College Football Rankings 2011: Top 25 Heading into Week 14

Thomas ChristianContributor IIIDecember 1, 2011

College Football Rankings 2011: Top 25 Heading into Week 14

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    There is no doubt who No. 1 is in the country as we approach Week 15. LSU upended Arkansas at home last Friday and are an unanimous No. 1 team.

    It is popularly agreed upon that Alabama follows LSU and the two SEC powers are on a collision course for a rematch in the national championship game.

    Here is what the rest of the Top 25 looks like heading into Week 15...

25. Florida State (8-4)

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    It has been a disappointing season for Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles. After starting off the season ranked in the Top Five, FSU has stumbled to an 8-4 record and a second-place finish in the ACC Atlantic Division.

    The defense has done its part in the second half of the season, and the Seminoles currently rank fourth in scoring defense. Since starting 2-3, FSU is 6-1 with a win over in-state rival Florida.

    The Seminoles would ideally like to see E.J. Manuel be more of a playmaker, but you can't argue with zero interceptions since October.

24. Southern Mississippi (10-2)

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    Had Southern Mississippi not lost to UAB two weeks ago, this Golden Eagles team would have found themselves in the Top 20.

    The Golden Eagles are steady on both sides of the ball and could potentially pose as a threat to Houston in the Conference USA Championship Game.

    It's a tough task to ask Austin Davis to match Case Keenum, but it would be an absolute shocker if Southern Miss is able to pull off the upset and ruin Houston's dream of playing in a BCS bowl.

23. Penn State (9-3)

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    Penn State has relied on their defense all season long. The offense has been nothing more than inconsistent and hit a wall against Wisconsin last weekend in a 38-point loss.

    One thing working against Penn State and their ranking is an 0-3 record versus opponents that are currently in the Top 25.

    Things don't look too promising for Penn State in their bowl game if the offense doesn't shape up quick.

22. West Virginia (8-3)

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    West Virginia had a ton of talent on offense coming into the season. They were on the big stage in Week 4 against LSU. The Mountaineers didn't play that poorly against the Tigers, but big play after big play proved to be costly for WVU.

    They have one remaining regular season game against South Florida, and it is a real possibility that we see a three-team tie atop the Big East.

21. Clemson (9-3)

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    After starting off 8-0 and being talked about as a possible national title contender, the Clemson Tigers fell from grace and have been losers in three of their last four games.

    On the bright side, Clemson still has a chance to secure a bid to the Orange Bowl with a win over perennial ACC power Virginia Tech this Saturday in the ACC Championship Game.

20. Nebraska (9-3)

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    Bo Pelini and Nebraska have been up-and-down since November started. After defeating Michigan State by 21 in Lincoln, the Huskers went 2-2 in the month of November with wins over Penn State and Iowa.

    Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead have once again been stellar on the ground as the two have combined for over 2,000 yards and 24 touchdowns.

    The Huskers regular season has ended with a rivalry win over Iowa and are awaiting their fate for bowl season.

19. TCU (9-2)

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    Gary Patterson's Horned Frogs are not nearly as good as his recent teams, but they are currently riding a six-game winning streak.

    TCU's most notable win was over then-No. 5 Boise State, ending any chance the Broncos had at securing a national title bid.

    Casey Pachall has filled in beautifully for Andy Dalton and the future looks bright in Fort Worth.

    TCU has one regular season game remaining against UNLV, a game in which the Horned Frogs are heavily favored.

18. Baylor (8-3)

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    Baylor has seen an unusual amount of attention this season thanks to the heroics of Robert Griffin III.

    With RGIII under center, Baylor is capable of putting points up on any team in the country. It shows as the Bears are sixth nationally in points per game (43.1) and recently upset Oklahoma.

    It's hard to get a grip on just how good this Baylor team is, though. The offense is explosive, but the defense can make any opponent look explosive as well.

    Regardless, this has been a special season in Waco and the Baylor faithful are hoping RGIII sticks around for one last hurrah.

17. Michigan (10-2)

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    Michigan had a hiccup at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, but this team has been on a roll the past three weeks. Not only did they dismantle Nebraska, but they beat Ohio State for the first time in seven years. This is not the same Ohio State team that we are accustomed to seeing, but it is a big win nonetheless.

    The defense has done a complete 180 from a year ago under Greg Mattison, and Denard Robinson is still producing on the ground despite playing in pro-style offense.

    The Wolverines will likely secure an at-large bid for a BCS bowl following this weekend.

16. Kansas State (9-2)

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    Collin Klein might be the MVP in college football. He has been tremendous for Bill Snyder and the Wildcats this season as he has thrown for 11 touchdowns and run for 25 more.

    The Wildcats can notch 10 wins on the season with a win over Iowa State on senior day in Manhattan. It will be an incredible atmosphere for a program on the rise.

    Jared Barnett made some clutch plays in Iowa State's upset over Oklahoma State. Kansas State better hope that isn't repeated on their 108th-ranked pass defense.

15. Oklahoma (9-2)

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    You know, I would have put Oklahoma higher had it not been for the loss of Ryan Broyles and Dominique Whaley. Landry Jones hasn't looked nearly as good without Broyles, but there is still a wealth of talent that includes Kenny Stills on the outside.

    This is an Oklahoma team that could catapult in the rankings and find themselves with an at-large bid with a road win over Oklahoma State on Saturday evening.

    Oklahoma's 87th-ranked pass defense will be heavily challenged by one of the best passing offenses in the country in Stillwater.

14. South Carolina (10-2)

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    South Carolina is 10-2 on the season, which is impressive considering the loss of Marcus Lattimore halfway through the year.

    The Gamecocks pass defense is led by Stephen Gilmore and has been as impressive as any unit this season, ranking second nationally.

    Alshon Jeffery recently had surgery on his hand but is not expected to miss USC's bowl game. Big news for Spurrier and company.

13. Wisconsin (10-2)

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    Since losing on last-second plays to Michigan State and Ohio State in back-to-back weeks, Wisconsin has been on a roll.

    Montee Ball has catapulted himself into the Heisman discussion since coming within striking distance of Barry Sanders' NCAA Division I record of 39 total touchdowns.

    The Badgers rank top five nationally in scoring offense and defense.

    Bielema's squad will be looking for revenge on Saturday as the Badgers take on Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game.

12. Michigan State (10-2)

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    After getting whacked on the road against Nebraska, Michigan State turned it around and are on a four-game winning streak with impressive wins on the road in Evanston and Iowa City.

    They will be riding the arm of Kirk Cousins into the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin's potent offense.

    After last year's 49-7 loss to Alabama, the Spartans are looking to represent the Big Ten in Pasadena.

11. Georgia (10-2)

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    After starting off the season with two disappointing losses, the Georgia Bulldogs turned their ship around and are currently riding a 10-game winning streak going into the SEC Championship Game against No. 1 LSU.

    Aaron Murray has been one of the most impressive quarterbacks in the SEC and Georgia's defense has been phenomenal as they rank fifth in total defense.

    This Georgia team is now playing up to its preseason expectations and it may have saved Mark Richt's job.

10. Boise State (10-1)

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    The hype around a Boise State undefeated season simmered profusely after their latest falter to then-unranked TCU.

    Kellen Moore and Doug Martin are putting together impressive seasons for a Boise State team that seems to always be hanging around in the Top 10.

    Their last hurdle will be against a New Mexico team with just one win on the season.

9. Oregon (10-2)

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    Oregon recently lost to USC, but this is still an incredibly dangerous squad. Chip Kelly spreads the field out and allows speed to take over.

    Just earlier this month, analysts and fans were talking about a possible national championship berth for Andrew Luck and the Cardinal until the Ducks came rolling to town and put a licking on Stanford.

    LaMichael James' elbow does not seem to be a problem and Oregon will be heavily favored in the Pac-12 title game over a UCLA team that was just shutout 50-0 at the hands of USC.

8. USC (10-2)

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    Luckily for Oregon, or any Big Ten team, USC is still not eligible for a postseason game. However, there is no doubt how good this team has been lately.

    Matt Barkley has grown as a player each year and has many wondering if he, instead of Andrew Luck, is the best quarterback that the Pac-12 has to offer.

    Over his past four games, Barkley has thrown for 17 touchdowns and is arguably the hottest player in the country right now. In an upset over then-No. 4 Oregon, Barkley threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns.

    He and the Trojans look like the real deal at this point in 2011. It's too bad they will not be able to compete for a Pac-12 Championship until next season.

7. Virginia Tech (11-1)

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    Many, including myself, picked Virginia to upend Virginia Tech on Saturday. Not only did Tech prove those who picked against them wrong, but they absolutely decimated their in-state rival by a score of 38-0.

    The Hokies certainly look like a different team since losing to Clemson on October 1st. They are on a seven-game winning streak, and Logan Thomas has thrown for 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions over that span.

    Frank Beamer and the Hokies will be looking to avenge that midseason loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game.

6. Arkansas (10-2)

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    Arkansas got blown out by No. 1 and No. 2 this season on the road, but they still have impressive wins over Auburn, South Carolina and Texas A&M.

    Tyler Wilson and Jarius Wright have formed a good connection with one another, though the running game has lacked. One can only imagine how good of an offense this could have been had Kniles Davis' season not ended before it began.

    Arkansas' regular season is over and Bobby Petrino is waiting for the fate of his team in bowl season.

5. Houston Cougars (12-0)

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    Criticize the schedule all you want, but those who have watched Case Keenum over the course of his career can attest to how special of a player he truly is.

    The Cougars put up close to 53 points per game and average nearly 450 yards through the air. No matter the competition, it takes some talent along that offense to put up gaudy numbers like that.

    It's mind-boggling to think that Keenum has thrown just three interceptions in his 467 pass attempts. His last interception was on October 27th, a game that saw him toss nine touchdown passes.

    This Houston team may not have the ability to survive an AQ conference schedule, but they certainly have the firepower to compete with whomever they match up with for one game.

4. Oklahoma State (10-1)

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    Oklahoma State was two wins away from securing a spot in the national championship until they traveled to Ames to face Iowa State and left with a double-overtime lost.

    Brandon Weeden has been magnificent this season and OSU ranks second nationally in passing offense.

    There is still a glimmer of hope that Oklahoma State could somehow sneak into the title game. For that to become a real possibility, Oklahoma State will have to get by in-state rival Oklahoma in Stillwater.

    We will know a lot more about OSU this coming weekend. If the Cowboys are able to upend the Sooners, I have zero problem placing them ahead of Stanford and believe they have a claim for a national title berth.

    This is a big if, though. Oklahoma State has not defeated Oklahoma in the Bedlam Series since 2002.

3. Stanford Cardinal (11-1)

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    It is true that Stanford's defense got pushed around by Oregon's offense. The Cardinal bounced back from that Oregon loss with wins over California and Notre Dame.

    Stanford ranks No. 10 in total offense and No. 5 in scoring offense in the nation. They are led by Andrew Luck, many of whom believe will be a No. 1 NFL draft pick.

    There is no Rose Bowl or Pac-12 Championship for Stanford this season, but they will receive an at-large berth to a BCS bowl.

2. Alabama (11-1)

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    Though Alabama lost a head-to-head matchup with LSU, they are still popularly thought of as the No. 2 team in the country.

    Like LSU, the Crimson Tide have an extraordinary defense that ranks No. 1 against the run, No. 1 against the pass, No. 1 in scoring defense and No. 1 in total defense.

    Without much thought, it is safe to call this unit dominant. 

    Trent Richardson is in all likelihood the most physically gifted running back in the country and thought of as a Heisman front-runner.

    With the exception of LSU, 'Bama consistently dominated ranked opponents by outscoring them, 151-44.

    You better believe the Crimson Tide faithful are itching for one more shot at Les Miles and the LSU Tigers.

1. LSU (12-0)

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    There is no debating who No. 1 is right now! The LSU tigers are off to a 12-0 start for the first time in school history and boast an incredible defense that ranks No. 4 against the run, No. 6 against the pass, No. 2 in scoring defense and No. 2 in total defense.

    Since defeating Alabama on the first Saturday of November, it has been Jordan Jefferson under center and has made the Tigers a greater threat on offense.

    Thanks to a 24-point win over Arkansas in Death Valley, LSU will head to Atlanta this weekend to face off against SEC East champion Georgia.