What a weekend it was in college football, as the top two ranked teams in the country both went down on the road. There is some serious jockeying for position, and it appears that the winners of the ACC and SEC Championship Games will get playoff berths. Same for Wisconsin if the Badgers handle the Buckeyes and Oklahoma if the Sooners take down TCU.
1. Wisconsin – The Badgers avoided the upset and took down Minnesota to take Paul Bunyan’s axe. If Wisconsin beats Ohio State, it’s the Big Ten Championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff.
2. Clemson – That week two win over Auburn just keeps looking better and better. Clemson just pummeled South Carolina again. The Tigers have a really bad loss at Syracuse. But if they beat Miami, it’s a third straight trip to the playoff.
3. Oklahoma – The Sooners are smoking hot. A no gas out of the tank blowout of West Virginia will serve them well in the rematch with TCU for the Big XII Championship. A win, and OU, most likely, is in.
4. Auburn – Yes the Tigers have two losses, but they have beaten both Georgia and Alabama when both were ranked No. 1 over the last three weeks. It has been a remarkable run for Auburn since that loss to LSU.
5. Georgia – It was an epic victory for Georgia, as the Bulldogs rolled past arch-rival Tech 38-7 to make it 11-1 on the campaign. Now comes the SEC Championship Game and a shot at the College Football Playoff.
6. Alabama – You can bet the Crimson Tide will be politicking like crazy to get into the playoff. They certainly have life. Auburn just got them totally out of sorts. For the ninth time in 10 years, Bama goes 11-1 or 12-0 in regular season.
7. Miami – It was a crushing loss for the Hurricanes, who fell to Pitt 24-14 in Steeltown. Next up is Clemson in Charlotte for the ACC title. If Miami wins, the playoff is still a possibility. How about Pitt? Shades of 2007, and then last year versus Clemson.
8. Central Florida – What a show in prime time for the Golden Knights, who won an epic 49-42 Friday after Thanksgiving shootout with South Florida in Orlando. Now comes the big showdown with Memphis for the American and a major bowl berth.
9. Ohio State – Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes had an excellent comeback victory at Michigan to make it 10-2 on the year. Now comes a huge showdown with Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. The committee loves the Buckeyes.
10. Penn State – The Nittany Lions closed out the regular season in style with a 66-3 pasting of Maryland. Penn State, with those white-knuckles losses to Ohio State and Michigan State, are asking “what if,” like so many other teams.
11. Washington – Chris Petersen has Washington back amongst the elite, and is now 5-0 against Washington State, as the Huskies rolled to an Apple Cup victory. They are disappointed to miss out on the PAC-12 Championship Game, but it’s 10-2 on the heels of 12-2 last year.
12. Southern Cal – The Trojans played 12 straight weeks and actually had the Thanksgiving weekend off. They will go for a second win over Stanford this year in the PAC-12 Championship Game. The Trojans are cooking again.
13. TCU – There will be a lot of teams rooting for TCU against Oklahoma in the Big XII Championship Game – one in particular plays in Tuscaloosa. The job that Gary Patterson has done is just incredible.
14. Memphis – An absolute blasting of East Carolina – 70-13 if you’re counting – puts Memphis in the American Championship Game. The battle with Central Florida pits two very hot coaches and a berth in one of the major bowls.
15. Oklahoma State – The Cowboys put up a big win over Kansas to wrap up the regular season with a 9-3 record. There may be more Mike Gundy rumors, but he likely will stay at home. The Pokes are disappointed to not be in the Big XII Championship Game.
16. South Florida – The Bulls have had an outstanding season, and the loss to Central Florida will certainly sting. Charley Strong did an outstanding job with a talented team. His name will be in the hopper for the SEC coaching carousel.
17. LSU – After losing at home to Troy, nobody saw the Tigers rallying the way they did. This 9-3 Tiger squad figures to play in a good bowl, perhaps the Cotton. A win over Auburn is the highlight of the year.
18. Stanford – It’s onto the PAC-12 Championship Game for the Cardinal and a rematch with Southern Cal. Stanford got an impressive win over Notre Dame to close out the regular season at 9-3.
19. Notre Dame – The Fighting Irish had a nice bounce back campaign, going 9-3 after a dismal 4-8 record in 2016. November was tough, as Miami blew Notre Dame out and then the Stanford game got away on the Farm.
20. Washington State – It was a disappointing Apple Cup for the Cougars, who got beat down by Washington. Mike Leach has done a tremendous job at the helm in Pullman, and will certainly have some suitors across the coaching landscape.
21. Northwestern – The Wildcats put together an outstanding season under the watch of Pat Fitzgerald and will likely be a tough out for a traditional SEC power in a Florida bowl game. A 42-7 beat down of cross-state foe Illinois punctuates a 9-3 campaign.
22. Michigan State – It was an tremendous performance by Michigan State and that Mark Dantonio defense and running attack. Rutgers only ran 31 plays. MSU will likely be bound for nice Sunshine State bowl game.
23. Virginia Tech – The Hokies post a 9-3 regular season, capping it with a 13th straight win over in-state foe Virginia. Justin Fuente has kept Virginia Tech amongst the top contenders in the ACC, and they’ll be there again next season.
24. Mississippi State – It was a heartbreaker for MSU, falling in the Egg Bowl to Ole Miss and the awful injury to Nick Fitzgerald. The Maroon Bulldogs sit at 8-4. They were hungry to win double digits. But Dan Mullen continues to do outstanding work at MSU.
25. South Carolina – It was a disappointing end to the season again, as arch-rival Clemson dominated the Gamecocks in Columbia. Still, an 8-4 record this year feels good for Will Muschamp’s squad. A bowl win to get to nine would be a boost for South Carolina.
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