Alabama holds onto No. 1 spot in Power Rankings after Week 13

3:58 | College Football
College football roundup: Week 13
Tuesday November 25th, 2014

Finales are tricky. How do you sum up something that meant so much and had so much work put into it with one episode or a single event? By their very nature, finales only invite failure and disappointment.

If you leave it up to interpretation (think The Sopranos) you run the risk of not saying enough for your viewer. If you check off all the boxes and make it neat and tidy (Breaking Bad, for instance), you’re not giving your audience enough credit. The shows that get canceled and really shouldn’t have been -- Freaks and Geeks comes to mind, and more recently, the short-lived Fox show Enlisted -- sometimes get it right on accident. There’s something more natural about an unexpected finish.

Finales are, well, final, but when they’re scripted, they don’t feel that way. Thankfully we don’t have to worry about that with college football. The end of the regular season has plenty of storylines that need closure, but even when we think we have it all figured out, something like the 2013 Iron Bowl happens. As finales go for the general college football viewing public, that was perfect. Unless of course you’re an Alabama fan.

It’s time to see what happens when we close the book on the 2014 regular season before conference championships effectively put a coda on the year and set the stage for the first College Football Playoff.

• ELLIS: Bowl Projections: Can Baylor make late playoff surge?

College Football Power Rankings
  • 1
    1Alabama Crimson Tide
    last week: 1
    record: 10-1
    Paul Finebaum will be taking calls live during the Iron Bowl on SEC Network,'s Richard Deitsch revealed Monday. This is either the worst or greatest idea of all time and inexplicably could end up being both.
    Last game: Beat Western Carolina, 48-14
    Next game: Saturday vs. Auburn

  • 2
    2Florida State Seminoles
    last week: 2
    record: 11-0
    Another week, another close win for Florida State, which is in its own personal CBS drama in which even if a reclusive billionaire kidnaps the Secretary of State, the Seminoles -- with the aid of their trusty robot friend, Cybo -- find a way to save the day in the nick of time between Microsoft Surface ads.
    Last game: Beat Boston College, 20-17
    Next game: Saturday vs. Florida

  • 3
    3Oregon Ducks
    last week: 3
    record: 10-1
    After Oregon’s win over Colorado, an upstart sixth-grade student journalist asked Ducks coach Mark Helfrich about Marcus Mariota’s future. What transpired was one of the better press conference back-and-forths in recent memory.
    Last game: Beat Colorado, 44-10
    Next game: Saturday at Oregon State

  • 4
    4Baylor Bears
    last week: 4
    record: 9-1
    Baylor managed to go up 14-0 against Oklahoma State by just 2:26 into the game. There have been eight games this season in which SMU didn’t manage to score 14 points through all 60 minutes.
    Last game: Beat Oklahoma State, 49-28
    Next game: Saturday vs. Texas Tech

  • 5
    5Mississippi State Bulldogs
    last week: 5
    record: 10-1
    Dak Prescott returned to form against Vanderbilt, throwing for three touchdowns and adding one on the ground in the easy win for the Bulldogs. His Heisman hopes may ultimately be gone, but Mississippi State's playoff hopes are still in play.
    Last game: Beat Vanderbilt, 51-0
    Next game: Saturday at Ole Miss

  • 6
    6TCU Horned Frogs
    last week: 6
    record: 9-1
    Texas is 62-21-1 (have to love those ties) all time against TCU. The teams have played just three times since 1995, with the Longhorns holding a 2-1 record in those matchups. This has all of the makings of a fun rivalry again, especially with the Horned Frogs needing a win to remain in the playoff race (and Big 12 title hunt) and Texas coming off of wins in four of its last five games.

    Last game: Beat Kansas, 34-30
    Next game: Thursday at Texas

  • 7
    7Ohio State Buckeyes
    last week: 7
    record: 10-1
    Urban Meyer won’t say Michigan. He’s playing LL Cool J in the Buckeyes' practice facility. And Ohio State is finding ways to cover up seemingly every “M” in Columbus. So despite the Wolverines being 5-6 and needing this win to become bowl eligibile with Brady Hoke assumedly on his way out, this game still matters to everyone. Rivalries are funny that way.

    Last game: Beat Indiana, 42-27
    Next game: Saturday vs. Michigan

  • 8
    8Michigan State Spartans
    last week: 8
    record: 9-2
    With his 126 yards against Rutgers, Spartans running back Jeremy Langford has now rushed for 100 or more yards in 15 straight conference games. That’s just one mark of consistency from Michigan State, which has scored 27 or more points in every game this season.
    Last game: Beat Rutgers, 45-3
    Next game: Saturday at Penn State

  • 9
    9Georgia Bulldogs
    last week: 10
    record: 9-2
    While the rest of us will likely be making leftover turkey sandwiches on Friday, the Bulldogs will be rooting hard for Arkansas. The Razorbacks need to beat Missouri for Georgia to win the SEC East and move on to Atlanta.
    Last game: Beat Charleston Southern, 55-9
    Next game: Saturday vs. Georgia Tech

  • 10
    10Kansas State Wildcats
    last week: 11
    record: 8-2
    After the Wildcats beat West Virginia on Thursday, Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen told Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett, “I’m glad you are graduating.” It might sound like a backhanded compliment, but it’s actually one of the better things a coach can say to an opposing player. Holgorsen's sentiment on Lockett's graduation are no surprise given how much the All-America has plagued West Virginia over the past few seasons.

    Last game: Beat West Virginia, 26-20
    Next game: Saturday vs. Kansas

  • 11
    11UCLA Bruins
    last week: 12
    record: 9-2
    Brett Hundley officially has his mojo back. The Bruins quarterback has a 9:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, 355 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns in UCLA’s last five games. More importantly, the Bruins are 5-0 in those games and control their destiny in the Pac-12 South.
    Last game: Beat USC, 38-20
    Next game: Friday vs. Stanford

  • 12
    12Arizona State Sun Devils
    last week: 13
    record: 9-2
    With Taylor Kelly scuffling through much of the first half, the Sun Devils needed their defense to step up. Although Arizona State allowed 601 passing yards to Washington State's Luke Falk, the Sun Devils sacked Falk six times and forced five turnovers, often giving the offense a short field to work with. Kelly took advantage in the second half.
    Last game: Beat Washington State, 52-31
    Next game: Friday at Arizona

  • 13
    13Arizona Wildcats
    last week: 14
    record: 9-2
    With their win over Utah, the Wildcats officially have their first nine-win season since Dick Tomey’s 12-1 campaign in 1998. This is also the first time since 1973-75 that Arizona has won eight or more games in three straight years.
    Last game: Beat Utah, 42-10
    Next game: Friday vs. Arizona State

  • 14
    14Wisconsin Badgers
    last week: 15
    record: 9-2
    Melvin Gordon might have lost his week-old FBS single-game rushing record to Samaje Perine, but the Badgers star could set another record if he keeps up his pace through the rest of the year. Gordon needs 519 more yards to break Barry Sanders’ record from 1988 for rushing yards in a season (although Sanders got to 2,628 yards in just 11 games).
    Last game: Beat Iowa, 26-24
    Next game: Saturday vs. Minnesota

  • 15
    15Auburn Tigers
    last week: 16
    record: 8-3
    Let’s go to Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee to sum up the Iron Bowl. “One time, 365 days a year, it's the Iron Bowl,” Lashlee said. “It's Auburn-Alabama. There's a lot of pride involved on both sides. It means a lot, and it trickles down into everything. You could sit up here and act like it's the same as every other game, but it's not."
    Last game: Beat Samford, 31-7
    Next game: Saturday at Alabama

  • 16
    16Colorado State Rams
    last week: 18
    record: 10-1
    Last week in this space I lauded quarterback Garrett Grayson, and I've mentioned the incredible season that receiver Rashard Higgins is having as well. Now it’s time to spotlight Dee Hart, the former Alabama running back, who had six total touchdowns in the Rams’ 58-20 win over New Mexico. Basically what I’m saying is the Colorado State offense is pretty good.
    Last game: Beat New Mexico, 58-20
    Next game: Friday at Air Force

  • 17
    17Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
    last week: 19
    record: 9-2
    The Yellow Jackets locked up the ACC Coastal with Duke’s loss to UNC on Thursday, and they could claim a 10-win regular season if they can beat Georgia. All of this from a team that was picked to finish fourth in its division in the preseason ACC poll.
    Last game: Beat Clemson, 28-6
    Next game: Saturday at Georgia

  • 18
    18Marshall Thundering Herd
    last week: 17
    record: 11-0
    The Thundering Herd's close win over UAB likely won’t impress the committee, but it kept Marshall’s undefeated season alive, and that holds some weight. "This is the game we've been waiting on to define our team,” quarterback Rakeem Cato said after the game, “to really see where we're at. We had a lot of blowout games this year, and we really needed a game like this. When adversity sunk in, we overcame it."
    Last game: Beat UAB, 23-18
    Next game: Saturday vs. Western Kentucky

  • 19
    19Missouri Tigers
    last week: 21
    record: 9-2
    Trash the Tigers for their shutout loss to Georgia. Poke fun at their loss (at home) to Indiana. But Missouri is a victory away from winning the SEC East for the second straight season.
    Last game: Beat Tennessee, 29-21
    Next game: Friday vs. Arkansas

  • 20
    20Oklahoma Sooners
    last week: 23
    record: 8-3
    There’s a new single-game FBS rushing record thanks to Sooners freshman running back Samaje Perine. He had 427 yards and five touchdowns against Kansas, putting him at 1,428 rushing yards on the year and 1,251 in his last eight games.
    Last game: Beat Kansas, 44-7
    Next game: Dec. 6 vs. Oklahoma State

  • 21
    21Ole Miss Rebels
    last week: 9
    record: 8-3
    It would have seemed almost inconceivable after the Rebels started 7-0 and were ranked as high as No. 3 in the AP Poll, but if Ole Miss loses to Mississippi State, it will drop to 4-4 in conference play. That’s the SEC West for you.
    Last game: Lost to Arkansas, 30-0
    Next game: Saturday vs. Mississippi State

  • 22
    22Clemson Tigers
    last week: NR
    record: 8-3
    Quarterback Deshaun Watson is back practicing, although he’s been wearing the green non-contact jersey. That’s good news for Clemson, which needs its talented freshman quarterback to be healthy to break that five-game losing streak to the Gamecocks.
    Last game: Beat Georgia State, 28-0
    Next game: Saturday vs. South Carolina

  • 23
    23Louisville Cardinals
    last week: NR
    record: 8-3
    The Cardinals have a new coach and a new quarterback and are in their first year in the ACC. Yet if Louisville can win out (against Kentucky and in its bowl game), it would have a 10-win season. Not too many other schools' debuts in new conferences went as smoothly.
    Last game: Beat Notre Dame, 31-28
    Next game: Saturday vs. Kentucky

  • 24
    24Boise State Broncos
    last week: NR
    record: 9-2
    With its head-to-head win over Colorado State, Boise State needs to beat Utah State on Saturday to win the Mountain division of the Mountain West and head to the conference title game. That’s no easy task; despite playing about 100 quarterbacks this season, the Aggies are a nine-win team and still have a shot at winning the division if they beat Boise State and Colorado State loses to Air Force on Friday.
    Last game: Beat Wyoming, 63-14
    Next game: Saturday vs. Utah State

  • 25
    25Minnesota Golden Gophers
    last week: NR
    record: 8-3
    The Golden Gophers are the proud owners of the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy, created in tandem by Goldy and @FauxPelini. Congrats, Minnesota, it’s an incredible honor.

    Last game: Beat Nebraska, 28-24
    Next game: Saturday at Wisconsin

Next five: Nebraska, Arkansas, LSU, USC, Memphis

• STAPLES: Rivalry week set to bring playoff picture into focus

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