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College Football Rankings Week 16: Bleacher Report's Top 25

Tyler PiccottiContributor IIIJanuary 5, 2017

College Football Rankings Week 16: Bleacher Report's Top 25

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    Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

    Well, the final week of the college football season was as crazy as many expected.

    The national title picture shifted for the final time, and the two finalists are now crystal clear.

    Who are they? Check out the rankings to find out.

    Poll voters: Chris Bello, Eric Bowman, Carter Bryant, Phil Callihan, Andrew Coppens, Bill Eichenberger, Sean Frye, Ben Kercheval, Sanjay Kirpalani, David Luther, David Regimbal, Max Rausch, Patrick Runge, Barrett Sallee Alex Sims, Erin Sorensen, Marc Torrence and Greg Wallace.

    Each voter submitted an individual Top 25, and every first-place team was given 25 points. The second-place team received 24, and so on. The teams are ranked according to total points.

    *All times are ET

Others Receiving Votes

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Notre Dame: 21

    USC: 18

    Iowa: 5

    Cincinnati: 4

    Washington: 3

    Bowling Green: 2

    Rice: 1

    North Dakota State: 1

25. Miami Hurricanes

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: Unranked

    Week 15 Result: Bye

    Overall Record: 9-3

    Poll Points: 26

    Losing Duke Johnson down the stretch was a crippling blow for the Hurricanes, but they salvaged the end of their season with two close-out victories over Virginia and Pittsburgh. 

    The offense scored more than 40 points in each of those games, which is a testament to the efficiency of Stephen Morris.

    The better news is that they will be playing in their first bowl since 2010. The two likely destinations are either the Russell Athletic Bowl or the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

24. Northern Illinois Huskies

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: No. 14

    Week 15 Result: Loss, 47-27, to Bowling Green

    Overall Record: 12-1

    Poll Points: 45

    What some thought would be an easy win for the Huskies in the MAC title game turned out to be quite the opposite. They allowed 393 passing yards from Matt Johnson as their BCS appearance went up in smoke.

    The loss also cost the MAC millions of dollars in shared BCS revenue.

    On the bright side, Jordan Lynch definitely earned a trip to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony after an incredible 2013 season.

23. Fresno State Bulldogs

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    Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: No. 23

    Week 15 Result: Win, 24-17, over Utah State

    Overall Record: 11-1

    Poll Points: 51

    Although two late fourth-down attempts were futile, the Bulldogs were able to hang on and beat Utah State in the first Mountain West title game.

    Derek Carr added three touchdowns to his eye-popping career total of 108. 

    Although a BCS bowl is out of the question, Fresno State impressed this season. Carr will be fun to watch in his final game under center, and the Bulldogs offense will go down as one of the best from 2013.

22. Duke Blue Devils

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    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: No. 20

    Week 15 Result: Loss, 45-7, to Florida State

    Overall Record: 10-3

    Poll Points: 57

    The Blue Devils' magical run came to a screeching halt against the Seminoles. They manage only 239 total yards in the game and allowed 28 second-half points in the defeat.

    So no ACC championship, but still a memorable season for Duke.

    If the team's bowl performance against Cincinnati last year was any indicator, Duke will put up a fight in its upcoming bowl game.

21. Georgia Bulldogs

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: No. 25

    Week 15 Result: Bye

    Overall Record: 8-4

    Poll Points: 66

    Georgia was one of the SEC teams decimated by injuries as the season wore on. However, the Bulldogs were able to salvage eight wins out of it.

    Aaron Murray put together another fantastic season. Unfortunately, his torn ACL will force him to undergo extensive rehab at the beginning of his pro career.

    Additionally, Hutson Mason's performance will be one of the biggest talking points going into the Bulldogs' bowl game.

20. Texas A&M Aggies

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: No. 24

    Week 15 Result: Bye

    Overall Record: 8-4

    Poll Points: 88

    What began as a season of optimism for a national championship run turned sour down the stretch for the Aggies.

    Two losses against ranked SEC opponents to end the season now leaves Kevin Sumlin's team low in the polls. However, Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel told the The Dallas Morning News that the Aggies could make a return to the Cotton Bowl rather than LSU.

    All things told, this would be a positive development for A&M.

19. Wisconsin Badgers

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: No. 21

    Week 15 Result: Bye

    Overall Record: 9-3

    Poll Points: 113

    Wisconsin could have snuck into the BCS conversation with a victory last weekend, but an unlikely loss to Penn State prevented that.

    However, Wisconsin will go down as having arguably the best running back duo in college football in 2013. Melvin Gordon and James White combined for more than 2,800 yards to anchor the offense.

    In terms of the postseason picture, the Badgers should be headed to either the Capital One Bowl or Outback Bowl.

18. Louisville Cardinals

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: No. 18

    Week 15 Result: Win, 31-24, over Cincinnati

    Overall Record: 11-1

    Poll Points: 160

    For the second year in a row, the Cardinals took home the Keg of Nails after an overtime victory over Cincinnati. This time around, it was Dominique Brown's two-yard touchdown run that decided the outcome in the first extra session.

    Although the Cardinals didn't make a BCS return, they still put together an impressive season. Teddy Bridgewater proved why he is one of the top quarterback prospects, and the defense was one of the best in college football.

    Louisville will play in the Russell Athletic Bowl against an ACC team to be named.

17. Arizona State Sun Devils

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: No. 12

    Week 15 Result: Loss, 38-14, to Stanford

    Overall Record: 10-3

    Poll Points: 162

    The Sun Devils offense couldn't get much of anything going against the Cardinal and ultimately fell in the Pac-12 championship game.

    Left without leading rusher Marion Grice, they managed only 138 rushing yards. Even with the loss, Arizona State has established itself as one of the top teams in the conference.

    Two of its losses came against the league champions, which shows how it dominated every other conference opponent.

16. UCLA Bruins

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: No. 19

    Week 15 Result: Bye

    Overall Record: 9-3

    Poll Points: 177

    The 2013 season will be known as the year of Myles Jack out West, as the freshman burst onto the scene both offensively and defensively.

    And a victory over rival USC is always a memorable occasion for the Bruins faithful.

    The Bruins appeared to be headed to the Sun Bowl, but the Northern Illinois loss could change that if a second Pac-12 team is given a BCS berth. Now, a repeat visit to the Holiday Bowl might be in the works.

15. UCF Knights

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    Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: No. 17

    Week 15 Result: Win, 17-13, over SMU

    Overall Record: 11-1

    Poll Points: 188

    The Knights capped off their best season in program history with a victory over an inspired Mustangs team. As he has been so many times this season, Blake Bortles was a rock under center.

    He piled up 242 yards passing and, more importantly, didn't throw any interceptions.

    UCF can now prepare for its first BCS game. Whether that game is the Fiesta or Sugar Bowl remains the only question.

14. Oklahoma Sooners

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    Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: No. 15

    Week 15 Result: Win, 33-24, over Oklahoma State

    Overall Record: 10-2

    Poll Points: 214

    It's called Bedlam for a reason.

    It took four quarterbacks and all 60 minutes, but the Sooners were able to end the Cowboys' BCS dreams. Blake Bell's touchdown pass to Jalen Saunders with only 19 seconds left was the decisive blow.

    Thus, Oklahoma concludes the regular season with 10 wins for the second straight season. The fact that the final one came against a key rival makes it even sweeter. 

13. LSU Tigers

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    Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: No. 16

    Week 15 Result: Bye

    Overall Record: 9-3

    Poll Points: 222

    The Tigers were just one or two plays away from a complete rewrite of their 2013 season. Still, nine wins is nothing to scoff at.

    It's also safe to say that Zach Mettenberger quieted any doubters after putting together his best season in Baton Rouge. Unfortunately, the senior tore his ACL is the season finale against Arkansas. 

    The Tigers are still in search of a bowl destination, with the Cotton, Outback and Gator Bowls being the likely destinations.

12. Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: No. 6

    Week 15 Result: Loss, 33-24, to Oklahoma

    Overall Record: 10-2

    Poll Points: 250

    The Cowboys had the Big 12 title within reach, but the rival Sooners ripped it away at the last possible moment. Despite 144 yards and two touchdowns from Desmond Roland, they didn't have enough to overcome a late Oklahoma touchdown drive.

    With their BCS hopes obliterated, the Cowboys await their postseason fate.

    Even though it ended in disappointment, their 2013 season is further proof that the program is on the rise in the college football world.

11. Clemson Tigers

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: No. 13

    Week 15 Result: Bye

    Overall Record: 10-2

    Poll Points: 266

    After all of the action that took place this week, the Tigers are in a good position to tiptoe their way into the BCS picture.

    Assuming they remain in the top 14 of the BCS standings, the Tigers could very well benefit from the ACC's partnership with the Orange Bowl.

    It will be interesting to see where the chips fall during BCS selections. In any case, fans still have one more college performance from Tajh Boyd to anticipate.

10. Oregon Ducks

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    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: No. 11

    Week 15 Result: Bye

    Overall Record: 10-2

    Poll Points: 277

    The losses by Northern Illinois and Oklahoma State are Oregon's gain, as the Ducks may now find themselves in a BCS bowl.

    Assuming the Ducks remain ahead of Oklahoma during the bowl selection marathon that's about to take place, there's a good chance they can sneak into the Sugar Bowl against an SEC opponent.

    Not bad for a team that limped to only two wins in its final four games.

9. South Carolina Gamecocks

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    Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: No. 10

    Week 15 Result: Bye

    Overall Record: 10-2

    Poll Points: 327

    The Gamecocks once again put together an overall successful season, but one not good enough to be a national title contender. A 23-21 loss to Tennessee proved to be the huge killer.

    Still, South Carolina did beat rival Clemson and Missouri.

    Ten overall wins in the SEC is a great accomplishment, and they will receive a fairly prestigious bowl invite as a result.

7. (Tie) Stanford Cardinal

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: No. 7

    Week 15 Result: Win, 38-14, over Arizona State

    Overall Record: 11-2

    Poll Points: 340

    David Shaw and the Cardinal can smell the roses once again. They cruised to an easy victory over the Sun Devils in the Pac-12 title game and will head to the Rose Bowl.

    Running back Tyler Gaffney provided the big spark with 133 yards and three touchdowns.

    Stanford is prone to put together an unexpected poor game, but when clicking on all cylinders, this team is hard to stop. That was the case this weekend.

7. (Tie) Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: No. 2

    Week 15 Result: Loss, 34-24, to Michigan State

    Overall Record: 12-1

    Poll Points: 340

    The Buckeyes likely would have played for the national championship with a win. Instead, the Spartans crashed the party.

    The Ohio State defense was torched by Connor Cook for 304 yards and three touchdowns, and Braxton Miller struggled to complete passes under center.

    An at-large bid is still a likely possibility for Ohio State, but there's pretty much no more debate about its status as a national finalist.

6. Missouri Tigers

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: No. 4

    Week 15 Result: Loss, 59-42, to Auburn

    Overall Record: 11-2

    Poll Points: 342

    The Tigers certainly scored enough points to win, but their defense just couldn't stop the Auburn rushing attack. James Franklin had four total touchdowns, two of which went to Dorial Green-Beckham.

    Although the loss is disappointing for Tigers fans, they have to be ecstatic over the full-season results.

    A six-win improvement over 2012 proved to the SEC that Missouri is here to stay and a team to be reckoned with.

5. Baylor Bears

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: No. 8

    Week 15 Result: Win, 30-10, over Texas

    Overall Record: 11-1

    Poll Points: 360

    Let the fiesta begin in Waco. The Bears clinched a BCS trip to Arizona with their conference-clinching victory over the Longhorns.

    Their defense stifled Texas, allowing only 217 total yards.

    The win caps what was a surprising resurgence by the Bears. Few expected them to be a BCS team, yet here they are.

4. Michigan State Spartans

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: No. 9

    Week 15 Result: Win, 34-24, over Ohio State

    Overall Record: 12-1

    Poll Points: 368

    For the first time in 26 years, the Spartans are going to smell the roses after ruining the Buckeyes' national title hopes.

    Connor Cook was sensational at quarterback, and running back Jeremy Langford sealed the game with a 26-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes.

    Michigan State is one of the hottest teams in college football, and this conference title is well-deserved. Furthermore, the coming clash with Stanford could be one of the best of the bowl season.

3. Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: No. 5

    Week 15 Result: Bye

    Overall Record: 11-1

    Poll Points: 406

    The Crimson Tide have now had a week to recover from the dramatic Iron Bowl loss. But as Bleacher Report's Jake Silver writes, kicker Cade Foster is still receiving jabs after his poor performance, the latest from ESPN's David Pollack.

    The good news for Foster is that Alabama will still compete in a BCS bowl as a result of its successful season. It will be the final game for AJ McCarron, who will leave Tuscaloosa as the most decorated quarterback in school history.

    What this team has accomplished the past three seasons is just remarkable.

2. Auburn Tigers

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: No. 3

    Week 15 Result: Win, 59-42, over Missouri

    Overall Record: 12-1

    Poll Points: 425

    With Ohio State's loss to Michigan State, the Tigers should be in prime position to face Florida State in the national title game. But first, they had to take care of business against Missouri, and that they did.

    The star was running back Tre Mason, who ran for 304 yards and four touchdowns, both SEC championship records.

    The Auburn offense looks near-impossible to stop right now, which makes a winner-take-all showdown with the Seminoles an exciting prospect. It should be a dandy of a title game.

1. Florida State Seminoles

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    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: No. 1

    Week 15 Result: Win, 45-7, over Duke

    Overall Record: 13-0

    Poll Points: 450 (18)

    The Blue Devils were able to hang around until about the midway point of the second quarter, but the Seminoles couldn't be contained after that. Now, they will play for the national championship.

    Jameis Winston all but wrapped up the Heisman Trophy, accounting for four total touchdowns in the victory. He also broke the FBS records for passing yards and touchdowns by a freshman.

    Florida State has been the most dominant team this season and has to be the immediate favorite in the national championship game.

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