By Mike Bachini, CBS Connecticut
Connecticut (CBS) – This past weekend was full of so much promise. Three games, six CFP Top-10 teams this late in the season generated a lot of excitement. Unfortunately, each game fell flat as the victors outscored their opponents by a total of 74 points. Even though the on-field product was a disappointment, the results of those games will cause a significant change in the Top-10 this week.
I was able to accurately predict the Top-10 last week, but it will be much harder to do so this time around. There are so many factors involved, and so much criteria on the table, it is getting increasingly hard to put yourself in the committee’s shoes.
Week 12 usually is not the most exciting week of the college football season on paper. It’s the week before all of the biggest Thanksgiving weekend rivalry games, so most teams schedule a bit of a break as you’ll see below. This does not mean that the games won’t be exciting. We had every reason to believe that last week was going to be the most exciting week in recent memory, given the match ups. Who is to say the opposite could happen this upcoming weekend?
Usually the Top-25 is revealed on ESPN at 7PM EDT. Tonight, the reveal will happen after the Michigan State/Duke basketball game that starts at 7pm.
*Last week’s rankings are the committee’s, not my projected rankings last week.
1. Alabama (10-0) – This Week: vs. Mercer
Last Week: #2, Won at Mississippi State 31-24
Mississippi State almost single-handedly made up for the lackluster results in the other games by giving Alabama all they could handle. Alabama scored the go-ahead touchdown with 0:44 to play in the game and would hold on to win. Now they are where almost everyone expected them to be at this point in the season; #1 in the rankings. Alabama gets a break this week against Mercer before a potentially huge Iron Bowl match up at Auburn the following Saturday.
2. Oklahoma (9-1) – This Week: @ Kansas
Last Week: #5, Beat TCU 38-20
Oklahoma moves up to the second spot after a very convincing win over then-#6 TCU. Oklahoma has a resume that is almost unmatched. Their only blemish, to Iowa State, doesn’t look as good now that the Cyclones have lost two in a row to fall out of the Top-25. But they have the best collection of top tier wins in the country. They have wins at Ohio State and Oklahoma State and have now beaten TCU. After Kansas, the Sooners play West Virginia to close out the regular season before the Big XII title game.
3. Clemson (9-1) – This Week: vs. The Citadel
Last Week: #4, Beat Florida State 31-14
Clemson struggled a bit against a reeling Florida State team, but did what they had to do in the end. Louisville, Wake Forest, N.C. State and Georgia Tech all won, making Clemson’s wins look even better. Oh, and Auburn totally destroyed Georgia which also helps the Tigers out. Clemson doesn’t have the high-end wins that Oklahoma has, but they have so many good wins that are hard to ignore. Clemson’s loss looks a whole lot worse now that Syracuse has lost 3 in a row and are sitting at 4-6, another reason I believe the Sooners jump over the Tigers. Clemson knows it will play Miami in the ACC title game, but before they do, they will need to defeat a very good South Carolina team on the road.
4. Miami (9-0) – This Week: vs. Pitt
Last Week: #7, Beat #3 Notre Dame 41-8
What was supposed to be the game of the week, turned in to an absolute laugher as Miami is proving it is not only a good team, but an elite team. It was easy to question how good of a team Miami was when they were barely squeaking out wins against Syracuse, Georgia Tech and Florida State. After beat Virginia Tech by 18, the Hurricanes absolutely dismantled a very good Notre Dame squad by 33 points. Sure, it doesn’t hurt to have your biggest games at home, but at this point it doesn’t matter. Miami clinched a spot opposite Clemson in the ACC title game on 12/2, but if they want a shot at the Top-4, they can’t look past Pitt and Virginia on their way to that game.
5. Wisconsin (10-0) – This Week: vs. Michigan
Last Week: #8, Beat #20 Iowa 38-14
While everyone was publicly bashing Wisconsin’s schedule, the Badgers continued to quietly dominate whoever it was on their schedule that week. Last week it was Iowa, coming off of a huge win at home against Ohio State. Let’s get one thing straight. The Badger defense is for real. That squad can compete with any other team in the country. I have my doubts about the offense however. With Notre Dame losing, the chances of Wisconsin being in the Top-4 at 13-0 and the Big 10 winners is almost a certainty. They don’t have the luxury of losing a game however as their resume still leaves a lot to be desired. The Wisconsin/Michigan game is the best game of the week on paper as Michigan has turned their season around in the past few weeks.
6. Auburn (8-2) – This Week: vs. UL-Monroe
Last Week: #10, Beat #1 Georgia 40-17
This is where it gets really tough. Auburn absolutely dominated their game against then-#1 Georgia that it makes it really hard to put Georgia ahead, even though they have 1 loss. If Auburn hadn’t blown their game to LSU, we’d be talking about Auburn possibly being #4 right behind the only other team they lost to, Clemson. Their two losses are by 12 points, and they have dominated both Mississippi State and Georgia. I think with the complete domination fresh in the committee’s mind, the will reward Auburn and place them just head of the Bulldogs.
7. Georgia (9-1) – This Week: vs. Kentucky
Last Week: #1, Lost at #10 Auburn 40-17
Would I be shocked if the committee still ranked Georgia ahead of Auburn? No. Georgia still has a solid resume and a better record. But the game wasn’t even close. If Georgia had just barely lost I’d give it more thought. Notre Dame losing and falling down the rankings a bit doesn’t help either. Georgia still controls their own destiny however. If they beat Kentucky, Georgia Tech and then Alabama/Auburn in the SEC championship game, they will be in the Top-4 when the season is over. Wherever the committee decides to rank them is almost irrelevant right now.
8. Notre Dame (8-2) – This Week: vs. Navy
Last Week: #3, Lost at #7 Miami 41-8
Notre Dame doesn’t have a shot at the Top-4 any longer. With no conference title game and no last chance to impress the committee, the Irish will just have to settle for having a very good season that came up a bit short in the end. They still have very solid wins over USC, Michigan State and N.C. State which is enough to keep them ahead of Ohio State for the moment.
9. Ohio State (8-2) – This Week: vs. Illinois
Last Week: #13, Beat #12 Michigan State 48-3
Ohio State is a Top-5 team in my opinion. Their problem is that they can’t quite figure it out. Against Penn State they looked lost for a half, and then looked dominant in the 2nd half and pulled away with a victory. That has come to form the past two weeks as well as they lost by 31 to Iowa, only to turn around and put a beat down on Michigan State by 45. Ohio State will need some help to get in to the Top-4, but they aren’t out of it yet.
10. USC (9-2) – This Week: vs. UCLA
Last Week: #11, Won at Colorado 38-24
USC is another team that has found their stride, but it will be too little too late. Their remaining schedule doesn’t have enough power for them to vault up the rankings.
11. TCU (8-2) – This Week: @ Texas Tech
Last Week: #6, Lost at #5 Oklahoma 38-20
TCU can still win their remaining two games and get in to the Big XII championship game for another shot at Oklahoma. They aren’t technically out of it yet, but they’ll need some serious help along the way.
12. Oklahoma State (8-2) – This Week: vs. Kansas State
Last Week: #15, Won at #21 Iowa State 49-42
Oklahoma State’s defense still can’t stop any body, but putting up 49 points against a good Iowa State defense on the road is very impressive. Oklahoma State will have to win their next 2 games and get a shot a Oklahoma in the Big XII title game for them to have any chance to move up.
13. Penn State (8-2) – This Week: vs. Nebraska
Last Week: #14, Beat Rutgers 35-6
Penn State got back in the win column last weekend against Rutgers and finishes their season with Nebraska and Maryland. Penn State fans can only be left wondering “what if” after back to back losses to Ohio State and Michigan State by a total of 4 points.
14. UCF (9-0) – This Week: @ Temple
Last Week: #18, Beat Uconn 49-24
UCF plays Temple before their big game against South Florida the day after Thanksgiving. The Knights move up a few spots as teams ahead of them took a tumble this past weekend.
15. Washington State (9-2) – This Week: BYE
Last Week: #19, Won at Utah 33-25
Utah isn’t a great team this year, but it’s still a hard place to get a win. Especially for a team like Washington State who struggles on the road. Washington State has a late bye this year before their game against Washington in the Apple Cup.
16. Washington (8-2) – This Week: vs. Utah
Last Week: #9, Lost at Stanford 30-22
Washington made their way in to the Top-10 last week and could have moved up even further given how every thing shook out this past weekend, but they got in their own way again and are now on the outside looking in.
17. Mississippi State (7-3) – This Week: @ Arkansas
Last Week: #16, Lost to #2 Alabama 31-24
Mississippi State only falls one spot after a heartbreaking loss to Alabama at home last Saturday. After Arkansas, the Bulldogs host Ole Miss.
18. LSU (7-3) – This Week: @ Tennessee
Last Week: #24, Beat Arkansas 33-10
LSU moves up 6 spots this week. Not because they beat a 4-6 Arkansas team at home, but because they have a big win over Auburn to hang their hats on now.
19. Memphis (8-1) – This Week: vs. SMU
Last Week: BYE
Memphis moves up in to the Top-20 this week because of all the losses by teams ranked just ahead of them and behind them in last week’s rankings. Memphis still has a shot to catch UCF and become the highest ranked non-power 5 team in the country by either UCF losing to USF, or by beating them in a rematch in the AAC title game.
20. Michigan State (7-3) – This Week: vs. Maryland
Last Week: #12, Lost at #13 Ohio State 48-3
The committee shot Michigan State way up the rankings to #12 last week, which was a bit surprising. After their big loss to Ohio State, they fall back to where they should be.
21. Stanford (7-3) – This Week: vs. Cal
Last Week: NR, Beat #9 Washington 30-22
Stanford jumps back into the Top-25 after their big win over Washington. Stanford can’t seem to get their season figured out, but they finish with home games against Cal and Notre Dame.
22. Virginia Tech (7-3) – This Week: vs. Pitt
Last Week: #17, Lost at Georgia Tech 28-22
Virginia Tech completed a tough 2 game road trip and heads home to face Pitt who needs a win to remain bowl eligible.
23. N.C. State (7-3) – This Week: @ Wake Forest
Last Week: #23, Won at Boston College 17-14
N.C. State’s three losses have come to teams with a combined record of 24-6 and should win their remaining two games (Wake Forest, UNC).
24. Northwestern (7-3) – This Week: vs. Minnesota
Last Week: #25, Beat Purdue 23-13
Northwestern always has a puzzling early season loss before they put it together towards the end of the season. It’s happening again as they lost to Duke by 24 in week 2 and have now won 5 in a row and should win their last two as well.
25. Michigan (8-2) – This Week @ Wisconsin
Last Week: NR, Won at Maryland 35-10
I’ve had Michigan in the rankings in the past two weeks, but the committee hasn’t. Either they should be be #25 or they should be out again if the committee wants to stay consistent. If the committee has Michigan ranked any higher than No. 25 they are either admitting a mistake or trying to make this week’s match up with Wisconsin look better on paper. There is no reason a win over Maryland should be the tipping point for them to jump any higher.
DROPPED OUT: IOWA, IOWA STATE
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