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Top 50 NCAA Football Rankings: Bowl Season

*Editor's Note: Graphic by @SSN_Troy, author is @BlitzCfb

Championship Saturday delivered statement wins, nail biting finishes, history making moments, and legacy defining upsets. Jim Harbaugh and his Michigan Wolverines sealed their spot in their first College Football Playoff with a dominant win over Iowa. Oklahoma State missed out on a possible playoff spot by a singular yard. The Cincinnati Bearcats confirmed their top 4 ranking after their win over Houston. Nick Saban reaffirmed his own stellar legacy by beating the most dominant team all season, Georgia. Heading into bowl season, here is the penultimate edition of the top 50.

1. Alabama (12-1, 7-1) ⬆️4

There is a reason why Nick Saban is the best college coach of all time. His Tide were 6.5-point underdogs against the dominant Georgia Bulldogs. Alabama not only beat Georgia, but Bryce Young, Jameson Williams and the Bama offense made the Dawgs defense look like high schoolers. Jordan Davis proved to be a nonfactor against the up-tempo Tide offense. Alabama scored 24 points in the 2nd quarter alone. For that very reason, the Tide shoot up to #1 ahead of their semifinal game against Cincinnati at the Cotton Bowl.

2. Michigan (12-1, 8-1) ↔️

Michigan won their first ever Big Ten Championship Game over Iowa on Saturday night. They not only beat them, but they smashed them 42-3. Josh Gattis put together a great game plan to beat a solid Iowa defense. Most importantly, Jim Harbaugh finally has the monkey off his back. Michigan deserves the 2 seed and they deserve to be in the playoff. The Wolverines will take on Georgia, who has been the most dominant team all season, in the Orange Bowl in their playoff semifinal.

3. Georgia (12-1, 8-0) ⬇️2

There is no doubt that Georgia is a playoff team. Anybody that says that they aren’t a playoff team in wrong. The Dawgs destroyed everyone put in front of them until they came up against Nick Saban & Alabama. The Tide’s offense exposed the Dawgs like no one had before. Georgia still has all of their goals ahead of them as they will play Michigan in the Orange Bowl but the question still lingers for Kirby Smart; if not this year , then when?

4. Cincinnati (13-0, 8-0) ⬇️1

Cincinnati made history with their win over Houston in the AAC Championship. That win sealed their spot in the College Football Playoff. They are the first team from a group of 5 conference to ever make the 4 team playoff. Cincinnati definitely deserves a chance to play for a National Championship. It only took a perfect storm of an undefeated season, a win over Notre Dame, and multiple 2 loss conference champions for a G5 representative to make it in the CFP. The Bearcats will play Alabama in the Cotton Bowl.

5. Notre Dame (11-1) ⬆️1

Notre Dame will play in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma State.

6. Ohio State (10-2, 8-1) ⬆️2

Ohio State will play Utah in the Rose Bowl.

7. Baylor (11-2, 7-2) ⬆️4

Baylor moves up 4 spots after their Big 12 Championship Game victory over Oklahoma State by the slimmest of margins. The Bears also have a QB controversy heading into bowl season. Gerry Bohanon was injured and didn’t play in the Big 12 Championship Game. Luckily, Blake Shapen stepped up in his absence & delivered big time in only his second ever start. No matter who plays, Baylor has a tough game against Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl.

8. Oklahoma State (11-2, 8-1) ⬇️4

Oklahoma State missed a playoff spot by mere inches. It was a disappointing finish to an incredible season for the Cowboys. Their consolation prize is an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame. This team will be remembered for their great defense, but the offense ended up being their downfall thanks to a 4 interception performance from OSU QB Spencer Sanders.

9. Michigan State (10-2, 7-2) ↔️

Michigan State will play Pitt in the Peach Bowl.

10. Ole Miss (10-2, 6-2) ↔️

Ole Miss takes on Baylor in the Sugar Bowl.

11. Oklahoma (10-2, 7-2) ⬆️1

Oklahoma will play Oregon in the Alamo Bowl.

12. Pitt (11-2, 7-1) ⬆️5

Kenny Pickett and the Pitt Panthers took down Wake Forest to win the ACC Championship Game for their first ever outright conference title. What a great season Pat Narduzzi’s Panthers have had and they took advantage of a weak ACC conference this season. Their reward is a spot in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta against Michigan State.

13. BYU (10-2) ⬆️2

BYU will play in the Independence Bowl against UAB.

14. Utah (10-3, 8-1) ⬆️5

Utah made a statement once again by continuing their domination over Oregon. In 2 games, they outscored the Ducks 76-17. The Utes are one of the hottest teams in the nation. Kyle Wittingham has also won Utah's first Pac 12 title after coming close several times prior. They will be headed to their first ever Rose Bowl against Ohio State on New Years Day.

15. Louisiana (12-1, 8-0) ⬆️3

Louisiana won the Sun Belt Conference Championship for the very first time after they beat Appalachian State for the 2nd time this season. Also, the Ragin Cajuns are on an 11 game winning streak, 2nd in the nation only to Cincinnati. With that win, Louisiana will be headed to the New Orleans Bowl against Marshall without Billy Napier roaming the sidelines.

16. Wake Forest (10-3, 7-1) ⬇️3

Wake Forest drops a few spots after their offense came to a halt in the 2nd quarter against Pitt. The Deacs scored all 21 of their points in the 1st quarter. They ended up losing 45-21. It has still been a great season for Wake and they still have a bowl game to win. The Deacs will play Texas A&M in the Taxslayer Bowl.

17. Oregon (10-3, 7-2) ⬇️10

For the 2nd time this season, Oregon got absolutely embarrassed by Utah. The team looked uninspired & flat. The rumors of Mario Cristobal leaving for Miami might’ve had an impact though. Those rumors did turn out to be true. With Cristobal and OC Joe Moorhead leaving, the Pac 12 is wide open as Oregon is yet to find a replacement. The Ducks still have their bowl game against Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl.

18. Houston (11-2, 8-0) ⬇️4

Houston has absolutely nothing to be ashamed about. They gave Cincinnati a good fight in the AAC Championship Game, but the Bearcats pulled away in the 3rd quarter. The Cougars have an opportunity to beat a SEC opponent to end their season as they play Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl. Dana Holgorsen has Houston back to double digit wins for the first time since Tom Herman's tenure.

19. NC State (9-3, 6-2) ⬆️2

NC State takes on UCLA in the Holiday Bowl.

20. UTSA (12-1, 7-1) ⬆️2

UTSA capped off their best season ever with a win over Western Kentucky in the CUSA Championship Game. Sincere McCormick ran for 204 yards & 3 touchdowns. He was named MVP of the game & deservedly so. He’s been outstanding for UTSA all season. The Roadrunners have a tough game against San Diego State in the Frisco Bowl to end the season.

21. Clemson (9-3, 6-2) ⬆️2

Clemson will play Iowa State in the Cheez It Bowl.

22. Iowa (10-3, 7-2) ⬇️2

Iowa was simply not good enough to hang with Michigan offensively. Some of that can be attributed to a lack of offensive firepower & coaching, raising some serious questions regarding Brian Ferentz' competency at OC. The Hawkeyes need to regroup and prepare for their bowl game against Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl. An 11th win would be a great finish to the season for Kirk Ferentz & Iowa.

23. Arkansas (8-4, 4-4) ⬆️2

Arkansas takes on Penn State in the Outback Bowl on New Years Day.

24. Kentucky (9-3, 5-3) ⬆️2

Kentucky will play in the Citrus Bowl against Big Ten West champs Iowa.

25. San Diego State (11-2, 7-1) ⬇️9

San Diego State was really flat against Utah State on Championship Saturday. Their defense was exposed by Logan Bonner and the Aggies passing attack and the offense was just plain bad. They did have a myriad of people out due to sickness though. Hopefully, the Aztecs can get healthy ahead of their bowl game against UTSA.

26. Texas A&M (8-4, 4-4) ⬆️1

Texas A&M will play Wake Forest in the Taxslayer Bowl.

27. Appalachian State (10-3, 7-1) ⬇️3

Appalachian State lost at Louisiana for the 2nd time this season. This game was a lot closer however. The Mountaineers' offense only had 290 total yards and Chase Brice was neutralized, going 12/31. App State has a chance to end the season on a high note when they play Western Kentucky in the Boca Raton Bowl in what should be a high scoring affair.

28. Minnesota (8-4, 6-3) ↔️

Minnesota takes on West Virginia in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.

29. Wisconsin (8-4, 6-3) ↔️

The Badgers will battle Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

30. Utah State (10-3, 6-2) ⬆️6

Utah State made a statement against a top 25 team in San Diego State. Logan Bonner & the Aggie offense was explosive against a really good Aztec defense. The Aggies blew them out of the water 46-13. Their reward is taking on a Pac 12 team. The Aggies play Oregon State in the LA Bowl.

31. Coastal Carolina (10-2, 6-2) ⬇️1

Coastal Carolina will take on MAC champs Northern Illinois in the Cure Bowl.

32. Purdue (8-4, 6-3) ⬇️1

Purdue will play Tennessee in the Music City Bowl.

33. Mississippi State (7-5, 4-4) ⬇️1

Mississippi State will take on Texas Tech in the Liberty Bowl.

34. Fresno State (9-3, 6-2) ⬇️1

Fresno State will play in the New Mexico Bowl against UTEP.

35. Arizona State (8-4, 6-3) ⬇️1

The Sun Devils will take on Wisconsin in the Las Vegas Bowl.

36. UCLA (8-4, 6-3) ⬇️1

UCLA will play NC State in the Holiday Bowl.

37. Tennessee (7-5, 4-4) ↔️

The Vols will play in the Music City Bowl against Purdue.

38. Army (8-3) ↔️

Army still has 2 games left as they will play Navy this Saturday & then they play Missouri in the Armed Forces Bowl.

39. Air Force (9-3, 6-2) ↔️

Air Force will play Louisville in the First Responder Bowl.

40. Miami (7-5, 5-3) ↔️

The Canes will battle Washington State in the Sun Bowl.

41. Iowa State (7-5, 5-4) ↔️

Iowa State will play Clemson in the Cheez It Bowl.

42. Washington State (7-5, 6-3) ↔️

Washington State will play in the Sun Bowl against Miami.

43. Penn State (7-5, 4-5) ↔️

Penn State will take on Arkansas in the Outback Bowl.

44. Kansas State (7-5, 4-5) ↔️

Kansas State will take on LSU in the Texas Bowl.

45. Nevada (8-4, 5-3) ↔️

The Pack will battle Western Michigan in the Quick Lane Bowl.

46. Oregon State (7-5, 5-4) ↔️

Oregon State will play in the LA Bowl against Mountain West champs Utah State.

47. SMU (8-4, 4-4) ↔️

SMU will take on Virginia, who is without a head coach, in the Fenway Bowl.

48. UCF (8-4, 5-3) ↔️

UCF will play Florida in the Gasparilla Bowl. This is one of the more intriguing games on the bowl slate.

49. Western Kentucky (8-5, 7-1) ↔️

Western Kentucky did lose the CUSA Championship Game to UTSA, but they deserve to be in the top 50 still. They gave the Roadrunners a great fight after being down 42-13. They only ended up losing by 8 points. The Toppers play Appalachian State in the Boca Raton Bowl.

50. UAB (8-4, 6-2) ↔️

UAB takes on BYU in the Independence Bowl.

On the Horizon

  • East Carolina

  • Northern Illinois

  • Texas Tech

  • Virginia Tech

  • Virginia

  • Boise State

  • Auburn

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