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  • Ranking alll 78 FBS teams participating in bowl season this year, from the playoff teams all the way down to those who are just happy to be here.
By Scooby Axson
December 04, 2018

The four-month journey to bowl season has finally reached its end. In honor of this, we're going beyond our usual 25 teams for power rankings and extending it to the other 53 FBS teams that are playing in a bowl game this year.

Only 18 different teams appeared in this season’s top 10, making the usual parity virtually non-existent. Alabama went wire-to-wire, as expected, and just like last year, the six-win threshold means nothing after there were more bowl-eligible teams than actual bowl spots. Unfortunately, you will not be seeing Southern Mississippi, Louisiana-Monroe, Miami (Ohio) and Wyoming, all of whom had six wins and will be watching the 39 bowl games along with the rest of us.

Now on to this week’s Top 78:

1. Alabama (13–0, 8-0 SEC)

Previous ranking: 1
This week: Beat Georgia 35–28 in SEC championship
Next game: vs. Oklahoma in Orange Bowl (CFP Semifinal)

Jalen Hurts came off the bench in relief of an injured Tua Tagovailoa and led the Crimson Tide back from a two-touchdown deficit. Josh Jacobs had two touchdowns and 83 rushing yards and Jaylen Waddle had 113 yards and a touchdown. The Tide captured their 27th SEC title, while the senior class won its 54th game, the most in NCAA history.

2. Clemson (13–0, 8–0 ACC)

Previous ranking: 2
This week: Beat Pittsburgh 45–10 in ACC championship
Next week: vs. Notre Dame in Cotton Bowl (CFP Semifinal)

The Tigers won their fourth straight ACC title with ease, pummeling an overmatched Pittsburgh squad. Clemson’s regular season was just as dominant as Alabama’s, beating 11 of its 13 opponents by 20 or more points. Travis Etienne got Clemson to off a fast start, taking the first play and sprinting 75 yards for a touchdown. Etienne finished with 156 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers set a school record for points scored in a season.

3. Notre Dame (12–0)

Previous ranking: 3
This week: Off
Next week: vs. Clemson in Cotton Bowl (CFP Semifinal)

4. Oklahoma (12–1, 8–1 Big 12)

Previous ranking: 5
This week: Beat Texas 39–27 in Big 12 championship
Next game: vs. Alabama in Orange Bowl

Kyler Murray made his final statement for being a Heisman Trophy finalist, throwing for 379 yards and three touchdowns while setting the school record for total offense in a season as the Sooners won the Big 12 title for the fourth straight title and avenged their only loss of the season. Oklahoma has only 11 takeaways this season, but eight of them have come in the fourth quarter and overtime, including an interception late in the game against Texas.

5. Ohio State (12–1, 8–1 Big Ten)

Previous ranking: 6
This week: Beat Northwestern 45–24 in Big Ten championship
Next game: vs. Washington in Rose Bowl

In beating Northwestern for the seventh straight time, the Buckeyes have consecutive conference titles thanks to the exploits of Dwayne Haskins. Haskins passed for a Big Ten title record 499 yards and five touchdowns, his fifth 400-yard game this season.

6. Georgia (11–2, 7–1 SEC)

Previous ranking: 4
This week: Lost 35–28 to Alabama in SEC championship
Next game: vs. Texas in Sugar Bowl

Georgia’s argument of being included in the Playoff went out the window by blowing a two-touchdown second half lead and virtually handing Alabama the game-winning score after failing to convert a fake punt with three minutes to go from midfield. The Bulldogs gained 454 yards, the most given up by Alabama in 2018, but couldn’t sustain the momentum late in the game, punting three times, missing a field goal and turning the ball over on downs in their last five drives.

STAPLES: By Choosing Oklahoma Over Georgia, Committee Puts Playoff Expansion Frenzy on Hold (for Now)

7. UCF (12–0, 8–0 AAC)

Previous ranking: 7
This week: Beat Memphis 56–41 in AAC championship
Next game: vs. LSU in Fiesta Bowl

UCF backup quarterback Darriel Mack, filling in for an injured McKenzie Milton, scored six total touchdowns while throwing for 348 yards and adding 59 yards and four touchdowns on the ground to lead the Knights to their 25th straight win. In each win, UCF has scored 30 or more points, which is a major college record. The defense allowed only 65 rushing yards in the second half after allowing 335 yards in the first, the most allowed in any half by any team this year.

8. Michigan (10–2, 8–1 Big Ten)

Previous ranking: 8
This week: Off
Next game: vs. Florida in Peach Bowl

9. Washington (10–3, 7–2 Pac–12)

Previous ranking: 13
This week: Beat Utah 10–3 in Pac–12 championship
Next game: vs. Ohio State in Rose Bowl

In a defensive struggle, the Huskies earned their first trip to the Rose Bowl since the 2000 season. Jake Browning had 187 yards passing and Myles Gaskin added 71 yards on the ground for Washington, which held Utah to 188 yards. The only touchdown of the game came when Utah quarterback Jason Shelley was picked off by Byron Murphy, who returned it 66 yards.

10. Penn State (9–3, 6–3 Big Ten)

Previous ranking: 10
This week: Off
Next game: vs. Kentucky in Citrus Bowl

11. Florida (9–3, 5–3 SEC)

Previous ranking: 11
This week: Off
Next game: vs. Michigan in Peach Bowl

12. LSU (9–3, 5–3 SEC)

Previous ranking: 12
This week: Off
Next game: vs. UCF in Fiesta Bowl

13. West Virginia (9–3, 6–3 Big 12)

Previous ranking: 15
This week: Off
Next game: vs. Syracuse in Camping World Bowl

14. Texas (9–4, 7–2 Big 12)

Previous ranking: 9
This week: Lost 39–27 to Oklahoma in Big 12 championship
Next game: vs. Georgia in Sugar Bowl

15. Mississippi State (8–4, 4–4 SEC)

Previous ranking: 16
This week: Off
Next game: vs. Iowa in Outback Bowl

16. Washington State (10–2, 7–2 Pac–12)

Previous ranking: 17
This week: Off
Next game: vs. Iowa State in Alamo Bowl

17. Syracuse (9–3, 6–2 ACC)

Previous ranking: 18
This week: Off
Next game: vs. West Virginia in Camping World Bowl

18. Utah (9–4, 6–3 Pac–12)

Previous ranking: 14
This week: Lost to Washington 10–3 in Pac-12 championship
Next game: vs. Northwestern in Holiday Bowl

Utah had its worst game offensively of the season in the Pac 12 title game, as it couldn’t get anything going against the stout Washington defense. Freshman Jason Shelley, starting in the place of injured Tyler Huntley, went 17 of 27 for 137 yards with three interceptions. Utah’s only score of the game came from kicker Matt Gay, who nailed a 53-yard field goal in the third quarter. It was the first Pac-12 title game that did not have an offensive touchdown.

19. Army (9–2)

Previous ranking: 19
This week: vs. Navy
Bowl game: vs. Houston in Armed Forces Bowl

20. Kentucky (9–3, 5–3 SEC)

Previous ranking: 21
This week: Off
Next game: vs. Penn State in Citrus Bowl

21. Texas A&M (8–4, 5–3 MWC)

Previous ranking: 22
This week: Off
Next game: vs. NC State in Gator Bowl

22. Fresno State (11­–2, 7–1 MWC)

Previous ranking: 25
This week: Beat Boise State 19–16 OT in Mountain West championship
Next game: vs. Arizona State in Las Vegas Bowl

Fresno State continued its extended streak of sustained defensive excellence, holding its opponent to less than 30 points for the 24th straight game. Ronnie Rivers scored on a one-yard run, helping the Bulldogs avenge previous conference title game losses to Boise State in 2014 and 2017. Fresno survived despite turning the ball over twice and a gaining season-low 4.43 yards a play.

23. Missouri (8–4, 4–4 SEC)

Previous ranking: Unranked
This week: Off
Next game: vs. Oklahoma State in Liberty Bowl

24. NC State (9–3, 5–3 ACC)

Previous ranking: 24
This week: Beat East Carolina 58–3
Next game: vs. Texas A&M in Gator Bowl

25. Boise State (10–3, 7–1 MWC)

Previous ranking: 23
This week: Lost 19–13 to Fresno State in Mountain West Championship
Next game: vs. Boston College in First Responder Bowl

Boise State lost for just the ninth time at home this century and was denied a second straight Mountain West crown after losing to Fresno State. Alexander Mattison had 200 yards on 40 carries during the title game snowstorm and Brett Rypien threw for 125 yards and one touchdown. But special teams let the Broncos down, missing a field goal and having an extra point blocked.

Top 25 by conference: SEC (8), Big Ten (3), Big 12 (3), ACC (3), Pac-12 (3), AAC (1), Independent (2), MWC (2).

Almost famous

UAB is the story of this group, going from a shutdown football program four years ago to a winning the Conference USA title after beating Middle Tennessee State. Memphis had two chances this year to take down Central Florida and the nation’s longest winning streak, blowing a 16-point lead in October and 17-point cushion in the AAC title. This year was a different Stanford team than we are used to seeing, going from a run-dominant team to throwing the ball all over the yard, despite having the services of Bryce Love.

26. Northwestern (8–5)

Next game: vs. Utah in Holiday Bowl

27. Iowa State (8–4)

Next game: vs. Washington State in Alamo Bowl

28. Utah State (10–2)

Next game: vs. North Texas in New Mexico Bowl

29. Cincinnati (10–2)

Next game: vs. Virginia Tech in Military Bowl

30. Appalachian State (10–2)

Next game: vs. Middle Tennessee State in New Orleans Bowl

31. UAB (10–3)

Next game: vs. Northern Illinois in Boca Raton Bowl

32. Oregon (8–4)

Next game: vs. Michigan State in Redbox Bowl

33. Troy (9–3)

Next game: vs. Buffalo in Dollar General Bowl

34. Stanford (8–4)

Next game: vs. Pittsburgh in Sun Bowl

35. North Texas (9–3)

Next game: vs. Utah State in New Mexico Bowl

36. Iowa (8–4)

Next game: vs. Mississippi State in Outback Bowl

37. Buffalo (10–3)

Next game: vs. Troy in Dollar General Bowl

38. Georgia Southern (9–3)

Next game: vs. Eastern Michigan in Camellia Bowl

39. Memphis (8–5)

Next game: vs. Wake Forest in Birmingham Bowl

What could have been

The snickers and laughs were wide-ranging when Arizona State announced it was hiring Herm Edwards as the head coach. The joke is on everyone else as Edwards led the Sun Devils to a 7–5 record, the same number of wins they had last season. South Carolina and Miami were expected to contend for division titles, but Miami couldn’t decide on a quarterback and the Gamecocks had won back-to-back games just once, seemingly alternating wins and losses every week.

40. South Carolina (7–5)

Next game: vs. Virginia in Belk Bowl

41. Miami (Fla.) (7–5)

Next game: vs. Wisconsin in Pinstripe Bowl

42. Arizona State (7–5)

Next game: vs. Fresno State in Las Vegas Bowl

43. Arkansas State (8–4)

Next game: vs. Nevada in Arizona Bowl

44. Houston (8–4)

Next game: vs. Army in Armed Forces Bowl

45. Northern Illinois (8–5)

Next game: vs. UAB in Boca Raton Bowl

46. Middle Tennessee State (8–5)

Next game: vs. Appalachian State in New Orleans Bowl

College football’s Jekyll and Hyde

The teams on this list couldn’t decide what they wanted to be, with some looking like worldbeaters one week, and an absolute mess the next. Wisconsin, which was ranked No. 3 in our SI preseason rankings, fell flat early losing to BYU and Minnesota at home, and getting throttled by Michigan and Northwestern. Auburn also had playoff dreams, especially after an opening-game victory vs. Washington. Now, to keep the hot seat talk cooled down, it must improve on a 1–4 bowl record under Gus Malzahn.

47. Pittsburgh (7–6)

Next game: vs. Stanford in Sun Bowl

48. Boston College (7–5)

Next game: vs. Boise State in First Responder Bowl

49. Michigan State (7–5)

Next game: vs. Oregon in Redbox Bowl

50. Wisconsin (7–5)

Next game: vs. Miami in Pinstripe Bowl

51. Auburn (7–5)

Next game: vs. Purdue in Music City Bowl

52. Duke (7–5)

Next game: vs. Temple in Independence Bowl

53. Hawaii (8–5)

Next game: vs. Louisiana Tech in Hawai’i Bowl

54. San Diego State (7–5)

Next game: vs. Ohio in Frisco Bowl

55. Temple (8–4)

Next game: vs. Duke in Independence Bowl

56. Toledo (7–5)

Next game: vs. FIU in Bahamas Bowl

57. Ohio (8­–4)

Next game: vs San Diego State in Frisco Bowl

58. TCU (6–6)

Next game: vs. California in Cheez-It Bowl

59. Florida International (8–4)

Next game: vs. Toledo in Bahamas Bowl

On the upswing

Georgia Tech may finally get a 21st century offense after Paul Johnson announced his retirement, while Baylor went from one win in 2017 to bowl eligibility in one season in a highly competitive Big 12. Matt Rhule’s name continues to circulate for other head coaching jobs, but the Bears' transformation is nothing short of remarkable. Purdue may have a pedestrian 6–6 record, but anytime your head coach is courted as a result of one game can only mean good things are in store.

60. Marshall (8–4)

Next game: vs. South Florida in Gasparilla Bowl

61. California (7–5)

Next game: vs. TCU in Cheez-It Bowl

62. Georgia Tech (7–5)

Next game: vs. Minnesota in Quick Lane Bowl

63. Virginia (7–5)

Next game: vs. South Carolina in Belk Bowl

64. Nevada (7–5)

Next game: vs. Arkansas State in Arizona Bowl

65. Louisiana Tech (7–5)

Next game: vs. Hawai’i in Hawai’i Bowl

66. Purdue (6–6)

Next game: vs. Auburn in Music City Bowl

67. Baylor (6–6)

Next game: vs. Vanderbilt in Texas Bowl

68. Oklahoma State (6–6)

Next game: vs. Missouri in Liberty Bowl

The worst of the best

No explanation needed here.

69. South Florida (7–5)

Next game: vs. Marshall in Gasparilla Bowl

70. Minnesota (6–6)

Next game: vs. Georgia Tech in Quick Lane Bowl

71. BYU (6–6)

Next game: vs. Western Michigan in Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

72. Western Michigan (7–5)

Next game: vs. BYU in Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

73. Vanderbilt (6–6)

Next game: vs. Baylor in Texas Bowl

74. Tulane (6–6)

Next game: vs. Louisiana in Cure Bowl

75. Virginia Tech (6–6)

Next game: vs. Cincinnati in Military Bowl

76. Wake Forest (6–6)

Next game: vs. Memphis in Birmingham Bowl

77. Louisiana-Lafayette (7–6)

Next game: vs. Tulane in Cure Bowl

And finally, because someone had to be last on this list:

78. Eastern Michigan (7–5)

Next game: vs. Georgia Southern in Camellia Bowl

The Eagles earned just their third bowl invite in the school’s 44-year football history and did so by winning their last three games. But it’s amazing the football program even survived after the school’s athletic department cut four other sports in a budget crunch. So, enjoy the bowl payout and television exposure while you can, because it might not last too much longer.

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