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SQ College Football Top-25 Power Rankings: Conference Championship Week

USA TODAY Sports

It’s conference championship week, which means it’s the last chance to impress the committee. Find out where everyone ranks in our latest ranking.

The regular season has come to a close, and with it came one more week of upsets, furthering the chaos that has caused the top-10 to turn into a revolving door. Teams have consistently gone through the top-10 and fallen right out. With conference championship week now upon us, there won’t be as many upsets, but there will definitely be some more shuffling among the top teams with the matchups on hand this week.

25. NC State

Previous Rank: Not Ranked

NC State enjoyed a season that opened a lot of eyes around the country. Although the Wolfpack lost three of their last five games, to finish 8-4 with wins over Florida State and Louisville really is an accomplishment. After all, this is a team that went just 7-6 with only three conference wins last season. Bradley Chubb put this defense on the map by leading the ACC in both sacks (10) and tackles for loss (24). Chubb will definitely get some postseason awards and NC State should be able to secure a decent bowl game.” - Sean Berger

24. USF

Previous Rank: 22

“Quinton Flowers and the Bulls ended up on the wrong side of a thrilling game, losing 49-42 to undefeated UCF. South Florida gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown with 1:28 remaining, and couldn’t answer in the final minute. Quinton Flowers had arguably his best game, throwing for an astonishing 503 yards and four touchdowns. In addition to that, Flowers ran for another 102 yards and a rushing touchdown, as he gave the Knights defense fits. However, South Florida’s defense couldn’t stop the nation’s highest scoring offense, as McKenzie Milton and UCF’s offense had a field day as well. South Florida will now await their bowl matchup, which might not be a great one considering UCF and Memphis should get the AAC’s two top bids.” - Colton Spaur

23. Mississippi State

Previous Rank: 16


“Nick Fitzgerald went down with a nasty injury, and the Bulldogs couldn’t overcome his absence. Ole Miss took an early lead that Mississippi State couldn’t come back from, as the Bulldogs fell in the Egg Bowl, 31-28. Mississippi State outgained Ole Miss 501 to 355 total yards, but the Bulldogs were plagued by five turnovers the ended up costing them the game. With the loss, Mississippi State’s chance at a prestigious bowl game takes a serious hit.” - Colton Spaur

22. Virginia Tech

Previous Rank: 23

“Is a rivalry even a rivalry if one of the teams has won 14 games in a row? Virginia Tech may have only scored 10 points in its latest win against Virginia, but it was enough to continue its dominant stretch over the Cavaliers. Although the offense as a whole has sort of taken a dive the past four games, having only averaged just 4.34 yards per play, getting a few weeks of practice in before the bowl game should give the offense some time to figure things out.” - Sean Berger

21. Northwestern

Previous Rank: 24

“If I were to ask you which Big Ten team has outscored their opponents 81-7 over the past two weeks, you’d probably guess Ohio State or Wisconsin was doing the damage. However, you’d be wrong. Northwestern has dominated both Minnesota and Illinois over the past couple weeks and has quietly won seven straight games. Had the Wildcats not lost three of their first five games, they might have been ranked a lot sooner. Pat Fitzgerald continues to work magic with this program and has it primed to finish the year with a win in a bowl game.” - Sean Berger

20. Michigan State

Previous Rank: 21

“After going 3-9 a season ago, the Spartans are now just a win away from their first double-digit win total since 2015. They have also found their quarterback of the future in sophomore Brian Lewerke. Lewerke threw for 2,580 yards and 17 touchdowns, including two games of at least 400 passing yards. The Spartans should claim one of the Big Ten’s best bowl bids, with the Outback Bowl seeming like a likely destination.” - Colton Spaur

19. Washington State

Previous Rank: 14

“The Cougars had their Pac-12 Championship hopes smothered by in-state rival Washington, falling to the Huskies 41-14. Although Mike Leach’s defense slowed down quarterback Jake Browning, Huskies running back Myles Gaskin ran for almost 200 yards and four touchdowns to pace the Washington offense. Luke Falk’s turnover struggles continued, as he threw three interceptions and now has 13 for the year. If the Cougars could have won out the remainder of their games, they would have earned a berth to a New Year’s Six Bowl. Now, they’re looking at a lesser bowl game, potentially the Foster Farms Bowl in California.” - Colton Spaur

18. LSU

Previous Rank: 20


“Well, well, well, it looks like Danny Etling can throw the ball after all. But then again, Etling seems to save his best performances for the Aggies. For a second straight season, Etling threw for over 300 yards against A&M and added three touchdowns. LSU’s victory over Auburn now looks like one of the best wins all year, and that loss to Troy is in the rearview mirror. Finishing the regular season at 9-3 is far better than most people could’ve predicted Coach O’s first season would go.” - Sean Berger

17. Oklahoma State

Previous Rank: 17

“The nation’s third-highest scoring offense closed out the regular season in dominant fashion on Saturday. Mason Rudolph, who currently leads all quarterbacks in passing yards, threw for 438 yards and two scores in his final home game as a Cowboy. Rudolph has had a terrific senior campaign, as he is top five in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and passer efficiency. Oklahoma State will now await their bowl game matchup, as TCU beat out the Cowboys for the second spot in the Big 12 Championship game.” - Colton Spaur

16. Memphis

Previous Rank: 18

“Memphis gets the opportunity to avenge its only loss of the season Saturday afternoon against UCF. The game will also decide which Group of Five team gets a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game. Memphis is Oklahoma-lite: a terrific offense coupled with an atrocious defense. The Tigers rank fourth in offensive S&P+ and second in scoring offense, but 94th in defensive S&P+ and 88th in scoring defense. They are also extremely fun to watch. Quarterback Riley Ferguson can sling it and wide receiver Anthony Miller is going to be one of the first receivers off the board in the upcoming NFL draft. The two have hooked up for scores 14 times this season. The American conference championship game should be high-octane and full of points, and look for Memphis to play with a chip on its shoulder. Bet the over.” - Ryan Neu

15. Notre Dame

Previous Rank: 9

“Notre Dame has fallen so far so fast. This team looked so promising even after losing to Georgia early in the year. Now, it just looks like a typical Notre Dame team that struggles to finish. Losing two out of three in brutal fashion will do that to you, though. In the Fighting Irish’s last two losses, the team is -7 in turnover margin. It’s plain and simple: the more you turn the ball over, the more your defense is going to be put in a tough spot. Hopefully Notre Dame has a good showing in its bowl game to keep the faith in the fanbase.” - Sean Berger

14. Stanford

Previous Rank: 19


“The advanced metrics do not like Stanford, and yet the Cardinal just secured its second win against a top-10 opponent in three weeks and a spot in the Pac-12 title game. Stanford ranks 27th, 33rd, and 51st in overall, offensive, and defensive S&P+, respectively, but it has running back Bryce Love, who will likely receive an invitation to New York for the Heisman trophy presentation. Despite missing a game, Love ranks second in the nation in rushing yards and added another 125 to his total against Notre Dame last weekend. It may not be the best team in the country, but Stanford has one of the best players and finds ways to win games. The Cardinal could certainly take down USC Friday night.” - Ryan Neu

13. Washington

Previous Rank: 15

“Where was this Washington team all season? If the Huskies had played to the level they did against Washington State in the Apple Cup all season long, we might be having a discussion about their triumphant return to the Playoff. Instead, the Huskies have to settle for a solid 10-win season, a smack-down of their in-state rival, and what will end up being a top-tier bowl game, possibly a New Year’s Six bowl game. That would an incredibly successful season for just about any team, but there surely will be a slightly bitter taste left in the mouths of Chris Petersen and his team knowing what could have been.” - Ryan Neu

12. UCF

Previous Rank: 13


“The Knights capped a perfect regular season in thrilling fashion, scoring 21 points in the final eight minutes to knock off in-state rival USF, 49-42. Quarterback McKenzie Milton reached the 300-yard mark for the sixth time this year, throwing for 373 yards and four touchdowns. With the win, the Knights clinched a spot in this week’s AAC Championship game against 10-1 Memphis. The Tigers’ lone loss came earlier in the season against UCF, as the Knights handled Memphis 40-13. If UCF can beat Memphis for a second time this year, they’ll more than likely be playing in the Peach Bowl against a top team from the SEC.” - Colton Spaur

11. USC

Previous Rank: 12

“Sam Darnold and the Trojans closed out the season with four consecutive conference wins to reach the Pac-12 Championship game and will face Bryce Love and the Stanford Cardinal. USC handled Stanford way back in September, as Darnold threw for 316 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Trojans over the Cardinal. The key for the Trojans will be stopping Love, as the star running back has been a monster this year. Love is second in the nation with 1,848 rushing yards despite missing a game with an ankle injury and not being 100% in a few others. If Love’s ankle doesn’t give him problems, the Trojan’s defense might be in for a long night.” - Colton Spaur

10. TCU

Previous Rank: 10

TCU has a chance to play a big part in the College Football Playoff Race. Now that the Horned Frogs have a date with Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship, they have a chance to play spoiler and ruin the Sooners’ season. And while Gary Patterson wishes his team could make the Playoff this season, stopping another team from getting there can be just as sweet. Although TCU lost by nearly 20 points the first time around against Oklahoma, playing at a neutral site might make this game a little more even.” - Sean Berger

9. Penn State

Previous Rank: 11


“It’s sad to think that just four points is the difference from Penn State sitting at home this weekend rather than playing in Indianapolis for the Big Ten title. Other than the two losses that the Nittany Lions suffered this season, nine of the team’s 10 victories came by double digits. This team left little to no doubt that they were one of the top teams in the country, and a lot of that is thanks to Saquon Barkley. Barkley has been one of the most dynamic players in the country and despite Penn State not being in contention for a playoff spot, he should still have a great chance at winning the Heisman.” - Sean Berger

8. Ohio State

Previous Rank: 8

“The Buckeyes outscored Michigan 10-0 in the fourth quarter, pulling away for a 31-20 victory over the rival Wolverines on Saturday. J.T. Barrett left in the third quarter due to an injury, which Urban Meyer explained was due to an incident prior to the game in which Barrett got tangled up with a camera man. Ohio State will hope Barrett is ready for the Big 10 Championship this week against undefeated Wisconsin, as the Buckeye’s small playoff hopes are still alive. If Barrett can’t go, they’ll turn to freshman Dwayne Haskins, who completed six of seven passes for 94 yards on Saturday.” - Colton Spaur

7. Miami

Previous Rank: 4

“Miami’s one clear flaw finally caught up with it. Quarterback Malik Rosier has been far from prolific or efficient this season, but had been able to get enough done in each game to keep his team in close games and make the plays that mattered to win. That was not the case Friday. Rosier finished 15-for-34 (44.1 percent) passing for 187 yards and 5.5 yards per attempt, two touchdowns, and a fumble lost. He played so poorly that head coach Mark Richt made the (possibly inadvisable) decision to pull him for a drive during the fourth quarter. The scariest part of all this for Miami fans is that this happened against Pittsburgh, a team with a well-below-average defense. Now he has to turn it around against Clemson and its top-ranked defense Saturday night. That may be too much for Rosier to handle.” - Ryan Neu

6. Georgia

Previous Rank: 7

“Revenge is a dish best served in the SEC Championship. Georgia has a legitimate chance to really throw a wrench into the playoff picture with a win against Auburn. If the Bulldogs can find a way to win this game, they would more than likely claim the fourth and final spot in the playoff. It would be quite the turn of events. However, the offense is going to have to make major improvements as it wasn’t able to run the ball effectively against the Tigers the first time around, and therefore wasn’t able to operate as normal. If Georgia can find a way to get consistent yards on the ground, it should be able to at least keep the game close this time.” - Sean Berger

5. Alabama

Previous Rank: 1

“Alabama went from being on top of the college football world to being in jeopardy of missing the playoff with a 26-14 loss at in-state rival Auburn. The Crimson Tide offense moved the ball well, but struggled on third down (3-11) and on fourth down (1-4). Not converting on those key downs hurt the Tide, as Alabama totaled zero points on five different possessions that ended in Auburn territory. Also, Alabama’s top-ranked defense that entered Saturday giving up only 10.1 points per game gave up a season-high 26 points, and the offense couldn’t pick up the slack. For the Crimson Tide, they now sit squarely on the bubble and are in serious trouble of missing the College Football Playoff. If Wisconsin and Oklahoma both win, Alabama will probably be watching the playoffs from their couches, with the SEC and ACC Champions claiming the other two spots. Nick Saban’s team will be rooting for both TCU and Ohio State to knock off both of those teams.” - Colton Spaur

4. Auburn

Previous Rank: 5


“Auburn did the damn thing and knocked off Alabama, the second time the Tigers beat the No. 1-ranked team in three weeks. Surely, if they beat Georgia in the SEC championship game, they will become the first-ever two-loss team in the Playoff. The defense is one of the best in the country, ranking fifth in S&P+ and ninth in scoring defense. The offense has running back Kerryon Johnson, one of the best in the nation and the man who bears the brunt of the load for Auburn, and quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who has proven himself against top competition and shown himself capable of performing with both his arm and legs. Auburn has provided us with chaos and possibly an Alabama-less Playoff, and is a legit contender in its own right. War Eagle!” - Ryan Neu

3. Wisconsin

Previous Rank: 6

“Is Wisconsin actually good? It’s the question that has been lingering over the Badgers all season, and it has yet to be answered. Kudos certainly go out to Wisconsin for going undefeated in the regular season and not screwing up yet. That is an accomplishment, but the Badgers have played nobody worth a damn, except maybe (maybe) Michigan and Northwestern. Now they get their shot to prove their worth against Ohio State. Win and they’re almost certainly in the Playoff. Lose and they almost certainly aren’t. They’ll have to do it on the back of their top-ranked defense, because even though they have played no one, the Badgers’ offense ranks just 26th in scoring offense and 40th in offense S&P+.” - Ryan Neu

2. Clemson

Previous Rank: 3

“Clemson smacked in-state rival South Carolina up and down the field Saturday. The Tigers are flawed on the offensive end — they rank 35th in offensive S&P+ and 25th in scoring offense — but their defense is as fearsome as any in the country, if not more so. Clemson boasts the third-best defense by S&P+, fourth-best by scoring defense, and is tied for second in total sacks with 40.0. To win the ACC title and return to the Playoff, the Tigers’ offense just has to do enough because the defense is going to raise hell against the Hurricanes.” - Ryan Neu

1. Oklahoma

Previous Rank: 2


“Oklahoma’s defense is straight-up awful. The Sooners rank 100th (100th!) in defense S&P+ and 57th in scoring defense. The Sooners couldn’t stop a peewee flag football team from scoring. The thing, though, is that may not matter because Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma offense are executing a scorched-earth policy against every team they face. The fewest amount of points the Sooners have scored during the past six games is 38. Mayfield is going to win the Heisman. Oklahoma’s defense may be putrid, but it could still win the Playoff so long as the offense continues to lay waste to everyone in its way.” - Ryan Neu

Edited by Emily Berman, Coleman Gray.

SQuiz
Which team has won the most Big Ten football championships?
Created 11/30/17
  1. Michigan
  2. Ohio State
  3. Penn State
  4. Wisconsin

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