College Football Rankings 2018: Bleacher Report's Week 13 Top 25November 18, 2018
A Stillwater stunner, a "staying alive" upset for Florida State over Boston College and narrow wins from several of the nation's top-tier programs highlighted Saturday's college football action.
There may even be a lot of hot-seat chatter for one of the country's proudest programs after USC lost to hapless rival UCLA on Saturday afternoon.
There wasn't as much drama as we usually have, as many teams played cupcakes before next week's rivalry-heavy slate. But there was still plenty to talk about.
Perhaps the biggest news of the day was Notre Dame's grand slam win over Syracuse in Yankee Stadium to keep the Fighting Irish in championship form.
We're ready for next week's regular-season grand finale, but Saturday wasn't as bad of a prelude as anticipated. Let's take a look at how things shook out in the Bleacher Report Top 25.
Our panel of experts—Matt Hayes, David Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller, Brad Shepard and Ian Wharton—voted on the action. A first-place vote is worth 25 points, followed by 24 points for second, 23 for third, etc.
Here is our Week 13 poll:
1. Alabama (last week: 1)
2. Clemson (2)
3. Notre Dame (4)
4. Michigan (3)
5. Georgia (5)
6. Oklahoma (6)
7. UCF (8)
8. Washington State (10)
9. LSU (11)
10. Ohio State (9)
11. Texas (15)
12. Penn State (16)
13. Utah State (13)
14. West Virginia (7)
15. Boise State (21)
16. Florida (23)
17. Washington (25)
18. Army (22)
19. Utah (NR)
20. Syracuse (12)
21. Kentucky (24)
22. Fresno State (NR)
23. Iowa State (14)
24. Northwestern (NR)
25. Pittsburgh (NR)
Others receiving votes: Mississippi State, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Houston, North Texas, Troy, Missouri
Who's Hot: Notre Dame and Its Roaring Run
On a day when contenders like Alabama and Michigan won while sleepwalking, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish continued to play at a high level, whipping No. 12 Syracuse in a showcase game at Yankee Stadium, 36-3.
What first appeared to be the Irish's stiffest remaining test ended up looking easy. It probably should have been worse than the lopsided final, too. Notre Dame played far from its best game and still beat coach Dino Babers' team without any drama.
The Orange eclipsed 50 points five times this year and entered the contest third nationally in takeaways. If you didn't believe in Notre Dame before now, well, you should. Coach Brian Kelly doesn't care about any of the peripheral noise, either. He's just interested in coaching his team, per ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach:
Mark Schlabach @Mark_Schlabach
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said he isn't interested in being compared to Alabama and Clemson as CFP contenders. "We're not interested in being compared. All we want is to be playing our best in November. We're playing really well right now, especially... https://t.co/ebSXVdguKD
There's no need for posturing, anyway. Notre Dame looks like a College Football Playoff shoo-in.
Quarterback Ian Book was out last week with a rib injury, and the Irish dominated Florida State anyway. He was back Saturday, and though he was rusty at times—completing 23-of-37 passes for 292 yards, two scores and an interception—he didn't have to be at his best.
This Irish defense continues to look legit, and this may have been its best effort. Notre Dame had three interceptions, and the only question late in the game was whether it would get the shutout.
Though the Irish allowed a field goal, they looked fantastic, and unless they lose to a struggling USC in Los Angeles next Saturday, they'll be one of the four entrants. It's been a great year for Kelly's team, and it just keeps looking better each week.
Who's Not: Almost (but Not Quite) Heaven for West Virginia
Several things needed to happen for the No. 9 West Virginia Mountaineers to make it to the CFP, but they were still worth watching as a fringe team.
All they had to do was beat Oklahoma State in a down year for the Cowboys to set up a season-ending showdown with Oklahoma. If they beat the Sooners and took the Big 12 Championship Game, there would've been a chance with a little help.
Instead, Dana Holgorsen's team couldn't help itself.
A fourth-quarter collapse in Stillwater led to a stunning 45-41 loss to the Cowboys. It was a major disappointment for a squad that led by 10 late in the game before it had to put the cushion in the hands of its defense.
We know that's never a good thing in the wacky Big 12. A.J. Green batted down Will Grier's last-ditch, 14-yard pass that was intended for David Sills V after time expired, and the Cowboys celebrated. Had Grier completed the pass, it would have been a major mark on his Heisman Trophy resume.
Instead, he seems like a long shot to get the award.
But this wasn't about Grier's inefficiency; he played fine. The Mountaineers gave up three fourth-quarter touchdowns, and they were one-dimensional for much of the day, too.
The Cowboys shut down West Virginia's rushers, forcing a pair of fumbles. When there were no big-strike scores, WVU was forced to punt, enabling the comeback.
West Virginia isn't finished. The Mountaineers can still play for the Big 12 title. But their hopes for bigger and better things are over.
Fun Fact: Florida State (Still) Has a Shot at a Remarkable Feat
Near-upsets happened all day, but the slim slate of marquee games didn't yield any big-time setbacks for Top 25 programs until late.
That's when Florida State, which hasn't shown signs of life in weeks, hung around just long enough against No. 20 Boston College before it took a late lead with Deondre Francois' 74-yard bomb to Tamorrion Terry with 1:49 remaining to stun the Eagles with a 22-21 win.
Florida State's massive victory moved it to 5-6. Though it would take a big upset of rival Florida next week for them to make a bowl the traditional way, the Seminoles needed this one. What's bananas is this: If FSU does beat Florida, it will be 37 consecutive bowl games for the program.
That's some incredible consistency. Of course, one more win is necessary, but it wouldn't have been attainable if not for Saturday's performance.
Coach Willie Taggart needed a victory like this to muster positive vibes from a difficult first season in Tallahassee.
Though Eagles quarterback Anthony Brown was a question mark all week after he suffered an upper-body injury against Clemson, he played. He threw for 297 yards but also tossed a pair of interceptions.
What to Watch For: Raucous Rivalries and Other Showdowns
There are so many games worth watching next weekend that we'd run out of space if all of them were highlighted. It's the perfect conclusion to what has been an awesome regular season.
What better way to cap off the schedule than massive CFP ramifications at Ohio Stadium between one-loss teams Michigan and Ohio State? The Wolverines have played strong football after a season-opening loss to Notre Dame, and though the Buckeyes are struggling, they're winning.
Washington State will attempt to keep its slim playoff hopes alive against hated rival Washington, which has been up-and-down for much of the year.
Though SEC East powers Georgia and Florida look like decided favorites over out-of-conference rivals Georgia Tech and Florida State, both ACC teams are capable of pulling off the upset and both are playing some of their best ball. Alabama should roll Auburn in the Iron Bowl, but you never know in that game.
Grier needs to rebound since he has plenty left to play for against Oklahoma, and LSU and Texas A&M have a good showdown brewing in College Station.
Head coach Steve Addazio needs to build goodwill to close the year as Boston College hosts Syracuse, and the Mountain West Conference game of the year will feature Utah State and Boise State.
Plenty of additional contests hold bowl-positioning implications, and there'll be enough action to roll all your televisions into the living room and have a Thanksgiving weekend full of pigskin. Get ready for some football as the regular season goes out with a bang.
Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of Sports Reference and CFBStats.com.
Brad Shepard covers college football for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @Brad_Shepard.