The Report Card : Week 12 Analysis of the Power 5 Conferences
A Weekly Look at the Power 5 Conferences and Independents
On November 24, 2015 the College Football Playoff Selection Committee will present 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 other factors.
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 offer a brief weekly summary for each conference and suggest which teams are most likely in the hunt for a playoff berth. The Independent schools will have a section but not be ranked with the conferences. Below are the criteria as well as his rankings for Week 12.
Report Card Criteria:
Good Day: Regardless of the score, a win over a non-Power 5 school is a good day. A team who plays great but loses the game to a Power 5 school can be placed in this category.
Key Losses: 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. In conference play, a loss goes into this category unless the losing team played an exceptional, close game.
Week 12 Power 5 Conferences Report Card
1. Big 12
Key Wins: 4 Oklahoma, Baylor, West Virginia, Kansas State
Good Day: 0
Key Losses: 4 TCU, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Iowa State
Oklahoma won its second consecutive big game by surviving a late rally from TCU to take control of the Big 12 race. The Sooners nearly blew a 17-point lead in Norman, but batted down a 2-point conversion attempt with under a minute to play to seal the 30-29 victory. If Oklahoma defeats rival Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Saturday, the Sooners are Big 12 champions.
Baylor rebounded from the loss to Oklahoma to take down the last undefeated team in the league, Oklahoma State, 45-35 on the road. The Bears and Cowboys still have a shot at the conference crown, but Oklahoma State has to upset Oklahoma. The Sooners are the most balanced team in the league, and their strong rushing attack should be enough to defeat the Cowboys.
In the playoff conversation: #5 Oklahoma, #7 Baylor, #9 Oklahoma State
2. Big Ten
Key Wins: 6 Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana, Northwestern, Minnesota, Iowa
Good Day: 1 Rutgers
Key Losses: 6 Ohio State, Penn State, Maryland, Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue
Michigan State pulled off the upset in Columbus, knocking off defending national champion Ohio State to grab the lead in the Big Ten East. The Spartans found a way to win, again, and did so without their starting quarterback. Sparty is not the most talented team, but MSU finds ways to grind out wins in tight games, something championship teams do during a long season. Michigan State will win the division title if it beats Penn State this weekend. If the Spartans are upset, the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan game would win the division. The Buckeyes are reeling, and there were signs of discontent after the loss to the Spartans. Meanwhile, Michigan is coming off a win at Penn State and would love to extend the Buckeyes misery this Saturday in Ann Arbor.
In the Big Ten West, Iowa just keeps on winning games. The Hawkeyes are 11-0 after thumping Purdue to clinch the division title. Iowa and #1 Clemson are the nation’s only unbeaten teams now. Iowa is not extremely talented, but the Hawkeyes play great defense, have a balanced offense, and they do not turn the ball over. Iowa will get its shot to earn a playoff spot in the Big Ten championship game in 2 weeks.
In the playoff conversation: #3 Iowa, #6 Michigan State, #8 Ohio State
Key Wins: 4 Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Tennessee
Good Day: 5 Alabama, Florida, Auburn, Kentucky, Georgia
Key Losses: 5 LSU, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Missouri, South Carolina
Ole Miss scored the big win in the marquee SEC game last weekend by routing LSU 38-17 in Oxford. Mississippi State won a shootout with Arkansas 51-50 in Fayetteville. Texas A&M defeated Vanderbilt in Nashville, while Tennessee won a defensive struggle over Missouri in Columbia. Elsewhere, six league teams faced non-Power 5 foes. Alabama, Auburn, and Kentucky rolled to easy victories. Florida and Georgia played horrible football and needed overtime to escape with wins in games they did not deserve to win. South Carolina was downright atrocious in losing to an FCS team, The Citadel, at home.
Alabama needs only to beat Auburn to clinch the SEC West. The Crimson Tide are the only playoff contender in the league and are playing as good as any team in the country. Florida already clinched the SEC East, but this is a team with one of the worst offenses in college football. The Gators are not likely to beat Florida State this week, and Alabama should have no problem with them in the SEC title game.
In the playoff conversation: #2 Alabama
Key Wins: 6 Stanford, UCLA, Oregon, Washington State, Arizona State, Washington
Good Day: 0
Key Losses: 6 Cal, Utah, USC, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon State
Stanford clinched the North Division title with a win over Cal. Oregon continues to play great football down the stretch, as the Ducks cruised past USC. Had quarterback Vernon Adams not broken his finger in the season opener, the Ducks might very well have been in the playoff hunt today.
In the South Division, UCLA handed Utah its third loss in four games. The winner of this week’s UCLA-USC game at The Coliseum wins the division and earns the right to play Stanford in the PAC-12 championship game. The Cardinal beat both the Bruins and the Trojans handily in the regular season.
In the playoff conversation: none
Key Wins: 6 Clemson, North Carolina, Pitt, Virginia, NC State, Miami
Good Day: 1 Florida State
Key Losses: 7 Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Duke, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Boston College
Clemson routed Wake Forest to stay unbeaten and on a path to the top seed in the College Football Playoff. North Carolina clinched a spot opposite of Clemson in the ACC title game by escaping Blacksburg with an overtime win over Virginia Tech. While the Tar Heels are 10-1, they have benefitted from a weak ACC schedule and 2 victories over FCS opponents. Clemson should have no problem beating UNC, but the Tar Heels do have a strong offense. If anything, Clemson should add a win over a ranked team to its final resume.
In the playoff conversation: #1 Clemson
Key Wins: 1 Notre Dame
Good Day: 1 BYU
Key Losses: 1 Army
Army dropped a tight game against Big Ten foe Rutgers at West Point, while BYU won its eighth game of the year by blowing out Fresno State. Notre Dame moved to 10-1 with an ugly victory against lowly Boston College at Fenway Park. The Fighting Irish turned the ball over 5 times, played their worst game of the season, and were fortunate to survive with a 19-16 win over the Eagles. To put it into perspective, Boston College has 3 wins over 2 FCS teams and a MAC school and 8 losses in a terrible ACC. In any case, Notre Dame remains alive in the playoff chase. The Fighting Irish travel to Palo Alto to face Stanford on Saturday. Stanford is the better team, so I expect Notre Dame’s playoff dreams to die on The Farm.
In the playoff conversation: #6 Notre Dame
This section is our guess at which teams or conference champions the Selection Committee would choose or leave out based on the body of work up to this point in the season. Please note that this list is not a ranking of the 4 best teams or a projection of who will be the 4 playoff teams in December. Rather, it lists the teams with the top playoff resumes based on who they have played to this point in the season.
Based on week 12, if the College Football Playoff was today, the Selection Committee might go with…..
1- Clemson (ACC) versus 4- Oklahoma (Big 12)
2- Alabama (SEC) versus 3- Iowa (Big Ten)
On the outside…..
5- Michigan State
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. Thus, a one-loss team may be ranked higher than an undefeated team. This ranking is based on our view of which teams are playing the best football now, who have a good playoff resume, and who are capable of reaching the College Football Playoff.
After 12 weeks of action, the Top Ten Teams are…..
- Michigan State
- Notre Dame
- Ohio State