48-14 win over TCU.
42. Washington State (7-5, 6-3) ⬆️4
It has been a great week for Washington State football. They beat their rivals Washington in a rout & they promoted interim coach Jake Dickert to head coach. Dickert was 3-2 as the interim coach. That includes a close loss to BYU and two big wins over Arizona State & Washington.
43. Penn State (7-5, 4-5) ⬇️10
Penn State was ranked in the top 5 by many polls back in September & early October. The Nittany Lions have only won two out of their final seven games, yet James Franklin got a contract extension. It has been a disappointing season for Penn State that should have Franklin on the hot seat.
44. Kansas State (7-5, 4-5) ⬇️10
Kansas State only scored 27 points in their final two games against Baylor & Texas. It didn’t help that Skylar Thompson was injured for the Texas game. The Cats could use a bowl win to gain momentum for next season in what could be a wide open Big 12 with all the uncertainty around Oklahoma.
45. Nevada (8-4, 5-3) ⬆️6
Nevada snapped their two-game skid after their win at Colorado State. The Wolf Pack have a chance to cap off a solid season with a bowl win. Nevada also has a really good coach in Jay Norvell who hasn’t been snagged by any other big programs. A factor in the bowl game will be if Carson Strong plays or rests for the NFL Draft.
46. Oregon State (7-5, 5-4) ⬇️14
Coming into the weekend, Oregon State had a shot at making the Pac 12 Championship Game. Unfortunately, that went down the drain when Washington State beat Washington. The Beavs then lost a rivalry game against Oregon. Despite the loss, it has still been a great season for OSU.
47. SMU (8-4, 4-4) ⬇️10
SMU has really taken a tumble in these past five weeks. The Mustangs have lost four of their last five after starting the season 7-0. On top of that, their head coach Sonny Dykes jumped ship to a team that he beat this season: TCU. It doesn’t help that SMU & TCU are cross town rivals. That’ll make the DFW area a bit more divided.
48. UCF (8-4, 5-3) ⬆️3
UCF is back in the top 50 after their win in the War on I-4 over USF. The Bulls played UCF tough, but it wasn’t enough. Considering the injury of Dillon Gabriel, the Golden Knights have had a rather successful season. We’ll see who they play in their bowl game though.
49. Western Kentucky (8-4, 7-1) ⬆️2
Western Kentucky is very quietly on a seven-game winning streak. They dominated perennial CUSA power Marshall this past Saturday to clinch their spot in the CUSA Championship Game. The Hilltoppers only lost to UTSA by 6 when they met earlier this season. WKU will definitely give the Roadrunners a stiff challenge this weekend.
50. UAB (8-4, 6-2) ⬆️1
UAB is back in the top 50 after a win over UTEP to end their regular season. The Blazers coach Bill Clark has been one of the more consistent coaches in college football. He should be getting a lot more attention from big time programs for the work he has done at UAB.
On the Horizon