A Weekly Look at the Power 5 Conferences and Independents
On November 28, 2017, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee presented its fifth 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 13 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 13 Power 5 Conference Rankings
1. Big Ten
Key Wins: 7 Iowa, Purdue, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State
Good Day: 0 none
Key Losses: 7 Nebraska, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Maryland, Rutgers, Minnesota
Wisconsin finished the regular season as the only undefeated team from a Power 5 conference by shutting out Minnesota 31-0 in Minneapolis. The Badgers (12-0) head into a Big Ten championship matchup with Ohio State hoping to claim a conference title and a spot in the College Football Playoff. The Buckeyes (10-2) took down rival Michigan 31-20 at the Big House in Ann Arbor. Tailback J. K. Dobbins ran for 101 yards and a touchdown for Ohio State.
Northwestern (9-3) won its seventh consecutive game by running past in-state rival Illinois 42-7 in Champaign. Justin Jackson rushed for 141 yards and a touchdown to lead the Wildcats. Penn State hammered Maryland 66-3 in College Park to finish the regular season with a 10-2 record. The Nittany Lions remain a top contender for a bid to a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Michigan State (9-3) cruised by Rutgers 40-7 in Piscataway to complete a nice turnaround season. The Spartans rebounded from a dismal 3-9 campaign in 2016 with a six-win improvement this year. Purdue became bowl eligible for the first time since 2012 by beating rival Indiana 31-24 in West Lafayette. Markell Jones ran for 217 yards to pace the Boilermakers. Iowa improved to 7-5 by blasting Nebraska 56-14 in Lincoln. Akrum Wadley ran for 159 yards and 3 TDs for the Hawkeyes.
In the playoff conversation: Wisconsin, Ohio State
2. Big 12
Key Wins: 5 TCU, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State
Good Day: 0 none
Key Losses: 5 Texas, Baylor, Iowa State, West Virginia, Kansas
Oklahoma used its high-powered offense to crush West Virginia 59-31 in Norman. The Sooners (11-1) racked up 646 yards of total offense in winning their seventh game in a row. OU is set to face TCU in the Big 12 championship game on Saturday.
TCU buried Baylor 45-22 in Fort Worth on Friday to clinch a spot in the Big 12 title game. The Horned Frogs (10-2) forced 3 turnovers on defense, and Kenny Hill passed for 325 yards and 3 scores in the victory. Texas Tech secured bowl eligibility at the expense of Texas. The Red Raiders used a late interception to rally past the Longhorns 27-23 in Austin. Eight of the ten teams in the conference will go bowling, with the only exceptions being Baylor and Kansas, who both finished the season at 1-11.
Oklahoma State (9-3) piled up 661 yards of total offense in a 58-17 romp over Kansas. The Cowboys’ defense was impressive in limiting the Jayhawks to just 241 yards on the day. Kansas State (7-5) scored twice in the final six minutes of the game to rally past Iowa State 20-19 in Manhattan. The Wildcats got the game-winning touchdown pass on the final play of the game.
In the playoff conversation: Oklahoma, TCU
Key Wins: 6 UCLA, Arizona State, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Stanford
Good Day: 0 none
Key Losses: 5 Cal, Arizona, Oregon State, Washington State, Colorado
Stanford moved to 9-3 on the year with an impressive 38-20 victory over Notre Dame on the Farm. Heisman hopeful Bryce Love ran for 125 yards, while quarterback K. J. Costello tossed 4 touchdown passes to lead the Cardinal. Stanford is the North Division champion and faces USC in the PAC-12 championship game on Friday night.
Washington (10-2) scored a 41-14 blowout win over rival #13 Washington State in Seattle. Myles Gaskin ran for 192 yards and 4 TDs for the Huskies. UCLA became bowl eligible by downing Cal 30-27 at the Rose Bowl. Receiver Jordan Lasley was the star of the game for the Bruins by catching 12 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown. Like the Bruins, Utah secured bowl eligibility by beating Colorado 34-13 in Salt Lake City. Zack Moss ran for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns for the Utes.
Arizona State took down rival Arizona 42-30 in the Territorial Cup in Tempe. Demario Richard rushed for 165 yards and 2 TDs for the Sun Devils. Oregon routed rival Oregon State 69-10 in the Civil War game in Eugene. Royce Freeman ran for 122 yards and 2 scores for the Ducks, who finished the regular season 7-5.
In the playoff conversation: USC
Key Wins: 8 Duke, Pitt, Florida State, Louisville, Boston College, Virginia Tech, NC State, Clemson
Good Day: 0 none
Key Losses: 6 Georgia Tech, Miami, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Virginia, North Carolina
Miami suffered its first loss of the season at Pittsburgh. The Hurricanes (10-1) generated just 232 yards of offense, while the Panthers (5-7) put a dent in Miami’s playoff push ahead of the ACC championship game. Clemson (11-1) used a dominant defense to cruise past rival South Carolina 34-10 in Columbia. The Tigers held the Gamecocks to 207 yards of total offense to keep their playoff hopes alive. Clemson faces Miami in the ACC title game Saturday night.
Duke became bowl eligible by upsetting Wake Forest 31-23 in Winston-Salem. Daniel Jones passed for 346 yards and 2 touchdowns to send the Blue Devils to a bowl game for the fifth time in six seasons. Boston College (7-5) routed Syracuse 42-14 at the Carrier Dome behind the running of A. J. Dillon. The freshman tailback rushed for 193 yards and 3 TDs for the Eagles.
Virginia Tech (9-3) edged rival Virginia 10-0 in Charlottesville. The Hokies used a stout defense to get the win, holding the Cavaliers to 191 yards of total offense. NC State (8-4) slipped past rival North Carolina 33-21 in Raleigh. Nyheim Hines rushed for 196 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Wolfpack.
Florida State (5-6) kept its bowl hopes alive by beating in-state rival Florida 38-22 at the Swamp. Louisville (8-4) routed rival Kentucky 44-17 in Lexington behind a big day from Lamar Jackson. The Heisman winner accounted for 372 yards of total offense and threw 2 touchdown passes for the Cardinals. Georgia Tech missed out on a chance to get bowl eligible by falling to rival Georgia 38-7 in Atlanta.
In the playoff conversation: Clemson, Miami
Key Wins: 6 Ole Miss, Auburn, Georgia, Vanderbilt, LSU, Missouri
Good Day: 0 none
Key Losses: 8 Alabama, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina
Auburn shook up the playoff race by tripping up top-ranked Alabama 26-14 on the Plains. Kerryon Johnson ran for 104 yards and a TD to pace the Tigers (10-2), who clinched a spot in the SEC title game with the win. Auburn’s opponent in Atlanta will be Georgia, who cruised to a 38-7 victory over rival Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The Bulldogs (11-1) outgained the Yellow Jackets by a margin of 471-226.
Ole Miss shocked #14 Mississippi State 31-28 in the Egg Bowl in Starkville. Wideout A. J. Brown had a huge game, catching 6 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown to lead the Rebels. Ole Miss has beaten the Bulldogs four times in the past six meetings. Vanderbilt topped in-state rival Tennessee 42-24 in Knoxville. The Commodores have won four of the last six matchups in this series, and the Volunteers finished winless in SEC play for the first time ever.
LSU (9-3) rolled past Texas A&M 45-21 in Baton Rouge. Danny Etling passed for 347 yards and 3 touchdowns to pace the Tigers, while the Aggies turned the ball over 4 times in defeat. Missouri (7-5) won its sixth game in a row by outlasting Arkansas 48-45 in Fayetteville. Drew Lock passed for 448 yards and 5 touchdowns for the victors.
Kentucky (7-5) was beaten soundly for the second straight week, falling to rival Louisville 44-17 in Lexington. Florida’s dismal season came to an end with a 38-22 loss to rival Florida State in Gainesville. The Gators finished with a 4-7 record. South Carolina (8-4) generated just 207 yards of offense in a 34-10 loss to rival Clemson in Columbia.
In the playoff conversation: Georgia, Auburn, Alabama
Key Wins: 0 none
Good Day: 1 BYU
Key Losses: 1 Notre Dame
Notre Dame fell to Stanford 38-20 in Palo Alto to end the regular season at 9-3. The Fighting Irish turned the ball over 3 times, and star tailback Josh Adams was limited to 49 rushing yards on 20 carries.
Army (8-3) had a bye week. The Black Knights face rival Navy in Philadelphia in two weeks.
BYU notched its fourth win of the year by beating Hawaii 30-20 on the road.
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 13, if the College Football Playoff was today, the Selection Committee might pick…..
1- Clemson (32.5) versus 4- Wisconsin (25.25)
2- Oklahoma (31.75) versus 3- Auburn (27.75)
On the outside…..
10- Ohio State (20.25)
11- TCU (19.75)
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 13, the Top Ten Teams are…..
- Ohio State