Amway College Football Poll 2018: Top 25 Rankings for Week 15

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2018

Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) celebrates his touchdown against Georgia during the second half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

Another weekend, another batch of amazing college football. With the conference championships now in the books, the Amway Coaches Poll was released Sunday offering a possible preview of the season's final College Football Playoff rankings ahead of bowl season.

Below, we'll analyze the rankings and the weekend that was.

                              

Rankings

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Notre Dame

4. Oklahoma

5. Ohio State

6. Georgia

7. UCF

8. Michigan

9. Washington

10. Florida

11. LSU

12. Penn State

13. Washington State

14. Texas

15. Kentucky

16. West Virginia

17. Syracuse

18. Mississippi 

19. Utah

20. Texas A&M

21. Fresno State

22. Northwestern

23. Utah State

24. Boise State

25. Army

              

Analysis

Sometimes, the storylines write themselves. 

A year ago, Jalen Hurts was benched in the national championship game against Georgia in favor of Tua Tagovailoa, who led the Crimson Tide to a title and never surrendered the starting job after. But Saturday, with the Tide trailing Georgia by a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Tagovailoa rolled his ankle, and Hurts was forced into action.

No biggie. All Hurts did was promptly lead the Tide to two touchdowns in two drives, spearheading a 35-28 victory and another SEC title for Alabama. After the game, his head coach, Nick Saban, was about as proud as one could be, per Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com:

"I've probably never been more proud of a player than Jalen. It's unprecedented to have a guy that won as many games as he won, I think 26 or something, over a two-year period, start as a freshman, only lose a couple of games this whole time that he was the starter, and then all of the sudden he's not the quarterback.

"How do you manage that? How do you handle that? You've got to have a tremendous amount of character and class to put the team first, knowing your situation is not what it used to be, and for a guy that's a great competitor, that takes a lot."

Tagovailoa will almost assuredly return as Alabama's starter when he's healthy despite Hurts' heroics. Tagovailoa was the Heisman Trophy front-runner coming into Saturday, after all, and may still claim the award over other deserving quarterbacks like Kyler Murray and Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins.

Plus, the injury isn't believed to be serious.

"We're going to evaluate his ankle tomorrow, but I don't think it's going to be something that would keep him out," Saban said. "Maybe for a little while, but we probably won't practice for a couple of weeks anyways."

Hurts' was Saturday's most compelling chapter, but he was hardly the full story. While Alabama and Clemson guaranteed their spots in the College Football Playoff by winning conference titles, joining independent Notre Dame, both Oklahoma and Ohio State left the committee a fascinating decision with conference titles of their own.  

Tagovailoa's injury may have also opened the door for Murray—who was superb against Texas, throwing for 379 yards and three touchdowns while adding 39 yards on the ground—to steal the Heisman. Murray has been nothing short of spectacular this season and in most years would be the favorite for the award. 

At the very least, he'll be making the trip to New York. Whether he and the Sooners make the trip to the College Football Playoff, however, remains the most pressing question in the sport.

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