college football power rankings

By Charles Davis

A former defensive back at Tennessee, Charles Davis is the lead college football analyst for FOX Sports.

1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 12-0

The Fighting Irish will play for a national championship after beating USC on the road and completing an undefeated regular season.

2 Alabama Crimson Tide 11-1

Turned the Iron Bowl against Auburn into a Crimson Tide clinic. Next stop: Atlanta, for the SEC title tilt against red-hot Georgia.

3 Ohio State Buckeyes 12-0

We all knew that Urban Meyer coaching The Ohio State University spelled gloom for the rest of the Big Ten and non-conference opponents alike, but undefeated in Year 1? And while on probation? Coach Meyer, even for you, that’s some trick!

4 Oregon Ducks 11-1

Will be highest-ranked Pac-12 team but won’t win a conference title in 2012. Instead, the Ducks will settle for another BCS bowl appearance . . . something that is routine under coach Chip Kelly.

5 Georgia Bulldogs 11-1

An NFL scout told me on Saturday that the Bulldogs might have nine draftable players if all of their juniors choose to leave school. The SEC championship game could easily go UGA’s way, and if so, it likely would mean a date with Notre Dame in the national championship game.

6 Kansas State Wildcats 10-1

Took the weekend off before they finish regular season this coming Saturday with Texas at home . . . Can finish 11-1, and Collin Klein should still be prominent in Heisman Trophy discussions.

7 Stanford Cardinal 10-2 +1

No letdown for the Cardinal in the month of November — beat Oregon State at home and Oregon and UCLA on the road. Their reward? Pac-12 North champs and a rematch with UCLA (at home this time) for the Pac-12 title on Friday night. The smart guys are also very mean, too (said with admiration)!

8 Florida Gators 11-1 +2

I freely admit that I more than had my doubts that the Gators could not just win at Florida State, but put up 30-plus points in doing so. What a year for coach Will Muschamp and his team, which arrived back on the national scene at least one year early.

9 LSU Tigers 10-2 +2

Hard-fought win on the road against an Arkansas team that really wanted one signature win in 2012. The Bayou Bengals gritted out a tough one, and now await their postseason destination.

10 South Carolina Gamecocks 10-2 +2

Fun for all of us to watch the “sparring” between South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and Clemson head man Dabo Swinney in the weeks leading up to the game, but once the game started, the sparring stopped and the Gamecocks’ pass rush began.

11 Texas A&M Aggies 10-2 +2

Aggie football is fun to watch, and as a team they just got better and better each week. Yes, “Johnny Football” is a HUGE reason why, but coach Kevin Sumlin should take a bow, too, for fashioning such a winner during this program’s first year in the SEC.

12 Oklahoma Sooners 9-2 +3

The “BellDozer,” (QB Blake Bell) would not be denied on fourth down with the clock about to run out . . . and Bedlam erupts in Norman. The Sooners outlasted Oklahoma State and got some revenge for the 2011 loss in Stillwater.

13 Florida State Seminoles 10-2 -6

The ACC took on the SEC this past weekend in multiple games, with Florida State being the one ACC team that most thought would win. Nope. Now the Seminoles have to regroup and play Georgia Tech for the ACC championship this weekend in Charlotte, N.C.

14 Clemson Tigers 10-2 -5

The ACC has an SEC team visiting, and the ACC looks like it could . . . oh yeah, we just covered that. Nope (again). Still, another 10-win season for Swinney and his Tigers.

15 Nebraska Cornhuskers 10-2 +2

Excellent job by the ’Huskers in staying focused and taking things one game at a time. It wasn’t pretty, but Nebraska just needed to beat Iowa, with style points irrelevant, to qualify for the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin. Mission accomplished.

16 UCLA Bruins 9-3 -2

Tough Senior Night for the Bruins as Stanford came to town and controlled the evening in Pasadena. But UCLA had already punched its ticket for the Pac-12 title game after beating the crosstown Trojans a week earlier for the South Division title. Now the Bruins head to Palo Alto to settle the Pac-12 championship on Friday, and believe me, Jim Mora will have his team ready to play.

17 Oregon State Beavers 8-3 -1

At one point Saturday, I looked up at the score of this game and saw 20-17, the Beavers down just three to Oregon in the Civil War. I looked up again just a few minutes later and Oregon was racing away with the game. Still, a terrific season for coach Mike Riley and his band of players.

18 Michigan Wolverines 8-4 +2

Just could not get out of neutral offensively in the second half at Ohio State (and yes, the Buckeyes had plenty to do with that). I do like the toughness I see in the program, though.

19 Kent State Golden Flashes 11-1 +3

Repeat after me: Golden Flashes coach Darrell Hazell has fashioned one of the best stories in college football this season and has Kent State playing for the MAC title this week against . . .

20 Northern Illinois Huskies 11-1 +4

Repeat after me: Huskies coach Dave Doeren has fashioned one of the best stories in college football this season and has Northern Illinois playing for the MAC title this week against . . . Kent State! This will be a great game, and I wish the athletic directors at Kent State and Northern Illinois luck as plenty of suitors will come calling for their head coaches.

21 Utah State Aggies 10-2 +4

OK, let me say it loud and clear: I was WRONG, and I apologize. Utah State is located in LOGAN, Utah, not Ogden (Weber State). I was WRONG . . . but I’m not wrong that coach Gary Andersen has done a marvelous job making the Aggies consistent, and big winners. And, QB Chuckie Keeton is worth the price of admission.

22 San Diego State Aztecs 9-3 (unranked last week)

Coach Rocky Long did an excellent job during his tenure at New Mexico. He’s doing it again at San Diego State, which finished the season in a rush, beating Boise State on the road for good measure.

23 Boise State Broncos 9-2

It’s some testimony when the Broncos can lose just two games and yet fall off the national radar.

24 Northwestern Wildcats 9-3

The Wildcats were SO close to heading to Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship game . . . leads in the fourth quarter at Penn State and at Michigan, and at home against Nebraska slipped away. Otherwise . . .

25 San Jose State Spartans 10-2 (unranked last week)

SPARTANS!! Did you see the beatdown they just applied to previous darling Louisiana Tech? My former opponent at Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech, San Jose coach Mike MacIntyre, has done an outstanding job, building a 10-win season in just his third season.