College Football Rankings: Bleacher Report's Week 14 Top 25

Bleacher Report College Football StaffFeatured ColumnistNovember 29, 2015

College Football Rankings: Bleacher Report's Week 14 Top 25

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Thirteen weeks of college football have come and gone, with the 2015 regular season over for a handful of teams. Yet so much more can still happen thanks to the remaining conference championship games, which will help finalize the lineup for the playoffs as well as all 40 postseason bowl games.

    For now, though, we have another edition of the Bleacher Report Top 25 that features plenty of movement thanks to a weekend of games that saw playoff hopefuls slip and late-charging teams climb up.

    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 the final full week of the regular season and then give us your thoughts in the comments section.

Others Receiving Votes

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    Associated Press

    Tennessee wrapped up its best regular season since 2007 with a 53-28 win over Vanderbilt, the most points the Volunteers (8-4) have scored against their rival since 1994. However, it wasn't enough to get them into the Top 25 this week.

    Here's a look at the teams that received votes but won't be ranked this week. 

    • Tennessee (27)
    • Washington State (19)
    • Arkansas (17)
    • Georgia (15)
    • Western Kentucky (15)
    • Memphis (10)
    • UCLA (9)
    • Texas A&M (6)
    • BYU (5)
    • Mississippi State (2)
    • Northern Illinois (1)
    • South Florida (1)
    • Toledo (1)
    • West Virginia (1)

No. 25 Wisconsin Badgers

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Voting points: 45

    Last week's ranking: Not ranked

    Week 13 result: Won 31-21 at Minnesota

    Up next: TBD bowl game

     

    Wisconsin (9-3, 6-2 Big Ten) bounced back from a mistake-filled home loss to Northwestern with 28 first-half points, holding onto Paul Bunyan's Axe for the 12th year in a row and preventing Minnesota from becoming bowl-eligible in the process.

    Dare Ogunbowale ran for 155 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries, while Taiwan Deal had 22 carries for 90 yards and two scores. In comparison, Minnesota had just 53 rushing yards, becoming the seventh opponent the Badgers have held under 100 rushing yards this season.

    Wisconsin forced five turnovers, including three interceptions.

No. 24 LSU Tigers

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    Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

    Voting points: 52

    Last week's ranking: Not ranked

    Week 13 result: Won 19-7 vs. Texas A&M

    Up next: TBD bowl game

     

    LSU (8-3, 5-3 SEC) ended a three-game losing streak in what many speculated might have been Les Miles' final game as coach. But after beating Texas A&M for the fourth time in as many tries since the Aggies joined the SEC, Miles was carried off the field and sung the alma mater with the Tiger Stadium crowd. He then learned his job was safe.

    "I want to make it very clear that Les Miles is our football coach and he'll continue to be our football coach," LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said, per Ross Dellenger of the Advocate

    It was by no means a pretty victory, not with the Tigers missing three of five field goals and Brandon Harris completing only seven of 21 passes. But Leonard Fournette put up 159 yards and a touchdown, setting the school single-season rushing record, while freshman Derrius Guice broke off a 50-yard TD run that gave LSU the lead midway through the third quarter.

No. 23 Navy Midshipmen

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    Associated Press

    Voting points: 72

    Last week's ranking: 15th

    Week 13 result: Lost 52-31 at Houston

    Up next: Dec. 12 vs. Army (in Philadelphia)

     

    Navy (9-2, 7-1 American) lost for the first time ever in league play. Houston stifled its option run game as Navy fell short of winning the West Division title.

    The Midshipmen ran for 147 yards, more than 200 yards below their season average, though Keenan Reynolds did score his 83rd career rushing touchdown to extend his FBS record and pull into a tie with Wisconsin's Montee Ball for the all-time FBS mark for total TDs.

    Reynolds also threw for a career-high 312 yards with a touchdown on 13-of-16 passing. He'd thrown for 652 yards in Navy's first 10 games.

No. 22 Utah Utes

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    Voting points: 82

    Last week's ranking: 25th

    Week 13 result: Won 20-14 vs. Colorado

    Up next: TBD bowl game


    Utah (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12) ended a two-game skid to reach nine wins for the second year in a row, and in the process, it found its new workhorse running back.

    Junior Joe Williams ran for 187 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries, making his second start for the injured Devontae Booker. Williams had entered the game with 199 yards this season, but his five-yard run midway through the third quarter proved to be the difference.

    The Utes turned the ball over three times but also forced four turnovers, including a fumble that Jared Norris recovered near midfield with 30 seconds left.

No. 21 USC Trojans

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Voting points: 94

    Last week's ranking: Not ranked

    Week 13 result: Won 40-21 vs. UCLA

    Up next: Dec. 5 vs. Stanford in Pac-12 Championship Game (in Santa Clara, California)

     

    USC (8-4, 6-3 Pac-12) won the South Division title and will make its first appearance in the conference championship thanks to its first win over rival UCLA since 2011.

    The Trojans got it done with a mix of offense, defense and special teams. Senior quarterback Cody Kessler threw two touchdown passes and ran for another in his final home start. Justin Davis ran for 130 yards, and USC ran a season-high 59 times.

    The defense forced three turnovers, with Iman Marshall intercepting two passes and Rasheem Green returning a fumble 31 yards for a TD that gave the Trojans a 26-21 lead midway through the third quarter. Adoree' Jackson added a 42-yard punt-return score just before halftime.

    Interim coach Clay Helton improved to 5-2 since taking over for Steve Sarkisian.

No. 20 Temple Owls

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Voting points: 95

    Last week's ranking: 24th

    Week 13 result: Won 27-3 vs. Connecticut

    Up next: Dec. 5 at Houston in American Athletic Conference Championship Game

     

    Temple (10-2, 7-1 American) wrapped up the East Division title behind a strong defensive performance and ball-control offense, the same things that helped it to its most wins since 1979.

    The Owls got 119 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Jahad Thomas, while P.J. Walker threw for 160 yards and a score on 19-of-29 passing. The rest was on the defense, which allowed 138 yards to mark the fourth time this season it has held an opponent under 200 yards.

    A late field goal prevented Temple from earning its first shutout of an FBS team since 2011.

No. 19 Florida Gators

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Voting points: 166

    Last week's ranking: 11th

    Week 13 result: Lost 27-2 vs. Florida State

    Up next: Dec. 5 at Alabama in SEC Championship Game (in Atlanta)

     

    Florida (10-2) still gets to play for a conference title next week, but the way it's fared since clinching the East Division doesn't inspire much confidence it will be able to compete with Alabama.

    If not for a safety midway through the fourth quarter, thanks to CeCe Jefferson sacking Florida State's quarterback in the end zone, the Gators would have been shut out for the first time since 1988.

    Florida finished with 262 yards, failing to reach 300 yards for the fourth time this season and third time in four games. That negated a strong defensive effort that held FSU in check until the fourth quarter, when the Gators allowed two late rushing touchdowns.

    Our defense gave us an opportunity and we didn't take advantage of it,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said, per Zach Abolverdi of GatorSports.com.

No. 18 Houston Cougars

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    Associated Press

    Voting points: 167

    Last week's ranking: 21st

    Week 13 result: Won 52-31 vs. Navy

    Up next: Dec. 5 vs. Temple in American Athletic Conference Championship Game

    Houston (11-1, 7-1 American) won the West Division thanks to the return of a healthy Greg Ward Jr., who wasn't at full strength the week before when the Cougars lost for the first time this season.

    Ward threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns on 26-of-35 passing and added 83 rushing yards with a score. It was his fourth game in 2015 accounting for at least four TDs.

    Brandon Wilson ran for 111 yards and two TDs in place of injured running back Kenneth Farrow, and Houston topped 50 points for the fourth time this season. It also held Navy, the No. 1 rushing team in the country, to 147 yards on the ground.

No. 17 Michigan Wolverines

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Voting points: 185

    Last week's ranking: 9th (tie)

    Week 13 result: Lost 42-13 vs. Ohio State

    Up next: TBD bowl game

     

    Michigan (9-3, 6-2 Big Ten) suffered its first lopsided defeat under Jim Harbaugh, particularly in the second half, when it was outscored 28-3 at home.

    The result made Harbaugh just the second Wolverines coach since 1938 to lose his first game against Ohio State. He's also the first Michigan coach since 1929 to lose his first home game against the Buckeyes, per ESPN Stats & Info.

    Michigan ran for a season-low 57 yards while allowing 369, nearly four times its season average of 100.2 rushing yards allowed per game.

    Jake Rudock threw for 263 yards and a TD in the loss, giving him 1,296 yards with 11 TDs in the Wolverines' past four games.

No. 15 (tie) Oregon Ducks

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Voting points: 209

    Last week's ranking: 18th

    Week 13 result: Won 52-42 vs. Oregon State

    Up next: TBD bowl game

    Oregon (9-3, 7-2 Pac-12) won its sixth straight game but nearly blew a 24-point lead in claiming the Civil War for the eighth consecutive season.

    Vernon Adams Jr. threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns, connecting with Bralon Addison for all three scores. Addison also ran for a TD, and the Ducks had 308 rushing yards and four scores, with Royce Freeman going for 167 yards and two TDs.

    Oregon led 31-7 at halftime, but twice in the fourth quarter the Ducks saw their lead dwindle to three points. Addison's fourth score, a 24-yard TD pass from Adams with 4:39 left, sealed the victory.

No. 15 (tie) Ole Miss Rebels

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Voting points: 221

    Last week's ranking: 19th

    Week 13 result: Won 38-27 at Mississippi State

    Up next: TBD bowl game

     

    Ole Miss (9-3, 6-2 SEC) wrapped up second place in the West Division and won the Egg Bowl for the second year in a row, the first time it has achieved that since winning three straight from 2002 to 2004.

    The Rebels led 21-0 after less than 12 minutes, with Chad Kelly rushing and throwing for a touchdown. Tony Bridges also returned an interception 45 yards for a score. Kelly finished with 310 yards of total offense and three total TDs, rushing for 74 yards.

    Damore'ea Stringfellow caught both of Kelly's TD passes, and Jordan Wilkins added a rushing score. Jaylen Walton also ran for 93 yards. Ole Miss had 243 rushing yards, which marked its sixth 200-yard game but only third in SEC play.

No. 14 Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Voting points: 237

    Last week's ranking: 9th (tie)

    Week 13 result: Lost 58-23 vs. Oklahoma

    Up next: TBD bowl game

     

    Oklahoma State (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) was the surprise member of a quartet of teams in the conference that entered November fighting for the league title and a shot at the playoffs. But after a second straight loss, both at home, the Cowboys will end up in a tie for second place.

    A week after losing 45-35 to Baylor when it couldn't keep up with its opponent, OK State led 10-7 midway through the first quarter and then was outscored 37-7 in less than 17 minutes of game action to turn a de facto Big 12 championship game into a blowout.

    The Cowboys didn't have their normal two-quarterback package available, with Mason Rudolph only playing one series, which resulted in a pick-six. By that point, though, they were down 34-10 because Oklahoma had scored on a couple of long TD runs before that.

    J.W. Walsh, who had attempted only 29 passes all season, had more than that number in the first half and finished 25-of-42 for 325 yards with two TDs and an interception.

No. 13 Northwestern Wildcats

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Voting points: 245

    Last week's ranking: 17th

    Week 13 result: Won 24-14 vs. Illinois (in Chicago)

    Up next: TBD bowl game

     

    Northwestern (10-2, 6-2 Big Ten) scored two touchdowns in the first quarter and then turned to its defense to hold on for a fifth straight win, notching its second 10-win season in four years.

    Justin Jackson ran for 172 yards and a touchdown on 37 carries; it was his fourth game in 2015 with at least 30 carries. His three-yard scoring run early in the second quarter gave the Wildcats a 21-7 lead.

    Northwestern yielded 319 yards and held an opponent to 14 or fewer points for the seventh time this season. Its win total matches the number it had combined in 2013 and 2014.

No. 12 Baylor Bears

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Voting points: 277

    Last week's ranking: 7th

    Week 13 result: Lost 28-21 (in 2 OT) at TCU

    Up next: Dec. 5 vs. Texas

    Baylor (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) has the kind of offense that thrives on tempo, pace and, apparently, ideal weather conditions. That meant playing in heavy, cold rain on a sloppy grass surface wouldn't be optimal, and the result was a disappointing performance that officially knocked the Bears out of the conference and playoff race.

    Five turnovers and a season-low 335 yards of offense did in Baylor, which scored 14 points in the first quarter and then not again until Devin Chafin's four-yard touchdown catch in the first overtime. The Bears could not effectively throw in the rain, with Chris Johnson tallying just 62 yards with a TD and an interception on 7-of-24 passing.

    And while Baylor ran for 273 yards—led by Chafin's 119 yards and two TDs—that came on 71 attempts.

    “I think the elements had a whole lot to do with our play,” Baylor coach Art Briles said, per Bleacher Report's Bryan Fischer. “It’s just hard to execute in those conditions.”

No. 11 TCU Horned Frogs

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Voting points: 284

    Last week's ranking: 16th

    Week 13 result: Won 28-21 (in 2 OT) vs. Baylor

    Up next: TBD bowl game

    TCU (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) was out of both the conference title and playoff race, but that didn't stop it from doing its best to end Baylor's hopes for the same. Despite driving rain, a sloppy field and frigid temperatures, the injury-ravaged Horned Frogs were able to hang around through a scoreless second half and then woke up in overtime to avenge last year's 61-58 loss to the Bears.

    Trevone Boykin ran for a score in the first OT and then threw an eight-yard TD pass to KaVontae Turpin for the game-winning score in the second extra frame. TCU then stuffed Baylor on 4th-and-1 to end an ugly, weather-impacted game.

    Boykin, who had missed the previous game because of injury, had 148 passing yards and two TDs, but he was intercepted once. TCU turned the ball over twice but capitalized on five Baylor turnovers, holding the Bears to a season-low 335 yards.

No. 10 Florida State Seminoles

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Voting points: 334

    Last week's ranking: 14th

    Week 13 result: Won 27-2 at Florida

    Up next: TBD bowl game

     

    Florida State (10-2) is in the uncommon position of not knowing when or where its next game is, since it won't be playing in a conference championship. With this in mind, the Seminoles made the most of their final game for a while by thoroughly handling their rival.

    While its own offense didn't look that crisp during the first half, FSU didn't need to do much since it was never in danger of allowing any points to a struggling Florida attack. It held the Gators to 262 yards, with their only points coming on a safety midway through the fourth quarter.

    Sean Maguire was 14-of-28 for 160 yards with a touchdown, which came on a one-yard throw to Jeremy Kerr halfway through the second quarter after Maguire scrambled right and then threw across his body toward the middle of the end zone.

    Dalvin Cook then took over in the second half, finishing with 183 yards on 26 carries and TD runs for 15 and 29 yards in the final 6:17.

No. 9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Voting points: 346

    Last week's ranking: 3rd

    Week 13 result: Lost 38-36 at Stanford

    Up next: TBD bowl game

     

    Notre Dame (10-2) struggled in the red zone all game but finally came through with a go-ahead touchdown with 30 seconds left. That turned out to be too soon, as it gave Stanford enough time to mount a game-winning drive that ended with a field goal as time expired.

    And with that, the Fighting Irish's playoff hopes were left in Palo Alto.

    DeShone Kizer scored on a two-yard run to put Notre Dame up 36-35 and cap off a big night that saw him tally 362 yards of total offense, including 128 rushing yards. Josh Adams ran for 168 yards and a score, and the Irish got a 93-yard kickoff-return TD from C.J. Sanders. But on three trips to the red zone earlier in the game, they had to settle for short field goals.

    On the final drive, Notre Dame was called for a facemask penalty on a play that Stanford had fumbled on, and the Irish also allowed a long pass over the middle to get the Cardinal within field-goal range.

No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Voting points: 365

    Last week's ranking: 12th

    Week 13 result: Won 45-34 at North Carolina State

    Up next: Dec. 5 vs. Clemson in ACC Championship Game (in Charlotte)

     

    North Carolina (11-1, 8-0 ACC) scored 35 first-quarter points to cruise to its 11th straight win, with quarterback Marquise Williams setting another record along the way.

    The senior threw for 174 yards and a touchdown and ran for 53 yards, giving him 9,794 yards of total offense for his career to become the school's all-time leader.

    The Tar Heels ran for 374 yards, getting 220 with two touchdowns from Elijah Hood and 100 and two scores from T.J. Logan. Logan's TDs went for 42 and 40 yards during a first quarter in which the Heels scored on their first five possessions.

    UNC went unbeaten in the ACC for the first time since 1980, the last time it won the conference.

No. 7 Stanford Cardinal

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Voting points: 391

    Last week's ranking: 13th

    Week 13 result: Won 38-36 vs. Notre Dame

    Up next: Dec. 5 at USC in Pac-12 Championship Game (in Santa Clara, California)

     

    Stanford (10-2) is probably a long shot at best to make the playoff, but it just picked up a big resume-building victory and has one more opportunity to make its case with next week's conference title game.

    Knocking off one of its competitors for the semifinals didn't hurt, either.

    The Cardinal won it on Conrad Ukropina's 45-yard field goal as time expired—a kick that came only 30 seconds after Notre Dame scored a go-ahead touchdown. Coach David Shaw hadn't used any of his timeouts as Notre Dame drove downfield, and that move paid off because Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan was able to use the entire field on the final drive.

    That included a 27-yard pass Hogan made to Devon Cajuste that got Stanford to the Notre Dame 30 with 10 seconds left. Hogan finished with 269 yards and four TDs on 17-of-21 passing.

    "Asked where this win stacks up for Kevin Hogan: 'No. 1 all-time,'" ESPN's Kyle Bonagura tweeted. “And he has won a Rose Bowl and two Pac-12 titles.”

No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Voting points: 421

    Last week's ranking: 8th

    Week 13 result: Won 42-13 at Michigan

    Up next: TBD bowl game

    Ohio State (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) responded to last week's streak-ending loss in impressive fashion, posting its largest margin of victory against Michigan since 2010 by turning to its standout running back and letting him dominate.

    A week after questioning the play-calling following his 12-carry, 33-yard performance in the home loss to Michigan State, Ezekiel Elliott notched 30 carries for 214 yards and two touchdowns. It was his highest number of carries since getting the rock 36 times in January's national title game against Oregon.

    “Coach Urban Meyer made a concerted effort to involve Elliott early and often,” ESPN's Dan Murphy wrote.

    Elliott became the second OSU player (along with Archie Griffin) to rush for 1,500 yards in multiple seasons. He paced a rushing attack that gained 369 yards on the ground, and J.T. Barrett ran for 139 yards and three scores to go with 113 passing yards and a TD.

No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes

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    Nati Harnik/Associated Press

    Voting points: 436

    Last week's ranking: 5th

    Week 13 result: Won 28-20 at Nebraska

    Up next: Dec. 5 vs. Michigan State in Big Ten Championship Game (in Indianapolis)

    Iowa (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten) has wrapped up its first-ever perfect regular season, and now all that stands in the way of an improbable playoff berth will be the Hawkeyes' first conference title game appearance.

    Like in most games this year, Iowa didn't look flashy, but it did enough to get the job done on the road against a Nebraska team that needed a win to become bowl-eligible.

    “I’ve said it all along, I don’t know how good they are, but they play hard and they play together,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said after the game, per Bleacher Report's Greg Wallace. “It’s a lot of fun to be with them every day.”

    The Hawkeyes gained only 250 yards but intercepted four passes, while Jordan Canzeri had 97 of his 140 yards on two third-quarter touchdown runs.

No. 4 Michigan State Spartans

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Voting points: 446

    Last week's ranking: 6th

    Week 13 result: Won 55-16 vs. Penn State

    Up next: Dec. 5 at Iowa in Big Ten Championship Game (in Indianapolis)

     

    Michigan State (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) locked up the East Division title and a second trip to the conference championship in three years by steamrolling Penn State in its home finale, scoring its most points since October 2014.

    Connor Cook returned from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss last week's game, throwing for 248 yards and three touchdowns on 19-of-26 passing. He has 24 TD passes this season, tying his career high.

    Cook's third TD pass gave the Spartans a 34-10 lead late in the third quarter; then they turned to their run game and defense. LJ Scott and Jack Allen, the Spartans' starting center, scored on the ground, while Malik McDowell returned an interception for a touchdown. MSU also got a second-quarter fumble return TD by Demetrious Cox, and in all it forced four turnovers.

    The Spartans earn the East Division by virtue of their 17-14 win at Ohio State last week.

No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Voting points: 471

    Last week's ranking: 4th

    Week 13 result: Won 58-23 at Oklahoma State

    Up next: TBD bowl game

     

    Oklahoma (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) won't know for certain for another week, but based on how it ran through its league's gauntlet this month, it's hard not to imagine a playoff spot wasn't clinched on the road Saturday night.

    “We unofficially have our first playoff participant,” USA Today's Dan Wolken stated after the Sooners won the most lopsided result in the Bedlam Series since 2003.

    In a series that had come down to overtime or the final minute in the previous three years, Oklahoma put this one away by halftime thanks to a 37-7 run that turned a 10-7 deficit into a 27-point lead. This came as the result of some long touchdown runs by Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine, who combined for 267 rushing yards and four TDs, and heady play from quarterback Baker Mayfield.

    Mayfield threw for 180 yards and two TDs and added 77 rushing yards with a score. The Sooners totaled 344 yards on the ground.

    The big first half was also paced by the defense, which intercepted each of Oklahoma State's quarterbacks once. Jordan Thomas returned one of those picks 32 yards for a TD that made it 34-10 midway through the second quarter.

    At the very least, Oklahoma won its first outright Big 12 title since 2010. Whether that will get it one of the four playoff spots depends on what happens next week when other conferences hold their title games.

No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Voting points: 508 (five first-place votes)

    Last week's ranking: 2nd

    Week 13 result: Won 29-13 at Auburn

    Up next: Dec. 5 vs. Florida in SEC Championship Game (in Atlanta)



    Alabama (11-1, 7-1 SEC) will represent the West Division in the conference title game for the second year in a row and is a win away from another playoff bid. The Crimson Tide have one person to thank for that. Without Derrick Henry carrying the offense yet again, they might have been in real danger in the Iron Bowl, which was a field-goal fest for the first half.

    Henry carried a school-record 46 times for 271 yards, scoring a touchdown for the 17th straight game when he scampered 25 yards with 26 seconds left. By that point Alabama was just running out the clock, but with that he officially performed better than the entire opposing team.

    “He outran all of Auburn's total offense,” Yahoo Sports' Dr. Saturday noted on Twitter, as Auburn finished with 260 yards.

    Henry might have done the dirty work, but quarterback Jake Coker made some key plays to build a 19-6 lead in the third quarter. Three plays after avoiding a sack and scrambling for seven yards, Coker again eluded Auburn defenders and then fired a 34-yard TD pass to ArDarius Stewart.

    Coker was 17-of-26 for 179 yards with a TD, while Adam Griffith set an Iron Bowl record with five field goals, including a 50-yarder just before halftime.

No. 1 Clemson Tigers

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Voting points: 519 (16 first-place votes)

    Last week's ranking: 1st

    Week 13 result: Won 37-32 at South Carolina

    Up next: Dec. 5 vs. North Carolina in ACC Championship Game (in Charlotte)

     

    Clemson (12-0) had to sweat out a tense fourth quarter, but in the end, it earned its second straight win in the Palmetto Bowl, wrapping up a perfect regular season that should keep it atop the playoff rankings for another week.

    The Tigers led 21-3 early in the third quarter and were up 28-10 with just over 17 minutes left before having to hold off a late South Carolina push. A three-yard touchdown run by Deshaun Watson, his third of the game, with 8:05 left sealed the victory and also increased the sophomore quarterback's chances of getting an invitation to the Heisman Trophy ceremony next month in New York.

    “Most impressive thing about Deshaun Watson is how he always seems to be in control,” Sports On Earth's David Ubben tweeted. “Of himself and, by default, the game.”

    Watson had 393 yards of total offense with four TDs, throwing for 279 yards on 20-of-27 passing with a score and rushing 21 times for a season-high 114 yards. It was his third 100-yard game in Clemson's past four contests.

    All slides written by Brian J. Pedersen. Follow the author on Twitter at @realBJP.