It’s been a few weeks since we’ve ranked every team in the Power 5 conferences and independents, so here is where they all stand prior to Championship Week.
THE PLAYOFF CONTENDERS
1. Alabama (11-1) – The Tide have looked the part of the best team in the country in recent weeks. Amari Cooper should get serious Heisman consideration and there’s not a secondary in the nation that can matchup with him. Alabama just needs to take care of business against Mizzou in the SEC Championship and they’ll be the Playoff’s top seed.
2. Oregon (11-1) – Since losing to Arizona, the Ducks have been on an absolute tear. The offense looks dominant once again and where Cooper deserves consideration for the Heisman, it’s hard to see anyone other than Marcus Mariota winning it. Oregon gets a chance to avenge its loss to Arizona on Friday night and secure a Playoff spot.
3. Florida State (12-0) – “Just keep winning. Just keep winning.” That’s what the Noles do, they win. It’s not pretty and it’s not usually dramatic, it just sort of happens. They could be on upset alert against the triple option of Georgia Tech, but it’s more likely that they pull out another second half comeback and win by three.
4. Baylor (10-1) – I have Baylor ahead of TCU because of the head to head win. The Bears have to beat a very tough Kansas State team this Saturday to make it even a question between the two, but if they do I think they should be the ones in the Playoff. It doesn’t seem like the Committee agrees, so barring the unforeseeable upset by Iowa State, it looks like the Bears will be on the outside looking in.
5. TCU (10-1) – The Horned Frogs should roll past Iowa State on Saturday and, based off Committee rankings, that will get them into the Playoff. A tremendous bounce-back season from QB Trevone Boykin figures to continue on.
6. Ohio State (11-1) – Like Baylor, the Buckeyes need some help by way of losses from teams above them in order to make it into the Top 4, but they have their own issues to worry about. The Buckeyes lost QB J.T. Barrett and now they are reliant on the young and inexperienced Cardale Jones.
7. Arizona (10-2) – A win and Arizona is probably in the Playoff. They’ve already beaten Oregon once this season on the road, and they’ll need to recreate that magic tonight in the Pac-12 Championship game. No matter what, this season is a big step for Rich Rodriguez’s program.
THE REALLY GOOD, BUT NOT GREAT ONE
8. Michigan State (10-2) – Michigan State never had a Playoff chance after losing to Ohio State. Even if every team above them lost on Saturday, they probably get jumped by the four teams behind them that win. Sparty was very good, but just not able to compete with those top tier teams.
9. Kansas State (9-2) – Kansas State is the first of the next four teams in the rankings all looking to ruin someone’s day on Saturday. The Wildcats can end all the Baylor/TCU talk with a win in Waco on Saturday, and don’t put it past Ol’ Snyder to do it.
10. Georgia Tech (10-2) – Tech is the trendy upset pick this week. Even Danny Kanell’s on the Jackets. If the triple option is cookin’ against FSU, they could be the team to finally get past the Noles. They also could have three first quarter turnovers and get walloped by 30. There’s not much of an in between. It’s either real close or a massive blowout.
11. Missouri (10-2) – The team NO ONE is giving a chance to win on Saturday. Everyone else has an argument, while Mizzou’s like the guy who shows up to the party because the host owed them for something, but nobody really wants him there.
12. Wisconsin (10-2) – Wisconsin gets a crack at Ohio State on Saturday, and maybe they can take advantage of a new QB. Then again, they aren’t particularly known for defense. I’m most excited to see if Melvin Gordon can do something cool against OSU. They are actually favored in Vegas over the Buckeyes, so we’ll see if they can win the conference title.
THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
13. Ole Miss (9-3) – Ole Miss moves up this week by smacking around Mississippi State in Oxford. The Rebels season went down when LaQuon Treadwell did, but it’s good to see them bounce back to finish strong. Hugh Freeze just re-upped on an extension, so we’ll see how they can build on this success.
14. Mississippi State (10-2) – Mississippi State’s season crashed and burned at the end. Dak wore down over the season and the entire team looked like they ran out of gas at the end. Dan Mullen’s got a good recruiting class coming in and this is certainly the type of season they can build on.
THE “SHOULDA, COULDA, WOULDA” ONES
15. Georgia (9-3) – Georgia had a rough two days. First, Mizzou beats Arkansas and knocks them out of the SEC Championship and then they lose in a wild game at home to Georgia Tech. UGA now probably lands in the Capital One Bowl or something again. The Dawgs just couldn’t do what they needed to against lesser competition this season.
16. UCLA (9-3) – This was a fitting end for UCLA’s season. They had a chance, despite the mediocrity early, to win the Pac-12 South and possibly keep the Playoff dream alive. Now, not so much after they got smacked by a mediocre Stanford team. They were supposed to challenge Oregon, but they were horrifically inconsistent.
17. Arizona State (9-3) – They were almost Pac-12 South champions. Almost. This team couldn’t handle prosperity. They got blasted at home at night by UCLA and lost in Corvallis in games they needed. Against rival Arizona, they didn’t have enough to beat RichRod’s crew and get into the Pac-12 title game.
18. Auburn (8-4) – This team could easily be 6-6, and also could be 10-2. Unlike last year, Auburn wasn’t the lone beneficiary of “luck” this season. The offense is still dynamic as Alabama saw, but the defense was downright atrocious this year. The Tigers are hoping for a return from Will Muschamp to help fix that issue.
19. Oklahoma (8-3) – Oklahoma was supposed to be the Big 12 favorites. Instead, the Sooners sit in fourth after an underwhelming season that was filled with disappointment. They still have Bedlam left to try and salvage something from this year, and a beatdown of the Pokes would help make them feel better.
THE ONES THAT MADE IT INTERESTING FOR A LITTLE WHILE
20. Clemson (9-3) – This was a “disappointing” nine win year for Dabo Swinney and the Tigers. Still, they got their first win over South Carolina in six years, DeShaun Watson is great if they can get him healthy, and once again they have a strong recruiting class coming in. With Jameis exiting FSU after this year, the door might open up for the Tigers to take back control of the ACC’s top spot next season.
21. Louisville (9-3) – Louisville was solid this year in Bobby Petrino’s return to the Cardinals’ sidelines. As long as they keep Ol’ Bobby off of the motorcycle and focused, they look to be a program on the rise. Time will tell if they can compete with Florida State in the coming years for divisional crowns.
22. LSU (8-4) – LSU exceeded expectations at times, and underwhelmed in others. A beating at the hands of Arkansas won’t sit well in Baton Rouge, but they were as tough as ever at home and did it all without getting anything from the quarterback position. If Les Miles stays put and the Tigers can get a QB in the program, they have plenty of pieces to contend again soon in the SEC West.
23. Nebraska (9-3) – Nine wins just ain’t enough at Nebraska, apparently. Bo Pelini’s out and Oregon State’s Mike Riley is in. It’s a move that’s baffling from the outside. It’s time for an intervention for Nebraska. This isn’t the 90s anymore. You aren’t “NEBRASKA” anymore. 9 wins and marginal Big Ten contending is about as good as you’ll do, and you just kicked that to the curb. Best of luck with your impossible expectations.
24. Duke (9-3) – David Cutcliffe is a miracle worker for what he’s done with Duke. They weren’t spectacular this year, but another nine wins and they were a game away from the ACC Championship again. It’s impressive to steal a little shine from Coach K’s team in Durham.
25. Minnesota (8-4) – 25. Just where the Gophers belong. Minnesota was really solid this season, and was close to sneaking into the Big Ten title game. Jerry Kill’s doing good things up there.
26. Utah (8-4) – It was fun for a bit with Utah. They were threatening the Pac-12 South title and playing really good defense. They didn’t have the depth to get it done in the end and fell off down the stretch in a tough division.
27. USC (8-4) – Vintage Sarkisian. They had a really good quarterback, a great wide receiver, and a solid offensive line and just never did a lot with it. The Trojans showed flashes of really strong play, but too many mental errors — highlighted by the Hail Mary TD by Arizona State — cost them a chance at a really good year.
28. Washington (8-5) – They were close to being very good this year in Chris Peterson’s first run in Seattle. You can see where they can go moving forward if he can bring in some depth and a little more talent.
THE ONES WE WERE REALLY WRONG ABOUT EARLY
29. Texas A&M (7-5) – This team was SIXTH in the AP Poll early. We thought Kenny Hill was the next Johnny Manziel, but maybe even better passing the ball. We were all wrong. The Aggies changed QBs eight games into the season, upset Auburn to make us think maybe they were alright, and then went back to being mediocre in the last two games.
30. Notre Dame (7-5) – This team was FIFTH in the AP Poll in the middle of the season. They gave Florida State all they could handle until that questionable (but not really) offensive pass interference call ruined the upset bid. From there, they fell off the face of the earth losing to the likes of Northwestern.
31. Stanford (7-5) – They opened the season 11th and were 3-2 and ranked 14th in Week 6. I have no idea why folks thought they were actually good, but people kept telling us that. Kevin Hogan was awful until the UCLA game where he looked like the guy who made Stanford fans feel okay his first year about Andrew Luck leaving.
32. BYU (8-4) – This one’s not particularly fair because of Taysom Hill’s injury, but this was the team people thought could run the table and crash the Playoff possibly. Then Taysom Hill went down and the Cougars’ season turned south. They made a power play asking to be called a Power 5 school — they were rejected — and had a chance to try and earn that moniker, but came up empty.
YOU’RE OUT OF YOUR ELEMENT, DONNY! (teams that barely get to go bowling)
33. West Virginia (7-5) – Of all the 7-5 and 6-6 teams, no one has a better resume than West Virginia, if for nothing else than none of these other teams have a win over a team like Baylor. They were a competitive team in a lot of games, but weren’t able to finish most of them.
34. Tennessee (6-6) – I really love what Tennessee is doing under Butch Jones. Josh Dobbs could be a stud for the Vols, and with how young they are this is a team on the rise. Also, this is one of my favorite fan shots of the season. #VAWLS
35. Penn State (6-6) – They almost upset Ohio State. ALMOST! They didn’t, though. James Franklin’s first season with the Nittany Lions wasn’t great, but Hackenberg returns next season and they actually have some scholarships to fill out the depth with.
36. Arkansas (6-6) – Bret Bielema said no to Nebraska because he’s “All Hog,” which is such a fantastic statement. Arkansas finished the season strong, although they couldn’t find a way to beat Mizzou, and Bielema’s got this program trending in the right direction.
37. Maryland (7-5) – First year in the B1G for the Terps has to be considered a mild success. They got bowl eligible, made a new enemy by refusing to shake hands, and got slaughtered by Michigan State and Ohio State. They’re perfect for the conference.
38. Iowa (7-5) – Kirk Ferentz is still out there collecting checks. Dude is just STACKING money and his buyout is so much there’s no chance they can get rid of him, so why not just cool it and be happy to get to a bowl game. Get that money, Kirk.
39. Rutgers (7-5) – Speaking of Big Ten newcomers, Rutgers! The Scarlet Knights did their thing this year in the Big Ten. Played the mediocre teams tough, and got smacked by the good ones like they should.
40. Boston College (7-5) – They, like the next two teams, came SO CLOSE to beating Florida State. They didn’t beat them, however they did beat USC which gives them one of the better wins in recent years in Boston. Lotta dudes, up there.
41. Florida (6-5) – It’s a shame we never got to see peak Muschamp at Florida, because he’s got Spurrier-level press conference talent. Hatin’ ass Muschamp would’ve been great, but they weren’t ever good enough to bring it out of him consistently. He’s now gone and we’ll have to see what the new guy can bring to the table.
42. North Carolina State (7-5) – Another team that looked like they had a shot to upset the Noles. They didn’t, but that’s alright because they got enough done to earn a bowl bid.
43. South Carolina (6-6) – We had some great Spurrier moments this season. He’s more fun when the Gamecocks are winning, but humble, hatin’ Spurrier’s pretty good too. This defense was horrid all season and they need to fix a lot of things on that side of the ball.
44. Texas (6-6) – Charlie Strong’s first season was…interesting. He kicked a lot of people off the team and they weren’t good early or late, but for a stretch in the middle there, they competed. The defensive foundation is there, now they just need to find some offense.
45. Navy (6-5) – Navy! They almost beat Notre Dame, which ultimately sent the Irish into a funk. They also almost beat Ohio State early in the year. The lesson, as always, don’t play Navy because they’ll ruin your team in some way.
46. Illinois (6-6) – Tim Beckman miraculously kept his job after a dreadful start to the season. The Illini looked borderline competent at times and found ways to beat Minnesota, Penn State, and Northwestern to get bowl eligible late.
THE ACC COASTAL
47. Pittsburgh (6-6) – We were so damn close to the dream of every team being 4-4 in conference, but Duke and Georgia Tech had to go off and be kinda good and stuff. Anyways, here’s the rest of the mediocre crew, starting with Pitt and ACC player of the year James Conner. He was the bright spot in a sea of darkness.
48. Miami FL (6-6) – Miami almost beat Florida State too — sense a theme here? — but fell short. Duke Johnson’s a beast and should jump to the NFL this season to save wear and tear on his legs. Brad Kaaya looks like the real deal at QB if they can get him some weapons on the outside and an offensive line that can protect him. Those are big IFs with Al Golden at the helm.
49. North Carolina (6-6) – North Carolina throttled Duke at the end of the year to put Georgia Tech in the ACC title game. Other than that, it was a rough year for the Tar Heels, who had a really good offense and an abysmal defense.
50. Virginia Tech (6-6) – This team beat Ohio State. This team lost to Wake Forest. In summary, college football is stupid.
51. Virginia (5-7) – Virginia almost beat BYU and UCLA early in the season. Mike London’s really good at being impressively mediocre. You always think they’re one step away from being good.
I’M NOT MAD, JUST DISAPPOINTED
52. Northwestern (5-7) – Beating Notre Dame and Wisconsin in the same season is quite impressive for a non-bowl eligible team.
53. Oklahoma State (5-6) – They were ranked, like, multiple times. They aren’t good. We’re really bad at ranking teams early, is pretty much the gist of this entire post.
54. Michigan (5-7) – They fired Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke, so this season’s a win for Michigan. Great job, team.
55. California (5-7) – They were really fun to watch, just not all that good.
56. Kentucky (5-7) – Basketball season is here. Bow down to Kentucky.
57. Oregon State (5-7) – They beat Arizona State at home, reaching their yearly upset quota in Corvallis. Mike Riley’s gone, which isn’t really a good or bad thing. He was a nice guy.
58. Purdue (4-8) – Boiler up! They weren’t good. They weren’t expected to be good. That’s Purdue in a nutshell.
THE ONE WITH THE COACH MOST LIKELY TO BE ON THE FRONT OF GQ
59. Texas Tech (4-8) – You think they regret that big extension they gave Kliff Kingsbury? We’ll see if he can get the Red Raiders to bounce back next season. They did just give Baylor a scare last week, so maybe they can build on that.
60. Army (4-7) – They only care about winning in two weeks against Navy. Unlikely, but it would make this season a success.
THE BAC OF THE PAC
61. Washington State (3-9) – They were so much fun with Connor Halliday and then he got broken and the team became terrible in every way.
62. Colorado (2-10) – They tried.
THE “SHUT UP, IT’S BASKETBALL SEASON NOW” ONES
63. Syracuse (3-9) – Tear up that turf and lay down the hardwood cause it’s basketball season in the Carrier Dome.
64. Kansas (3-9) – Rock Chalk. They almost beat TCU that one game, remember?
THE ONE IN AMES
65. Iowa State (2-9) – They can ruin everything by winning on the road at TCU. They won’t, but I guess it technically is possible.
THE TRUE SEC EAST CHAMPION
66. Indiana (3-9) – AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA THEY BEAT THE SEC EAST CHAMPIONS AT HOME AHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAAH.
THE SEC’S GPA BOOSTERS
67. Vanderbilt (3-9) – Baseball season’s coming real soon. Also, it’s almost finals week, which means its time for Vandy students to shine.
WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU GO-GO
68. Wake Forest (3-9) – They beat Virginia Tech in possibly the worst offensive football game in recorded history. It was 0-0 in overtime. That game was performance art. Wake isn’t really good at any sports, so I’m not sure what to tell Wake fans to look forward to. Golf, maybe?