College Football Rankings 2018: Week 12 Polls, Schedule and Standings Prediction

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 12, 2018

Notre Dame defensive lineman Jerry Tillery (99) rushes against Florida State in the first half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind.,Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

For the first time in over a month, there was no drama when the AP Top 25 and Amway Coaches Poll were released Sunday afternoon.

We could be saying the same after Week 12, as only two of the College Football Playoff contenders face significant tests. 

Beneath the Top Nine teams in the country, there is a pile up of average teams trying to find a way into the best bowl game possible.

The best Group of Five teams in the nation are part of that group, with UCF leading the way, but there's no guarantee the Knights escape Week 12 as the favorite from the collection of smaller conferences to qualify for the New Year's Six. 


Week 12 Polls

AP Top 25

1. Alabama (10-0) 

2. Clemson (10-0) 

3. Notre Dame (10-0) 

4. Michigan (9-1) 

5. Georgia (9-1) 

6. Oklahoma (9-1) 

7. West Virginia (8-1) 

8. Washington State (9-1)

9. Ohio State (9-1) 

10. LSU (8-2) 

11. UCF (9-0) 

12. Syracuse (8-2) 

13. Texas (7-3) 

14. Utah State (9-1) 

15. Florida (7-3) 

16. Penn State (7-3) 

17. Washington (7-3) 

18. Iowa State (6-3) 

19. Cincinnati (9-1) 

20. Kentucky (7-3) 

21. Utah (7-3) 

22. Boston College (7-3) 

23. Boise State (8-2) 

24. Northwestern (6-4) 

25. Mississippi State (6-4) 


Amway Coaches Poll

1. Alabama (10-0) 

2. Clemson (10-0) 

3. Notre Dame (10-0) 

4. Michigan (9-1) 

5. Georgia (9-1) 

6. Oklahoma (9-1) 

7. West Virginia (8-1) 

8. Ohio State (9-1) 

9. Washington State (9-1) 

10. LSU (8-2) 

11. UCF (9-0) 

12. Syracuse (8-2) 

13. Utah State (9-1) 

14. Texas (7-3) 

15. Penn State (7-3) 

16. Florida (7-3) 

17. Washington (7-3) 

18. Iowa State (6-3) 

19. Utah (7-3) 

20. Cincinnati (9-1) 

21. Kentucky (7-3) 

22. Boston College (7-3) 

23. Mississippi State (6-4) 

24. Boise State (8-2) 

25. UAB (9-1) 


Week 12 Schedule

Friday, November 16

No. 23 Boise State at New Mexico (9 p.m., CBSSN) 


Saturday, November 17

The Citadel at No. 1 Alabama (Noon, SEC Network) 

No. 9 Ohio State at Maryland (Noon, ABC) 

Idaho at No. 15 Florida (Noon, ESPNU)

No. 16 Penn State at Rutgers (Noon, BTN) 

Middle Tennessee State at No. 20 Kentucky (Noon, SEC Network)

No. 24 Northwestern at Minnesota (Noon, BTN) 

Arkansas at No. 25 Mississippi State (Noon, ESPN)

No. 21 Utah at Colorado (1:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network)

No. 14 Utah State at Colorado State (2 p.m.)

No. 12 Syracuse vs. No. 3 Notre Dame (2:30 p.m., NBC)

No. 7 West Virginia at Oklahoma State (3:30 p.m., ABC) 

No. 22 Boston College at Florida State (3:30 p.m., ESPN2) 

Indiana at No. 4 Michigan (4 p.m., FS1) 

UMass at No. 5 Georgia (4 p.m., SEC Network) 

Oregon State at No. 17 Washington (4:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network)

Duke at No. 2 Clemson (7 p.m., ESPN) 

Kansas at No. 6 Oklahoma (7:30 p.m., Fox) 

Rice at No. 10 LSU (7:30 p.m., ESPNU)

No. 19 Cincinnati at No. 11 UCF (8 p.m., ABC)

No. 18 Iowa State at No. 13 Texas (8 p.m., Longhorn Network)

Arizona at No. 8 Washington State (10:30 p.m., ESPN) 



Top Nine Teams Stay Alive in Playoff Discussion

The Top Nine teams in the college football polls all have a chance to qualify for the College Football Playoff. 

Of course, some programs need more help than others, but there is a path for each of the nine teams to end up in the playoff.

The debate surrounding which teams deserve to be in the playoff will heat up after Week 12, as Notre Dame and West Virginia earn quality wins. 

Michael Thomas/Associated Press

Since most of the SEC teams are playing Group of Five or FCS teams this weekend, the Fighting Irish and Mountaineers are the only teams who can deliver a statement to the playoff committee.

Notre Dame, which has to win out with authority to avoid a drop on conference championship weekend, will face a slight challenge from Syracuse at Yankee Stadium, but eventually it will be able to overpower the Orange. 

As for the Mountaineers, quarterback Will Grier will reinforce his Heisman Trophy candidacy with an impressive showing against an Oklahoma State team that's lost four of its last five games. 

At the moment, the playoff scenario is straightforward, as Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Michigan can qualify by winning out.

But if one or more of the Top Four slip up, chaos could break loose since the five teams beneath the playoff positions are bolstering their respective resumes with every passing week. 


Race For Best Group of Five Team Heats Up

Week 12 presents us with an opportunity to watch UCF face a quality opponent on the national stage. 

The Knights play host to Cincinnati in a game with massive implications for The American Championship and the race to be the best Group of Five team. 

Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

Despite remaining undefeated, the play of the Knights over the last two weeks has brought up some concerns. 

Josh Heupel's team needed a second-half rally to finish off Temple and let Navy hang around in its 35-24 win in Week 11. 

Not only does UCF have to win, it needs to make a statement with a blowout victory over a Cincinnati team that's rebounded nicely from an October 20 loss to Temple. 

If UCF takes care of business at home, it will remain in line for a second straight berth in a New Year's Six bowl. 

However, a loss would make things interesting, as Utah State, Cincinnati and possibly UAB battle it out for a position in one of the marquee bowl games. 

Utah State and Cincinnati are separated by five spots in the AP Top 25, but neither appeared in the last College Football Playoff rankings. 

UAB is still off the radar in the Group of Five discussion, but if the 9-1 Blazers win out and the three Group of Five teams above it lose at some point, they could be on the inside track for a berth in a New Year's Six bowl two years after not having a football program. 

While all the potential scenarios featuring Utah State, Cincinnati and UAB would produce terrific stories in the buildup to the New Year's Six, UCF is the favorite until proven otherwise, and it'll barely remain on top by winning a tight affair with the Bearcats. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.