Top 25 Poll
Others receiving votes: Air Force, Colorado State, Minnesota, Utah
Dropped from the rankings: Colorado State (19), Minnesota (20), Utah State (25)
25 (17). Marshall (11-1) – They went back and forth with another insane offense, and they came up just short. Going 11-1 still has to mean something, though. If they get a lower level Power 5 team in a bowl, then there could be some fireworks.
24 (NR). Nebraska (9-3) – A late rally secured another 9 win season for coach Bo Pelini, but did not quite secure his job.
23 (NR). USC (8-4) – A big win over freefalling Notre Dame wrapped up a roller coaster season for first year coach Steve Sarkisian.
22 (23). Clemson (9-3) – They finally got over the hump and beat South Carolina when they were favored. This just happened to be the worst Cocks team in recent memory.
21 (21). Auburn (8-4) – They performed admirably in the Iron Bowl and actually had a chance to take over. They might be the best 4 loss team I can remember.
20 (24). Northern Illinois (10-2) – They are just one of those programs that can just win no matter what the makeup of the team is. Once again, they are the best team in the state.
19 (NR). Mississippi (9-3) – They got a surprise Egg Bowl victory, only adding to the strange resume of this (maybe great) Rebel team.
18 (22). Missouri (10-2) – They won the East, cool. They also have no real quality wins.
17 (16). Oklahoma (8-3) – IDLE.
16 (12). Georgia (9-3) – They got upended by the Yellow Jackets in their state rivalry game. Georgia Tech is a tough team to beat, and it was in overtime. This ruined any hope for the playoffs, however.
15 (11). UCLA (9-3) – The Bruins just constantly disappoint late in the year. This is the best Bruin team in more than a decade, and they still finish with 3 losses, including that ugly and semi-embarrassing loss to Stanford to end the year.
14 (13). Arizona State (9-3) – The Sun Devils battled hard against in-state foe Arizona to close the year. This team is going to be a scary opponent for whoever winds up playing them.
13 (18). Boise State (10-2) – Jay Ajayi. Check it out.
12 (14). Georgia Tech (10-2) – They roll into the ACC Championship game on a streak and with a real argument for being a season-ending top 4 team with a win.
11 (7). Mississippi State (10-2) – They could not overcome a furious and angry Ole Miss team in the Egg Bowl. That series always seems to go to the underdog.
10 (15). Wisconsin (10-2) – Beating Minnesota was impressive, and they didn’t even do it in their classic manner. This will be a tough out for banged-up Ohio State.
9 (9). Michigan State (10-2) – Another year, another underrated 10 win team for Sparty.
8 (10). Arizona (10-2) – If they can take down Oregon again, they will be left out of the top 4. But they shouldn’t be. This is one of the most resilient teams I have ever seen.
7 (8). Kansas State (9-2) – Kansas State gets a real opportunity against Baylor to make one last statement and prove once and for all that they are a legit program in that conference.
6 (1). Florida State (12-0) – I am tired of putting them up there even though they suck but continue to win. They are not one of the best teams. It is as simple as that.
5 (6). TCU (10-1) – They spanked Texas on Thanksgiving for one final stake in their claim for a playoff spot.
4 (5). Baylor (10-1) – They were able to barely avoid disaster against Texas Tech, but they survived and…advanced? Maybe they still have to take apart K-State.
3 (2). Ohio State (11-1) – Losing their second Heisman candidate quarterback of the year is a huge blow to the team, but how will the committee react?
2 (3). Alabama (11-1) – Their defense showed serious holes, but their offense looked almost invincible.
1 (4). Oregon (11-1) – Can they be stopped by anyone? Arizona will let us know if that one night in Eugene was a fluke or not.
Conference Championship Games Next Weekend
Bonus Big 12 Game: Kansas State (#7) at Baylor (#4), 4:45PM ESPN – This may decide whether the Big 12 Champ gets in the tournament or not. Baylor definitely should be able to take care of business, but there is also some payback in order here for when K-State was seeking an unbeaten season a couple years back. Who takes it?
PREDICTION: Baylor 34-28
7. MAC: Bowling Green vs Northern Illinois (#20), FRI 4:00PM ESPN2 – This is a fairly uninteresting game, but Northern Illinois can put a claim in for a big bowl invite if Boise State gets upset. Look for a beat down either way.
PREDICTION: Northern Illinois 41-17
6. SEC: Missouri (#18) vs Alabama (#2), 1:00PM CBS – There really is little to look forward to here. We can all hope Missouri pulls an all-time upset and throws chaos into the landscape, but nope. That won’t happen.
PREDICTION: Alabama 48-13
5. C-USA: Louisiana Tech vs Marshall (#25), 9:00AM ESPN2 – LT can score, but Marshall is coming off a loss that is going to leave them inspired and looking for blood. Or it could be a letdown against a team who just dropped 70+ in their season finale. Hmm…
PREDICTION: Marshall 31-30
4. MWC: Fresno State at Boise State (#13), 7:00PM CBS – Fresno has recovered since an ugly start to the year, and Boise has really stomped on everyone since being upset by Air Force early on. This could be a compelling game if Fresno shows up offensively.
PREDICTION: Boise State 38-24
3. PAC-12: Arizona (#8) vs Oregon (#1), FRI 6:00PM FOX – We can all assume that Arizona is going to be able to do the same thing they did the last two times they played, but Oregon is amazing at making adjustments and their offensive line has been shored up.
PREDICTION: Oregon 41-31
2. Big Ten: Wisconsin (#10) vs Ohio State (#3), 5:17PM FOX – Can Melvin Gordon be stopped? Can Ohio State adjust to another starting quarterback? Your guess is as good as mine.
PREDICTION: Ohio State 31-27
1. ACC: Georgia Tech (#12) vs Florida State (#6), 5:00PM ABC – This might not be the best teams, but it is the most compelling matchup. That GT rushing attack against the long win streak. Coastal vs Atlantic. Good vs evil.
PREDICTION: Georgia Tech 24-21
Heisman Trophy Watch
5. JT Barrett, QB, Ohio State – Even though he is lost for the season, he had the most prolific quarterback season in Big Ten History, despite not playing the entire season. He deserves an invite.
4. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama – He continues to have monster games in the most important matchups. If he is invited, then this begs the question: What makes him different than Justin Blackmon, Marqise Lee, or Michael Crabtree? He plays for Alabama. That’s about it.
3. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU – He has had an absurd season in that new air raid offense at TCU. He should be a slam dunk choice for third place.
2. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin – I think he may need to break the all time rushing record to win the thing, unless Oregon gets taken down by Arizona again.
1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon – Barring a loss, he has this thing wrapped up.
College Football Playoff Projections
Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl: Florida State over Michigan State
Cotton Bowl: Arizona over Wisconsin
Fiesta Bowl: Boise State over TCU
Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech over Mississippi State
College Football Playoff Semifinal #1 (Rose Bowl): Alabama over Ohio State
CFB Playoff Semifinal #2 (Sugar Bowl): Oregon over Baylor
National Championship Game: Alabama over Oregon
Thoughts? Predictions for next week? What should the committee do with Ohio State? Hit me up below!