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Power Rankings: Iowa into top 4 after Week 11
1:23 | College Football
Power Rankings: Iowa into top 4 after Week 11
Tuesday November 17th, 2015

With four of the top 11 teams in last week’s Power Rankings falling Saturday, Week 11 was a good shakedown week. At this point, it feels safe to say the playoff field will comprise some group of about 10 teams, barring a massive pileup over the remaining weeks of the season.

I’d include each of the top nine teams in this week’s Power Rankings in that group, plus North Carolina if the Tar Heels were to stun Clemson in the ACC title game and get a little help from some upsets. The field is definitely narrowing, but we’ve got three more weeks to turn 10 teams into four.

Latest CFP rankings: Top four remains same, Oklahoma St. up to No. 6

College Football Power Rankings
  • 1
    1Clemson Tigers
     
    last week: 1
    record: 10–0
    Saturday’s 10-point win over Syracuse wasn’t Clemson’s cleanest performance, particularly for its run defense. But it was the first time since the Tigers’ three-point win over Louisville on Sept. 17 that their game was closer than expected.
     
    Last week: Beat Syracuse 37-27
    Next week: Saturday vs. Wake Forest

  • 2
    2Alabama Crimson Tide
     
    last week: 2
    record: 9–1
    Nobody is playing better than Alabama right now, with Saturday’s 31–6 beatdown of Mississippi State just the latest proof. The Crimson Tide can’t erase their loss to Ole Miss, but they don’t need to—without another slipup, they’ll make the playoff and get their chance to earn a national title on the field.
     
    Last week: Beat Mississippi State 31-6
    Next week: Saturday vs. Charleston Southern

  • 3
    3Notre Dame Fighting Irish
     
    last week: 4
    record: 9–1
    Temple’s loss to USF cost Notre Dame one of its wins over a ranked opponent. Good thing USC got past Colorado to replace it. The undefeated teams ranked behind the Fighting Irish still don’t have the quality wins to jump them yet.

    Last week: Beat Wake Forest 28-7
    Next week: Saturday vs. Boston College

  • 4
    4Iowa Hawkeyes
     
    last week: 5
    record: 10–0
    With two road wins over ranked opponents, including a 40–10 drubbing of Northwestern, Iowa remains my top-ranked Big Ten team. The biggest problem for the Hawkeyes is that unless the teams ahead of them choke, they have no clear opportunity to move up until the Big Ten title game.
     
    Last week: Beat Minnesota 40-35
    Next week: Saturday vs. Purdue

  • 5
    5Oklahoma State Cowboys
     
    last week: 6
    record: 10–0
    Few matchups screamed “TRAP GAME!!!” louder than the Cowboys’ meeting with Iowa State on Saturday, sandwiched between last week’s win over TCU and battles with Baylor and Oklahoma in the next two weeks. Oklahoma State’s defense, which allowed 6.7 yards per play to the Cyclones a week after holding the Horned Frogs to 6.0, was a major disappointment, but at least the Cowboys didn’t allow Iowa State to end their championship dreams like it did in 2011.
     
    Last week: Beat Iowa State 35-31
    Next week: Saturday vs. Baylor
     

  • 6
    6Ohio State Buckeyes
     
    last week: 8
    record: 10–0
    We’ll finally get to see this weekend how the Buckeyes fare against a quality opponent. Their No. 3 ranking in the College Football Playoff top 25 makes little sense without already giving them credit for future wins over Michigan State and Michigan. Looking only at the games Ohio State has played, it has no notable victories.
     
    Last week: Beat Illinois 28-3
    Next week: Saturday vs. Michigan State

  • 7
    7Florida Gators
     
    last week: 9
    record: 9–1
    For the second straight week, Florida’s résumé got hurt by the performance of its past opponents. The Gators’ seven-point loss on the road to a then-undefeated LSU wasn’t a huge knock at first. Even after the Tigers lost to Alabama, Florida’s defeat was still only a minor setback. Now the Gators only have one significant win (over Ole Miss) and a loss to a team that the current rankings suggest they should have beaten.
     
    Last week: Beat South Carolina 24-14
    Next week: Saturday vs. Florida Atlantic

  • 8
    8Oklahoma Sooners
     
    last week: 15
    record: 9–1
    Similar to Alabama, no one in the Big 12 is playing better than Oklahoma right now. Since losing to Texas, the Sooners have walloped everyone in their path, including Baylor, their first ranked opponent of the season. That loss to the Longhorns is always going to drag down Oklahoma’s playoff résumé, but wins over TCU and Oklahoma State could make the committee’s job quite arduous.
     
    Last week: Beat Baylor 44-34
    Next week: Saturday vs. TCU

  • 9
    9Michigan State Spartans
     
    last week: 13
    record: 9–1
    The Spartans’ Week 2 victory over Oregon seemed like it could be the best nonconference win of the season at the time. Then it seemed basically worthless, if not a negative, due to the three-point margin as the Ducks’ season plummeted. Now it’s back to being relevant again—though not nearly as much as originally expected—and could play a key role in determining Michigan State’s playoff fate if the Spartans can take down Ohio State on Saturday.
     
    Last week: Beat Maryland 24-7
    Next week: Saturday at Ohio State

  • 10
    10Baylor Bears
     
    last week: 3
    record: 8–1
    I had been giving Baylor credit for doing what a playoff-caliber team should do against inferior competition. But a playoff-caliber team should also beat a conference rival at home, and that speaks much louder than blowouts of Rice and Kansas do.
     
    Last week: Lost to Oklahoma 44-34
    Next week: Saturday at Oklahoma State
     

  • 11
    11TCU Horned Frogs
     
    last week: 12
    record: 9–1
    It’ll be a disappointment to all fans of college football, and of course TCU fans in particular, if Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson aren’t healthy for the Horned Frogs’ showdowns with Oklahoma and Baylor in the next two weeks. TCU barely managed to get by Kansas without its lethal QB-WR duo, so it’s hard to imagine Gary Patterson’s squad taking down the Sooners or Bears if Boykin and Doctson can’t play.
     
    Last week: Beat Kansas 23-17
    Next week: Saturday at Oklahoma

  • 12
    12Michigan Wolverines
     
    last week: 14
    record: 8–2
    Michigan is living dangerously with close wins over Minnesota and Indiana in the last three weeks, but the Wolverines are alive for the Big Ten title and their blowout win over Northwestern still carries some weight.
     
    Last week: Beat Indiana 48-41 in double OT
    Next week: Saturday at Penn State

  • 13
    13North Carolina Tar Heels
     
    last week: 16
    record: 9–1
    With 125 points in their last two games, the Tar Heels are definitely making Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables sweat a bit. Still, an atrocious loss to South Carolina and no wins over ranked opponents keep North Carolina far away from a playoff bid for now.
     
    Last week: Beat Miami 59-21
    Next week: Saturday at Virginia Tech

  • 14
    14Houston Cougars
     
    last week: 17
    record: 10–0
    The Cougars have the inside track to a New Year’s Six bowl after erasing a 20-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat Memphis. And in case you hadn’t noticed, Baylor’s loss gives Houston a new point of distinction:
     

     
    Last week: Beat Memphis 35-34
    Next week: Saturday at UConn

  • 15
    15Stanford Cardinal
     
    last week: 10
    record: 8–2
    Even when your offense converts 12 of 17 third downs, it’s hard to win when you give up 9.1 yards per play. The Cardinal seemed poised to be this year’s Ohio State, erasing an early loss to make a run to the playoff. Oregon had other ideas.
     
    Last week: Lost to Oregon 38-36
    Next week: Saturday vs. Cal
     

  • 16
    16LSU Tigers
     
    last week: 7
    record: 7–2
    My, how quickly things have unraveled in Baton Rouge. Two weeks ago, LSU was undefeated, on track to win the SEC and make the playoff, while Leonard Fournette had all but wrapped up the Heisman. Now both have been dismantled, blown to bits with a 17-point loss at home to Arkansas. A trip to Ole Miss won’t help the Tigers get back on track, either.
     
    Last week: Lost to Arkansas 31-14
    Next week: Saturday at Ole Miss

  • 17
    17Utah Utes
     
    last week: 11
    record: 8–2
    The other Pac-12 playoff contender to let its postseason dreams fall apart Saturday, Utah couldn’t even take advantage of a concussed Anu Solomon to escape Tucson with a win. After entering the game for Solomon, Arizona backup Jerrard Randall completed only one pass—a game-winning 25-yard touchdown in double-overtime.
     
    Last week: Lost to Arizona 37-30 in double OT 
    Next week: Saturday vs. UCLA

  • 18
    18Northwestern Wildcats
     
    last week: 18
    record: 8–2
    Northwestern hasn’t done a whole lot since getting blown out by Michigan and Iowa to prove it deserves a spot in the top 25. But the Wildcats keep finding ways to win, taking their last three games by a combined 11 points. A trip to Wisconsin should offer a better indication of where the Wildcats stand in the Big Ten hierarchy.
     
    Last week: Beat Purdue 21-14
    Next week: Saturday at Wisconsin

  • 19
    19Navy Midshipmen
     
    last week: 20
    record: 8–1
    Navy and Houston meet in two weeks in what will essentially be a play-in game for the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl bid. The Midshipmen still have to take care of business vs. Tulsa, but they seem to be firing on all cylinders. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds now holds the FBS record for rushing touchdowns after four scores against SMU.
     
    Last week: Beat SMU 55-14
    Next week: Saturday at Tulsa

  • 20
    20Wisconsin Badgers
     
    last week: 21
    record: 8–2
    The Badgers got tested twice in the first five weeks, lost both and have coasted ever since with five straight victories over teams with no better than .500 records. Wisconsin’s sixth-ranked defense in defensive S&P+ ratings should have little trouble quashing Northwestern’s attack, but the Badgers have lacked their usually potent running game with Corey Clement’s string of injuries.
     
    Last week: Bye week
    Next week: Saturday vs. Northwestern
     

  • 21
    21Florida State Seminoles
     
    last week: 24
    record: 8–2
    It would have been easy for Florida State to suffer a letdown after the Seminoles’ hard-fought 23–13 loss to Clemson. Instead Jimbo Fisher’s squad produced one of its better results of the season, rebounding from a 17–7 deficit to rattle off 27 straight points and take down NC State. Quarterback Everett Golson returned to his turnover-prone self with three early giveaways, but Sean Maguire stabilized the offense and should be the Seminoles’ starter from here on out.
     
    Last week: Beat NC State 34-17
    Next week: Saturday vs. Chattanooga

  • 22
    22Toledo Rockets
     
    last week: 25
    record: 8–1
    Get ready for some quality Tuesday night MACtion when the Rockets travel to face Matt Johnson and Bowling Green’s high-powered offense. This should be a good test for Toledo’s defense, which ranks second in the MAC in yards allowed per play.
     
    Last week: Beat Central Michigan 28-23
    Next week: Tuesday at Bowling Green

  • 23
    23Oregon Ducks
     
    last week: NR
    record: 7–3
    No injury may have had a bigger impact on this season than Vernon Adams Jr.’s broken finger. In the five games the Ducks signal-caller missed or played hurt in, Oregon went 2–3. When he’s been healthy, the Ducks are 5–0. Yes, Oregon’s not the only team to deal with a QB injury this season, so that’s not a perfect excuse, but in a Pac-12 that appears to lack a playoff team, Mark Helfrich has to be thinking of what could have been.
     
    Last week: Beat Stanford 38-36
    Next week: Saturday vs. USC

  • 24
    24USC Trojans
     
    last week: NR
    record: 7–3
    For the second time in three years, we’re talking about a resurgent USC team playing under an interim coach—even though the Trojans’ eight-point victory over Arizona and three-point win over Colorado weren’t exactly dominant. Has Pat Haden considered just running a rotational coaching system, bringing in a new leader every eight games or so? Of course he could also just hang on to Clay Helton.
     
    Last week: Beat Colorado 27-24
    Next week: Saturday at Oregon

  • 25
    25Memphis Tigers
     
    last week: 22
    record: 8–2
    It’s rare to be able to prop a Group of Five team up for the quality of its losses, but that’s the case for the Tigers, whose defeats this season have come to ranked Navy and Houston squads. Still, Memphis has to be kicking itself for blowing a 34–14 fourth quarter lead to the Cougars. A win could have put Justin Fuente’s squad back in line for a New Year’s Six bowl bid.
     
    Last week: Lost to Houston 35-34
    Next week: Saturday at Temple

Dropped out: Temple, Mississippi State
Next five: Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Temple, Washington State

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