Survive and progress. That was the theme of Week 12 of college football, as the top four teams in the nation swung but remained undefeated… while No. 5 Tennessee lost on the road in South Carolina, a result that officially knocks the Vols out of contention for the College Football Playoff. And the USC He arrived – really this time.
The penultimate weekend of the regular season brought drama, joy, and heartbreak. And it’s time to scrutinize all three to determine the impact on the country’s top teams.
Every Saturday night throughout the college football season, I’ll be ranking the top 10 teams in the country. Rankings will fluctuate from week to week based on new scores, player availability, and anything else affecting this chaotic sport. The last place each week will go to a team that may not be In fact To be the 10th best team in the country but still deserve some brilliance.
The bulldog They battled their way to a 16-6 win over Kentucky Where they struggled through the air and settled for field goals at the end of all three of their runs in the first half. Georgia allowed a 99-yard drive early in the fourth quarter Kentucky He threatened to make it a game. After the Wildcats missed a field goal and failed to convert a fourth down on their final two drives, the Bulldogs came away with an ugly win…still that’s a win. The defending champions would gladly take it up on a day that turned shady for a handful of top teams.
Buckeyes 43-30 win vs Maryland It was a strikingly similar game to their last trip to College Park, in 2018. It was a lot closer than it should have been, according to both teams’ records. Maryland looked like some of the best players in the world in spikes, only to be met with heartbreak in the closing minutes. All Ohio State had to do was wait desperately and eventually pull the game.
The game’s final minutes and score set off Saturday’s edition of the Big Ten East game and left the final 13-point margin somewhat misleading. CJ Stroud He threw for 241 yards and a touchdown, but the star of Ohio State’s offense was a freshman running back Dalan Hayden, who carried the ball 27 times for 146 yards and three touchdowns. Hayden has appeared in the last two games as the Buckeyes’ rushing offense deals with injuries, and the depth he provides could be a difference-maker next weekend against Michigan. At the very least, it positions Hayden to be one of the best running backs in Columbus. Safety Latham Ransom came out big again as the teams special cleat, blocking a kick for the second straight game.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win. Ohio State has played its part in creating the largest game between Ohio State and Michigan since 2006.
3. Michigan (11-0)
It also wasn’t very pretty in Ann Arbor, where Wolverine is Scored a 19-17 win over Illinois Thanks to a 35-yard field goal from Jake Moody With nine seconds remaining. Michigan is fortunate to have one of the best kickers in the country, because the Wolverines may have settled for kicking field goals more often than they should. They needed to kick field goals on Saturday because they couldn’t count on a running game after an apparent knee injury to a Heisman Trophy contender. Blake Corum in the first half. The Wolverines’ bitter offense still leaves a lot to be desired and should be a major concern ahead of next week’s showdown against a much-improved Ohio State defense.
Jim Harbaugh said after the game that Corum was cleared to return to the game (playing once in the second half) and that he had no skeletal problems. Harbaugh also said he expects others who get hit to be willing to play the Buckeyes as well because, well, it’s The Game. It will also be for a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game and a de facto game to the College Football Playoff.
4. TCU (11-0)
We wondered aloud if he was – or maybe When – TCU will run out of magic. Well, time to schedule that conversation for another day, because it’s still working. The Horned Frogs staged their most dramatic comeback of a season filled with them remaining unbeaten, Using a 40-yard field goal from a fire drill by kicker Griffin Keel as time expired to beat Baylor, 29-28.
There is undoubtedly something special about this team, led by a remarkably flexible midfielder Max Dugan, which is worth a trip to New York City for the Heisman Trophy Gala, at least. The Horned Frogs’ path to CFP is pretty clear: win, and they are there. I don’t think TCU can survive a loss at this point, either to a sub-. 500 Iowa team next weekend or a Big 12 title game. But the undefeated Power 5 champion would make the four-team field undisputed.
My best tip for horned frogs (who definitely don’t ask for it)? Package up these charms and sell them along with lottery tickets in convenience stores across the country. Or empty it, use it all up, win a couple more games and see how far this thing can go.
5. USC (10-1)
The Trojans pulled off a landmark victory with a thrilling 48-45 win against them University of California In front of 70,000-plus at the Rose Bowl as a quarterback Caleb Williams He likely solidified himself as a Heisman Trophy finalist two weeks before the run, accounting for 502 total yards of offense and three touchdowns on the national stage.
The one-loss Trojans were shocked by a few points and by two losses LSUNow that both teams have a pair of top 25 wins. The tigers Best wins, over the good but the flawed Alabama And the Ole Miss The team is now in free fall, looking better then than it does now.
The USC defense is definitely a suspect. I don’t trust him. She gave up 45 points despite of forcing four shifts. This is really, really hard to do! Although Lincoln Riley’s Oklahoma teams were good enough on offense to win the regular season games needed to build a strong playoff appeal, the defenses were doomed. sooner Once they get to the CFP. I feel the same way about Riley’s first team from USC. If the Trojans win, they will have added two marquee victories to their resume: vs Notre Dame and potentially a top 15 opponent in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
There are still discussions and scenarios to consider, but the Trojans will be in the field with the Pac-12 title. The system is not set up to single out a losing Power 5 champion with the potential to win four top 25 teams and only lose to a ranked team on the road.
6. LSU (9-2)
The Tigers avoided the drama that landed their top 10 peers this weekend, with a 41-10 victory. uab At home on a Saturday night. The LSU defense allowed a short field touchdown on UAB’s first possession and a field goal on their second, and then shut it all out after that. LSU has accumulated up to 565 total yards of offense, converted 11 of 13 third downs and generally handled business.
LSU’s biography could look very different by the end of the season: losing at home to Tennessee It won’t be mitigated by the Vols sneaking into the top four, and a win at Ole Miss goes down fast. The good news for tigers? None of this really matters since it has to be a lock for the CFP if they win. In this situation, no one in the country will have a better victory than the victory of a neutral site over Georgia. This is exactly how a two-loss team will break into the four-team CFP field for the first time.
7 – Clemson (10-1)
The tigers Keep covering up, hovering off pace but still alive in the college football race. Clemson knows they’ll have a good run if they win, with multiple teams ahead of them still on their way to a showdown before the final rankings are released. Tennessee’s loss Saturday night takes away another strong one hoping to get out of the mix.
Smash tigers Miami 40-10 in a game that ended as soon as it began. DJ Uiagalelei The company scored on three of its first four offensive runs, which coincided well with Miami’s first four drives: three of three carries and an interception. Clemson has performed well since losing to Notre Dame in early November, and I’ll be curious to see next weekend’s visit from the South Carolina team that just took Tennessee out of these rankings.
8- Alabama (9-2)
On a day full of close calls, it was nice to be Alabama Qualified to a 34-0 win over FCS Austin Peay. SEC teams that schedule a Saturday night before the end of competition week tend to thank themselves later, and here’s why. The Tide didn’t have to worry about a trap game before the Iron Bowl, met little resistance and got some rest Bryce Young for most of the fourth quarter.
The Ducks have lost two games under Dan Lanning, and we’ve learned a lot about them from their responses each time. After a lopsided loss to Georgia in Week 1, they are on an eight-game winning streak, scoring over 40 points per game. After losing a heartbreaking home Washington Last week, they put in a great knockout performance Bo Nix With a solid defensive effort in a 20-17 win against Utah. The Knicks fought all night, throwing for 287 yards and a touchdown and atoning for his only big mistake—a fourth quarter interception—with a fake pitch and rushing for a third down conversion to the ice of the game.
The Ducks would reach the Pac-12 Championship Game by defeating the Ducks Oregon Or Washington’s loss Washington state next week. They may not be playing for a CFP berth, but they’re still playing a long haul in Lanning’s first season – and they might be doing enough to get the Nix, Auburn Transfer to New York City.
10. Notre Dame (8-3)
Congratulations to the Fighting Irish on Blistering 44-0 win over Boston College More importantly, to promote themselves as a “quality loser” to a variety of top teams. We’ve come full circle with this preseason top ten team, which hit bottom with a loss Marshall And the Stanford And now he looks pretty decent after all.
Boston College In the midst of a terrible season, but the Irish put in a sharp performance anyway, buoyed by three interceptions from a freshman cornerback. Benjamin Morrison. Notre Dame forced five turnovers and scored on its first eight possessions—a simple formula for success. Marcus Freeman has talked a lot about playing Notre Dame to a standard rather than its opponent, and this was a good example of that vision becoming a reality.
The Irish hold a very respectable 8-3 record in the season finale against a top 10 USC team, but their influence on the CFP race extends far beyond that, now that they’re almost firmly established as a top 20 team. It’s an acceptable loss for Clemson, nothing that drags the Tigers’ appeal too far. They’re a career-high 20-win finish for Ohio State, solidifying the Buckeyes’ cause for the top four. And they could become a potential win for the Trojans next week, too. It’s an odd place for a program that would rather be in contention for the CFP itself, but it’s a sign that Notre Dame has risen to the bar with respect — and then some — in an eventful year for Freeman.
(Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)