College Football Rankings: Bleacher Report's Week 12 Top 25
And we didn't think it could get any better than last weekend.
We were wrong. Very wrong.
Another wild and crazy weekend of college football again ravaged the top of the Bleacher Report rankings, with another unbeaten team falling by the wayside and several more likely having their hopes of playing for a national title go up in smoke.
All up and down the Bleacher Report Top 25, there was movement. So much movement.
Twenty-one members of our college football staff voted in this week's Top 25: writers Ben Axelrod, Greg Couch, Ed Feng, Justin Ferguson, Bryan Fischer, David Kenyon, Ben Kercheval, Adam Kramer, Brian Leigh, Mike Monaco, Brian Pedersen, David Regimbal, Barrett Sallee, Brad Shepard, Greg Wallace and Christopher Walsh; video experts Michael Felder and Sean McManus; and editors Eric Bowman, Hunter Mandel and Eric Yates.
First-place votes were worth 25 points, with each subsequent rank worth one fewer point, all the way down to one for 25th place. The 25 highest vote-getters made our list, with the rest falling into the "others receiving votes" category.
See where everyone falls after Week 11, then give us your thoughts in the comments section.
Others Receiving Votes
Memphis squandered leads of 20-0 and 34-14 at Houston, falling 35-34 to drop its second straight game. That also knocked the Tigers out of our Top 25 after spending several weeks in the rankings.
Here's a look at the other teams that received votes, but not enough to make the Top 25 this week.
- Memphis (20)
- Ole Miss (20)
- UCLA (17)
- Arkansas (15)
- Georgia (15)
- Tennessee (13)
- Bowling Green (11)
- Auburn (10)
- Temple (10)
- Texas A&M (10)
- Pittsburgh (7)
- Toledo (5)
- Boise State (2)
- Colorado (1)
- Western Kentucky (1)
No. 25 Mississippi State Bulldogs
Voting points: 43
Last week's ranking: 19th
Week 11 result: Lost 31-6 vs. Alabama
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 at Arkansas
Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3 SEC) got run over at home by the Crimson Tide to snap a four-game win streak, unable to do anything on the ground with Dak Prescott held in check.
Prescott threw for 300 yards on 22-of-43 passing, but he was intercepted once and sacked nine times. He'd been sacked 13 times in the Bulldogs' first nine games this season.
The Bulldogs ran for 89 yards on 42 carries and could do nothing in the red zone. They made three trips there and ended up with two short field goals.
No. 24 Washington State Cougars
Voting points: 47
Last week's ranking: Not ranked
Week 11 result: Won 31-27 at UCLA
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 vs. Colorado
Washington State (7-3, 5-2 Pac-12) got a 21-yard touchdown pass from Luke Falk to Gabe Marks with three seconds left to give the Cougars the upset, pushing them to seven wins for the first time since 2003.
Falk threw for 331 yards and two TDs despite missing much of the second quarter after taking a hit to the head. Backup Peyton Bender came in to throw a TD pass in his absence, and Washington State had 388 yards through the air.
No. 23 Oregon Ducks
Voting points: 52
Last week's ranking: Not ranked
Week 11 result: Won 38-36 at Stanford
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 vs. USC
Oregon (7-3, 5-2 Pac-12) won its fourth straight game and stayed alive in the North Division thanks to some key defensive plays in the final period.
The Ducks allowed 506 yards but recovered two fumbles in the fourth quarter. Then after Stanford pulled within 38-36 with 10 seconds left, they thwarted a game-tying two-point conversion.
Vernon Adams Jr. was nearly perfect at quarterback, completing 10 of 12 passes (including his first nine) for 205 yards and two touchdowns. Oregon ran for 231 yards and three scores, one each from Royce Freeman, Charles Nelson and Kani Benoit.
No. 22 USC Trojans
Voting points: 66
Last week's ranking: Not ranked
Week 11 result: Won 27-24 at Colorado
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 at Oregon
USC (7-3, 5-2 Pac-12) won its fourth straight game by rallying from a 14-point first-half deficit thanks to three passing touchdowns from Cody Kessler.
Kessler threw all three of his TDs in the second half, including a two-yard pass to Taylor McNamara late in the third quarter to give the Trojans a 20-17 lead. Kessler threw for 204 yards on 17-of-27 passing.
USC had a season-low 333 yards but held Colorado to 281 yards, its best defensive performance of the year.
No. 21 Wisconsin Badgers
Voting points: 95
Last week's ranking: 25th
Week 11 result: Bye
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 vs. Northwestern
Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) has won five in a row, averaging 30 points during that streak, despite not having the power rushing game it's used in past seasons.
The Badgers average 154.6 rushing yards per game, down from 320.1 per game in 2014. Projected top ball-carrier Corey Clement has only appeared in two games because of injury.
Wisconsin's defense has held opponents to 272 yards per game, which ranks fourth in FBS.
No. 20 Northwestern Wildcats
Voting points: 131
Last week's ranking: 22nd
Week 11 result: Won 21-14 vs. Purdue
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 at Wisconsin
Northwestern (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten) needed a two-yard touchdown run from Justin Jackson with 4:37 left to win its third straight game.
Jackson ran for 116 yards on 24 carries as the Wildcats gained 250 yards on the ground. Warren Long also had two rushing TDs, while Clayton Thorson ran for 48 yards to go with his 82 passing yards.
Northwestern committed three turnovers, the third time this season it has given the ball away three times.
No. 19 LSU Tigers
Voting points: 165
Last week's ranking: 9th
Week 11 result: Lost 31-14 vs. Arkansas
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 at Ole Miss
LSU (7-2, 4-2 SEC) lost its second straight game, each by double digits. Its offense disappearing once again without Leonard Fournette carrying the load.
Fournette ran for 91 yards and a touchdown, his second straight game below 100 yards after topping the century mark in nine consecutive outings. Last week he had 31 yards in the Tigers' 30-16 loss at Alabama.
The Tigers only gained 59 yards on the ground because of sacks, while they allowed 299 to Arkansas.
Brandon Harris threw for 271 yards and a TD with an interception as LSU fell behind 21-0 and never got closer than seven points after that.
No. 18 Navy Midshipmen
Voting points: 166
Last week's ranking: 23rd
Week 11 result: Won 55-14 vs. SMU
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 at Tulsa
Navy (8-1, 6-0 American) held onto its place atop the West Division standings with ease while quarterback Keenan Reynolds became the most prolific scorer on the ground in FBS history.
Reynolds ran for 137 yards and four touchdowns, giving him 81 TDs for his career. He came into the game tied with former Wisconsin star Montee Ball for the all-time record, which he broke midway through the first quarter.
The Midshipmen jumped out to a 28-0 lead to remain perfect in their first season of conference play, finishing with 403 rushing yards and seven TDs on the ground.
No. 17 Utah Utes
Voting points: 73
Last week's ranking: 13th
Week 11 result: Lost 37-30 (in 2 OT) at Arizona
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 vs. UCLA
Utah (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12) fell into a tie with USC atop the South Division after falling to Arizona for the fourth straight season.
The Utes rallied from a pair of 10-point deficits in the first half to go up 27-20 midway through the third quarter, but then they managed only one more field goal. That came in the first overtime, a 40-yarder that Andy Phillips boinked off the upright and in.
Arizona forced a second OT with a field goal and then scored a touchdown on its first play of the second extra frame, but the Utes couldn't connect on their possession.
Devontae Booker ran for 145 yards and a TD, while Travis Wilson threw for 219 yards and two TDs.
No. 16 Florida State Seminoles
Voting points: 214
Last week's ranking: 18th
Week 11 result: Won 34-17 vs. North Carolina State
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 vs. Chattanooga
Florida State (8-2, 6-2 ACC) wrapped up conference play by scoring the game's final 27 points after it trailed 17-7.
Sean Maguire came off the bench to replace Everett Golson, who lost a fumble on the first snap of the game and also threw two interceptions. Maguire threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns to Kermit Whitfield on 18-of-28 passing with a pick, one of five turnovers committed by the Seminoles.
Dalvin Cook ran for 138 yards and two TDs, passing Warrick Dunn for the school single-season rushing record. Cook now has 1,369 yards with 14 TDs.
No. 15 Houston Cougars
Voting points: 244
Last week's ranking: 17th
Week 11 result: Won 35-34 vs. Memphis
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 at Connecticut
Houston (10-0, 6-0 American) rallied from a pair of 20-point deficits, doing so without its star dual-threat quarterback, to win its 11th straight game and remain tied with Navy for the West Division lead.
With Greg Ward going down with an ankle injury in the first half, Kyle Postma came on and had 285 yards of total offense with a passing and rushing touchdown. His rushing score came from seven yards out with 1:27 left, part of a 21-0 run over the final 12:56 after the Cougars trailed 34-14.
Houston was also down 20-0 before Postma threw a 30-yard TD pass to Linell Bonner just before halftime. Kenneth Farrow had two rushing scores, and Javin Webb added a TD on the ground during the comeback.
The Cougars clinched the win after Memphis missed a field goal with 19 seconds left.
No. 14 Stanford Cardinal
Voting points: 251
Last week's ranking: 7th
Week 11 result: Lost 38-36 vs. Oregon
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 vs. California
Stanford (8-2, 7-1 Pac-12) had its eight-game win streak—and its playoff hopes—come to an end when a two-point conversion try with 10 seconds left was unsuccessful.
Kevin Hogan's pass to Austin Hooper was knocked away by an Oregon defender, putting a sour end to an eight-play, 49-yard drive in 59 seconds that included Hogan hitting Greg Taboada on a four-yard TD pass. But Hogan also had trouble with snap exchanges, losing two fourth-quarter fumbles that were part of his three turnovers in the game.
Hogan finished with 352 yards of total offense and three total TDs, including a 22-yard run in the first quarter and a three-yard pass to Taboada early in the fourth quarter that pulled the Cardinal within five.
Stanford also got 244 all-purpose yards from FBS leader Christian McCaffrey, including 147 rushing yards with a TD.
The loss prevented Stanford from clinching the North Division.
No. 13 North Carolina Tar Heels
Voting points: 256
Last week's ranking: 16th
Week 11 result: Won 59-21
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 at Virginia Tech
North Carolina (9-1, 6-0 ACC) won its ninth straight game, the school's longest in-season win streak since 1914, with another dominant offensive performance at home.
A week after putting up 66 points and more than 700 yards in a win over rival Duke, the Tar Heels scored the game's first 45 points to move closer to clinching the Coastal Division title. They only have to win one of their remaining two games to make their first appearance in the ACC championship game.
Marquise Williams completed 11 of 16 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown and also ran for 101 yards and three scores, while Elijah Hood had 132 rushing yards and a TD. Ryan Switzer added a 78-yard punt return TD, the seventh of his career, and UNC forced three turnovers.
No. 12 TCU Horned Frogs
Voting points: 272
Last week's ranking: 12th
Week 11 result: Won 23-17 vs. Kansas
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 at Oklahoma
TCU (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) appeared to still be in a fog from last week's blowout loss at Oklahoma State, not taking the lead for good against winless Kansas until the second half and then needing to make three stops on defense in the final five minutes.
In the process, the Horned Frogs suffered another potentially devastating injury, as quarterback Trevone Boykin left the game in the first half with a high ankle sprain, per Travis Brown of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The Frogs' touchdowns came on a 49-yard punt return score by KaVontae Turpin in the first quarter and a 42-yard TD catch by Shaun Nixon from Foster Sawyer. It was the only completion on seven attempts for Sawyer, the third QB TCU used after Bram Kohlhausen went 13-of-19 for 112 yards and an interception.
Aaron Green ran for 177 yards on 30 carries for TCU, which ran for a total of 279 yards.
No. 11 Michigan Wolverines
Voting points: 280
Last week's ranking: 15th
Week 11 result: Won 48-41 (in 2 OT) at Indiana
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 at Penn State
Michigan (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) got a record-setting performance from transfer quarterback Jake Rudock to stay alive in the East Division race.
Rudock threw for 440 yards and a school-record six touchdowns, including two in overtime and one with two seconds left to force extra time. He completed 33 of 46 passes, connecting with Jehu Chesson on a five-yard throw at the end of regulation and then to Jake Butt and Amara Darboh in the OT sessions.
Rudock became the first Michigan quarterback with consecutive 300-yard passing games since Chad Henne in 2004, per Drew Hallett of Maize n Brew.
The Wolverines, which allowed 527 yards, including 307 on the ground, then stopped Indiana on 4th-and-goal by knocking away a pass at the goal line.
Chesson had 10 catches for 207 yards and four TDs, while Darboh had eight receptions for 109 yards and a score. Butt caught seven passes for 82 yards with his TD.
No. 10 Baylor Bears
Voting points: 333
Last week's ranking: 4th
Week 11 result: Lost 44-34 vs. Oklahoma
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 at Oklahoma State
Baylor (8-1, 5-1) was the latest of the conference's powers to suffer a November loss, one that very likely will end its hopes of getting into the playoffs.
The Bears led 6-0 but were playing catch-up the rest of the night, unable to contain Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield or operate their own offense as efficiently and explosively as normal. They finished with 416 yards, their fewest since October 2014, and committed three turnovers.
Freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham threw two interceptions in his second career start, finishing with 257 yards and two touchdowns on 16-of-27 passing. Shock Linwood had 103 rushing yards, and Devin Chafin scored three times on the ground, but the 5.9 yards per play for Baylor was 2.5 below its season average.
Baylor tied the game at 13 late in the first half and again at 20 early in the third quarter, but after Stidham hit Jay Lee for a 17-yard TD pass with 10:29 left, it wasn't able to stop the Sooners.
The loss ended Baylor's 20-game home win streak, which was the longest active streak in the country.
No. 9 Michigan State Spartans
Voting points: 337
Last week's ranking: 14th
Week 11 result: Won 24-7 vs. Maryland
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 at Ohio State
Michigan State (9-1, 5-1 Big Ten) looked sluggish on offense a week after losing at Nebraska on a controversial late touchdown, but thanks to five forced turnovers, it never trailed ahead of next week's showdown with Ohio State.
The Spartans were outgained 289-262, their lowest output since September 2013, and also turned the ball over three times. Connor Cook completed only six of 20 passes for 77 yards with an interception, sitting out the second half after injuring his shoulder in the first quarter. Backup Tyler O'Connor had a TD pass with 44 yards on 6-of-11 passing.
MSU got a three-yard TD run from Gerald Holmes as well as a 44-yard pick-six from Riley Bullough, which broke a 7-7 tie late in the first half.
No. 8 Florida Gators
Voting points: 357
Last week's ranking: 11th
Week 11 result: Won 24-14 at South Carolina
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 vs. Florida Atlantic
Florida (9-1, 7-1 SEC) wrapped up the conference slate with another low-scoring win but with far more offense than in last week's ugly 9-7 victory over Vanderbilt at home.
The Gators had 404 yards, including 256 passing yards from Treon Harris, who was 19-of-33 with a touchdown but two interceptions. Kelvin Taylor added 105 rushing yards and a score, and Jordan Cronkrite had TDs via the run and a pass.
Florida allowed only 201 yards, including just 21 on 23 rushes, with South Carolina not scoring until the fourth quarter.
No. 6 (tie) Oklahoma Sooners
Voting points: 407
Last week's ranking: 10th
Week 11 result: Won 44-34 at Baylor
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 vs. TCU
Oklahoma (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) was left for dead more than a month ago when it lost to Texas, but now the Sooners are firmly in the playoff race after ending a two-game losing streak to Baylor in impressive fashion.
Baker Mayfield scrambled all over the field to avoid pressure and finished with 346 yards of total offense and four total touchdowns. That included a seven-yard TD pass to Dimitri Flowers, which came with 4:47 left after Mayfield wandered around the backfield to buy time before hitting his open receiver.
Mayfield's favorite target all night was senior Sterling Shepard, who had 14 catches for 177 yards and two TDs. The second, which came on a seven-yard reception with 9:52 left in the third period, gave the Sooners the lead for good at 27-20.
Samaje Perine ran for 166 yards and two TDs as Oklahoma gained 511 yards and avenged consecutive blowout losses to the Bears, including last year's 48-14 home defeat.
And Oklahoma's defense came up big, holding the nation's top-rated offense to 416 yards and forcing three turnovers. That included a diving interception by Ahmad Thomas late in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
“They're the only team to make the Bears look mortal,” NBC Sports' Zach Barnett wrote.
No. 6 (tie) Iowa Hawkeyes
Voting points: 407
Last week's ranking: 8th
Week 11 result: Won 40-35 vs. Minnesota
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 vs. Purdue
Iowa (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) fought off an upset-minded opponent at home behind a balanced offensive attack, one that only had to punt twice on the night.
Quarterback C.J. Beathard threw for 213 yards and ran for 50 with two touchdowns, while LeShun Daniels had 195 yards and three TDs on 26 carries. All told, the Hawkeyes had 506 yards, their most in 13 games.
The Hawkeyes never trailed but also could never build a lead bigger than 13 points. Daniels' final TD, a 51-yard run with 2:01 left, gave them a 40-28 lead to ice the victory.
The win gave Iowa the Floyd of Rosedale trophy it lost to Minnesota on the road last season.
No. 5 Oklahoma State Cowboys
Voting points: 424
Last week's ranking: 6th
Week 11 result: Won 35-31 at Iowa State
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 vs. Baylor
Oklahoma State (10-0, 7-0 Big 12) rallied from a 17-point deficit for the second time this season, trailing nearly the entire game until J.W. Walsh hit Jeff Carr for a seven-yard touchdown pass with 3:06 left for its 12th consecutive win.
The Cowboys trailed 24-7 late in the first half before Chris Carson scored on a one-yard run to make it a 10-point game at halftime. Walsh had two rushing TDs in the second half, the latter pulling OK State within 31-28 with 11:33 left.
Fellow OK State QB Mason Rudolph threw for 327 yards and a TD on 24-of-36 passing, with Marcell Ateman hauling in eight passes for 132 yards and a TD.
OK State clinched the game by forcing a turnover on downs and an interception on Iowa State's final two possessions. The Cowboys also trailed by 17 at Texas Tech earlier this year before coming back to win 70-53.
No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Voting points: 447
Last week's ranking: 5th
Week 11 result: Won 28-7 vs. Wake Forest
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 vs. Boston College (in Boston)
Notre Dame (9-1) scored 21 first-half points thanks to a pair of big touchdowns to breeze to a win in its final home game of the season.
Andrew Trumbetti returned an interception 28 yards for a TD, and Josh Adams had a school-record 98-yard TD run as part of his 141 rushing yards for all of the scoring the Fighting Irish would need. Quarterback DeShone Kizer added two rushing scores to go with 111 passing yards.
It was the first time since the season-opening 38-3 win over Texas that Notre Dame held an opponent to fewer than 10 points.
No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide
Voting points: 494 (two first-place votes)
Last week's ranking: 2nd
Week 11 result: Won 31-6 at Mississippi State
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 vs. Charleston Southern
Alabama (9-1, 6-1 SEC) rode its defense, special teams and a monster running back to its seventh consecutive win, six of which have been by double digits.
The Crimson Tide registered nine sacks of mobile Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott, holding him to 14 yards on 26 carries. They also forced two turnovers and held the Bulldogs to just two field goals on three trips into the red zone.
Alabama's first score came from special teams, with Cyrus Jones returning a punt 69 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter. Jake Coker then hit Calvin Ridley for a 60-yard TD pass, and after that it was all Derrick Henry.
A week after rushing for 210 yards against LSU, the junior had 204 yards and two TDs on runs of 65 and 74 yards.
“Derrick Henry has probably solidified his status as Heisman front-runner tonight,” Dan Wolken of USA Today tweeted.
Alabama needs only to beat rival Auburn in two weeks to win the West Division.
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes
Voting points: 496 (six first-place votes)
Last week's ranking: 3rd
Week 11 result: Won 28-3 at Illinois
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 vs. Michigan State
Ohio State (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) won its 23rd consecutive game thanks to efficient running from Ezekiel Elliott, who topped 100 rushing yards for the 20th time in his career.
Elliott ran for 181 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, his 15th consecutive 100-yard game. It was part of a 283-yard rushing effort for the Buckeyes, who beat Illinois for the eighth time in a row.
J.T. Barrett started at quarterback after missing OSU's last game because of a suspension, finishing with 224 yards of total offense and two total TDs. He connected with Michael Thomas for a 24-yard TD pass in the first quarter and scored on a six-yard run in the final minute of the first half.
OSU held Illinois to 261 yards and limited an opponent to fewer than 10 points for the third time in 2015. It was the 30th consecutive Big Ten win for the Buckeyes, breaking Florida State's FBS record for consecutive conference wins set from 1992-95 in the ACC.
No. 1 Clemson Tigers
Voting points: 511 (13 first-place votes)
Last week's ranking: 1st
Week 11 result: Won 37-27 at Syracuse
Week 12 matchup: Nov. 21 vs. Wake Forest
Clemson (10-0, 7-0 ACC) looked like it was going to cruise to a 13th straight win by scoring twice in the first two minutes, but then it ended up having to hang on in the second half.
The Tigers managed only two fourth-quarter field goals after putting up 31 points in the first half, finishing with 570 yards despite three turnovers. Deshaun Watson had 465 yards of total offense and three total TDs, with 360 passing yards and 105 on the ground.
Watson has surpassed 400 total yards in his last three games and has accounted for 28 TDs.
It was only the fourth time this season Clemson has won by 10 or fewer points, but the second week in a row after knocking off Florida State 23-13 at home last week.
All slides written by Brian J. Pedersen. Follow the author on Twitter at @realBJP.