A Weekly Look at the Power 5 Conferences and Independents
On November 21, 2017, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee presented its fourth rankings of the season based on strength of schedule, head-to-head results, comparison of results against common opponents, conference championships won and the eye test.
The biggest unknown in the Committee’s rankings each week is how much weight each committee member places on those factors when ranking the teams. During the initial three seasons of the playoff, the committee has leaned toward choosing teams with the best resume (most deserving teams) as opposed to relying on the eye test (best teams).
Click here for the Committee’s most recent rankings.
Each week, The Rebel Walk’s Jeff Tetrick presents a national report card on the Power 5 conferences and independent schools. The aim is to rank and grade the 5 conferences based on the cumulative results of each league’s teams that weekend.
Jeff will provide a brief weekly summary of each conference, suggest which teams are in playoff contention, and offer his ranking of the best teams in the country. The Independent schools have a section but are not ranked with the conferences.
Below are the criteria and his rankings for Week 12 of the 2017 season.
Report Card Criteria:
Good Day: A win over a non-Power 5 school is a good day.
Key Loss: A loss to a non-Power 5 team is a key loss. As well, a loss to a non-conference Power 5 school is a key loss because of the missed chance to make the claim that conference A is better than conference B.
Week 12 Power 5 Conference Rankings
Key Wins: 5 Georgia, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, LSU, Missouri
Good Day: 4 Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, Florida
Key Losses: 5 Kentucky, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
Georgia moved to 10-1 with a convincing 42-13 win over Kentucky in Athens. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel combined for 238 rushing yards to keep the Bulldogs in the hunt for a college football playoff spot. Top-ranked Alabama (11-0) rolled to a 56-0 win over FCS opponent Mercer ahead of their showdown with Auburn this weekend. The Tigers (9-2) had an easy time with Louisiana-Monroe on the Plains, as Kerryon Johnson ran for 137 yards and a touchdown in Auburn’s 42-14 victory.
Texas A&M (7-4) scored a 31-24 decision over Ole Miss in Oxford. Derrick Tucker’s interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter was the difference for the Aggies in this close contest. South Carolina (8-3) forced 3 turnovers and got 3 touchdowns from QB Jake Bentley in a 31-10 win over FCS foe Wofford. Missouri gained bowl eligibility and won its fifth straight game by routing Vanderbilt 45-17 in Nashville. The Tigers (6-5) forced 3 turnovers and scored on a punt return and an interception return in dominating the Commodores.
Florida won for the first time since September by thumping UAB 36-7 at the Swamp. LSU (8-3) used its strong running game to throttle Tennessee 30-10 in Knoxville. The Volunteers will host Vanderbilt on Friday in a matchup of teams that sit 0-7 in league play, a scenario that few would have projected at the start of the season. Finally, Mississippi State (8-3) struggled to rally from a two-touchdown deficit against lowly Arkansas. The Bulldogs scored twice in the final four minutes to secure a 28-21 win.
In the playoff conversation: Alabama, Georgia
2. Big Ten
Key Wins: 7 Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, Northwestern, Purdue
Good Day: 0 none
Key Losses: 7 Rutgers, Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Maryland, Minnesota, Iowa
Wisconsin used its strong run game and a stifling run defense to take down #24 Michigan 24-10 in Madison. The Badgers (11-0) outgained the Wolverines 182-58 on the ground to remain undefeated and in the conversation for a playoff spot. Freshman Jonathan Taylor led the way for Wisconsin with 132 rushing yards. The Badgers will meet #9 Ohio State in the Big Ten title game in two weeks. The Buckeyes (9-2) earned their place in the championship game by crushing Illinois 52-14 at the Horseshoe.
Indiana won its second straight league contest with a commanding 41-0 shutout of Rutgers in Bloomington. The Hoosiers (5-6) got 267 of their 503 yards of total offense on the ground, and the defense held the Scarlet Knights to 190 yards on the day. Tom Allen and his Hoosiers are seeking a fifth straight win over Purdue this Saturday in order to go bowling for a third consecutive year. Purdue made this season’s matchup with Indiana a winner-take-all contest by stunning Iowa 24-15 in Iowa City to improve to 5-6. The Boilermakers and Hoosiers are now playing for state bragging rights, the Old Oaken Bucket, and a bowl bid!
Northwestern (8-3) won its sixth consecutive game by blanking Minnesota 39-0 in Evanston. Justin Jackson ran for 166 yards to pace the Wildcats. Michigan State (8-3) relied on its rushing attack to top Maryland 17-7 in the snow in East Lansing. LJ Scott ran for 147 yards and a touchdown for the Spartans. Saquon Barkley rushed for 158 yards and 3 TDs to lead Penn State (9-2) past Nebraska 56-44 in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions tallied 609 yards of total offense on the day.
In the playoff conversation: Wisconsin, Ohio State
Key Wins: 5 Arizona State, Stanford, USC, Oregon, Washington
Good Day: 0 none
Key Losses: 5 Oregon State, Cal, UCLA, Arizona, Utah
Stanford (8-3) stayed in contention for the North Division title by sneaking past Cal 17-14 in Palo Alto. Heisman candidate Bryce Love ran for 101 yards and a touchdown for the Cardinal. Stanford will reach the PAC-12 title game if Washington beats Washington State on Saturday night. Washington (9-2) edged Utah 33-30 with a field goal on the final play of the game in Seattle. QB Jake Browning passed for 354 yards and 2 touchdowns for the Huskies.
Arizona State secured bowl eligibility with a 40-24 victory over Oregon State in Corvallis. Tailback Demario Richard ran for 119 yards and 3 TDs to lead the Sun Devils. Likewise, Oregon became bowl eligible by beating Arizona 48-28 in Eugene. Royce Freeman rushed for 135 yards and 4 scores to pace the Ducks. Oregon racked up 588 yards of total offense, while the defense limited Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate to 32 yards on the ground.
USC concluded its regular season by recording a 28-23 win over UCLA at the Coliseum. The Trojans (10-2) have a bye week at the end of the year before playing in the conference championship game. Ronald Jones ran for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns for USC. Josh Rosen threw for 421 yards and 3 TDs for the Bruins, but he tossed a key interception in the end zone that thwarted UCLA’s upset attempt.
In the playoff conversation: USC
Key Wins: 5 Duke, Miami, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Wake Forest
Good Day: 4 Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina, Boston College
Key Losses: 5 Georgia Tech, Virginia, Pitt, Syracuse, NC State
Miami did not look like a top ten team most of the day, but the Hurricanes stayed unbeaten by rallying past Virginia at home. Miami (10-0) trailed by 14 points early in the third quarter before reeling off 30 unanswered points to pull out a 44-28 victory. Clemson improved to 10-1 by blasting The Citadel 61-3 in Death Valley. Like the Tigers, Florida State defeated an FCS opponent by hammering Delaware State 77-6 in Tallahassee. The Seminoles need 2 more wins to reach bowl eligibility.
Duke ended a six-game losing streak by shocking Georgia Tech 43-20 in Durham. The Blue Devils piled up 500 yards of total offense to get within one win of bowl eligibility. Virginia Tech (8-3) needed a goal-line stand on the final play of the day to hold off Pitt in Blacksburg. Cam Phillips had 117 receiving yards to help the Hokies earn the 20-14 victory. North Carolina picked up its third win of the season by beating Western Carolina 65-10 in Chapel Hill. It was the Tar Heels first win at home this year.
Wake Forest (7-4) pulled off a 30-24 upset of #19 NC State in Winston-Salem. The Demon Deacons forced 3 turnovers, and QB John Wolford threw 3 TD passes in the victory. Louisville (7-4) got another big day from Heisman winner Lamar Jackson in pounding Syracuse 56-10 at home in the rain. Jackson totaled 381 yards of offense and tallied 4 touchdowns for the Cardinals. Boston College became bowl eligible by topping UConn 39-16 at Fenway Park. AJ Dillon rushed for 200 yards and 2 TDs for the Eagles.
In the playoff conversation: Clemson, Miami
5. Big 12
Key Wins: 5 Oklahoma, Kansas State, TCU, Iowa State, Texas
Good Day: 0 none
Key Losses: 5 Kansas, Oklahoma State, Baylor, West Virginia, Texas Tech
It was a wild weekend in the Big 12, as the road team won all 5 league games. Oklahoma stayed atop the Big 12 standings and in the race for a college football playoff bid by routing Kansas 41-3 in Lawrence. Heisman favorite Baker Mayfield passed for 257 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead the Sooners (10-1), who clinched a place in the Big 12 championship game with the victory.
Kansas State (6-5) pulled off the surprise of the day in the conference by shocking #13 Oklahoma State 45-40 in Stillwater. The Wildcats secured bowl eligibility, while the Cowboys were eliminated from the Big 12 title chase despite getting 425 passing yards from QB Mason Rudolph. Iowa State snapped a two-game skid by beating Baylor 23-13 in Waco. David Montgomery rushed for 144 yards to pace the Cyclones (7-4), and the defense created 2 turnovers on the day.
TCU (9-2) kept its league title hopes alive by downing Texas Tech 27-3 in Lubbock. Freshman QB Shawn Robinson accounted for 169 yards of total offense in his first career start for the Horned Frogs. The Red Raiders have lost 5 of their last 6 games and need a win at Texas to qualify for a bowl bid. Speaking of Texas, the Longhorns clinched a bowl berth by upsetting West Virginia 28-14 in Morgantown. Sam Ehlinger tossed a pair of touchdown passes to lead the Longhorns.
In the playoff conversation: Oklahoma, TCU
Key Wins: 0 none
Good Day: 1 Notre Dame
Key Losses: 2 Army, BYU
Notre Dame rebounded from its loss to Miami by holding off a pesky Navy squad at Notre Dame Stadium. Josh Adams ran for 106 yards, and Brandon Wimbush threw 2 TD passes to help the Fighting Irish (9-2) top the Midshipmen 24-17.
Army (8-3) saw its six-game winning streak come to end at the hands of North Texas. The contest was very evenly played, but the Mean Green won it 52-49 with a field goal on the game’s final play.
BYU dropped a 16-10 decision to UMass in Provo. The Cougars turned the ball over 4 times in falling to 3-9 on the year.
In the playoff conversation: none
This section is our guess at which teams the Selection Committee would choose based on the body of work up to this point in the season. This list is not a ranking of the 4 best teams. Rather, it lists the teams with the top playoff resumes. In other words, these are the most deserving teams for a playoff spot based on their schedule to date.
Based on week 12, if the College Football Playoff was today, the Selection Committee might pick…..
1- Oklahoma (29.25) versus 4- Miami (27.75)
2- Clemson (29) versus 3- Alabama (28.25)
On the outside…..
10- Ohio State (18.5)
Top Ten Teams
This section is our view of the top ten teams in the country at this point in the season. This list is not based on the AP poll or exclusively on a team’s record or resume. Thus, a one-loss team may be ranked higher than an undefeated team. This ranking is based on our view of the best teams in college football via the eye test.
After week 12, the Top Ten Teams are…..
- Ohio State