A Weekly Look at the Power 5 Conferences and Independents
On November 14, 2017, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee presented its third 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 11 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 11 Power 5 Conference Rankings
Key Wins: 7 Miami, Clemson, North Carolina, Louisville, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, NC State
Good Day: 0 none
Key Losses: 7 Duke, Pitt, Florida State, Virginia, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Boston College
Miami put the nation on alert that it is a serious playoff contender by routing #3 Notre Dame 41-8 at home. The Hurricanes (9-0) relied on a stingy defense to wrap up the Coastal Division title. Miami forced 4 turnovers and limited ND to 109 rushing yards on the night. The Hurricanes jumped out to a 27-0 lead and were never threatened by the Fighting Irish.
Clemson ran past Florida State 31-14 in Death Valley. The Tigers (9-1) were led by Travis Etienne, who ran for 97 yards and 2 touchdowns on the day. North Carolina won its first conference game of the season by topping Pitt 34-31 on the road. The Tar Heels (2-8) snapped a six-game losing streak and put the Panthers’ bowl hopes on life support. Like Pitt, the Duke Blue Devils (4-6) need to win out to reach bowl eligibility after falling to Army 21-16 at Michie Stadium.
Louisville became bowl eligible by downing Virginia 38-21 at home. The Cardinals (6-4) were led by Heisman winner Lamar Jackson, who accounted for 4 touchdowns and 342 yards of total offense. Wake Forest (6-4) lit up the scoreboard during a 64-43 victory over Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. The Demon Deacons were paced by quarterback John Wolford, who ran for 3 touchdowns and passed for 3 more scores.
NC State (7-3) fought for a 17-14 win over Boston College in Chesnut Hill. Nyheim Hines rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown as the Wolfpack ended a two-game skid. Georgia Tech upset #17 Virginia Tech 28-22 in Atlanta. TaQuon Marshall completed only 2 passes in the game, but both completions went for touchdowns for the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech (5-4) snapped a two-game losing streak, while the Hokies (7-3) dropped out of the Atlantic Division title race.
In the playoff conversation: Clemson, Miami
Key Wins: 5 Stanford, Washington State, USC, Arizona, UCLA
Good Day: 0 none
Key Losses: 5 Washington, Utah, Oregon State, Arizona State, Colorado
Stanford put an end to Washington’s playoff dreams with a 30-22 victory over the Huskies in Palo Alto. Heisman candidate Bryce Love led the Cardinal with 166 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. Love has 1,622 yards and 15 TDs for the season, and Stanford (7-3) remains in the hunt for the North Division title.
Washington State (9-2) joined Stanford atop the North Division standings by beating Utah 33-25 in Salt Lake City. QB Luke Falk passed for 311 yards and 3 touchdowns for the Cougars, who have a bye week before a season-ending showdown with Washington in Seattle. UCLA (5-5) topped Arizona State (5-5) 44-37 at the Rose Bowl behind the arm of Josh Rosen. The junior QB threw for 381 yards and a touchdown for the Bruins, who now need just one more win to secure bowl eligibility.
USC (9-2) sealed up the South Division crown with a solid 38-24 win over Colorado in Boulder. Ronald Jones rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown for the Trojans, and QB Sam Darnold passed for 329 yards and 2 scores through the air. With losses by several playoff contenders, USC remains in the running for a CFP spot. Arizona improved to 7-3 with an impressive 49-28 victory over Oregon State. Quarterback Khalil Tate ran for 206 yards to lead the Wildcats, marking the sixth straight game that Tate has surpassed the 100-yard mark running the ball.
In the playoff conversation: USC
3. Big Ten
Key Wins: 7 Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State, Indiana, Northwestern, Minnesota, Michigan
Good Day: 0 none
Key Losses: 7 Iowa, Michigan State, Rutgers, Illinois, Purdue, Nebraska, Maryland
Wisconsin (10-0) used a dominant defense to coast to a 38-14 win over Iowa at Camp Randall Stadium. The Badger defense forced 3 turnovers and held the Hawkeyes to 5 first downs and 66 yards of total offense for the game. However, UW turned the ball over 4 times and allowed Iowa to score twice on pick-six plays. Wisconsin has to take better care of the ball if the Badgers hope to run the table and win a Big Ten title.
Ohio State (8-2) destroyed #12 Michigan State 48-3 at the Horseshoe in Columbus to stay on the fringe of the playoff conversation. A week after surrendering 55 points in a loss at Iowa, the Buckeyes’ defense smothered the Spartans (7-3) by recording 6 sacks, forcing 3 turnovers, and limiting MSU to 195 yards of total offense. Mike Weber led OSU with 162 rushing yards and 2 TDs. Penn State (8-2) snapped a two-game skid by routing Rutgers 35-6 in Happy Valley. Trace McSorley threw for 214 yards and 2 TDs for the Nittany Lions.
Indiana picked up its first Big Ten win by beating Illinois 24-14 in Champaign. Richard Lagow passed for 289 yards and 2 scores for the Hoosiers, as Tom Allen has his team two wins away from a bowl bid. Northwestern (7-3) won for the fifth straight time by taking down Purdue 23-13 in Evanston. QB Clayton Thorson passed for 296 yards and a score for the victors.
Michigan (8-2) got 2 passing touchdowns from Brandon Peters and 2 rushing scores from Chris Evans in a 35-10 victory over Maryland in College Park. The Wolverines have won three straight games heading into big matchups with Wisconsin and Ohio State in the next two weeks. Minnesota evened its record at 5-5 by pounding Nebraska 54-21 in Minneapolis. The Golden Gophers rushed for 409 yards as a team, while the Cornhuskers (4-6) are in jeopardy of missing a bowl game.
In the playoff conversation: Wisconsin, Ohio State
4. Big 12
Key Wins: 5 Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech
Good Day: 0 none
Key Losses: 5 Iowa State, Kansas, TCU, Baylor, Kansas State
Oklahoma separated itself from the rest of the Big 12 field by beating #6 TCU 38-20 in Norman. Heisman favorite Baker Mayfield passed for 333 yards and 3 TDs in the victory over the Horned Frogs (8-2). With two games to play, the Sooners (9-1) hold a one-game lead over TCU, West Virginia, and Oklahoma State in the conference standings.
West Virginia scored a respectable 28-23 win over Kansas State in Manhattan. The Mountaineers (7-3) were paced by QB Will Grier, who threw for 372 yards and 4 touchdowns. Texas evened its record at 5-5 by defeating Kansas 42-27 in Austin. The Longhorns’ defense forced 4 turnovers in helping Texas to move within one win of bowl eligibility.
Oklahoma State (8-2) kept its Big 12 title hopes alive by outscoring #21 Iowa State 49-42 in Ames. QB Mason Rudolph passed for 376 yards and 3 scores, and RB Justice Hill rushed for 134 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead the Cowboys. Texas Tech (5-5) ended a four-game losing streak by besting Baylor 38-24 in Waco. The Red Raiders need one more win to become bowl eligible.
In the playoff conversation: Oklahoma, TCU, Oklahoma State
Key Wins: 6 Auburn, Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri
Good Day: 2 Ole Miss, Texas A&M
Key Losses: 6 Georgia, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee
Alabama needed a pair of touchdowns in the final ten minutes to rally past Mississippi State in Starkville. The Crimson Tide (10-0) got a TD pass from Jalen Hurts with 44 seconds to play to pull out a 31-24 win over the Bulldogs (7-3). Dan Mullen may regret his decision to punt twice in the game on fourth-and-short, as the Bulldogs certainly had a shot at pulling off an enormous upset.
Auburn blistered #1 Georgia 40-17 on The Plains! Jarrett Stidham tossed 3 TD passes, and Kerryon Johnson rushed for 167 yards to pace the Tigers (8-2). Auburn loaded the box on defense and bottled up the Georgia rushing attack, making the Bulldogs (9-1) one-dimensional and daring Jake Fromm to beat them through the air, which he was unable to do on Saturday.
Ole Miss evened its record at 5-5 by routing Louisiana-Lafayette 50-22 in Oxford. Jordan Ta’amu passed for 418 yards and 3 scores and ran for 2 more touchdowns in the big win. WR A. J. Brown caught 14 passes for 185 yards and 2 TDs as the Rebels won for the second straight weekend. LSU (7-3) cruised past Arkansas 33-10 in Baton Rouge behind a big day from Derrius Guice. The junior tailback ran for 147 yards and 3 touchdowns for the Tigers.
South Carolina (7-3) turned the ball over 4 times, but the Gamecocks used 4 rushing touchdowns to power past hapless Florida 28-20 in Columbia. The Gators have lost 5 games in a row. Kentucky got 5 rushing TDs from Benny Snell and Sihiem King during a 44-21 blowout win over Vanderbilt in Nashville. The Wildcats (7-3) got 4 takeaways from the defense.
Missouri (5-5) won its fourth straight contest by hammering Tennessee 50-17 in Columbia. The Volunteers are in danger of not reaching bowl eligibility, and Butch Jones was fired as head coach on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Tigers need just one more win to qualify for a bowl game. Texas A&M became bowl eligible by thumping New Mexico 55-14 in College Station. Nick Starkel passed for 416 yards and 4 touchdowns to lead the Aggies to victory.
In the playoff conversation: Alabama, Georgia, Auburn
Key Wins: 1 Army
Good Day: 1 BYU
Key Losses: 1 Notre Dame
Notre Dame saw its dream of reaching the playoff come crashing down in a 41-8 loss to #7 Miami in South Florida. It was clear early on that the team speed of Miami was too much for Notre Dame. The Hurricanes dominated this game with defense, holding Heisman candidate Josh Adams to 40 rushing yards, allowing just 152 passing yards, and forcing 4 turnovers. Notre Dame (8-2) can finish the season with 10 wins and a New Year’s Six bowl bid by beating both Navy and Stanford in the next two weeks.
Army improved to 8-2 by downing Duke 21-16 at West Point. The Black Knights have won six straight games and can match the school record for wins in a season by winning their final two games on the road.
BYU picked up its third win of the season by toppling UNLV 31-21 in Las Vegas. Squally Canada rushed for 213 yards and a touchdown to pace the Cougars.
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 11, if the College Football Playoff was today, the Selection Committee might pick…..
1- Oklahoma (27.75) versus 4- Miami (25.5)
2- Alabama (27.5) versus 3- Clemson (27.5)
On the outside…..
8-Ohio State (19.25)
10-Auburn/Washington State (17.75)
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 11, the Top Ten Teams are…..
- Ohio State
- Oklahoma State
- Washington State