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College Football Rankings Week 14: Michigan climbs, Clemson and LSU collapse

College Football Rankings, Michigan Wolverines

The Georgia Bulldogs are No. 1 in the college football rankings for Week 14. After that, there is plenty of movement thanks to a rivalry weekend that saw upsets and playoff-changing outcomes on Saturday.

Rivalry week started in the Egg Bowl with Mike Leach and the Mississippi State Bulldogs handing Ole Miss its third consecutive loss. While the Auburn coaching rumors seemed to be a distraction for the Rebels – 1-4 since Oct. 22 – Kiffin turned it into a new contract extension.

Related: College Football Playoff race

Naturally, Saturday delivered the biggest rivalries and best games. While “The Game” was close for two quarters, the Michigan Wolverines housed Ohio State in the second half. Elsewhere, the Alabama Crimson Tide crushed Auburn in the Iron Bowl and South Carolina upset Clemson

One of the biggest shockers on Saturday was the Civil War clash, with Oregon State rallying with 21 unanswered fourth-quarter points to stun the Oregon Ducks. If that wasn’t enough, Texas A&M shocked the nation by defeating LSU.

Dropped from Top 25 rankings: North Carolina Tar Heels (18), Cincinnati Bearcats (20), Ole Miss Rebels (22), Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (23), Troy Trojans (25)

Let’s dive into the Week 14 college football rankings.

25. UCF Knights

NCAA Football: Navy at Central Florida
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: Unranked
  • UCF Knights record: 9-3

UCF barely escaped on Saturday night with a victory over South Florida (1-11), but the John Rhys Plumlee injury certainly played a major role in USF’s second-half comeback. It’s another nine-win season for Gus Malzahn, who seems to be fitting in perfectly at Central Florida.

24. Boise State Broncos

NCAA Football: Utah State at Boise State
Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: Unranked
  • Boise State Broncos record: 9-3
  • Next Opponent: Mountain West Championship Game

The Boise State Broncos ended the regular season strong, with quarterback Taylor Green leading the way in a 42-23 victory over Utah State. Boise state went a perfect 8-0 in the MWC and a title bout vs Fresno State will have plenty of implications on Dec. 3.

23. Mississippi State Bulldogs

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Mississippi
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: Unranked
  • Mississippi State record: 8-4

Mike Leach and Co. got the win that mattered most, closing the book on an eight-win regular season with the Egg Bowl victory. It’s evident the Bulldogs are likely at their ceiling, losing to the likes of Georgia, LSU and Alabama every year, but eight wins and a quality bowl game should be good enough to satisfy those with realistic expectations for the program.

22. NC State Wolfpack

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at North Carolina
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: Unranked
  • NC State Wolfpack record: 8-4

It hasn’t always been pretty for NC State this season, with losses to Syracuse, Boston College and Louisville ruining a promising start to the season. However, NC State ends its season on the right note with a double-overtime victory over NC State. While it might be a little early to look ahead, the MJ Morris vs Ben Finley quarterback battle looks intriguing.

21. Texas Longhorns

Syndication: Austin American-Statesman
Mikala Compton/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: 25th in college football rankings
  • Texas Longhorns record: 8-4

The Texas Longhorns will have plenty of regrets from his season, just a few mistakes prevented them from reaching double-digit wins for the first time since 2018. The good news is, Quinn Ewers returns in 2023 and he could be the key to Texas emerging as a Big 12 title contender.

20. South Carolina Gamecocks

NCAA Football: Tennessee at South Carolina
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: Unranked
  • South Carolina Gamecocks record: 8-4

Clearly, the victory over Tennessee wasn’t a fluke. Facing their biggest rival, South Carolina went into a hostile environment and snapped Clemson’s 40-game home win streak. Many thought South Carolina could be a breakout team in 2022, but it was inconsistent. Time will tell whether or not the Gamecocks use this as a stepping stone for 2023.

19. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Southern California
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 15th in top 25 rankings
  • Notre Dame Fighting Irish record: 8-4

Notre Dame hits its ceiling, reaching the highest point possible for a program that lacks the necessary offensive firepower to be a national contender. With that said, finishing with eight wins felt unthinkable after losses to Marshall and Stanford. Marcus Freeman is taking the right steps and strong recruiting classes will push Notre Dame higher in the coming years.

18. Tulane Green Wave

NCAA Football: Tulane at Cincinnati
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 21st in college football rankings
  • Tulane Green Wave record: 10-2

Tyjae Spears carried the Green Wave again, turning 35 carries into 181 yards and two scores in Friday’s 27-24 victory over Cincinnati. With the victory comes the first double-digit win season for Tulane since 1998, and one of the best single-season turnarounds in college football. From 2-10 to 10-2, just an incredible year for Willie Fritz and this program.

17. UCLA Bruins

NCAA Football: UCLA at California
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 16th in top 25 rankings
  • UCLA Bruins record: 9-3

As Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s UCLA career draws to a close, it’s worth reflecting on his incredible senior season. After so many roller-coaster years, DTR played like one of the best college football QBs in 2022, carrying the Bruins in some big moments. We’re curious to see how Chip Kelly’s program looks without DTR in 2023.

16. Oregon Ducks

NCAA Football: Oregon at Oregon State
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 8th in top 25 rankings
  • Oregon Ducks record: 9-3

The Oregon Ducks hired Dan Lanning for his defensive mind and we’re still waiting to see it. Entering Saturday, Oregon’s defense allowed nearly 400 total yards per game and quality opponents had no trouble scoring at will. Sure enough, the defense collapsed once again in a loss to Oregon State that will be remembered by both fan bases for years.

15. Florida State Seminoles

Syndication: Tallahassee Democrat
Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: 17th in college football rankings
  • Florida State Seminoles record: 9-3

Jordan Travis did it again, leading the Florida State Seminoles to another victory. It caps off an incredible run to end the regular season, with Travis scoring 16 touchdowns during this five-game winning streak. As the Seminoles climb back into national prominence, Jimbo Fisher’s seat heats up in Texas.

14. LSU Tigers

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Texas A&M
Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 6th in top 25 rankings
  • LSU Tigers record: 9-3
  • Next Opponent: vs Georgia Bulldogs, SEC Championship Game

Saturday summed up the Brian Kelly experience. A prominent team emerging from the shadows to become a CFB Playoff contender and then imploding on the doorstep, that is the Brian Kelly special. One of the most stunning outcomes in college football this year is a stain on Kelly’s first season in Louisiana.

13. Clemson Tigers

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Clemson
Anderson Independent Mail-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 7th in top 25 rankings
  • Clemson Tigers record: 10-2
  • Next Opponent: vs North Carolina Tar Heels, ACC Championship Game

The truth is the Clemson Tigers were never a legitimate playoff contender. Dabo Swinney’s team entered the season with many concerned about the quarterback situation and the probability it would influence the consistency of the offense. Sure enough, that proved to be a major problem this year. Clemson can still be ACC champs, but it’s multiple years away from competing for a national championship.

12. Oregon State Beavers

NCAA Football: Oregon State at Stanford
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 19th in college football rankings
  • Oregon State Beavers record: 9-3

Look at Oregon State’s resume in 2021. It suffered one-score losses to USC and Washington, two of the best teams in college football since October. It’s also noteworthy that the Beavers’ defense held USC to 17 points, a remarkable feat considering the competition. Oregon State is one of the pleasant stories from the 2022 season and ending the year with a victory over Oregon should lead to an opportunity to compete in a marquee bowl game.

11. Utah Utes

NCAA Football: Arizona at Utah
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 13th in top 25 rankings
  • Utah Utes record: 9-3

A 9-3 season is a success, but the Utah Utes will be thinking about the “what if” moments that caused its losses to Florida and Oregon. We trust Kyle Whittingham to keep leading the Utes to success in 2023, but it’s fair to wonder how much the offense will lose with Tavion Thomas entering the NFL Draft and a little uncertainty surrounding Cameron Rising. If both are gone, it puts the Utes in a massive hole next summer, unless Nate Johnson is ready to be the starter.

10. Kansas State Wildcats

NCAA Football: Kansas State at West Virginia
Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 14th in top 25 rankings
  • Kansas State Wildcats record: 9-3
  • Next Opponent: vs TCU Horned Frogs, Big 12 Championship Game

The Kansas State Wildcats capped off their regular season with a Sunflower Showdown victory and the stakes are massive. It sends the Wildcats to the Big 12 title game, an opportunity to upset TCU and potentially earn a spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl. For a team that many expected seven wins from, at most, this is a season to remember.

9. Washington Huskies

NCAA Football: Colorado at Washington
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 11th in college football rankings
  • Washington Huskies record: 10-2

Washington State kept things close for three quarters in the Apple Cup, but the Washington Huskies’ ground attack took over in the fourth quarter. It paved the way to a 51-33 win, securing the first 10-win season at Washington since 2018. With a resume that includes wins over Oregon State and Oregon, the Huskies have earned their place in the Week 14 college football rankings.

8. Penn State Nittany Lions

NCAA Football: Maryland at Penn State
Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 12 in college football rankings
  • Penn State Nittany Lions record: 10-2

Admittedly, all we can think about with the Penn State Nittany Lions is the future. After being held back by quarterback Sean Clifford, Happy Valley gets the Drew Allar and Nicholas Singleton backfield tandem in 2023. An offense with Allar, Singleton and Kaytron Allen paired with a quality Penn State defense could make the Nittany Lions a legit conference threat next fall.

7. Tennessee Volunteers

NCAA Football: Tennessee at South Carolina
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 10 in top 25 rankings
  • Tennessee Volunteers record: 10-2

Joe Milton showed more than enough on Saturday to be the early favorite to become the Tennessee Volunteers starting quarterback in 2023. He doesn’t offer nearly the same upside as Hendon Hooker, but this is a well-constructed offense that puts its signal-caller in the best possible position for success. Some fans might view the 2022 season as a failure, compared to expectations a few weeks ago, but this is a remarkable program considering this team was in dire straits two years ago.

6. Alabam Crimson Tide

NCAA Football: Auburn at Alabama
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 9 in top 25 rankings
  • Alabama Crimson Tide record: 10-2

It’s a testament to Nick Saban that a 10-win season is considered a disappointment for the Alabama Crimson Tide. However, it’s also fair to point to narrow victories over Texas and Texas A&M as evidence that the Crimson Tide has fallen off considerably from their previous heights. What will be fascinating is seeing how Saban responds to it with corresponding moves in 2023.

5. Ohio State Buckeyes

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: No. 5 in top 25 rankings
  • Ohio State Buckeyes record: 11-1

There are plenty of people to blame for what happened to the Ohio State Buckeyes. Ultimately, the penalties, conservative play-calling and the fourth-quarter collapse all fall on coaching. Ohio State will still make it into a New Year’s Six Bowl, but the C.J. Stroud era is effectively over and fans are still waiting to see if Day can win the big game.

Related: College Football Standings

Top 25 rankings: CFB Playoff picture

4. USC Trojans

NCAA Football: Southern California at UCLA
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No.5 in top 25 rankings
  • USC Trojans record:
  • Next Opponent: Pac-12 Championship Game

The best quarterback in college football did it again. Facing a top rival and a quality defense, Caleb Williams delivered a passing clinic against the Fighting Irish and tacked on three rushing touchdowns for good measure. It’s the penultimate performance in his race toward the Heisman and he can earn that and a playoff appearance with a win in the Pac-12 title game.

3. TCU Horned Frogs

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Texas Christian
Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 3 in college football rankings
  • TCU Horned Frogs record:
  • Next Opponent: Big 12 Championship Game

The TCU Horned Frogs took control early on Saturday, the same type of control they have over their playoff destiny. All Sonny Dykes need is four quality quarters in the Big 12 title game for TCU to earn its spot in the playoff.

2. Michigan Wolverines

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: No. 4 in college football rankings
  • Michigan Wolverines record: 12-0
  • Next Opponent: Big Ten Championship Game

Michigan vs Ohio State looked like an all-time classic in the first half. After halftime, the Michigan Wolverines played like the best team in college football. Even without Blake Corum, the offense looked explosive with J.J. McCarthy finally living up to his billing. This looks like a dangerous No. 2 seed in the CFB Playoff, especially if it faces TCU.

Related: Most Heisman Trophy winners by school

1. Georgia Bulldogs

NCAA Football: Auburn at Georgia
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 1 in college football rankings
  • Georgia Bulldogs record: 12-0
  • Next Opponent: vs LSU Tigers, SEC Championship Game

The Georgia Bulldogs finished undefeated in the SEC again, proving they are the best team in college football. While neither this defense nor offense looks quite as overwhelming as it did in 2021, the defending national champions are the favorite to win the SEC title game. Even if they lose, Georgia will make the CFB Playoff.

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