CollegeFootballNews.com Power Ratings
The regular season and conference championship games are over, the bowls are set and
here's how the best teams in the nation stack up right now.
Last week: W, South Carolina 56-17
Why Auburn Is Ranked No. 1: The Tigers delivered one of the most dominant SEC Championship game performances ever, pounding a previously hot South Carolina team. No one in the country has a more impressive resume of victims and it's not even that close.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: While the defense played surprisingly well in Atlanta, it remains a little suspect through the air, allowing 250 yards a game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Badgers finished the season as hot as any team
in the country, winning their final seven games in dominant fashion. The offense is steamrolling opponents, scoring 70 points or more in two of the final three games.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: If there's a knock on Wisconsin, it's the defense, which has had some holes this season. J.J. Watt aside, it's struggled to get to the quarterback, getting 23 sacks on the year.
Last week: W, Oregon State 37-20
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Don't underestimate how tough it is to win in Corvallis, especially with so much riding on the outcome. The Ducks lead the country in scoring and are vastly underrated on the defensive side of the ball. Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Pac-10 wasn't all it was cracked up to be, impacting Oregon's overall strength of schedule. Which victory, besides Stanford, really impresses you?
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Since losing to Wisconsin on Oct. 16, the Buckeyes have won their last five games and rarely broke a sweat. As a testament to their dominance, they're outscoring teams by an average of 39-13.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Ohio State's line play has been suspect throughout the season. The team ranks just 87th nationally in sacks and is No. 10 in the Big Ten in sacks allowed.
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Since falling to Oregon on Oct. 2, the Cardinal has not lost a game. Not only have QB Andrew Luck and the offense been dynamic, but the underrated D leads the Pac-10 at less than 18 points allowed per game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: While it's getting tough to quibble with Stanford's actual performance, how many currently ranked teams has it beaten? One if you're counting Arizona.
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Red-hot Arkansas finished the regular season with a six-game winning streak and a huge victory over LSU. Its only two losses were against a pair of SEC powerhouses, Auburn and Alabama.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Although the D has been moving in the right direction, it's still the weaker side of the ball in Arkansas. The Hogs are No. 10 in SEC run defense, yielding 157 yards a game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Only three schools have navigated the regular season without a loss. The Horned Frogs are one of them. They lead the country in total defense and scoring defense, giving up a little more than 11 points a game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The chief reason TCU has not been able to jump up higher is its strength of schedule ... or lack thereof. The Frogs have played a soft slate and only one opponent, Utah, that's currently ranked.
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: LSU's only losses this fall have come against Auburn and Arkansas, a pair of top-10 SEC programs. The maligned offense has shown signs of life recently, averaging almost 40 points over the last three games of the regular season.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Signs of life or not, the Tiger passing game still ranks among the nation's worst. The usually reliable D gave up 67 points in its last two games with Ole Miss and Arkansas.
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Bama's losses came against three of the SEC's premier teams and both of Saturday's league championship participants. Nick Saban's defense remains among the best in America, ranking in the top 10 in scoring and total D.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: When tested over the second half of the season, the Tide failed. It was only 4-3 over the last seven games and struggled unexpectedly at the point of attack.
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Aggies didn't participate in the Big 12 championship game, but no one in the league is hotter. They've won six straight, beating long-time nemeses Oklahoma and Texas along the way.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: With two rookies at offensive tackle, the future is bright, but the present is a little frightening. The Aggies rank 107th nationally in sacks allowed, regularly forcing QB Ryan Tannehill out of his comfort zone.
Last week: L, Auburn 56-17
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Gamecocks' impressive nine-win season included wins over Georgia and Alabama, and Florida and Clemson on the road. Saturday aside, Ellis Johnson's D played well, ranking in the top 10 nationally in run defense and sacks.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: There's no shame in losing to Auburn, but South Carolina got thoroughly dressed down in Atlanta on Saturday. Nothing worked on either side of the ball in a game that got progressively worse in the second half.
Last week: W, Utah State 50-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Broncos shook off their only loss of the season, easily disposing of Utah State. They enter the postseason ranked in the top five nationally for both scoring offense and scoring defense.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: If you plan to be a top 10 team with a WAC schedule, you sure better run the table. Boise State didn't, suffering that damning loss in Reno two weeks ago.
Last week: W, Nebraska 23-20
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Sooners finished the season with a flurry, beating Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Nebraska to win the Big 12 Championship. The defense, sporadic at times, was oppressive Saturday night, making 14 stops behind the line and seven sacks.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: If you commit to it, you can still run the ball on the Sooners, which finished the regular season seventh in the league in run defense.
Last week: L, Oklahoma 23-20
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: When QB Taylor Martinez was at full strength earlier in the season, the Huskers had one of the best combinations of offense and defense in the country. With rest, they'll be a dangerous team in the bowl game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Yeah, Martinez's ankle was a big factor, but the program just wasn't the same over the last month. Not only did it lose twice, but it almost got picked off by Iowa State as well.
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: While the Cowboys missed out on a spot in the Big 12 title game, they still delivered a terrific season, winning 10 games. The offense is a juggernaut, averaging 537 yards and 45 points a game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: In its two losses, the defense disappeared, giving up 98 points to Nebraska and Oklahoma. The secondary is among the most generous in the country, allowing nine touchdown passes in those games with the Huskers and Sooners.
Last week: W, Florida State 44-33
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Since losing on Sept. 11 to start the year 0-2, the Hokies have rolled to 11 consecutive wins and an ACC title. The offense was a steady force, especially on the ground, and the D contributed to the nation's best turnover margin.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Against a backup quarterback, Seminole E.J. Manuel, Tech was uncharacteristically leaky in the secondary. Manuel finished 23-of-31 for 288 yards, a touchdown and two picks, while Florida State scored four touchdowns.
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Tigers rebounded nicely from back-to-back losses to Nebraska and Texas Tech a month ago. The defense has played surprisingly well, leading the Big 12 in sacks and giving up only 15 points a game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Since peaking with an upset of Oklahoma on Oct. 23, Missouri has been average, going 3-2 and lacking consistency. The Tigers have been mediocre on offense, having particular problems on third down and in the red zone.
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Regardless of their postseason destination, the Spartans had one of their best seasons in school history. While Wisconsin is all the rage these days, Michigan State is the only program to defeat it this year.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: In the closely watched BCS battle with the Badgers and Ohio State, the Spartans suffered the worst loss, falling to Iowa, 37-6. The team had enough close calls along the way to damage its image among national voters.
Last week: L, Virginia Tech 44-33
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Consistency was an issue, but the Seminoles did finish the regular season with wins over Clemson, Maryland and Florida in a rout. The pass rush was a steady force all year, ranking second nationally.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Noles had too many poor efforts this season, capped by Saturday night's outcome, to be considered any higher. They allowed 442 yards and five offensive touchdowns in the loss to Virginia Tech.
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Bulldogs came painfully close to winning 10 games and being in the discussion for an at-large BCS bowl berth. They fell by only 10 points combined to Auburn and Arkansas, losing in overtime to the Hogs two weeks ago.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The defense seemed to be running out of gas as the season came to an end. Mississippi State has now given up 17 touchdowns through the air and a dozen in the last six games.
Last week: W, Louisiana Tech 35-17
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: After a slow start, the Pack followed up its biggest win in history by riding the legs of RB Vai Taua and QB Colin Kaepernick to a comfortable win. Its only loss was on the road at Hawaii, a fellow ranked team.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The defense isn't exactly championship caliber, especially when the ball is in the air. Nevada ranks 106th nationally in pass defense, and has just two picks in the last seven games.
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Terps validated their season by knocking off an NC State team that needed a win to cop the ACC Atlantic Division. The program surprisingly won eight games with a redshirt freshman, Danny O'Brien, calling the shots behind center.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The schedule wasn't exactly littered with quality wins. Maryland overachieved, but lost in key games with West Virginia, Clemson, Miami and Florida State.
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Dawgs overcame a rough start and the early suspension of WR A.J. Green to finish 5-2. The offense has provided the spark, scoring at least 31 points in each of those games.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Six losses are still six losses, no matter who was on the schedule. The defense had problems in the new 3-4, yielding at least 31 points in each of the last four games with FBS opponents.
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Pack has enjoyed a breakthrough year, nearly winning the ACC Atlantic. The program boasts playmakers on both sides of the ball, the root cause of big wins over Georgia Tech, Boston College, Florida State and North Carolina.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: This season could have been so much more had NC State not been so ordinary outside Raleigh. The program lost its last three games on the road, coming up short in winnable games with East Carolina, Clemson and Maryland.
Last week: W, UNLV 59-21
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Warrior offense has scored 59 points in consecutive games and leads the country in passing. Hawaii has beaten Nevada and only lost to Boise State since the middle of September.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Losses to USC and Boise State may be acceptable, but falling hard to 5-7 Colorado will impact a team's upward mobility. The Warriors haven't beaten a bowl-bound team since Oct. 16.