NCAAF Teams staff 661d

Michigan isn't out of the playoff discussion

College Football, Michigan Wolverines, Washington Huskies, Alabama Crimson Tide, Ohio State Buckeyes, Louisville Cardinals, Penn State Nittany Lions, Auburn Tigers, West Virginia Mountaineers, Clemson Tigers, Texas A&M Aggies, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Wisconsin Badgers, Oklahoma Sooners, Utah Utes, North Carolina Tar Heels, Colorado Buffaloes, Virginia Tech Hokies, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Western Michigan Broncos, Florida State Seminoles, Washington State Cougars, USC Trojans, Florida Gators, Boise State Broncos

The regular season finished in a blaze of glory, like we all hoped, ending some dreams and lifting others. Check out who ESPN's experts believe are the top 25 teams in the nation as the postseason approaches. 

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

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

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0)


Week 12 ranking: 1
Week 13 result: defeated  Auburn 30-12

The Crimson Tide have officially made it through the regular season unscathed. After a 30-12 win over Auburn in the Iron Bowl, Alabama is an SEC championship game victory over Florida away from clinching a spot in the College Football Playoff for the third straight year.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1)


Week 12 ranking: 2
Week 13 result: defeated Michigan 30-27 (2 OT)

What a finish to The Game. Urban Meyer's gutsy decision to go for it on fourth down in the second overtime paid off -- in a very controversial way. A play later, Curtis Samuel scooted into the end zone for a thrilling 30-27 win over Michigan. Samuel rushed five times for 21 yards in regulation, but carried it twice for 33 yards and the game winner in OT.

3. Clemson Tigers (11-1)


Week 12  ranking: 3
Week 13 result: defeated South Carolina 56-7 

The Tigers made things look relatively easy against an overmatched South Carolina team. Deshaun Watson looked like he was on the practice field, throwing for six touchdowns and 347 yards. The Tigers now head to the ACC championship game against an impressive-looking Virginia Tech team with one of those four playoff spots on the line.

4. Washington Huskies (11-1)


Week 12 ranking: 5
Week 13 result: defeated Washington State 45-17

The Huskies might have a loss on their résumé, but Friday's 45-17 drubbing of Washington State in the Apple Cup means Washington is all suited up and ready for the Pac-12 championship. And a win in Santa Clara, California, next week should give Washington one of those playoff spots. Washington has now won 11 games for the fourth time in program history and the first time since 2000. In each of those previous three seasons, the Huskies finished among the top three in the Associated Press poll and won a bowl game.

5. Michigan Wolverines (10-2)


Week 12 ranking: 4
Week 13 result:  lost to Ohio State 30-27 (2 OT)

It was an absolute heartbreaker for the Maize and Blue. In a defensive struggle, the Wolverines just didn't have enough in overtime. Many in Ann Arbor will rant about that spot on J.T. Barrett's fourth-down rush, but Wilton Speight's two interceptions led to 14 Ohio State points. Michigan is out of the Big Ten race, but what happens with the playoff when you consider the Wolverines have three top-10 wins?

6. Wisconsin Badgers (10-2)


Week 12 ranking: 6
Week 13 result: defeated Minnesota 31-17

The Badgers overcame a 17-7 halftime deficit by reeling off 24 straight second-half points in a 31-17 win over Minnesota that still has Wisconsin in the playoff picture. That's now 13 straight for Wisconsin in this rivalry. Wisconsin has been a pleasant surprise in the Big Ten this year, but the team will now have to monitor the health of quarterback Alex Hornibrook, who left the game early after slamming his head into the turf on a play.

7. Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2)


Week 12 ranking: 8
Week 13 result: defeated Michigan State 45-12

Months after James Franklin appeared to be coaching for his job in State College, the Nittany Lions are headed to the Big Ten title game after pummeling Michigan State at home. After struggling to get anything going offensively in most of the first half, Penn State exploded for three Trace McSorley touchdown passes in the third quarter. So if Penn State beats Wisconsin in next week's title game, are the Nittany Lions in the playoff?

8. Oklahoma Sooners (9-2)


Week 12 ranking: 7
Week 13  result: bye

The Sooners were off this week after drubbing West Virginia 56-28. While Oklahoma won't play in a real Big 12 championship game, next week's game with Oklahoma State is the de facto conference title game. A win in Bedlam -- coupled with some jockeying among the top 10 -- and Oklahoma could get into the playoff conversation.

9. Colorado Buffaloes (10-2)


Week 12 ranking: 9
Week 13 result: defeated Utah 27-22

Despite a case of the first-half drops, Colorado figured out how to survive Utah in Boulder. That win clinched a berth in the Pac-12 championship game against Washington. Forcing four turnovers, including one that went for a touchdown, helped the Buffaloes quiet Utah's comeback attempts. Next week's game is huge because a Colorado upset win would likely keep the Pac-12 out of the playoff.

10. USC Trojans (9-3)


Week 12 ranking: 10
Week 13 result: defeated Notre Dame 45-27

That's eight in a row for the Trojans, who have scored in the 30s or higher in six of those games. Sam Darnold has been the key to the triumphant Trojans turnaround thanks to his 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions during that span. They're on the outside of the playoff but still a team no one wants to play.

11. Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-2)


Week 12 ranking: 11
Week 13 result:  bye

Like Oklahoma, the Cowboys were off this weekend, awaiting Bedlam in Norman next week. Oklahoma State's prolific offense, which has registered at least 540 yards in three straight games, should be licking its chops at the thought of facing an OU defense that is surrendering 458.9 yards and 30.1 points per game in conference play.

12. Florida State Seminoles (9-3)


Week 12 ranking: 13
Week 13 result: defeated Florida 31-13

The Seminoles were absolutely dominant on defense in their fourth straight win over Florida. In what was likely Dalvin Cook's last game at Doak Campbell Stadium, he totaled 179 yards of offense and a touchdown. With this win, the Noles have a chance to play in the Capital One Orange Bowl following Louisville's loss to Kentucky.

13. West Virginia Mountaineers (9-2)


Week 12 ranking: 18
Week 13 result: defeated Iowa State 49-19

The Mountaineers might not have been playing for a conference title, but they were still pretty fired up against a somewhat surging Iowa State team on the road. Quarterback Skyler Howard wasn't going to let his team go into a shell, not with the 330 yards and five touchdowns (which tied a career high) he had Saturday.

14. Western Michigan Broncos (12-0)


Week 12 ranking: 14
Week 13 result: defeated Toledo 55-35

With the Broncos' 55-35 win over Toledo, Western Michigan finished the regular season scoring at least 31 points in 11 straight games. The win -- coupled with Boise State's 27-20 loss to Air Force -- makes WMU one of the favorites to play in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. If WMU beats Ohio in the MAC championship game next week, the Broncos will be 13-0 and will probably earn the top ranking among the Group of 5 schools.

15. Louisville Cardinals (9-3)


Week 12 ranking: 12
Week 13 result: lost to Kentucky 41-38

When the first set of this season's College Football Playoff rankings debuted, we wondered why Louisville was so far down the list. Now we know why. After losing back-to-back games, including Saturday's 41-38 upset loss at home to unranked Kentucky, the Cardinals are a national afterthought. In addition, Lamar Jackson, who had three interceptions and fumbled inside the 10 to set up Kentucky's winning drive, is losing his grip on the Heisman Trophy.

16. Auburn Tigers (8-4)


Week 12 ranking: 15
Week 13  result:  lost to Alabama 30-12

Hey, Alabama beats folks a lot worse than what the Tigers endured on Saturday. Thanks to a solid defensive effort, the Tigers were able to stay with Alabama for most of the game. All in all, after starting the year 1-2 with coach Gus Malzahn firmly on the hot seat, an 8-4 finish -- and a chance at an Allstate Sugar Bowl appearance -- ain't bad.

17. Stanford Cardinal (9-3)


Week 12 ranking:  T-24
Week 12 result: defeated Rice 41-17

It seems so long ago when the Cardinal lost three of four games in the middle of the season. After winning five straight -- all by double digits -- Stanford will head to bowl season with nine wins for the sixth time in the past seven years. Christian McCaffrey now leads the nation with 2,327 all-purpose yards.

18. Virginia Tech Hokies (9-3)


Week 12 ranking: NR
Week 13 result:  defeated Virginia 52-10

Quietly, the Hokies had a pretty successful first year under Justin Fuente. Saturday's beatdown of rival Virginia gave Virginia Tech nine wins on the season and the honor of playing Clemson in the ACC championship game next week.

T-19. Navy Midshipmen (9-2)


Week 12 ranking: 22
Week 13 result: defeated SMU 75-31

The Midshipmen literally ran all over SMU in a blowout win on Saturday. The nation's No. 3 rushing offense churned out a ridiculous 496 yards, with Will Worth going for 107 yards and three touchdowns. It was the 11th straight game Worth had a rushing TD, tied for the longest active streak in the FBS. This was also his fifth three-touchdown game of the season, most in the FBS.

T-19. Florida Gators (8-3)


Week 12 ranking: 16
Week 13  result:  lost to Florida State 31-13

A week after a hard-fought win at LSU to clinch a second straight SEC East championship, the Gators laid an egg on offense against Florida State. Florida's defense did all it could, but Florida lost its fourth straight to FSU by recording fewer than 300 yards for the fifth time this season and going 0-for-12 on third down. Florida would now have to beat Alabama to make it to the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

21. LSU Tigers (7-4)


Week 12 ranking: NR
Week 13  result:  defeated Texas A&M 54-39

No matter what the Tigers' record says, this team certainly has some impressive resilience. A week after losing in heartbreaking fashion to Florida, LSU turned right around and thumped eight-win Texas A&M 54-39 in College Station on Thanksgiving night. The Tigers ended a dramatic season in emphatic fashion and left the weekend with Ed Orgeron taking over as the full-time coach after going 5-2 with the interim tag.

22. Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4)


Week 12 ranking: NR
Week 13 result:  defeated Nebraska 40-10

Hawkeyes fans probably don't really know what to do with this team. First, they saw losses to North Dakota State and Northwestern cloud the beginning of the season. Then, there were the back-to-back losses to Wisconsin and Penn State. But Iowa finished the season in glorious fashion, upsetting Michigan and clobbering Nebraska by 30 to get to eight wins.

23. Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-3)


Week 12 ranking: 17
Week 13 result:  lost to Iowa 40-10 

After a surprising 7-0 start, the Cornhuskers faltered while running through the teeth of their schedule. Nebraska missed out on a chance to compete for the Big Ten title by dropping three of its final five games, including an embarrassing 40-10 loss at Iowa. The silver lining is that Nebraska will finish the season with at least nine wins for the eighth time in nine seasons.

24. South Florida Bulls (10-2)


Week 12 ranking: NR
Week 13 result: defeated UCF 48-31

Did you even know that the Bulls had 10 wins? Or how about the fact that with Saturday's 48-31 win over UCF, the Bulls have scored at least 30 points in 16 straight games? That's the nation's longest streak of 30-plus-point games, and they also tied a single-season school record with their fourth road win. Quarterback Quinton Flowers threw for 152 yards and rushed for another 152, and his two rushing touchdowns gave him 15 for the season.

25. Washington State Cougars (8-4)


Week 12 ranking: 23
Week 13 result: lost to  Washington 45-17

It wasn't a successful Apple Cup for the Cougars, who turned the ball over four times and watched Washington walk all over them for 510 yards. Jake Browning torched Washington State's defense for 292 yards and three touchdowns, while Cougars quarterback Luke Falk chucked three interceptions, ending Washington State's chances to compete for the Pac-12 championship.

Out of the rankings: Boise State, Houston, Utah, Tennessee

Others receiving votes: Pittsburgh, Utah, Houston, Temple, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Miami, Air Force, Western Kentucky, Boise State, San Diego State

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