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Final 2016-17 Power Rankings settle all the debates

The games have all been played and all debates have been settled, right? OK, maybe not all debates were settled, but the postseason did produce some incredibly fun games and definitive results. In light of that, these are our final Power Rankings for the 2016-17 season.

Power Rankings voters: Edward Aschoff, Heather Dinich, Brad Edwards, Chris Fallica, Rod Gilmore, Chris Low, Ivan Maisel, Ryan McGee, Adam Rittenberg, Mark Schlabach | How they voted

Previous rankings: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8| Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14

1. Clemson Tigers (14-1)

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Week 14 ranking: 3
Bowl season result: defeated Ohio State 31-0 then Alabama 35-31

The national champions certainly earned the spot on the throne, dismantling Ohio State and then stunning Alabama in the College Football Playoff. Deshaun Watson may not have won the Heisman Trophy, but the Tigers may build a statue of the star quarterback anyway.


2. Alabama Crimson Tide (14-1)

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Week 14 ranking: 1
Bowl season result: defeated Washington 24-7 then lost to Clemson 35-31

It took a monumental effort to knock off the Crimson Tide and keep Nick Saban from making more history, and there's no shame in coming up short in an all-time epic showdown in the College Football Playoff. With Jalen Hurts getting his first taste of the postseason and nearly winning a national title, expect the Alabama quarterback to be back for more.


3. USC Trojans (10-3)

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Week 14 ranking: 10
Bowl season result: defeated Penn State 52-49

There might not be a program heading into the offseason with more momentum than the Trojans, who pulled out their own thriller in the Rose Bowl victory over Penn State that might have put the nation on notice. Clay Helton has the ball rolling after those early missteps, and quarterback Sam Darnold is only getting started.


4. Washington Huskies (12-2)

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Week 14 ranking: 4
Bowl season result: lost to Alabama 24-7

The Pac-12 champs didn't have the offensive firepower to hang with Alabama, but the Huskies still acquitted themselves well in a competitive Peach Bowl. Chris Petersen and Washington are officially back on the national scene as legitimate contenders.


5. Penn State Nittany Lions (11-3)

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Week 14 ranking: 5
Bowl season result: lost to USC 52-49

The 10-game winning streak came to an end and the Nittany Lions didn't get to add another piece of hardware to the collection, but the Big Ten champions still have plenty to feel good about heading into next season. The way James Franklin's club rallied to get to the Rose Bowl will never be forgotten in Happy Valley.


6. Oklahoma Sooners (11-2)

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Week 14 ranking: 7
Bowl season result: defeated Auburn 35-19

The Sooners would surely like a mulligan for September, but they did all they could to make up for those early losses down the stretch. Bob Stoops did a remarkable job turning around a season that could have been scrapped early, capping it with an impressive Sugar Bowl victory.


7. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-2)

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Week 14 ranking: 2
Bowl season result: lost to Clemson 31-0

The ending was certainly brutal for the Buckeyes, but it shouldn't overshadow what the nation's youngest team accomplished this season. After replacing 16 starters, Ohio State still got all the way back to the College Football Playoff -- and it won't have to deal with so much inexperience again in 2017.


8. Florida State Seminoles (10-3)

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Week 14 ranking: 11
Bowl season result: defeated Michigan 33-32

The Seminoles were starting to tap into their immense potential at the end of the season, capping it with a thrilling victory over Michigan in the Orange Bowl that gave Jimbo Fisher another double-digit win total. The memory of the blowout at Louisville and the narrow defeat to Clemson might linger, but Florida State has reason to be both proud and optimistic.


9. Michigan Wolverines (10-3)

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Week 14 ranking: 6
Bowl season result: lost to Florida State 33-32

Jim Harbaugh might find himself looking back and wondering what might have been for his Wolverines this season. A veteran team suffered another close loss in the Orange Bowl, with all three defeats coming by a combined total of five points to just keep Michigan out of title contention.


10. Wisconsin Badgers (11-3)

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Week 14 ranking: 9
Bowl season result: defeated Western Michigan 24-16

After dealing with such a brutal schedule all year long, the Cotton Bowl was almost a breather for the Badgers -- and that's not a knock on previously unbeaten Western Michigan, either. Week after week, Wisconsin stepped up for tough, physical challenges and proved it belonged among the nation's elite.


11. Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-3)

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Week 14 ranking: 12
Bowl season result: defeated Colorado 38-8

The points were flowing like Mike Gundy's luscious locks as the Cowboys exploded in the Alama Bowl to crush Colorado, giving the Man with a Mullet another 10-win campaign. The Mason Rudolph-James Washington combination in the passing game was lethal and all the Pokes needed to end the year on a high note.


12. Stanford Cardinal (10-3)

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Week 14 ranking: 17
Bowl season result: defeated North Carolina 25-23

Even without Christian McCaffrey, the Cardinal were just fine to cap another season with a double-digit win total. Bryce Love stepped in seamlessly to pick up the yardage slack and offer a reminder that the steady Stanford remains a tough out for just about any opponent.


13. LSU Tigers (8-4)

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Week 14 ranking: 20
Bowl season result: defeated Louisville 29-9

Ed Orgeron earned himself a little more goodwill as he continues to put his stamp on the Tigers, holding Louisville and Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson without a touchdown in the Citrus Bowl. LSU didn't even need Leonard Fournette to do the heavy lifting with Derrius Guise racking up 138 yards in his place.


14. Florida Gators (9-4)

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Week 14 ranking: 19
Bowl season result: defeated Iowa 30-3

There may still be some fans wanting more from the Gators after they dropped the rivalry game to Florida State and were crushed by Alabama in the SEC championship. But Florida still won a division title and then destroyed Iowa in the Outback Bowl to post another respectable season under Jim McElwain -- which gives him something to build off moving forward.


15. Virginia Tech Hokies (10-4)

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Week 14 ranking: 18
Bowl season result: defeated Arkansas 35-24

A 10-win season is a pretty strong first impression for Justin Fuente with the Hokies. Riding a four-touchdown performance from Jerod Evans, Virginia Tech capped its season with a trophy in the Belk Bowl and positioned itself as an ACC dark horse heading into the offseason.


16. Colorado Buffaloes (10-4)

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Week 14 ranking: 10
Bowl season result: lost to Oklahoma State 38-8

There was no fairy-tale ending for the Buffs, but the turnaround engineered by Mike MacIntyre was still impressive. Colorado might not have the depth quite yet to sustain a stretch against ranked teams like it did at the end of the year, but the loss to Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl certainly won't be a lasting setback.


17. Western Michigan Broncos (13-1)

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Week 14 ranking: 14
Bowl season result: lost to Wisconsin 24-16

Perfection wasn't in the cards for P.J. Fleck's boat-rowing crew, but it clearly looked like it belonged on the big stage in a competitive Cotton Bowl against Wisconsin. Fleck is off to Minnesota, but the 13-win year for Western Michigan won't be forgot in Kalamazoo for a while.


18. Miami Hurricanes (9-4)

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Week 14 ranking: NR
Bowl season result: defeated West Virginia 31-14

Another key contributor to the ACC's impressive postseason, Miami also used its relatively easy victory over West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl to offer a reminder that it plans on being back as a contender soon under Mark Richt. The Hurricanes hadn't won a bowl game in 10 years, and this could be another momentum-building victory for Richt.


19. South Florida Bulls (11-2)

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Week 14 ranking: 24
Bowl season result: defeated South Carolina 46-39

A little extra football was required to settle the Birmingham Bowl, but the Bulls surely didn't mind all that much as they extended their season then capped it with a shootout victory over South Carolina. After an 11-win season, South Florida needed to hire a new coach -- but it might have hit the jackpot with Charlie Strong.


20. Tennessee Volunteers (9-4)

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Week 14 ranking: NR
Bowl season result: defeated Nebraska 38-24

No matter how Butch Jones might try to spin it, not even a double-digit victory in nearby Nashville at the Music City Bowl could keep the season from being considered a disappointment for the Vols. Posting a nine-win season isn't normally a path to the hot seat, but that's where Jones sits now for a restless fan base.


21. Louisville Cardinals (9-4)

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Week 14 ranking: 13
Bowl season result: lost to LSU 29-9

The punchless loss to LSU in the Citrus Bowl gave the Cardinals a three-game losing streak to end the year, which might cast a shadow on Lamar Jackson's Heisman Trophy-winning campaign and all the positivity that surrounded the team during the first two months of the season.


22. West Virginia Mountaineers (10-3)

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Week 14 ranking: 16
Bowl season result: lost to Miami 31-14

Dana Holgorson's bounce-back season proved he's still the right man for the job, and 10-win seasons are nothing to sneeze at for the Mountaineers. But after the throttling late in the year at the hands of Oklahoma and the bowl loss to Miami, there is still work to be done to get over the hump.


23. Utah Utes (9-4)

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Week 14 ranking: 25
Bowl season result: defeated Indiana 26-24

The story of Joe Williams had one more amazing chapter left; the senior racked up nearly 280 yards of offense to help the Utes hold off Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl. Utah certainly has its sights set on getting into bigger games down the road, but there's no reason to be disappointed with nine victories.


24. Auburn Tigers (8-5)

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Week 14 ranking: 15
Bowl season result: lost to Oklahoma 35-19

A reminder probably wasn't necessary, but the Sugar Bowl offered a clear one that the Tigers need to find a solution for the struggling passing attack. Auburn had four players throw passes in the loss to the Sooners, and a one-dimensional attack won't usually work against the country's top teams.


25. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (9-4)

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Week 14 ranking: NR
Bowl season result: defeated Kentucky 33-18

The Yellow Jackets effectively turned the TaxSlayer Bowl over to Dedrick Mills, and the tireless worker rewarded them by churning through 31 carries and piling up 169 yards to knock off Kentucky. Georgia Tech obviously had flaws this season, but it ended on a high note.


Others receiving votes: San Diego State, Kansas State, Western Kentucky, Washington State, Tulsa, Pittsburgh