• Week 12 didn't solve any mysteries of the College Football Playoff picture—just reminded us how good many of the top teams can be at their best.
By Bruce Feldman
November 19, 2017

A horrible slate of games in Week 12 provided little separation, as many of the top teams had no trouble with inferior competition. The week’s biggest winner was Wisconsin, which defeated Michigan to stay unbeaten. Things will get a whole lot more interesting next week, when all the big rivalry games go down. As for now, here’s an updated look at the nation’s 10 best teams:

1. Alabama: Mercer, as expected, was no match for the Crimson Tide, which got tuned up for the Iron Bowl at Auburn with a 56–0 romp. Alabama has now defeated 73 consecutive unranked teams under Saban, an FBS record. Two more wins and the Tide goes into the playoff as the No. 1 seed, but one stumble might—might—mean they get left out, since they only have two quality wins: at Mississippi State and at home against LSU.

2. Miami: The Hurricanes had to rally to beat a decent Virginia team, notching three more turnovers. Next up is Pitt. Miami is unbeaten with two good wins at home, having blown out Notre Dame and handled Virginia Tech. It’s a stretch to think they could lose to Clemson in the ACC title game and still make the final four without some help.

3. Oklahoma: The Sooners held Kansas to 69 total yards in the first half and cruised to a 41–3 win. The Sooners have the best trio of wins of anyone in the country (Ohio State in Columbus, Oklahoma State in Stillwater and TCU in Norman), and there’s little shame in losing to 7–4 Iowa State.

4. Wisconsin: The Badgers’ schedule stiffened, and they responded, holding off Michigan during a 24–10 win and limiting the Wolverines to 58 rushing yards—their Wolverines lowest output this season. Meanwhile Northwestern, the Big Ten West’s second-best team, has improved to 8–3.

5. Clemson: Saturday’s 61–3 win over FCS Citadel won’t turn heads, but the Tigers’ early-season performances against Auburn and Virginia Tech still stand on their own. Beat 8–3 South Carolina and then Miami in the ACC title game, and they’re all set. Stumble, and it’s doubtful they get a chance to defend their national title.

6. Georgia: After last weekend’s dismal performance at Auburn, the Bulldogs rebounded by drilling Kentucky, 42–13. Their win over Notre Dame carried them to the No. 1 ranking, but don’t overlook how they dispatched two eight-win teams in a 14-point win over South Carolina and a 31–3 thrashing of Mississippi State.

7. Auburn: That stunning loss at LSU has faded into the background with the roll Auburn is on right now, highlighted by last week’s domination of Georgia. If the Tigers beat Alabama this week and Georgia (again) the next, they’re in.

8. Notre Dame: Brian Kelly’s team bounced back from getting blasted at Miami by holding off a solid Navy team. Closing out the season by beating Stanford on the road would give the Irish an impressive 10–2 campaign to hold up, but an 11–2 Ohio State team that beat Michigan and then Wisconsin would leapfrog the Irish in the playoff pecking order.

9. Ohio State: As expected, the Buckeyes hammered Illinois. If they win out, especially if they do so in convincing fashion, I like their chances to make the playoff, although it would help to have Oklahoma stumble in the Big 12 title game.

10. UCF: The Knights keep blowing teams out and putting up points, beating Temple on the road 45–19. Their best win is over 9–1 Memphis, and that one wasn’t even close at 40–13. They’ll have a chance to impress more folks this Friday against a good USF team, but it’s still hard to envision them crashing the playoff.

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