The very small margin of error in college football was on display throughout the scores and scores from Week 12. It was a week in which the scoreboard showed some upset for a top 25 team, but we were also a few bounces away from the complete mayhem of the FIFA World Rankings.
No. 1 Georgia was backed up in the red by Kentucky, holding a 10-point lead with 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter before forcing a missed field goal and a turnover on the upswing to remain undefeated. No. 2 Ohio State, also on the road against an unranked opponent, led by just three points late in the battle with Maryland. Meanwhile, both third and fourth placed Michigan won thanks to field goals on second down. If a few plays (or even a few kicks) have a different outcome, the top 25 AP voters will have a tough challenge sorting out the carnage on updated ballots.
This is not to say that the voters’ task will be easy in the wake of Saturday’s results.
The WG vs. recent results debate will be on full display with Tennessee picking after a stunning 63-38 loss at South Carolina. The Volunteers are now 9-2 and tallying wins against both Alabama and LSU, but Saturday night’s 22-point defeat of a rival favorite could see Tennessee fall behind one or both of their SEC opponents. The same save would be held further in the rankings after losing Ole Miss for the second week in a row, this time at unranked Arkansas. The Rebels are 8-3 and lost just 1 notch from being knocked out last week. When looking for high-quality wins, voters must determine how valuable close wins against Kentucky and at Texas A&M compare to the other three losing teams.
By the end of the night, five of the top 16 teams in the AP Top 25 will have losses, providing plenty of opportunities for other teams to move up. USC and Clemson benefited greatly from the limited chaos, each taking care of working (in very different uniforms) to stay top of their respective conferences going into Week 13. If they both can win, the College Football Playoff selection committee could be very tough. Resolutions to make on Sunday Selection.
Here’s how we think the new AP Top 25 will look like on Sunday:
1. Georgia (last week – 1): The lack of a clear contender for first place maintains the status quo as the Bulldogs remain in first place after their 16-6 victory in Kentucky.
2 – Ohio State (2): The Buckeyes managed to pick up a few first-place votes after they poured in the points late in a 43-30 win at Maryland, but voters who track scores through the day will note that this was a three-point game deep in the fourth quarter. Freshman running back Dallan Hayden had a breakthrough performance with 146 yards and three touchdowns, all after halftime as Ohio State overcame an early deficit and took control of the game in the third quarter.
3 – Michigan (3): There’s a lot to worry about Michigan coming out of Saturday’s win against Illinois — from Blake Corum’s health to how often scoring opportunities seem to end on field goal attempts — but just holding on to win will be enough to stay in position. The top five in the ranking.
4. TCU (4): TCU’s dream season continues thanks to quarterback Max Duggan leading multiple scoring drives in the fourth quarter, opening the door for a potential jump to the top three in the rankings. Our expectation is that AP voters will keep last week’s system in place, but the deciding committee has fewer voters and so can be more volatile. TCU could end up in fourth place on Sunday but in third place Tuesday night thanks to Baylor’s game-winning field goal.
5. USC (7)The Trojans rebounded from being down 14-0 after the first quarter, outpacing the Bruins by 17 over the last 45 minutes to claim a 48-45 win to remain the only team to lose once in the Pac-12. With Tennessee falling and USC impressing down the stretch as they clinched a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game, the Trojans must jump out LSU with two losses to fifth.
6. LSU (6): The Tigers enjoyed their Senior Day celebrations with a 41-10 dismantling of UAB. Next is a trip to College Station to face Texas A&M, then the SEC Championship Game against Georgia.
7- Clemson (9): With a 40-10 victory over Miami, the Tigers have won forty consecutive home games. Thanks to some Saturday results elsewhere, things are looking up for Clemson’s CFP chances. This is the ninth 40-game home winning streak in FBS history, and the first since Nebraska won 47 consecutive home games from 1991 to 1998.
8- Tennessee (5): An injury to star QB Hendon Hooker added layers of disappointment for a program that saw its playoff hopes dashed with a lopsided loss to a top-tier opponent.
9 – Alabama (8 years): No major adjustments to the 34-0 win over FCS Austin Peay.
10 – Oregon (12): In defeating Utah, the Ducks look certain to vault into the top 10, but what’s the ceiling? Look for Oregon to be No. 8, but our official prediction is that Dan Lanning’s crew will take Utes’ spot at No. 10.
11 – Penn State (11): While chaos swirls over Penn State’s position in the poll, the Nittany Lions were one of the few ranked teams to completely live up to the dominance outlook with a 55-10 win over Rutgers.
12 – Washington (15): The Huskies will rally thanks to jolts inside the top 16 and a dominant 54-7 win over Colorado.
13 – Notre Dame (18 years old): Since joining the scheduling agreement in 2014, Notre Dame is now 40-7 in regular season games against the ACC after a 44-0 win over Boston College. The Fighting Irish, now 8-3 on the year, shut out their home slate with their 28th straight regular season win against an ACC opponent. They face USC on the road in the regular season finale next week.
14 – Kansas State (19): Winning three in the last four, the Wildcats are closing in on a Big 12 Championship spot after putting up 41 points on the board in the first half and defending an early lead on their way to a 17-point victory over West Virginia. A win over rival Kansas next week guarantees Kansas State a shot at a rematch with TCU in Dallas for the conference title.
15. UCLA (16): The Bruins gave up a 14-point lead in the first quarter and a four-point advantage in the third as they fell to the Trojans in a key spot. With losing streak and three in the past five weeks, the goodwill UCLA received early in the season can now be overlooked given the stretch of the rough shutout.
16. Utah (10): The bill came due from a ratings perspective for Utah, a team that lost three times on the year but beat the only losing Pac-12 team. The win over USC provided some ratings strength that was beyond losses to Florida and UCLA, but now that Utah is in a triple-lost teams debate after losing to Oregon, the Bruins’ head-to-head advantage could determine how those teams stack up. in order.
17- Florida (20): The Seminoles scored on five of six possessions in the first half and did not allow visiting Louisiana to contest, winning 49-17.
18 – Tulane (21): Thursday night’s AAC showdown with SMU was expected to be a tough test for the Greens in the wake of last week’s close loss to UCF, but the Mustangs turned the ball over five times and Tulane took advantage of the spotlight with a 59-24 win that should impress voters.
19 – Cincinnati (22): Now 9-2 with a 20-point victory over Temple, Cincinnati could claw its way to its fourth straight AAC game appearance if it beat Tulane on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
20. Coastal Carolina (23): Saturday’s game against Virginia has been canceled as the school and community took Saturday to honor three UVA players who were killed in a tragic shooting on campus last weekend.
21- North Carolina (13): The best thing North Carolina has had in terms of ranking is only two losses after falling 21-17 at home to Georgia Tech. Falling from 13th all the way down the standings is quite drastic in adjusting this point in the season, but the stumble would be dramatic given both the disappointing result (losing as favorite by 21 points) and the profile’s lack of quality wins.
22 – Ollie Mays (14 years old): Ole Miss’s last four results give insight into where the Rebels stand up to the best teams in the country. There are three losses—by 25 to LSU, six to Alabama and 15 to unranked Arkansas—and a lone win of three to Texas A&M. Ole Miss is a little short of 9-2 with a top-ten win but also some play away from being 7-4 and falling out of the top 25 standings after a loss Saturday night in Fayetteville.
23- Oregon (25): The Beavers have now won eight games for the first time since 2012 with a convincing 31-7 victory over Arizona State. They’ll have a chance to boost their chances of finishing the season ranked next week against Oregon.
24. Texas (NR): We expect the Longhorns to return to the world rankings. Not only was Texas one of the top finishers in the polls last week outside of the top 25, but there will be some “sticker shock” to voters who might have expected Saturday’s game in Kansas to be a potential venue for upset, and instead witnessed a dominance. 55-14 win for the Longhorns.
25- UCF (17): There will be a drop for UCF on every ballot after losing 17-14 at home to Navy, but the Knights will likely have enough votes to stay inside the top 25. Now 8-3, UCF already beats Tulane and Cincinnati but losses to Louisville, ECU and Navy . The Midshipmen had a 3-7 lead in the game, giving the Knights their worst loss of the season. However, UCF is a team with only three losses and two wins over other teams in the Top 25.
He is expected to drop out of Oklahoma State (24).
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