College Football Rankings 2014: Power Ranking All 128 Teams Post-Regular Season

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2014

College Football Rankings 2014: Power Ranking All 128 Teams Post-Regular Season

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    A final week of regular-season games crowned a bunch of conference champions, awarded playoff invitations for four schools and sent more than 70 teams to destinations all over the country for season-ending bowl games.

    Though the slate was small, those 14 games last weekend still managed to provide quite a shake-up in the final regular-season power rankings.

    Bleacher Report's power rankings are comprised of an average of five ratings: the Associated Press Top 25 and Amway Coaches polls, Bleacher Report's Top 25, ratings guru Jeff Sagarin's computer ratings and my personal ranking.

    Take a look at how the 128 FBS teams are ranked at the end of the regular season, then give us your take in the comments section. One final ranking will be released after the bowl games are complete.

Nos. 128-91

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    The 2014 season was a lost one, and SMU had already begun the process of moving on by hiring Chad Morris as its coach for next year. But the Mustangs still had one last game left, and it proved to be a memorable one.

    SMU ended a 13-game losing streak, avoiding its first winless season since 2003, winning 27-20 at Connecticut on Saturday. Prescott Line's 12-yard touchdown run with 9:22 left was the game-winning score.

    The victory makes this the first season since 2011 that no FBS teams went winless.

    • 128. Eastern Michigan (2-10)
    • 127. Georgia State (1-11)
    • 126. SMU (1-11)
    • 125. Connecticut (2-10)
    • 124. New Mexico State (2-10)
    • 123. Troy (3-9). The Trojans quickly transitioned from the Larry Blakeney era to the one led by Neal Brown, who was hired Dec. 1 to take over the program. Blakeney had been Troy's coach for 24 seasons, while Brown (a former Troy assistant) spent this past year as Kentucky's offensive coordinator. 
    • 122. Idaho (1-10)
    • 121. Kent State (2-9)
    • 120. UNLV (2-11)
    • 118. (tie) Tulsa (2-10)
    • 118. (tie) Miami, Ohio (2-10)
    • 117. Army (4-7)
    • 116. Massachusetts (3-9)
    • 115. Southern Mississippi (3-9)
    • 114. South Florida (4-8)
    • 112. (tie) Tulane (3-9)
    • 112. (tie) North Texas (4-8)
    • 111. Florida Atlantic (3-9)
    • 110. San Jose State (3-9)
    • 109. Florida International (4-8)
    • 108. UTSA (4-8)
    • 107. Akron (5-7)
    • 106. Buffalo (5-6)
    • 105. Wake Forest (3-9)
    • 104. Louisiana-Monroe (4-8)
    • 103. New Mexico (4-8)
    • 102. Wyoming (4-8)
    • 101. Hawaii (4-9)
    • 98. (tie) Vanderbilt (3-9)
    • 98. (tie) Ohio (6-6). Despite finishing with a winning record for the sixth straight season, the Bobcats were left out of the bowl picture. Ohio had gone to bowls from 2009-13, winning twice.
    • 98. (tie) Ball State (5-7)
    • 97. Kansas (3-9)
    • 96. Old Dominion (6-6)
    • 95. Bowling Green (7-6)
    • 94. Syracuse (3-9)
    • 93. South Alabama (6-6)
    • 92. Purdue (3-9)
    • 91. Iowa State (2-10)

Nos. 90-61

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    Central Michigan figured it would get a bowl invitation this year, thanks to a 7-5 record, after getting shut out in 2013 despite going 6-6. But how the Chippewas found out their bowl destination was a thing of beauty.

    Six bowl logos were shown on a screen, with the CMU players waiting to find out which would be the one they'd be involved in. With the Jeopardy theme playing, logos slowly were taken off the screen until it came down to the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit and the Bahamas Bowl. After a countdown, images of the Atlantis Resort in Nassau came on the screen, and the players went nuts.

    The Chippewas will play Western Kentucky, whom they faced in the 2012 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

    • 90. Colorado (2-10)
    • 89. Texas State (7-5)
    • 88. Appalachian State (7-5)
    • 87. Middle Tennessee (6-6)
    • 86. Indiana (4-8)
    • 85. Fresno State (6-7). The Bulldogs lost to Boise State in the Mountain West title game on Saturday, but despite a losing record they'll still go bowling. The league had passed a provision earlier in the season that guaranteed division champions a bowl invite, regardless of record, and Fresno was picked to play Rice in the Hawaii Bowl. 
    • 84. Central Michigan (7-5)
    • 82. (tie) Washington State (3-9)
    • 82. (tie) UTEP (7-5)
    • 81. Temple (6-6)
    • 80. UAB (6-6)
    • 79. Oregon State (5-7)
    • 78. Texas Tech (4-8)
    • 77. Rice (7-5)
    • 76. Western Kentucky (7-5)
    • 74. (tie) Northwestern (5-7)
    • 74. (tie) Arkansas State (7-5)
    • 73. Western Michigan (8-4)
    • 72. Illinois (6-6)
    • 70. (tie) Michigan (5-7). The Wolverines pulled the trigger on coach Brady Hoke's tenure on Dec. 2, firing him after four seasons that saw fewer wins year over year throughout. 
    • 70. (tie) Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
    • 69. California (5-7)
    • 67. (tie) Virginia (5-7)
    • 67. (tie) San Diego State (7-5)
    • 65. (tie) Navy (6-5)
    • 65. (tie) Kentucky (5-7)
    • 64. Rutgers (7-5)
    • 62. (tie) North Carolina (6-6)
    • 62. (tie) Georgia Southern (9-3)
    • 61. Nevada (7-5) 

Nos. 60-51

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    Despite winning records in the past two seasons, including 7-5 this year, Houston fired coach Tony Levine on Monday after three seasons.

    The Cougars are set to play Pittsburgh in the Armed Forces Bowl on Jan. 2 in Fort Worth, Texas. The team will be coached by defensive coordinator David Gibbs.

    • 60. Toledo (8-4)
    • 59. Houston (7-5)
    • 58. North Carolina State (7-5)
    • 56. (tie) Virginia Tech (6-6)
    • 56. (tie) Pittsburgh (6-6)
    • 55. Penn State (6-6)
    • 54. Oklahoma State (6-6). The Cowboys avoided finishing with a losing record for the first time since 2005 with a come-from-behind 38-35 win in overtime at rival Oklahoma on Saturday. Tyreek Hill returned a punt 92 yards for the tying touchdown with 45 seconds left to force OT. 
    • 53. East Carolina (8-4)
    • 52. Air Force (9-3)
    • 51. Maryland (7-5)

50. Miami Hurricanes

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    Average rating: 46.5

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 27 vs. South Carolina in Independence Bowl

    Miami (6-6) takes a three-game losing streak into its bowl game, having fallen to Florida State, Virginia and Pittsburgh in November after a 6-3 start.

    The Hurricanes showed promise behind freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya, who threw for 2,962 yards and 25 touchdowns, while Duke Johnson came back from a season-ending injury in 2013 to rush for 1,520 yards and 10 TDs.

49. Boston College Eagles

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    Average rating: 46.0

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 27 vs. Penn State in Pinstripe Bowl

    Boston College (7-5) recorded the same record as last season despite losing nearly all of its offensive playmakers, rallying behind new quarterback Tyler Murphy and a strong run game.

    Murphy, a Florida transfer, ran for an ACC quarterback record 1,079 yards and 10 touchdowns to go with 1,526 passing yards and 11 scores. The Eagles averaged 251.8 rushing yards per game, 15th-best in FBS.

48. Utah State Aggies

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    Average rating: 45.5

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 20 vs. UTEP in New Mexico Bowl

    Utah State (9-4) reached nine wins for a third straight season, and will play in a bowl for the fourth consecutive year despite having to start four different quarterbacks in 2014.

    Freshman Kent Myers started the final five games, going 4-1 and accounting for 1,038 yards of total offense with nine touchdowns. The Aggies have won their last two bowl games, and now face a UTEP team making its first bowl appearance since 2010.

47. South Carolina Gamecocks

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    Average rating: 44.5

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 27 vs. Miami (Florida) in Independence Bowl

    South Carolina (6-6) is playing in a bowl for the seventh straight year, but after spending the past three in New Year's Day games in Florida a post-Christmas trip to Shreveport, Louisiana, doesn't have the same ring to it.

    The Gamecocks had a very uneven season, losing three times at home after beginning the year with an 18-game win streak in Williams-Brice Stadium. They also lost to rival Clemson for the first time in six years, despite Dylan Thompson setting a school single-season passing record with 3,280 yards along with 24 touchdowns.

46. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

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    Average rating: 44.0

    Week 15 result: Lost 26-23 at Marshall in Conference USA championship

    Up next: Dec. 26 vs. Illinois in Heart of Dallas Bowl

    Louisiana Tech (8-5) came up just short in its bid for its first conference title since 2011, giving up a touchdown with 1:50 left to lose at Marshall.

    The Bulldogs jumped out to a 10-0 lead and led 23-16 entering the fourth quarter after Kenneth Dixon's 19-yard touchdown run late in the third. Dixon ran for 156 yards and three touchdowns.

    Tech held Marshall to season lows in points and yards, and now has a chance to win a bowl game for the first time since falling to falling to TCU in the 2011 Poinsettia Bowl.

45. Texas Longhorns

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    Average rating: 43.5

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 29 vs. Arkansas in Texas Bowl

    Texas (6-6) won three of four down the stretch to get into a bowl game in Charlie Strong's first season as coach, using defense to lead the way.

    The Longhorns ranked 27th in the country in yards allowed, forcing 22 turnovers during the season. Their offense struggled for most of the year, but quarterback Tyrone Swoopes finished with 2,352 passing yards and 13 touchdowns.

44. BYU Cougars

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    Average rating: 40.83

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 22 vs. Memphis in Miami Beach Bowl

    BYU (8-4) was the first team to lock up a bowl bid, setting up an agreement to play in the Miami Beach Bowl earlier in the season. The Cougars are bowling for a 10th straight year.

    Despite the loss of quarterback Taysom Hill to injury in the fifth game of the season, BYU's offense remained strong. Christian Stewart took over the job and finished with 2,273 passing yards and 22 touchdowns, including 433 yards and five TDs in the final game against California.

43. Iowa Hawkeyes

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    Average rating: 40.5

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Jan. 2 vs. Tennessee in TaxSlayer Bowl

    Iowa (7-5) gets to play in a Florida-based bowl game for the second straight year despite finishing in fourth place in the Big Ten's West Division. The Hawkeyes lost four of six to end the season, including two in a row to Wisconsin and Nebraska.

    Quarterback Jake Rudock threw for 2,404 yards and 16 touchdowns, while Mark Weisman had 14 rushing touchdowns.

    Iowa is facing Missouri for the second time in a bowl in the past four years, beating the Tigers in the 2010 Insight Bowl.

42. Washington Huskies

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    Average rating: 40.0

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Jan. 2 vs. Oklahoma State in Cactus Bowl

    Washington (8-5) made a smooth transition from one coach to another, matching last year's eight wins as new coach Chris Petersen installed his system in Seattle.

    The Huskies had inconsistency on offense, but their defense was loaded with playmakers. That included FBS sack leader Hau'oli Kikaha, who had 18 on the season, along with two-way linebacker Shaq Thompson.

41. Northern Illinois Huskies

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    Average rating: 39.6

    Week 15 result: Won 51-17 vs. Bowling Green in Mid-American championship

    Up next: Dec. 22 vs. Marshall in Miami Beach Bowl

    Northern Illinois (11-2) avenged last season's loss to Bowling Green in the conference title game, earning its third MAC title in four years with a dominant performance in Detroit.

    The Huskies scored 24 straight points in the second half to turn a 10-point halftime lead into a runaway, with Cameron Stingily rushing for two touchdowns during that stretch. Stingily ran for 117 yards, part of a team rushing total of 334.

    NIU held Bowling Green to 287 yards and forced four interceptions.

    The Huskies now get to face a fellow conference champ, Conference USA winner Marshall, in South Florida.

40. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    Average rating: 39.5

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 30 vs. LSU in Music City Bowl

    Notre Dame (7-5) had a rough second half in 2014, going from 6-0 and nearly knocking off defending champion Florida State to finishing on a four-game losing streak. Still, the Fighting Irish will play in a bowl game for the fifth consecutive season.

    Turnovers were the Irish's main issue, particularly those committed by quarterback Everett Golson. He had 20 of Notre Dame's 26 giveaways, negating his 3,355 passing yards and 37 total touchdowns.

39. Tennessee Volunteers

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    Average rating: 39.0

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Jan. 2 vs. Iowa in TaxSlayer Bowl

    Tennessee (6-6) is headed for its first bowl since 2010, while a victory over Iowa would give the Volunteers their most victories in a season since 2009.

    The emergence of quarterback Joshua Dobbs late in the season propelled this young team into bowl eligibility. The sophomore had 1,470 yards of total offense and accounted for 14 touchdowns in just five games.

38. UCF Knights

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    Average rating: 37.2

    Week 15 result: Won 32-30 at East Carolina

    Up next: Dec. 26 vs. North Carolina State in St. Petersburg Bowl

    UCF (9-3) earned a piece of its second consecutive American Athletic Conference title in dramatic fashion, scoring on a Hail Mary pass as time expired for a thrilling win at East Carolina.

    Justin Holman's desperation 51-yard pass was caught by Breshad Perriman, who was fortunate to have multiple East Carolina defenders jump too soon in front of him.

    The Knights, which won the Fiesta Bowl last season after claiming the American title, finished tied atop the league standings with Memphis and Cincinnati. They didn't face either of those teams during the regular season.

37. Cincinnati Bearcats

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    Average rating: 35.5

    Week 15 result: Won 38-31 vs. Houston

    Up next: Dec. 27 vs. Virginia Tech in Military Bowl

    Cincinnati (9-3) finished in a three-way tie for first place in the American Athletic Conference by holding off Houston at home, stopping the Cougars at the 11-yard line in the final minutes.

    The Bearcats, who will share the title with Memphis and UCF, got three rushing touchdowns from Mike Boone while quarterbacks Gunner Kiel and Munchie Legaux combined for 348 passing yards and two Kiel TD passes.

36. West Virginia Mountaineers

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    Average rating: 34.17

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 29 vs. Texas A&M in Liberty Bowl

    West Virginia (7-5) is back in a bowl game after missing one last season, ending an 11-year bowl streak. The Mountaineers navigated a schedule that featured five teams that were ranked at the time of the game, including three of the final six teams in the playoff standings.

    Quarterback Clint Trickett and receiver Kevin White were a potent tandem, with Trickett throwing for 3,285 yards and 18 touchdowns and White hauling in 102 receptions for 1,318 yards and nine scores.

35. Colorado State Rams

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    Average rating: 33.4

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 20 vs. Utah in Las Vegas Bowl

    Colorado State (10-2) doesn't have a head coach, losing Jim McElwain to Florida on Dec. 4, but it does have the school's first 10-win season since 2002 and a chance to reach 11 victories for the first time since 1997.

    The Rams had one of the strongest offenses in the country this season, led by quarterback Garrett Grayson (3,779 yards, 32 touchdowns), running back Dee Hart (1,254 yards, 16 TDs) and receiver Rashard Higgins, who led FBS with 149.1 receiving yards per game and 17 scores.

    CSU will play former Mountain West foe Utah for the first time since 2010.

34. Duke Blue Devils

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    Average rating: 33.0

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 27 vs. Arizona State in Sun Bowl

    Duke (9-3) will play in a school-record third straight bowl game, but it will also look for its first postseason victory since 1961.

    The Blue Devils finished tied for second in the ACC's Coastal Division, a year after winning the title and playing in the conference championship. This year's team was led offensively by quarterback Anthony Boone, who had 2,507 passing yards and 17 touchdowns.

    Duke is also looking to reach 10 wins in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history.

32. (tie) Texas A&M Aggies

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    Average rating: 32.5

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 29 vs. West Virginia in Liberty Bowl

    Texas A&M (7-5) began the season 5-0 but ended up in sixth place out of seven teams in the SEC West after its offense began to slack while the defense gave up too many big plays.

    The Aggies had a hot start under quarterback Kenny Hill, but he was eventually benched for freshman Kyle Allen. A&M's defense couldn't hold up for long stretches, though defensive end Myles Garrett did set the SEC freshman sack record with 11.

32. (tie) Stanford Cardinal

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    Average rating: 32.5

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 30 vs. Maryland in Foster Farms Bowl

    Stanford (7-5) will play in a sixth straight bowl game, overcoming an uneven offensive performance to finish its season close to home in Santa Clara, California.

    The Cardinal struggled with red-zone possessions in 2014, ranking 119th with a 71.4 percent conversion rate. Kevin Hogan threw for 2,603 yards and 17 touchdowns as Stanford's most consistent offensive weapon.

    On defense, Stanford ranked fifth in yards allowed, at 287.4 per game.

31. Memphis Tigers

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    Average rating: 30.4

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 22 vs. BYU in Miami Beach Bowl

    Memphis (9-3) will play in a bowl game for the first time since 2008 after earning a share of the American Athletic Conference title, its first championship of any kind since 1971.

    The Tigers, who were 3-9 a year ago, tied with Cincinnati and UCF for the American crown. They nearly doubled their scoring from 2013, from 19.5 to 34.7 points per game, while also ranking fifth in points allowed at 17.1 per game.

30. Florida Gators

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    Average rating: 30.0

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Jan. 3 vs. East Carolina in Birmingham Bowl

    Florida (6-5) managed to qualify for a bowl game despite a topsy-turvy season, one that led to coach Will Muschamp stepping down in November. The Gators already have their next coach, hiring Jim McElwain from Colorado State on Dec. 4, but defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin will coach the team in their bowl.

    The Gators had a big win over Georgia to help their season, but also had bad home losses to Missouri and South Carolina. Its offense ranked 94th in the country, but thanks to a solid defense Florida was able to avoid missing bowls in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1984-86.

29. Marshall Thundering Herd

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    Average rating: 28.2

    Week 15 result: Won 26-23 vs. Louisiana Tech in Conference USA championship

    Up next: Dec. 23 vs. Northern Illinois in Miami Beach Bowl

    Marshall (12-1) became the first FBS team to win conference title games in multiple leagues, rallying late at home to knock off Louisiana Tech and avoid a two-game losing streak.

    The Thundering Herd got a five-yard touchdown catch from Deon-Tay McManus with 1:50 left, part of a 10-0 run to end the game, winning the C-USA title this season after losing at Rice in 2013. Marshall also won Mid-American Conference titles in 1997-99.

    Rakeem Cato threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns, his FBS-record 45th straight game with a TD pass. The Herd were held to season lows in points and yards a week after scoring 66 points in an overtime loss to Western Kentucky.

28. Minnesota Golden Gophers

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    Average rating: 28.0

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Jan. 1 vs. Missouri in Citrus Bowl

    Minnesota (8-4) tied for second in the Big Ten's West Division, a spot that earned the Golden Gophers their first New Year's Day bowl game since the 1962 Rose Bowl.

    The Gophers have lost six consecutive bowl games, dating back to 2005, falling last year to Syracuse in the Texas Bowl. Stars from that team have been key contributors on offense this season, with quarterback Mitch Leidner accounting for 20 touchdowns and David Cobb rushing for 1,548 yards and 13 TDs.

    Minnesota is going for its first nine-win season since 2003.

26. (tie) Utah Utes

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    Average rating: 26.5

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 20 vs. Colorado State in Las Vegas Bowl

    Utah (8-4) will play in a bowl game for the first time since 2011, riding its defense to an eight-win season.

    The Utes led FBS in sacks with 52 this season, led by Nate Orchard's 17.5, which enabled them to win at Michigan, Stanford and UCLA.

    Running back Devontae Booker emerged as Utah's best offensive weapon, rushing for 1,350 yards and nine touchdowns.

26. (tie) Arkansas Razorbacks

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    Average rating: 26.5

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 29 vs. Texas in Texas Bowl

    Arkansas (6-6) used a pair of late-season shutout victories to end a 17-game SEC losing streak and reach bowl eligibility for the first time since the 2011 season. Now the Razorbacks get to face another former Southwest Conference rival, playing Texas in a bowl after already playing Texas A&M and Texas Tech this year.

    With a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins, the Razorbacks averaged 220.3 yards per game on the ground. Its defense rose to 24th in yards allowed by season's end.

25. Oklahoma Sooners

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    Average rating: 25.2

    Week 15 result: Lost 38-35 (in OT) vs. Oklahoma State

    Up next: Dec. 29 vs. Clemson in Russell Athletic Bowl

    Oklahoma (8-4) blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead, giving up a punt return touchdown in the final minute of regulation and then failing to score in overtime to fall to its rival in the annual Bedlam game that was as crazy as ever.

    The Sooners led 28-14 at halftime and 35-21 with 7:54 left, but then yielded two scores in the final five minutes. The equalizer, a 92-yard punt return score by Tyreek Hill, came after Oklahoma chose to re-kick following a five-yard penalty for running into the kicker.

    In OT, Michael Hunnicutt missed a 44-yard field goal, setting up Oklahoma State's winning kick. It was Oklahoma's third home loss this season.

24. USC Trojans

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    Average rating: 24.6

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 27 vs. Nebraska in Holiday Bowl

    USC (8-4) is in a bowl for a third year in a row after missing two seasons of postseason games while facing NCAA sanctions. The Trojans get to drive down the coast to San Diego, where they have never played in a bowl game before.

    Quarterback Cody Kessler had a superb season, throwing for 3,505 yards and 36 touchdowns, while running back Javorius Allen ran for 1,337 yards and nine scores. Receiver Nelson Agholor added 97 receptions for 1,223 yards and 11 TDs.

    USC has won four straight bowl games played in its home state.

23. Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    Average rating: 24.3

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 27 vs. USC in Holiday Bowl

    Nebraska (9-3) is heading to San Diego for its bowl game, its third trip there in six years. This time it won't be led by coach Bo Pelini, as he was fired Nov. 30 despite a seventh straight season of at least nine victories.

    The Cornhuskers have already found Pelini's replacement, making a surprise hire on Dec. 4 when it lured Mike Riley away from Oregon State. He won't coach the bowl, though, as assistant Barney Cotton will be in charge.

    Running back Ameer Abdullah has run for 1,523 yards and 18 touchdowns this season, giving him 4,500 rushing yards for his career. He needs 281 yards to pass Mike Rozier for the school career record.

22. Boise State Broncos

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    Average rating: 22.6

    Week 15 result: Won 28-14 vs. Fresno State in Mountain West championship

    Up next: Dec. 31 vs. Arizona in Fiesta Bowl

    Boise State (11-2) gets to return to the site of its greatest football achievement after knocking off Fresno State for its first Mountain West championship. The Broncos will play in the Fiesta Bowl for the third time, the first of those coming in 2007 when they beat Oklahoma.

    Riding an eight-game win streak, Boise jumped out to a 28-0 lead before letting its defense do the rest of the work. Grant Hedrick threw for 155 yards but added 81 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while Jay Ajayi ran for 70 yards and a score to give him 25 rushing TDs this season.

    Tanner Vallejo returned an interception 63 yards for a TD, one of three picks Boise made off Fresno State quarterback Brian Burrell.

21. LSU Tigers

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    Average rating: 22.2

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 30 vs. Notre Dame in Music City Bowl

    LSU (8-4) finished in a tie for fourth in the SEC's West Division, but still managed to get a big-time bowl matchup by being paired against Notre Dame. It will be the schools' first meeting since the Tigers crushed Notre Dame in the 2007 Sugar Bowl.

    The Tigers struggled offensively this season, with neither quarterback Brandon Harris nor Anthony Jennings managing to play consistent ball. The run game improved as the season went on, with freshman Leonard Fournette ending up as the team leader with 891 yards and eight touchdowns.

    LSU's defense remained strong, ranking eighth in yards allowed.

20. Louisville Cardinals

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    Average rating: 21.4

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 30 vs. Georgia in Belk Bowl

    Louisville (9-3) gets to play relatively close to home for its first bowl game as a member of the ACC, going 5-3 in the conference while also knocking off Kentucky and Notre Dame for a successful first year under Bobby Petrino in his return to the program.

    The Cardinals ranked sixth in total defense this season, with safety Gerod Holliman tying an FBS record with 15 interceptions. Louisville is best against the run, allowing 93.7 yards per game, which ranks third in the country.

    Louisville's offense went through three quarterbacks this year, but the midseason return of wide receiver Devante Parker provided a major boost.

19. Clemson Tigers

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    Average rating: 20.0

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 29 vs. Oklahoma in Russell Athletic Bowl

    Clemson (9-3) has a chance for a fourth straight 10-win season, but the way it got to this point is far different than in previous seasons.

    The Tigers' defense carried the mantle in 2014, ranking first in yards allowed at 259.6 per game. They allowed 17 or fewer points in seven games, helping to stay in contention despite an offense that dealt with constant injuries on top of the loss of several key players from previous potent attacks.

    Freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson proved to be very injury-prone, first breaking a bone in his throwing hand and then tearing a knee ligament. He played in Clemson's season-ending win against South Carolina despite a torn ACL.

18. Arizona State Sun Devils

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    Average rating: 18.0

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 27 vs. Duke in Sun Bowl

    Arizona State (9-3) finished in a tie for second in the Pac-12 South Division, but because of how the conference's bowl partners picked teams the Sun Devils ended up getting shipped to El Paso for its final game of 2014.

    Quarterback Taylor Kelly has thrown for 1,874 yards and 20 touchdowns, while backup Mike Bercovici tossed in 1,445 yards and 12 TDs. D.J. Foster ran for 1,002 yards and nine TDs along with 59 receptions for 646 yards and three scores.

    Last year's Pac-12 South champs have lost four of their last five bowl games, including last year's 37-23 loss to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl.

16. (tie) Wisconsin Badgers

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    Average rating: 17.2

    Week 15 result: Lost 59-0 vs. Ohio State in Big Ten championship

    Up next: Jan. 1 vs. Auburn in Outback Bowl

    Wisconsin (10-3) came up way short in its bid to win a third conference title in the past four seasons, getting shut out for the first time since 1997.

    Melvin Gordon could never get into gear, finishing with 76 yards on 26 carries and no run longer than 13 years. Gordon, a Heisman finalist, has 2,336 yards and would need to rush for 293 in the Outback Bowl to become the single-season FBS rushing leader.

    Joel Stave had to throw 43 times, 14 more than in any other game this season, and he completed only 17 throws for 187 yards with three TDs.

    Wisconsin allowed 558 yards, more than double the 260.3 per game it gave up in the regular season.

16. (tie) Auburn Tigers

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    Average rating: 17.2

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Jan. 1 vs. Wisconsin in Outback Bowl

    Auburn (8-4) played for the national title last season, and expected to contend for another championship game shot this year. However, poor defense and less production on offense combined with a gauntlet of a schedule means the Tigers had to settle for a good New Year's Day bowl game against a Big Ten opponent.

    Nick Marshall had 3,095 yards of total offense with 29 touchdowns this season, increasing his passing production but rushing for less. The Tigers rank 12th in rushing, at 258.5 yards per game, but that's far below their nation-leading 328.3 average from a year ago.

    Cameron Artis-Payne gained 1,482 yards with 11 TDs on the ground, but Auburn allowed at least 31 points in its last six SEC games to finish tied for fourth in the West Division.

15. UCLA Bruins

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Average rating: 15.2

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Jan. 2 vs. Kansas State in Alamo Bowl

    UCLA (9-3) was perfect away from home this season, including a September win over Texas in Arlington. The Bruins had hoped to get to back to that stadium, site of the national championship game, but a trio of home losses kept them from winning the Pac-12 South Division.

    Instead, UCLA gets to finish the season in a different dome in the Lone Star State, facing the Big 12's Kansas State in San Antonio.

    It could be the final game for junior quarterback Brett Hundley, who chose not to go pro after last season but is likely to declare for the draft this time around. He was injured early in the Bruins' win the last time they were in Texas, but he rebounded to throw for 3,019 yards with 21 touchdowns.

14. Missouri Tigers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Average rating: 14.6

    Week 15 result: Lost 42-13 vs. Alabama in SEC championship

    Up next: Jan. 1 vs. Minnesota in Citrus Bowl

    Missouri (10-3) was already facing an uphill battle trying to tame Alabama's offense, but that task got much worse when standout defensive end Shane Ray was ejected for targeting early in the second quarter. After that, it was almost impossible for the Tigers to come back, though they did make a game of it after three quarters.

    Maty Mauk completed only 16 of 34 passes, but that went for 272 yards thanks to some long throws to Jimmie Hunt, who had six catches for 169 yards. But Mizzou ran for only 41 yards, while allowing 242 on the ground.

    The Tigers have now been outscored 101-55 in the past two SEC title games, losing 59-42 to Auburn last season.

13. Arizona Wildcats

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Average rating: 14.4

    Week 15 result: Lost 51-13 vs. Oregon in Pac-12 championship

    Up next: Dec. 31 vs. Boise State in Fiesta Bowl

    Arizona (10-3) couldn't repeat the magic of its first win over Oregon, instead getting crushed by the Ducks from kickoff until the final whistle. It didn't end up hurting the Wildcats in the long run, as they landed a spot in a major bowl game.

    The Wildcats were held to a season-low 224 yards, with quarterback Anu Solomon throwing for only 34 yards on 6-of-12 passing before getting pulled at halftime. Nick Wilson ran for just 26 yards, and Arizona's defense gave up 504 yards and a season high in points.

    Arizona has reached the 10-win plateau for the first time since 1998, and is playing in the Fiesta for the first time since 1994.

12. Georgia Bulldogs

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Average rating: 12.4

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 30 vs. Louisville in Belk Bowl

    Georgia (9-3) likely would have ended up in the Peach Bowl had it not lost to Georgia Tech in overtime in its regular-season finale. Instead, the Bulldogs head to Charlotte for a matchup with Louisville that's teeming with storylines.

    Former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is coaching Louisville's defense, which ranks sixth in the country in yards allowed. Additionally, two ex-Bulldogs who left the program in the offseason are on the Cardinals' roster, though defensive backs Josh Harvey-Clemons and Shaq Wiggins are sitting out this season per transfer rules.

    The Bulldogs won't have running back Todd Gurley, who tore his ACL in November and likely is done playing college football, but they will have star freshman rusher Nick Chubb. Chubb has run for 1,281 yards and 12 touchdowns, including seven straight 100-yard efforts.

11. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Average rating: 11.2

    Week 15 result: Lost 37-35 vs. Florida State in ACC championship

    Up next: Dec. 31 vs. Mississippi State in Orange Bowl

    Georgia Tech (10-3) had its option run game moving with ease during the first half of the ACC title game, but without the ability to slow down Florida State the Yellow Jackets couldn't hold their early lead. And forced to throw in the second half, quarterback Justin Thomas couldn't get the job done.

    Thomas threw for 134 yards and a touchdown along with 104 rushing yards, part of 331 on the ground. But an interception with 3:22 left slowed Tech's ability to make the comeback.

    Tech allowed 488 yards, including 179 on the ground, falling to FSU in the ACC final for the second time in three seasons. Still, as the top-rated team from the conference after the champs, the Yellow Jackets landed their first Orange Bowl bid since 2010.

10. Kansas State Wildcats

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Average rating: 10.4

    Week 15 result: Lost 38-27 at Baylor

    Up next: Jan. 2 vs. UCLA in Alamo Bowl

    Kansas State (9-3) missed out on a piece of the Big 12 title, but at the same time impacted the conference's shot at a playoff spot by falling at Baylor in a relatively close game.

    The Wildcats never led, but they also never trailed by more than 14 points, staying in the game behind the work of quarterback Jake Waters (300 yards, two touchdowns on 22-of-27 passing) and receiver Tyler Lockett (14 receptions, 158 yards, one touchdowns). Lockett's TD, an eight-yard catch in the fourth quarter, was the 27th for his career, passing father Kevin Lockett's school record.

    K-State couldn't slow down Baylor, though, giving up 584 yards, including 412 to Bears quarterback Bryce Petty.

    The Wildcats now have a chance to reach 10 wins for the third time in four seasons.

9. Ole Miss Rebels

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Average rating: 10.0

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 31 vs. TCU in Peach Bowl

    Ole Miss (9-3) lost three of five after a 7-0 start, its defense starting to wear down in the final weeks. But with more than a month to get healthy and prepare, the Rebels' "Landsharks" should be at full strength and ready to tangle with a talented TCU offense.

    Bo Wallace will play his final college game, having thrown for 3,085 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. Wallace failed to throw a touchdown pass in his last two games, while getting intercepted three times.

    The Rebels are headed to a bowl for the first straight year, and have an overall six-game winning streak in bowl games.

8. Mississippi State Bulldogs

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Average rating: 8.6

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Dec. 31 vs. Georgia Tech in Orange Bowl

    Mississippi State (10-2) lost two of three after a 9-0 start to fall out of the race for the playoffs and an SEC title, but the Bulldogs still get a marquee bowl game to cap one of the best seasons in school history.

    Quarterback Dak Prescott could be playing his final college game in Miami, where he'll put his 3,935 yards of total offense and 37 touchdowns up against Georgia Tech's aggressive defense. Josh Robinson has run for 1,128 yards and 11 TDs, but in his last five games he's gained only 241 yards with five TDs.

    The Bulldogs will look for their first 11-win season in school history.

7. Michigan State Spartans

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    Joe Sargent/Getty Images

    Average rating: 7.8

    Week 15 result: Off

    Up next: Jan. 1 vs. Baylor in Cotton Bowl

    Michigan State (10-2) was the highest-rated team in our power rankings not to play this past weekend, which just means the Spartans will be more rested for their New Year's Day clash with Baylor. But that didn't mean they had an extra week to game-plan for stopping the Bears, since the bowl announcement wasn't made until Sunday.

    MSU finished in second in the Big Ten's East Division, its losses coming to a pair of playoff teams (Ohio State and Oregon). In its 10 wins, the average margin of victory was 30.9 points, including winning its last three by a combined score of 116-28.

    Connor Cook has thrown for 2,900 yards and 22 touchdowns, while Jeremy Langford has 1,360 rushing yards and 19 scores and receiver Tony Lippett has 1,124 yards and 10 TDs. The Spartans' defense is ranked seven in the country, allowing 293.5 yards per game.

6. Baylor Bears

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Average rating: 5.6

    Week 15 result: Won 38-27 vs. Kansas State

    Up next: Jan. 1 vs. Michigan State in Cotton Bowl

    Baylor (11-1) earned its share of the Big 12 title, an award it deserved to have outright by virtue of its win earlier this season over TCU, but that wasn't enough to get the Bears a playoff spot.

    Despite 412 passing yards and two total touchdowns from quarterback Bryce Petty, Baylor's win did nothing more than ensure a second straight conference championship and another New Year's Day bowl appearance. The Bears lost to UCF in last year's Fiesta Bowl.

    Had Baylor been able to dominate more—as Ohio State did in the Big Ten final—things might have been different, but after taking a 21-7 lead the Bears couldn't build their advantage as Kansas State kept hanging tough. The Bears gave up 403 yards, above their season average of allowing 364.5 yards per game.

5. Florida State Seminoles

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Average rating: 5.0

    Week 15 result: Won 37-35 vs. Georgia Tech in ACC championship

    Up next: Jan. 1 vs. Oregon in Rose Bowl (national semifinals)

    Florida State (13-0) did more of what we've become used to this season from the defending national champions, falling behind early and then rallying to win a third straight conference title and a 29th consecutive victory.

    Style points again didn't matter, as the Seminoles moved up to third in the final playoff rankings to earn a shot to repeat as champions.

    "Last year's team was dominating, this year's team is more amazing," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher told The Associated Press (h/t ESPN). "They compete together. They have had some struggles together and I think that's what makes them so tight."

    Despite giving up 331 yards and falling behind three times in the first quarter, the Seminoles never trailed by more than seven and led 28-21 at halftime. After Georgia Tech knotted it at 28 early in the third quarter, FSU slowed down the option game and used three Roberto Aguayo field goals in the second half to fuel the victory.

    Jameis Winston threw for 309 yards and three touchdowns on 21-of-30 passing, while Dalvin Cook ran for 177 yards and a TD.

4. TCU Horned Frogs

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Average rating: 4.8

    Week 15 result: Won 55-3 vs. Iowa State

    Up next: Dec. 31 vs. Ole Miss in Peach Bowl

    TCU (11-1) won a share of the Big 12 title with a blowout win over listless Iowa State, a team it could have easily scored 70-plus points on, but the Horned Frogs still couldn't parlay their season into a playoff bid as the conference was shut out of the semifinals.

    Going for style points as much as flat-out dominance, TCU opened up the playbook and had quarterback Trevone Boykin catch a 55-yard touchdown pass to go with a career-high 460 passing yards and four TDs. That performance wasn't good enough to land Boykin a Heisman ceremony invite, as he didn't finish in the top three in voting.

    Aaron Green added 104 rushing yards and a TD, while the Frogs' defense held Iowa State to 236 yards and got a 44-yard interception return score from Derrick Kindred.

    Despite the playoff snub, TCU gets a major bowl opportunity against Ole Miss, looking to reach 12 wins for the first time since 2010.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Average rating: 4.4

    Week 15 result: Won 59-0 vs. Wisconsin in Big Ten championship

    Up next: Jan. 1 vs. Alabama in Sugar Bowl (national semifinals)

    Ohio State (12-1) needed to make a major statement in the Big Ten title game in hopes of convincing the playoff selection committee it deserved a bid. Mission accomplished.

    The Buckeyes destroyed the Badgers, racking up 558 yards against a defense that came in allowing 260.3 yards per game while also shutting down prolific Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon. That performance helped land OSU its first Big Ten title since 2009 and a spot in the semifinals.

    Cardale Jones didn't look like a first-time starting quarterback, throwing for 257 yards and three touchdowns on 12-of-17 passing. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 220 yards and two touchdowns, including an 81-yard TD run, and Devin Smith caught all three of Jones' TD passes, with each going for 39 or more yards.

    OSU held Gordon to 76 yards on 26 carries and forced Joel Stave to throw 43 times, intercepting him three times. Joey Bosa added a fumble return TD.

2. Oregon Ducks

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Average rating: 2.6

    Week 15 result: Won 51-13 vs. Arizona in Pac-12 championship

    Up next: Jan. 1 vs. Florida State in Rose Bowl (national semifinals)

    Oregon (12-1) avenged its only loss of the season in dominant fashion, crushing Arizona in the Pac-12 title game behind a mix of unstoppable offense and punishing defense.

    It was hard to say which side looked more impressive, with Marcus Mariota all but guaranteeing a Heisman win with 313 passing yards and two touchdowns along with three rushing TDs and the Ducks holding Arizona to 224 yards and forcing two turnovers.

    "Just hand Mariota the Heisman Trophy now," wrote Brent Sobleski of NBC Sports. "Go on."

    Mariota has accounted for 53 touchdowns this season, while throwing only two interceptions. He'll get a chance to add to those numbers when No. 2 seed Oregon serves as the host school in the semifinals against defending national champion Florida State in the Rose Bowl.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Average rating: 1.0

    Week 15 result: Won 42-13 vs. Missouri in SEC championship

    Up next: Jan. 1 vs. Ohio State in Sugar Bowl (national semifinals)

    Alabama (12-1) locked up the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, as well as a bowl game close to home, by wearing down Missouri's strong defense in the second half of the SEC title game in Atlanta.

    The Crimson Tide had a 21-3 halftime lead, then slacked in the third quarter to take only an eight-point edge into the final period, before scoring three touchdowns to make a blowout of it. They ran for 242 yards against a Missouri defense allowing 126.4 yards per game coming in, with Derrick Henry (141 yards, two touchdowns) and T.J. Yeldon (47 yards, two TDs) pacing that attack.

    Blake Sims threw for 262 yards and two TDs on 23-of-27 passing, looking primed and ready for a playoff run in his first season as a starter.

    "We're well past the time where he should still be treated as a 'system' quarterback," wrote Gary Laney of Cleveland.com.

    Alabama takes an eight-game win streak into the semifinal game against Ohio State.

    Statistical information courtesy of CFBStats.com.

    Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.