2015 College Football Rankings, Week 12

Previous College Football Rankings:






What this ranking is: A ranking of team resumes so far. It’s a combination of many things – avoiding losses is the most important thing, as winning is the name of the game. Unique wins are a good thing, too – being the only team to beat another carries a lot of weight. Being one of two to beat another carries weight, but less. If the losses come to undefeated teams, that matters. And if they didn’t, how many losses the teams that beat you have piled up matter. Also, to a lesser extent, how you won and lost matters – blowouts, close wins, close losses – there are adjustments for all these. But it’s a look at what you’ve done in a vacuum separate from perceptions we hold about CFB teams. This isn’t in awe of Ohio State because of what Ohio State did last year, who coaches the Buckeyes, or the collection of talent on the roster. This is 100% score-based.

What this ranking is not: It’s NOT a measure of the best teams in the country. Try ESPN’s FPI or Football Outsiders’ F/+ rankings for really good measures of the best teams. This ranking is also not predictive – again, try those. A higher ranked team in this list isn’t suggested to be capable of beating a lower ranked team. That is not what this is. There’s an instinct people have to change all rankings into what they want rankings to be, and that’s an easy trap to fall into with OFR’s. “Man, ain’t no way [team ranked #15] is better than [team ranked #30]!” “[Team ranked #20] would destroy [team ranked #10]!” If you have either reaction, or anything similar, you need to re-read this section of the post. It’s just a look at resume, because at the end of the year, that’s what matters most. FSU wasn’t one of the 4 best teams in the country in 2014, but the Seminoles had one of the 4 best resumes, so they made the playoffs.

The Bottom Fourth (#s 128-97)

SMU QB Matt Davis (Photo: AP/LM Otero)
SMU QB Matt Davis (Photo: AP/LM Otero)

128. Eastern Michigan (1-10)
127. Wyoming (1-10)
126. UCF (0-10)
125. North Texas (1-9)
124. ULM (1-9)
123. Miami OH (2-9)
122. Charlotte (2-8)
121. Hawaii (2-9)
120. Kansas (0-10)
119. SMU (1-9)
118. Florida Atlantic (2-8)
117. Massachusetts (2-8)
116. Fresno State (3-7)
115. UTEP (4-6)
114. UTSA (2-8)
113. Oregon State (2-8)
112. New Mexico State (2-7)
111. Texas State (2-7)
110. Army (2-8)
109. Idaho (3-7)
108. Kent State (3-7)
107. Ball State (3-7)
106. Tulane (3-7)
105. Florida International (5-6)
104. UNLV (3-7)
103. Purdue (2-8)
102. Rice (4-6)
101. Colorado (4-7)
100. Troy (3-7)
99. Georgia State (3-6)
98. San Jose State (4-6)
97. Wake Forest (3-7)

Not Good (#s 96-65)

(Photo: Ron Chenoy / USA Today Sports)
(Photo: Ron Chenoy / USA Today Sports)

96. Syracuse (3-7)
95. Old Dominion (5-5)
94. Boston College (3-7)
93. Kentucky (4-6)
92. Virginia (3-7)
91. Colorado State (5-5)
90. UL-Lafayette (4-5)
89. Maryland (2-8)
88. Rutgers (3-7)
87. East Carolina (4-6)
86. South Alabama (5-4)
85. South Carolina (3-7)
84. Vanderbilt (4-6)
83. Connecticut (5-5)
82. New Mexico (6-4)
81. Middle Tennessee (5-5)
80. Nevada (6-4)
79. Buffalo (5-5)
78. Tulsa (5-5)
77. Utah State (5-5)
76. Ohio (6-4)
75. Washington (4-6)
74. Akron (5-5)
73. Georgia Tech (3-7)
72. Iowa State (3-7)
71. Missouri (5-5)
70. Kansas State (3-6)
69. Arizona (6-5)
68. Texas (4-6)
67. Indiana (4-6)
66. Minnesota (4-6)
65. Nebraska (5-6)

Not Bad (#s 64-26)

Jared Goff (Photo: Ben Margot/AP)
Jared Goff (Photo: Ben Margot/AP)

64. Arizona State (5-5)
63. Auburn (5-5)
62. Virginia Tech (5-5)
61. Central Michigan (5-5)
60. South Florida (6-4)
59. Illinois (5-5)
58. Duke (6-4)
57. Western Michigan (6-4)
56. Boise State (7-3)
55. Air Force (7-3)
54. Miami (6-4)
53. Southern Mississippi (7-3)
52. Texas Tech (6-5)
51. NC State (6-4)
50. California (6-4)
49. San Diego State (7-3)
48. Arkansas State (7-3)
47. BYU (7-3)
46. Louisiana Tech (7-3)
45. Arkansas (6-4)
44. Texas A&M (7-3)
43. Cincinnati (6-4)
42. Northern Illinois (7-3)
41. Georgia (7-3)
40. Louisville (6-4)
39. UCLA (7-3)
38. West Virginia (5-4)
37. Marshall (9-2)
36. Mississippi State (7-3)
35. USC (7-3)
34. Georgia Southern (7-2)
33. Western Kentucky (8-2)
32. Penn State (7-3)
31. Washington State (7-3)
30. Tennessee (6-4)
29. Temple (8-2)
28. Pittsburgh (7-3)
27. Oregon (7-3)
26. Bowling Green (8-2)

Really Good (#s 25-5)

Mississippi Rebels defensive back Trae Elston (7) returns an interception as Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Richard Mullaney (16) reaches out for him at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Mississippi Rebels defensive back Trae Elston (7) returns an interception as Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Richard Mullaney (16) reaches out for him at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Ole Miss (7-3)
    Signature Wins: Alabama, Texas A&M
    Change: +2
    Ole Miss isn’t going to the playoffs without a LOT of insanity, but there is a path to the SEC championship. The Rebels need to win out against LSU and MSU – tall orders – and they need Auburn to beat Alabama. That combo will send Ole Miss to Atlanta. It’s not likely, but it’s a scenario to cling to.
    This week: vs. LSU

  2. Appalachian State (8-2)
    Signature Wins: Georgia Southern
    Change: +5
    The Mountaineers are basically being treated like a 9-1 mid-major, because App State played Clemson and lost. Their wins have mostly been decisive, with 5 coming by at least 3 scores. There’s no path to the playoffs for App State, but they should win their last two games to finish off a nice season, even though they probably won’t win the Sun Belt.
    This week: BYE

  3. Florida State (8-2)
    Signature Wins: none
    Change: +1
    FSU may not have a win I’m designating as “signature”, currently defined as a win against a team with 3 or fewer losses, but they have several that are on the fringe. If Louisville, Miami, South Florida, and NC State all finish with 4 losses, they’ll go into that category in December. Still, it’s not particularly awe-inspiring. The playoffs are very much a pipe dream at this point. FSU could beat Florida and finish at 10-2 with a win over a pretty big fish, but they’re already locked out of the ACC championship, and they’d need that shot at UNC to really have a good shot. I guess it’s possible, if the country just burns down over the next 3 weeks, but don’t count on it. Hey, it’s the time of the schedule when it’d be really helpful to have a good opponent with which to impress folks and get yourself back in the discussion, and who’s on the schedule? UT-Chattanooga! Good schedulin’, State!
    This week: vs. Chattanooga

  4. Memphis (8-2)
    Signature Wins: Bowling Green, Ole Miss
    Change: none
    There’s still a prevalence of AAC teams in my top 25, but they’ll continue to take care of themselves over the coming weeks. This is two losses in a row for Memphis, but they don’t drop this week, because the loss was by one point to a better team. I described Memphis’ November as a gauntlet several weeks ago, and the Tigers, who already had close calls against Bowling Green, Cincy, and USF earlier in the season, haven’t enjoyed the brutal (by mid-major standards) week-to-week opposition. It gets no easier.
    This week: at Temple

  5. Utah (8-2)
    Signature Wins: Michigan, Oregon
    Change: -8
    It’s a bummer, but it’s a bummer we saw coming at one point or another. The Utes lost on the road at Arizona, because the Pac-12 is the most entertaining conference in the country. An unfortunate side-effect of entertainment and parity is that it kind of eliminates everyone from playoff contention. This year’s Pac-12 provides a good case for expanding the playoffs, because it brings up a philosophical question – what if a conference is filled with great teams, and they just beat each other up and ruin records? The Pac-12 is by no means this good, but entertain this hypothetical:  Let’s say you build a time machine capable of kidnapping 100 players and coaches at a time, go through history, and build a 10 team conference consisting of these historical teams – 1995 Nebraska, 1997 Michigan, 1998 Tennessee, 1999 Florida State, 2001 Miami, 2002 Ohio State, 2004 USC, 2005 Texas, 2008 Florida, and 2009 Alabama. Those 10 teams play a round robin, and nobody goes better than 6-3 or worse than 3-6. We know, intrinsically, that all the teams are great. But at 6-3, their champion wouldn’t make the playoffs in their current form. Like I said, the Pac-12 isn’t that good this year, but it’s hard to say how good it is, what with the parity in conference. Consider this:

– The #1 team in the conference, Stanford, just lost to a team that has given up more points than it has scored in conference play.
– Utah, 2nd place in the South, lost to Arizona, 5th place in the South.
– USC, 1st place in the South,  lost to Washington, 5th place in the North.
It has been the conference where anything goes. Utah no longer looks like a favorite to emerge as champion, but whoever does, I’d like to see them in the playoffs. This year, however, I will not.
This week: vs. UCLA

UNC and QB Marquise Williams are trying to run as far away from the opening loss to South Carolina as possible. (Robert Willett - News Observer)
UNC and QB Marquise Williams are trying to run as far away from the opening loss to South Carolina as possible. (Robert Willett – News Observer)
  1. Northwestern (8-2)
    Signature Wins: Stanford, Penn State
    Change: -5
    With Stanford and Duke both losing, and Northwestern only winning by a little for the second straight week, the Wildcats’ résumé takes a hit. They’re already eliminated from the Big Ten West, so they won’t get a crack at the East champ, which means they won’t get a crack at the playoffs. But it’s been a really good year, Northwestern.
    This week: at Wisconsin

  2. Toledo (8-1)
    Signature Wins: Arkansas State
    Change: +4
    8-1 is great, but this was Toledo’s year in the MAC, and they blew it at the worst time, against NIU. All roads to the MAC West go through DeKalb, but it should have been Toledo. Now, just to reach the MAC title game, the Rockets need to win out and hope for a NIU loss to Western Michigan or Ohio. Toledo has a shot at a major bowl if it all happens.
    This week: at Bowling Green

  3. Wisconsin (8-2)
    Signature Wins: none
    Change: +3
    Wisconsin isn’t here because of how good the wins were, but because of how good the two losses are – to 1-loss Alabama and undefeated Iowa. The best team Wisconsin has beaten is… oh, dear God, I think it’s Illinois. They can change that this weekend. The Badgers could still win the West, but it would take an all-out Iowa collapse against both Nebraska and Purdue.
    This week: vs. Northwestern

  4. Stanford (8-2)
    Signature Wins: USC, UCLA, Washington State
    Change: -8
    The loss to Oregon ended the Pac-12’s realistic playoff chances, but if anyone can do it, it’s probably Stanford. They’ll need to first beat Cal to clinch the North title. Then they’ll have to hand Notre Dame its second loss. Then beat USC or Utah in the conference title game, which Stanford would host, and hope for some wildness elsewhere in the country. It’s not likely, but it’s not unheard of.
    This week: vs. California

  5. North Carolina (9-1)
    Signature Wins: Pittsburgh
    Change: +3
    Everyone is hopping on the UNC train as of late, and they’ve certainly been impressive, beating Duke 66-31 and Miami 59-21 in successive weeks. But other than a 7 point win over 3-loss Pitt, UNC still doesn’t have a ton to show for its season. And they need something to show, because that opening 17-13 loss to a bad South Carolina team is a really, really bad loss for a team talking playoffs. They could still get their shot at Clemson, and an 11-1 ACC champ with a win over the Tigers would be tough to omit. They could be champions of the ACC or the FBS, but they won’t be champions of the state of South Carolina, and that’s a tough pill to swallow.
    This week: at Virginia Tech

Baylor's Coleman is a likely All-American. (Photo: Getty Images)
Baylor’s Coleman is a likely All-American. (Photo: Getty Images)
  1. Michigan State (9-1)
    Signature Wins: Michigan, Air Force, Oregon
    Change: +3
    After losing to 6-loss Nebraska, MSU rebounded with a ho-hum 24-7 win over Maryland. MSU should be in better position, but they should have beaten teams like Central Michigan, Purdue, and Rutgers by more than they did. Aside from being in position to capitalize on a Michigan mistake to end that game, Michigan State really hasn’t taken care of business very well. They could get back in the discussion this weekend, so it’s not over for them at all. But damn. Nebraska?
    This week: at Ohio State

  2. TCU (9-1)
    Signature Wins: none
    Change: +2
    The Frogs weren’t impressive at all, winning by 6 at home over Kansas, but they move up a bit because their resume really had nowhere much to fall. Unlike several others who dropped, TCU had no quality wins to lose their luster. They finish big, though, so the playoffs are still in play.
    This week: at Oklahoma

  3. LSU (7-2)
    Signature Wins: Florida, Western Kentucky, Mississippi State
    Change: -8
    Losing by 14 to Alabama was one thing. Losing by 17 to Arkansas was another. LSU is out of the SEC West race, so they’re probably out of the playoff discussion. Time to focus on the Cotton Bowl as a best case scenario.
    This week: at Ole Miss

  4. Navy (8-1)
    Signature Wins: Memphis, Air Force
    Change: +2
    With only a loss to Notre Dame, Navy continues rolling along, and the Midshipmen added a 55-14 win over SMU this weekend. It’s SMU, sure, but they won big, which is what a contender should do against SMU. With 4 more potential games before the postseason, Navy isn’t out of the playoff race, even if they’re not a likely contender.
    This week: at Tulsa

  5. Baylor (8-1)
    Signature Wins: none
    Change: -3
    Baylor didn’t have too far to fall, because Baylor didn’t have too much of a resume to begin with, and Oklahoma is not a particularly embarrassing loss. The Bears still have ample opportunity to impress, but they should probably get started this weekend.
    This week: at Oklahoma State

He's baaaaaack.
Jim Harbaugh
  1. Florida (9-1)
    Signature Wins: Georgia, Ole Miss
    Change: +2
    It doesn’t seem like Florida is getting enough love, but then again, they lost to a two-loss LSU team, and the Gators’ best win is who, Georgia or Ole Miss? Maybe they’re not quite as impressive as we thought. Beating FSU and winning the SEC title against a 1 loss Alabama? Now that’d be impressive, so you’re not out of chances, Florida.
    This week: vs. Florida Atlantic

  2. Michigan (8-2)
    Signature Wins: Northwestern, BYU
    Change: +1
    Going to OT against Indiana did them no favors, but the Wolverines still have blowout victories against 5 power 5 teams and 1 mid-major, the best blowout collection in the country so far. Also, even with Utah losing its second, the losses still look good. The Wolverines need to win out and hope Ohio State beats Michigan State in the meantime. If all that happens, Michigan will play for the Big Ten title, so the playoffs aren’t out of sight just yet, even if they’re unlikely.
    This week: at Penn State

  3. Houston (10-0)
    Signature Wins: Memphis
    Change: +3
    Finally, a signature win for Houston! And it was by 1 point, and relied on a missed field goal at the end! Hey, a win’s a win when you’re undefeated. Houston can still make the playoffs, because there are good teams left to play.
    This week: at Connecticut

  4. Oklahoma (9-1)
    Signature Wins: Baylor
    Change: +10
    The Sooners move up big thanks to the win over Baylor, but the resume is still pretty light, and the schedule still includes a loss to Texas. They’re still in the mix, and winning out should easily plant them into the top 4.
    This week: vs. TCU

  5. Ohio State (10-0)
    Signature Wins: Penn State, Northern Illinois
    Change: +1
    This is Ohio State’s last week hanging around in the 5-7 range. They rack up wins, but they’re just never all that impressive. Beat the two Michigan schools and Iowa over the next three weeks, and that will no longer be the case.
    This week: vs. Michigan State

  6. Oklahoma State (10-0)
    Signature Wins: TCU
    Change: +1
    A week after looking so good against TCU, the Cowboys were back to their old nonsense, losing to Iowa State for most of the game before coming away with a 35-31 win. Perhaps OSU just plays up or down to the level of their competition. If that’s the case, they’ll be playing up for the rest of the season.
    This week: vs. Baylor

The Four

4. Notre Dame (9-1)
Signature Wins: Navy, Temple, USC, Pittsburgh
Change: none

Stanford’s loss to Oregon was potentially crippling for Notre Dame, because with all these Big 12 teams finishing with big game after big game, the Irish needed something equally large. Instead of getting a Baylor or TCU of their own to play, Stanford will pack a little less punch now. ND doesn’t have a title game. It’s Boston College, then Stanford, and that’s it. They drastically need Clemson to win out, and even then, I’m not sure they can stay in the top 4 without some help. It’ll be interesting to watch.
This weekend: vs. Boston College

3. Iowa (10-0)
Signature Wins: Wisconsin, Northwestern, Pittsburgh
Change: none

I don’t mind anyone putting Ohio State into this slot instead of Iowa, much like the Committee did last week. I think Ohio State is better, so it’s a fine preference. I don’t mind that. What I mind is justifying that placement with incorrect statements like the suggestion that Ohio State’s schedule so far is superior or comparable to Iowa’s. It’s just not. Ohio State hasn’t played a 2-loss team like Wisconsin, and Ohio State’s best win, Penn State, recently lost to Iowa’s best win, Northwestern. Pitt is superior to NIU as well. It’s just silly to put Ohio State’s 2015 resume over Iowa’s at this point. In two weeks, I think the case will be there, but until it is, just acknowledge that you’re picking the better team rather than the more deserving team.
This weekend: vs. Purdue

Iowa CB Desmond King returns an interception against Pitt. (Photo: Bryon Houlgrave, The Register)
Iowa CB Desmond King returns an interception against Pitt. (Photo: Bryon Houlgrave, The Register)

2. Alabama (9-1)
Signature Wins: Wisconsin, LSU, Georgia, Texas A&M, Mississippi State
Change: none

By now it’s evident the top 4 isn’t changing. Bama whipped Mississippi State and is actually much closer to Clemson than they probably should be, but that’s how dialed in Alabama has been since their week 3 loss.
This weekend: vs. Charleston Southern

1. Clemson (10-0)
Signature Wins: Notre Dame, Florida State, Appalachian State
Change: none

Clemson didn’t play particularly well, got a great effort from Syracuse, and the Tigers still won by double digits. That’s why they’re #1. It’s cruise control from here to the ACC championship game.
This weekend: vs. Wake Forest

About Brent Blackwell 203 Articles
Brent Blackwell also writes for College Football By The Numbers at www.cfbtn.com.

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