College Football Rankings: Bleacher Report's Week 11 Top 25
Just another uneventful weekend of college football, huh? Hardly.
Steeled by the release of the first playoff rankings and a long list of great matchups, Week 10 had a lot of hype and lived up to it. And along the way, five of the 11 unbeaten teams lost for the first time in 2015.
We have another new No. 1 team in the Bleacher Report Top 25, along with plenty of movement throughout the rankings.
Twenty 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 and Eric Yates.
First-place votes were worth 25 points, with each subsequent rank worth one fewer point, all the way down to one for 25th place. The 25 highest vote-getters made our list, with the rest falling into the "others receiving votes" category.
See where everyone falls after Week 10, then give us your thoughts in the comments section.
Others Receiving Votes
USC won its third straight game under interim coach Clay Helton, pulling out a 38-30 home win over Arizona to become bowl-eligible. However, that wasn't enough to vault the Trojans back into the rankings.
Here's a look at all of the teams that received votes, yet not enough to reach the Top 25 this week.
- Ole Miss (33)
- USC (23)
- Oregon (13)
- Georgia (11)
- Tennessee (8)
- Washington State (8)
- Auburn (5)
- Boise State (5)
- BYU (5)
- Texas A&M (2)
- Toledo (2)
No. 25 Wisconsin Badgers
Voting points: 48
Last week's ranking: Not ranked
Week 10 result: Won 31-24 at Maryland
Week 11 matchup: Bye
Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) won its fifth straight game despite its lowest yardage output since the season-opening loss to Alabama, getting a big play on special teams early and enough stops on defense to remain alive in the West Division race.
Natrell Jamerson returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown midway through the first quarter after Maryland took a 7-0 lead, then the Badgers went ahead for good later in the first on a 21-yard TD run from Dare Ogunbowale. Ogunbowale ran for 47 yards and also had a TD catch in the fourth quarter that gave the Badgers a 31-17 lead.
Wisconsin managed only 305 yards, including just 117 on the ground, but two interceptions by former quarterback Tanner McEvoy helped prevent an upset.
No. 24 Memphis Tigers
Voting points: 58
Last week's ranking: 15th
Week 10 result: Lost 45-20 vs. Navy
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 at Houston
Memphis (8-1, 4-1 American) saw its 15-game win streak come to an end and also is likely to fall back in the race to earn the non-power-conference bid to a major bowl game. The Tigers also find themselves in third place in the West Division with a trip to unbeaten Houston coming up next weekend.
Paxton Lynch threw for 305 yards and a touchdown along with an interception, just his second of the season, but he was unable to move the ball as effectively as in previous games. The 20 points were Memphis' fewest of the season, and its defense struggled to slow down Navy's option run game.
Memphis allowed 459 yards, with 374 of that coming on the ground along with five rushing TDs.
No. 23 Navy Midshipmen
Voting points: 65
Last week's ranking: Not ranked
Week 10 result: Won 45-20 at Memphis
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 vs. SMU
Navy (7-1, 5-0 American) ended Memphis' faint hopes of making the College Football Playoff while throwing its own name into the ring for the Group of Five bid to a major bowl game, remaining perfect in its first season of conference play behind a dominant option run attack.
The Midshipmen ran for 374 yards and five touchdowns on 66 carries, with Chris Swain scoring three times with 108 yards on 18 carries. They also got a 75-yard passing TD from Keenan Reynolds, who ran for 38 yards but didn't score on the ground and thus remains tied with former Wisconsin star Montee Ball for the FBS career-rushing-TD mark of 77.
Navy, whose only loss was at Notre Dame, held Memphis to its lowest point total of the season and ended the Tigers' 15-game win streak. Per the school's Twitter account, it was Navy's first road win over a team ranked in the Top 15 of the Associated Press poll since winning at No. 8 Penn State in 1974.
No. 22 Northwestern Wildcats
Voting points: 74
Last week's ranking: Not ranked
Week 10 result: Won 23-21 vs. Penn State
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 vs. Purdue
Northwestern (7-2, 3-2 Big Ten) got a 35-yard field goal from Jack Mitchell with nine seconds left for the home victory, redeeming Mitchell after he'd missed two field goals and an extra point earlier in the game.
The Wildcats led 20-7 at halftime thanks to two touchdowns from quarterback Zack Oliver, who replaced injured starter Clayton Thorson, and a 96-yard kickoff-return TD from Solomon Vault. They didn't score again until Mitchell's game-winning kick, watching Penn State take a 21-20 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Oliver threw for 111 yards with a TD and an interception on 11-of-24 passing, while Justin Jackson ran for a career-high 186 yards on 28 carries.
No. 21 UCLA Bruins
Voting points: 116
Last week's ranking: 22nd
Week 10 result: Won 41-0 at Oregon State
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 vs. Washington State
UCLA (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) recorded its first shutout victory since 2007 for its third consecutive win, remaining in the running for the South Division title in the process.
Freshman quarterback Josh Rosen threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns, while running backs Soso Jamabo, Paul Perkins and Nate Starks each scored on run plays as part of a 284-yard ground effort. The Bruins had 674 yards to 246 for Oregon State and forced four Beavers turnovers.
UCLA's points all came in the second and third quarters, getting 24 before halftime, including two receiving TDs from Thomas Duarte.
No. 20 Temple Owls
Voting points: 117
Last week's ranking: 23rd
Week 10 result: Won 60-40 at SMU
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 at South Florida
Temple (8-1, 5-0 American) rebounded from its narrow home loss to Notre Dame with a wild Friday night triumph, needing every bit of its highest scoring output in three seasons.
The Owls got four touchdown passes from P.J. Walker, who threw for 268 yards and added 49 rushing yards with a score, while Jahad Thomas and Jager Gardner added rushing TDs. Gardner's went for 94 yards, a school record.
Temple had a 45-31 lead early in the fourth quarter but then allowed a safety and a kickoff-return TD. However, Walker iced the game with a 36-yard TD run with 1:45 left, and then Sean Chandler returned an interception 41 yards for a score.
No. 19 Mississippi State Bulldogs
Voting points: 127
Last week's ranking: 24th
Week 10 result: Won 31-13 at Missouri
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 vs. Alabama
Mississippi State (7-2, 3-2 SEC) won its fourth straight game behind another dominant effort from quarterback Dak Prescott, who topped 10,000 yards of total offense and 100 total touchdowns for his career in the win.
Prescott threw for 303 yards and four TDs and ran for 47 yards, connecting for scores twice with De'Runnya Wilson and once each with Fred Ross and Fred Brown. Both Ross and Wilson had more than 100 receiving yards.
MSU topped 30 points for the sixth time this season, including in each of its last four games.
No. 18 Florida State Seminoles
Voting points: 141
Last week's ranking: 17th
Week 10 result: Lost 23-13 at Clemson
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 vs. North Carolina State
Florida State (7-2, 5-2 ACC) will not be going to the conference title game for the first time since 2011 after giving up a halftime lead on the road, its second loss in three games after having won 28 straight ACC games.
The Seminoles got 194 rushing yards from Dalvin Cook, including 75 on a touchdown run just 45 seconds into the game. But after Cook went for 111 yards on his first two carries, he was limited to 83 on the next 19. He wasn't aided in the passing game, as Sean Maguire was just 16-of-29 for 164 yards with an interception in his second start for the injured Everett Golson.
FSU led 10-6 at the half and was tied at 13 midway through the fourth quarter before Clemson scored 10 unanswered points.
No. 17 Houston Cougars
Voting points: 167
Last week's ranking: 18th
Week 10 result: Won 33-30 vs. Cincinnati
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 vs. Memphis
Houston (9-0, 5-0 American) had its closest game since winning at Louisville in mid-September but never trailed thanks to nine points from its defense.
The Cougars got a 51-yard interception return for a touchdown by Brandon Wilson midway through the third quarter for a 28-14 lead, and five minutes later, the Cougars sacked Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel in the end zone for a safety. Otherwise, Kiel tore apart Houston's defense to the tune of 523 passing yards and four TDs.
Houston ran for 266 yards thanks to 119 from quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (who also threw for 161 yards and two TDs along with two interceptions) and 106 yards with a TD from Kenneth Farrow.
No. 16 North Carolina Tar Heels
Voting points: 169
Last week's ranking: 21st
Week 10 result: Won 66-31 vs. Duke
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 vs. Miami (Florida)
North Carolina (8-1, 5-0 ACC) is in the driver's seat for a spot in the ACC title game after obliterating its rivals behind a record-setting day from quarterback Marquise Williams.
Williams threw for a school-record 494 yards (404 of which came in the first half) and four touchdowns, and he also ran for a score. The Tar Heels led 38-10 at halftime thanks to three long TD passes, including an 89-yard throw to Ryan Switzer on their first offensive play.
Mack Hollins had five catches for 165 yards and a 74-yard TD catch, and Elijah Hood added three rushing scores as UNC gained 704 yards of total offense.
No. 15 Michigan Wolverines
Voting points: 223
Last week's ranking: 16th
Week 10 result: Won 49-16 vs. Rutgers
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 at Indiana
Michigan (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten) got a huge day from quarterback Jake Rudock to pace an easy home win over Rutgers, taking a 21-3 lead early in the second quarter and cruising to a season-high in points.
The Wolverines led 35-16 at halftime en route to gaining 487 yards while holding the Scarlet Knights to 225. Michigan got rushing touchdowns from four different players, including Rudock, who also threw for 337 yards and two TDs on 18-of-25 passing.
Rudock connected with 10 different receivers, throwing TD passes to Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, while Drake Johnson, Jabrill Peppers and De'Veon Smith joined Rudock with rushing scores.
No. 14 Michigan State Spartans
Voting points: 246
Last week's ranking: 6th
Week 10 result: Lost 39-38 at Nebraska
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 vs. Maryland
Michigan State (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten) had its 12-game winning streak come to an end in controversial fashion, as the Spartans allowed a 30-yard touchdown pass with 17 seconds left despite the receiver appearing to have gone out of bounds on his own prior to making the catch.
The play was upheld under review, and though the Spartans got into Nebraska territory on the ensuing possession, they were unable to attempt a long field goal after Connor Cook took too long to throw the ball away as time expired.
It was MSU's fifth game decided this year by seven or fewer points, including the 27-23 win at Michigan that it won on a blocked punt return as time expired. The Spartans led by 11 points entering the final period and were up 12 with 4:16 left but allowed two TDs in the final 1:47.
Cook threw for 335 yards and four TDs, while Gerald Holmes ran for 117 yards and a score in the loss.
No. 13 Utah Utes
Voting points: 263
Last week's ranking: 13th
Week 10 result: Won 34-23 at Washington
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 at Arizona
Utah (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) kept its lead in the South Division thanks to strong running from Devontae Booker and quarterback Travis Wilson as well as a defense that forced four turnovers.
Booker ran for 150 yards with a touchdown, and Wilson had two rushing scores to go with 155 passing yards. The Utes were held scoreless in the first quarter but then scored 24 points before halftime to lead by 11. Washington pulled it to 24-23 early in the fourth quarter, but Wilson had his second rushing TD with 3:27 left to build the lead back up.
Utah earned its first win in nine tries against Washington.
No. 12 TCU Horned Frogs
Voting points: 279
Last week's ranking: 4th (tied)
Week 10 result: Lost 49-29 at Oklahoma State
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 vs. Kansas
TCU (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) had its 16-game win streak come to an end in blowout fashion, falling behind 35-9 early in the third quarter and unable to make a massive comeback like in previous road games this season.
Trevone Boykin tallied 518 yards of total offense and accounted for three touchdowns, including two on the ground, but he was also intercepted four times for the first time in his career. Boykin had thrown only five picks in TCU's first eight games, and the performance might have cost the senior a chance at winning the Heisman while also making the Horned Frogs' road to a playoff spot that much tougher after entering the game sitting eighth in the playoff rankings.
“Unfortunately for Trevone Boykin, there's no overcoming a 4-INT game in a 20-point loss to win the Heisman,” Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel tweeted. “Best-case is finalist.”
A wrist injury to leading receiver Josh Doctson knocked him out in the first half and severely hampered TCU's offense despite outgaining OSU 663-456. The Horned Frogs pass defense allowed 375 yards and five TDs on just 18 completions.
No. 11 Florida Gators
Voting points: 288
Last week's ranking: 11th
Week 10 result: Won 9-7 vs. Vanderbilt
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 at South Carolina
Florida (8-1, 6-1 SEC) clinched the East Division title but was quite unimpressive in doing so, needing a 43-yard field goal with 2:22 left to avoid a major upset at home.
Austin Hardin's kick was the only scoring of the second half in a game that saw the Gators commit four turnovers and gain only 258 yards while holding Vanderbilt to 175 yards. And though they got the job done, the complete lack of offensive flow should be a major concern for the Gators as they prepare for the SEC title game and a potential playoff bid.
“The story of the 2015 SEC East division champion Florida Gators will be filled with the phrase, 'well, actually,'” Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee wrote.
Treon Harris threw for 158 yards with an interception on 12-of-24 passing, while Kelvin Taylor had a first-quarter touchdown run but managed just 47 yards on 17 carries.
No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners
Voting points: 292
Last week's ranking: 14th
Week 10 result: Won 52-16 vs. Iowa State
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 at Baylor
Oklahoma (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) scored 21 first-quarter points and never looked back en route to an easy home win, the last game it will play this season against a team with a losing record.
Baker Mayfield threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a score, and the Sooners gained 279 yards on the ground. Samaje Perine gained 95 yards with a TD, and Joe Mixon added 88 with a score.
Oklahoma gained 684 yards, the fourth time it has topped the 600-yard mark this season.
No. 9 LSU Tigers
Voting points: 344
Last week's ranking: 4th (tied)
Week 10 result: Lost 30-16 at Alabama
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 vs. Arkansas
LSU (7-1, 4-1 SEC) isn't out of the playoff race after suffering its first loss of the season, but it will likely find itself outside of the Top Four after being handily beaten on the road by the Crimson Tide.
The Tigers managed to force a 10-10 tie late in the second quarter, but after that it was all Alabama, which scored 20 unanswered points while LSU could barely move the ball. It finished with 182 yards of total offense, and workhorse running back Leonard Fournette was held to 31 yards, his fewest since a five-carry, nine-yard game last November against Arkansas.
Fournette had topped 100 yards in all nine games prior and came into Saturday leading FBS with 193.14 rushing yards per game.
With Fournette unable to go anywhere, Brandon Harris was forced to carry the offense, and he had only 128 yards with a touchdown and an interception on 6-of-19 passing.
Meanwhile, LSU gave up 210 rushing yards and three TDs to Alabama's Derrick Henry, resulting in its fifth consecutive loss to the Crimson Tide.
No. 8 Iowa Hawkeyes
Voting points: 347
Last week's ranking: 10th
Week 10 result: Won 35-27 at Indiana
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 vs. Minnesota
Iowa (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) handled a major challenge in Bloomington by scoring two touchdowns in a four-minute span in the fourth quarter.
The Hawkeyes led 21-20 when LeShun Daniels Jr. scored his second rushing TD of the game, a one-yard run with 10:07 left. C.J. Beathard then hit George Kittle for a 10-yard TD pass at the 6:03 mark to give them a 15-point edge.
Iowa ran for 234 yards, with Akrum Wadley going for 120 yards with a TD and Daniels adding 78. Beathard threw for 233 yards and a TD and added 38 rushing yards.
No. 7 Stanford Cardinal
Voting points: 374
Last week's ranking: 9th
Week 10 result: Won 42-10 at Colorado
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 vs. Oregon
Stanford (8-1, 7-0 Pac-12) won its eighth straight game, scoring at least 30 points in every one of them, controlling throughout after needing to make a comeback to win last week at Washington State.
Christian McCaffrey was an all-purpose star once again for the Cardinal, tallying 248 total yards, which included 147 on the ground while throwing a 28-yard touchdown pass to Austin Hooper. Kevin Hogan added 169 passing yards and two TDs along with a rushing score as the Cardinal ran for 275 yards.
Stanford held Colorado to 231 yards of total offense and forced two turnovers.
No. 6 Oklahoma State Cowboys
Voting points: 380
Last week's ranking: 12th
Week 10 result: Won 49-29 vs. TCU
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 at Iowa State
Oklahoma State (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) knocked off the first of three Top 25 opponents it plays host to this month, making it very evident that the conference title—and whether the league will get a team in the playoffs—will be determined in Stillwater.
The Cowboys led 28-9 at the half and kept the foot on the gas in the second half thanks to five touchdowns of 40 or more yards, four on long TD passes by Mason Rudolph. He threw for 352 yards and five TDs on just 16 completions, hitting James Washington for scores of 48, 50 and 74 yards as well as for 82 yards to Marcell Ateman.
OSU allowed 663 yards but intercepted TCU star Trevone Boykin four times, twice by Chad Whitener, who returned one of those 42 yards for a TD in the final minute.
The Cowboys, who have won 11 in a row, host unbeaten Baylor in two weeks and end the regular season at home against one-loss rival Oklahoma.
No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Voting points: 414
Last week's ranking: 8th
Week 10 result: Won 42-30 at Pittsburgh
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 vs. Wake Forest
Notre Dame (8-1) suffered another injury to a key contributor yet didn't miss a beat thanks to freshman quarterback DeShone Kizer.
Kizer threw for 262 yards with five touchdowns on 19-of-26 passing and also ran for a score, hooking up with top target Will Fuller seven times for 152 yards and three TDs. Fuller has 12 TD catches on just 44 receptions this season.
Running back C.J. Prosise suffered what coach Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly referred to as a “head, neck, shoulder” injury in the first half and did not return, per Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated. His replacement, Josh Adams, ran for 147 yards on 20 carries and added a five-yard TD catch.
No. 4 Baylor Bears
Voting points: 441
Last week's ranking: 2nd (tied)
Week 10 result: Won 31-24 at Kansas State
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 vs. Oklahoma
Baylor (8-0, 5-0 Big 12) looked no worse for the wear with freshman Jarrett Stidham at quarterback, but his big debut couldn't prevent a tight finish following the bye.
Stidham threw for 419 yards and three touchdowns on 23-of-33 passing, adding a rushing score, in his first start since replacing the injured Seth Russell. He connected with Corey Coleman 11 times for 216 yards and two TDs, giving Coleman 20 scores in just eight games.
“The win gives Stidham a good starting point and room to grow,” Bleacher Report's Ben Kercheval wrote. “A bad performance would have sounded much louder, scarier-sounding alarms.”
But the Bears struggled to run the ball, managing just 103 yards for their lowest output on the ground since last season's bowl loss to Michigan State. They came into the game averaging 338.3 rushing yards per game.
That, combined with Kansas State's ball-control attack, led to a one-score result that saw Baylor have to thwart a final drive to remain unbeaten. That was quickly accomplished when Terrell Burt intercepted a pass with 44 seconds left.
No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide
Voting points: 460 (one first-place vote)
Last week's ranking: 7th
Week 10 result: Won 30-16 vs. LSU
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 at Mississippi State
Alabama (8-1, 5-1 SEC) has retaken control of the West Division via the combination of running over LSU and Ole Miss' loss to Arkansas. And in the process, the Crimson Tide put themselves in great position to make the playoffs for a second year in a row.
The only one-loss team that was among the top four spots in the initial playoff rankings released Tuesday, the Tide showed they were worthy by outgaining the Tigers 434-182 and making LSU running back Leonard Fournette look like a mere mortal. Fournette, who came in averaging more than 193 rushing yards per game, had 31 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
Alabama's only bruising rusher, Derrick Henry, shined with 210 yards and three TDs on 38 carries. That took all of the pressure off quarterback Jake Coker, who was 18-of-24 for 184 yards.
The Tide led 13-10 at the half but took over after halftime, starting with an interception by Dillon Lee early in the third quarter to set up a touchdown. According to Bleacher Report's Christopher Walsh, Alabama coach Nick Saban believed that “might have been (the) turning point of the game.”
It was the fifth straight win for Alabama over LSU, starting with the 2012 BCS National Championship Game.
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes
Voting points: 465 (six first-place votes)
Last week's ranking: 1st
Week 10 result: Won 28-14 vs. Minnesota
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 at Illinois
Ohio State (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) didn't score on offense until just before halftime and led by only seven points with two minutes left in the fourth quarter, but in between it did enough to win its 22nd consecutive game.
The Buckeyes' first score came on a 16-yard interception return touchdown by Vonn Bell with 4:53 left in the first half, then Ezekiel Elliott scored on a 15-yard run with less than a minute before the half ended. Elliott ran for 114 yards, his 14th straight 100-yard game.
Cardale Jones, starting for the suspended J.T. Barrett at quarterback, threw for 187 yards and a third-quarter TD and added a fourth-quarter rushing score on a 38-yard run after Minnesota had pulled within 21-14.
The Buckeyes held Minnesota to 33 rushing yards on 26 carries.
No. 1 Clemson Tigers
Voting points: 488 (13 first-place votes)
Last week's ranking: 2nd (tied)
Week 10 result: Won 23-13 vs. Florida State
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 14 at Syracuse
Clemson (9-0, 6-0 ACC) has conquered its nemesis, clinching the Atlantic Division in the process and winning its biggest remaining game between now and December. And like the week before, it required the Tigers to play from behind early before asserting their will on the opponent.
After giving up a long touchdown run in the first minute of play, Clemson spent the rest of the first half trailing. It didn't take its first lead until five minutes into the third quarter, then used a 10-0 fourth quarter to beat the Seminoles for the first time since 2011.
“This is what championship football is all about,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said, per ESPN's Brett McMurphy. “You have to win in the fourth quarter.”
Deshaun Watson threw for 297 yards and a touchdown and ran for a team-high 107 yards, while Wayne Gallman had 103 rushing yards and a 25-yard score with 2:34 left to ice the game.
The top-ranked team in the first playoff rankings faces three teams that are currently below .500 to finish out the regular season before meeting a to-be-determined opponent in the ACC title game Dec. 5 in Charlotte.
All slides written by Brian J. Pedersen. Follow the author on Twitter at @realBJP.