College Football Rankings 2012: Top Teams Set to Cruise on Championship Weekend

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent INovember 26, 2012

College football fans will have to wait more than a month before finding out just how dominant Notre Dame really is this season, but just days before finding out how strong some of the nation's other top teams are on championship weekend. 

With conference title games on the horizon and underdogs looking to steal the spotlight at the last minute, three teams will prove worthy of their top ranking with big wins this fall.

Here's a look at my predictions for teams that will cruise on championship weekend. 


No. 6 Kansas State 

By the time Saturday night's Big 12 matchup between Texas and Kansas State arrives, Bill Snyder's Wildcats will have had two full weeks to digest their costly defeat at Baylor. 

Expect an energized Kansas State team to take the field on Senior Night as Heisman Trophy candidate Collin Klein leads the Wildcats against one of the nation's worst run defenses in Texas. The Longhorns rank 105th in the country defending the run in 2012 and will likely struggle to contain both Klein and running back John Hubert on the ground.

Another key is home-field advantage and the implications of Saturday night's game. Kansas State will have added support playing in Manhattan, where the Wildcats are 6-0 this season. And they can lock up their first Big 12 conference championship since 2003 with a seventh victory at home.

The Longhorns are hot, having won four of their last five overall, but they lack the defensive prowess to defeat a team that was destined for the 2013 BCS National Championship Game not long ago. 


No. 8 Stanford

UCLA had no answer for Stanford in each team's regular season finale in Pasadena, and likely still won't just six days later in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

The Cardinal ran all over the Bruins defense, shutting down stud UCLA back Johnathan Franklin in the process. Franklin, a senior who has rushed for over 1,500 yards this season, finished with his second-worst production output of the season against Stanford in Week 13. It's no surprise, though, considering the Cardinal rank first in the country defending the run, giving up less than 72 yards on the ground per week.

While UCLA could do nothing to move the ball against Stanford, the Cardinal had no problem running on the Bruins. Stanford's Stepfan Taylor averaged over seven yards per carry and scored twice on the ground.

Don't look for much to change this weekend, as Stanford will have even more of an advantage playing at home in Palo Alto on Friday night. 


No. 13 Florida State

Saturday night's ACC championship showdown between Florida State and Georgia Tech is a terrible matchup for Paul Johnson's 6-6 Yellow Jackets.

Georgia Tech boasts the nation's third-ranked rushing attack, averaging a shade over 323 yards on the ground per game. But it will be facing off against the country's fourth-best rush defense in the Seminoles. Florida State is only giving up 85 rushing yards per game this season, which ranks even better than No. 1 Notre Dame.

Offensively, Florida State—which ranks eighth in the nation in scoring offense, averaging more than 41 points per game—is balanced enough to move the ball and find the end zone enough to beat Georgia Tech at a neutral site in Charlotte.

With Florida State's offense returning to form and the defense being able to contain what Georgia Tech does best, expect Jimbo Fisher and the 'Noles to roll to their first conference championship victory since 2005.


 1. Notre Dame
 2. Alabama
 3. Georgia
 4. Florida
 5. Oregon
 6. Kansas State
 7. LSU
 8. Stanford
 9. Texas A&M
 10. South Carolina
 11. Oklahoma
 12. Nebraska
 13. Florida State
 14. Clemson
 15. Oregon State
 16. UCLA
 17. Kent State
 18. Texas
 19. Michigan
 20. Boise State
 21. Northern Illinois
 22. Northwestern
 23. Oklahoma State
 24. Utah State
 25. San Jose State


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