College Football Power Rankings: TCU, Michigan take deep breaths as USC enters top five with Clemson pushing

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We’re waiting for The Loss to come out of The Game. While the top four in the Power Rankings remain the same, they won’t be that way for long. Ohio State vs. Michigan looms over everything. One will fall in the 118th renewal of a rivalry that goes back to 1897.

At stake is a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game, a potential College Football Playoff berth and perhaps a national championship. You know, trivial stuff.

We already know what happens to the winner. It will clinch the Big Ten East and a spot in the Big Ten title game, sitting a victory away from the playoff. As for the loser, well, who knows?!

It could be lumped in exclusive a group of one-loss teams. At the conclusion of Week 12, there’s only two of them: USC and Clemson. The Trojans moved up two spots after a stirring win over UCLA. The same for the Tigers, which moved up two spots after easily beating Miami.

The CFP Selection Committee has traditionally favored conference champions over at-large teams. But as we’ve found out over the first eight years of the playoff, the committee can also do whatever it wants.

Welcome, then, to Rivalry Week. It is not uncommon at this late date for outmanned opponents to pull upsets because blood boils in these types of games. Is Georgia Tech suddenly a factor against Georgia after beating North Carolina? What about South Carolina against Clemson? Oregon needs to beat the best Oregon State team in a decade during the Civil War to get to the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Iron Bowl will always be the Iron Bowl. Notre Dame holds a significant spot in the conversation traveling West to play USC.

Just don’t get used to the status quo. Change awaits as the last week of the regular season begins.

Biggest Movers

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Teams

 

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1


Georgia

Blame the weather for a clunky offensive performance. Celebrate a second consecutive unbeaten SEC season. That has happened only three times since 1992. 11-0

2


Ohio State

Where does Ryan Day get these running backs? Freshman Dallan Hayden ran for 146 yards and three TDs against Maryland. It’s officially OK to talk about The Team Up North. 11-0

3


TCU

Only Iowa State stands between the Horned Frogs and a 12-0 season. A fire drill field goal won it at Baylor. That’s all coaching. First 11-0 start since 2010. 11-0

4


Michigan

Jake Moody books a trip to The Shoe with the game-winning field goal over Illinois, but will Blake Corum be active after injuring his knee? 11-0

5


USC

Caleb Williams’ back is sore from carrying the Trojans to within a heartbeat of a CFP berth. Funny how things change. A year ago, Williams was going 6 for 18 in the second half of another rivalry, Bedlam. 2 10-1

6


LSU

If the Tigers win out, will there be a spot for them in the playoff at 11-2? That’s a potential mind bomb for the CFP Selection Committee if USC and Clemson win out, each with one loss. 9-2

7


Clemson

Just realized, if Notre Dame beats USC and the Tigers win out, Clemson has a heck of a chance to get to the CFP because of Notre Dame. A Fighting Irish win not only eliminates the Trojans but makes Clemson’s three-TD loss to the Irish look “better.” 2 10-1

8


Oregon

The Ducks out-Utahed Utah with toughness all over the field. Bo Nix was practically limping out there. A win over Oregon State this week clinches a spot in Vegas, baby! 3 9-2

9


Tennessee

The Vols got doubly slammed by taking a thumping at South Carolina and losing Hendon Hooker to a torn ACL. A season-ending trip to Vanderbilt doesn’t look so easy anymore after the Commodores beat Florida. 4 9-2

10


Alabama

The University of Alabama played a game on a streaming platform against Austin Peay. Just as well. Forgettable opponent. Forgettable season. 2 9-2

11


Kansas State

All hail Will Howard. The Wildcats backup QB (294 yards, two TDs) might as well be the starter after Adrian Martinez sat again against West Virginia. A win against Kansas this week clinches a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game. 4 8-3

12


Washington

Kalen DeBoer won his ninth game, a school-record for a coach in his first year. There is still a path to the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Apple Cup looms. 2 9-2

13


Penn State

Three NOTs (non-offensive touchdowns) against Rutgers. James Franklin is one win away from posting 10 victories for the fourth time in the last seven seasons. 4 9-2

14


Tulane

The Green Wave play their biggest game in 24 years. Beat Cincinnati, and Tulane clinches a spot in and hosts the AAC Championship Game. 6 9-2

15


UCLA

Buried in a brutal loss was Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s six TDs — four passing, two rushing. Oh, but those three interceptions — they decided The Battle of Los Angeles. 3 8-3

16


Notre Dame

It comes down to a one-game season for the Irish. Beat USC and Notre Dame likely goes to a New Year’s Six bowl. Saturday’s shut out of Boston College was its fifth straight win. 3 8-3

17


Utah

The Utes will not repeat as Pac-12 champions. Cam Rising threw three interceptions and missed on a short fourth-down throw in the fourth quarter at Oregon. Nix threw for 287 yards on an injured leg. That was the difference. 7 8-3

18


Florida State

Are the Seminoles back? They’re two victories from their first 10-win season since 2016. The defense had streak of 32 straight drives without a touchdown snapped by Louisiana. 4 8-3

19


Cincinnati

It’s complicated. Beat Tulane and the Bearcats will host the ACC Championship Game against either Houston, UCF or … Tulane. 2 9-2

20


South Carolina

It’s taken almost three full seasons, but this is what we were waiting to see from Spencer Rattler. He came into the Tennessee with eight TD passes all season (nine interceptions). He emerged from a transformative win over Tennessee with 14 TD throws. Do the math. NR 7-4

21


UCF

Still in the running for the AAC Championship Game after a disappointing loss to Navy. The War On I-4 (vs. South Florida) wraps the regular season. 8 8-3

22


Ole Miss

Not a good day at Ole Miss. The Rebels were smacked down at Arkansas, and Lane Kiffin apparently remains the No. 1 choice at Auburn. 4 8-3

23


Oregon State

The Civil War is getting interesting. The Beavers come into it with their best record in 10 years. “I’ve been thinking the Ducks [since] before the season,” linebacker Easton Mascarenas-Arnold told reporters. “We’re ready for that.” NR 8-3

24


North Carolina

Drake Maye dropped out of the Heisman Trophy race, and the Tar Heels dropped an inexplicable one to Georgia Tech. Seventeen points against the No. 87 defense? 8 9-2

25


UTSA

A spot in the Conference USA Championship Game clinched, the Roadrunners tuned up with an easy win over Rice. QB Frank Harris accounted for five TDs. 2 9-2

Out: Coastal Carolina, Oklahoma State

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