What happened to the ides of November?
This is typically the time of the year when strange things start happening in the college football world. You know, upsets appearing out of nowhere and games that weren’t supposed to be games keeping us all on the edge of our seats.
But if you came into Week 11 looking for chaos, you were severely disappointed. The top 11 teams in last week’s ESPN Power Rankings all won, and eight of those teams won by at least 20 points.
Of course, we can always count on the Big 12, though, and specifically Bedlam. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State played another wild one, not that anybody’s surprised, with the Sooners pulling out a 48-47 win in a game that featured 1,342 yards of total offense.
To paraphrase Carl Spackler in “Caddyshack,” at least we’ve got that going for us.
Moving into the top 10 this week is Washington State, which went on the road and thumped Colorado. Mike Leach’s Cougars are the Pac-12’s only hope for a College Football Playoff berth. They get Arizona at home next week and then Washington at home in the Apple Cup the Friday after Thanksgiving. The Cougars and Huskies are the only two teams in the Pac-12 with fewer than three conference losses.
1. Alabama (10-0, 7-0 SEC)
Week 11 result: defeated Mississippi State 24-0
What’s next: vs. The Citadel (Saturday, noon ET)
For a change, Alabama didn’t look unbeatable on offense and even had some moments when it looked mortal against a talented Mississippi State defensive front. Even more worrisome for the Crimson Tide, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa took a wicked shot to his already gimpy right knee, and Mac Jones finished the game at quarterback. But while it wasn’t perfect on offense, this is an Alabama defense that’s getting better and nastier by the week with back-to-back SEC shutouts for the first time since 1980.
2. Clemson (10-0, 7-0 ACC)
Week 11 result: defeated Boston College 27-7
What’s next: vs. Duke (Saturday, TBA)
Yes, it was cold, and Boston College hung around for a while, but it was another dominant ACC win for Clemson. For the fifth straight outing, the Tigers won in a game that was never really in doubt after halftime. And after four wins in which the closest game was a 34-point spread, this one by comparison was a nail-biter at only 20 points. The Tigers’ defense is playing its best football of the season. Clemson hasn’t given up more than 16 points in five straight games.
3. Notre Dame (10-0)
Week 11 result: defeated Florida State 42-13
What’s next: vs. Syracuse (Saturday, 2:30 p.m., NBC)
No Ian Book, no problem. Playing without its starting quarterback, Notre Dame breezed to a win. And while this was hardly your father’s Florida State, the Irish continue to prove on a weekly basis that they’re a well-rounded football team. They’re two wins away from locking up a berth in the College Football Playoff, but a huge test awaits next week against Syracuse at Yankee Stadium.
4. Michigan (9-1, 7-0 Big Ten)
Week 11 result: defeated Rutgers 42-7
What’s next: vs. Indiana (Saturday, TBA)
In this era of offense and more offense in college football, watching Michigan play every week is a reminder that defense still matters. Michigan cruised past Rutgers on the road for the Wolverines’ ninth straight win. Michigan hasn’t given up more than 21 points in a game during that winning streak and has limited its past four opponents to a total of 34 points. It’s on to Indiana next week at home and then The Game.
5. Georgia (9-1, 7-1 SEC)
Week 11 result: defeated Auburn 27-10
What’s next: vs. UMass (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, SEC Network)
The countdown to the Alabama-Georgia rematch had already begun, as the two teams clinched berths in the SEC championship game last week. But the Dawgs flexed their muscles Saturday night against their oldest rival, rushing for more than 300 yards for the second straight week and beating up Auburn physically. It was Georgia’s third straight win, all coming against teams in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.
6. Oklahoma (9-1, 6-1 Big 12)
Week 11 result: defeated Oklahoma State 48-47
What’s next: vs. Kansas (Saturday, TBA)
The Sooners might not be the best team in college football, but they’re right there at the top of the list when it comes to being the most entertaining. Kyler Murray is spectacular, and Oklahoma has scored at least 45 points in its past six games. But the Sooners haven’t been able to stop anybody on defense, although they got a crucial two-point conversion stop at the end to hold off the Cowboys and win Bedlam. Clearly, Oklahoma can score with anybody, and the showdown with West Virginia on the Friday after Thanksgiving may short-circuit the scoreboard. But the Sooners’ defense …
7. LSU (8-2, 5-2 SEC)
Week 11 result: defeated Arkansas 24-17
What’s next: vs. Rice (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPNU)
The Alabama hangover is real, at least for most teams. But LSU bounced back with a road win against Arkansas, which was only the Tigers’ third true road game of the season. They lost their last one at Florida but built a big lead against Arkansas and then held on. Any hope of an SEC championship was lost last week, but the Tigers could still win 10 games and potentially have a chance to play in a New Year’s Six bowl game.
8. West Virginia (8-1, 6-1 Big 12)
Week 11 result: defeated TCU 47-10
What’s next: at Oklahoma State (Saturday, TBA)
After falling behind 3-0, Will Grier and West Virginia outscored TCU 47-7 over the final three quarters. Grier passed for 343 yards and three touchdowns, and the Mountaineers have scored 147 points in their past three games. Their only hiccup this season was a 30-14 loss to Iowa State three weeks ago. West Virginia is still probably on the outside looking in when it comes to the College Football Playoff, but the landscape could change these next two weeks with the Oklahoma swing. The Mountaineers travel to Oklahoma State next week before facing Oklahoma at home the Friday after Thanksgiving.
9. Ohio State (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten)
Week 11 result: defeated Michigan State 26-6
What’s next: at Maryland (Saturday, TBA)
Ohio State isn’t going to win any style points with the way it has played the past few weeks, and it’s hard to make a case that the Buckeyes look like a College Football Playoff team right now. Even so, the Buckeyes at least remained in the playoff picture by grinding out a win at Michigan State. Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins has been unable to regain his early-season form, but the Buckeyes are still finding ways to win and turned in perhaps their best defensive performance of the season.
10. Washington State (9-1, 6-1 Pac-12)
Week 11 result: defeated Colorado 31-7
What’s next: vs. Arizona (Saturday, TBA)
The Pac-12 is going to need some help to join the College Football Playoff party this season, but if anybody’s going to do it, it’s Washington State. The Cougars’ convincing road win against Colorado was their fifth in a row, and their last two games are at home — against Arizona and Washington. Mike Leach and Gardner Minshew have been quite the combination for the Cougars, who’ve won 22 of their past 29 games against Pac-12 opponents.
11. UCF (9-0, 6-0 American)
Week 11 result: defeated Navy 35-24
What’s next: vs. Cincinnati (Saturday, TBA)
Nobody in the UCF camp is thrilled with the lack of love the College Football Playoff selection committee has shown the Knights, and that’s probably not going to change when the new rankings come out. UCF won its 22nd straight game and hasn’t lost since Dec. 17, 2016, but the Knights let Navy — the same team that was blown out 42-0 by Cincinnati last week — hang around until the fourth quarter.
12. Texas (7-3, 5-2 Big 12)
Week 11 result: defeated Texas Tech 41-34
What’s next: vs. Iowa State (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, Longhorn Network)
Easily one of the more unpredictable teams in the country this season, the Longhorns recovered from back-to-back losses to blow a big lead over Texas Tech and then put together a clutch drive late to win it in Lubbock. This is a Texas team that beat Oklahoma and USC and lost to West Virginia by a point, but also a team that lost to Maryland in the opener. The Longhorns are clearly improved from a year ago. They return home to face Iowa State in a game that will go a long way toward shaping their season.
13. Syracuse (8-2, 5-2 ACC)
Week 11 result: defeated Louisville 54-23
What’s next: vs. Notre Dame (Saturday, 2:30 p.m., NBC)
Please, no more basketball references. This Syracuse football team does a little bit more each week to demonstrate that it’s for real. The Orange won their fourth in a row Friday night, and have scored 40 or more points in all four wins. In fact, they’ve scored at least 40 points in seven of their eight wins this season, and their only two losses are to Pittsburgh in overtime and to No. 2 Clemson in a game the Orange led until the very end. Dino Babers has this program on the move, and the game next week against Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium will be the biggest in years for Cuse.
14. Iowa State (6-3, 5-2 Big 12)
Week 11 result: defeated Baylor 28-14
What’s next: at Texas (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, Longhorn Network)
The more the Cyclones keep winning, the more everybody in Ames winces at the thought of losing their head coach. Matt Campbell has been that good and will no doubt be a hot commodity in the offseason. He has done an incredible job in leading Iowa State to its fifth straight win, the Cyclones’ longest winning streak since the formation of the Big 12.
15. Florida (7-3, 5-3 SEC)
Week 11 result: defeated South Carolina 35-31
What’s next: vs. Idaho (Saturday, noon, TBA)
For much of Saturday, Florida looked as if it were headed toward a third straight loss, and coach Dan Mullen looked as if he were headed a little deeper into the dog house with Florida fans after calling them out last week. But the Gators rallied from 17 points down in the second half with quarterback Feleipe Franks shaking off boos from the home crowd to score the winning touchdown. The Gators have gone hot and cold this season but still have a chance to win 10 games for only the second time in the past six seasons.
16. Northwestern (6-4, 6-1 Big Ten)
Week 11 result: defeated Iowa 14-10
What’s next: at Minnesota (Saturday, TBA)
We know who one of the participants will be in the Big Ten championship game, and it’s a Northwestern team that clinched the Big Ten West title Saturday with a gritty road win at Iowa. The Wildcats hold the tiebreaker over both Purdue and Wisconsin and showed some serious mettle in regrouping from their loss last week to Notre Dame. It was the Wildcats’ fifth straight Big Ten win, and they haven’t given up more than 17 points in their past three Big Ten games.
17. Kentucky (7-3, 5-3 SEC)
Week 11 result: lost to Tennessee 24-7
What’s next: vs. Middle Tennessee (Saturday, noon ET)
A season once filled with so much promise for Kentucky has suddenly hit the November blahs. The Wildcats lost for the second straight week, and this is one that will sting for some time. Kentucky was trying to win for the first time in Neyland Stadium since 1984 but was dominated at the line of scrimmage by the Vols. The Wildcats managed only 68 yards of total offense in the first half in falling behind 24-0 and blew any chance they might have had for a New Year’s Six bowl game with a lopsided loss to their archrival.
18. Mississippi State (6-4, 3-4 SEC)
Week 11 result: lost to Alabama 24-0
What’s next: vs. Arkansas (Saturday, noon ET)
The truth is that Mississippi State’s defense just hasn’t gotten much help this season. The Bulldogs have lost four SEC games and haven’t scored more than seven points in any of those four losses. Mississippi State, which had given up an FBS-best nine touchdowns entering the game, gave up three to Alabama, but one of those was set up by a fumbled punt at the Bulldogs’ 27.
19. Michigan State (6-4, 4-3 Big Ten)
Week 11 result: lost to Ohio State 26-6
What’s next: at Nebraska (Saturday, TBA)
It has been an up-and-down season for Michigan State, which played Ohio State tough but couldn’t overcome terrible field position in the second half. The Spartans have been stout against the run all season. But in their past two losses to Ohio State and Michigan, they’ve scored a total of 13 points. That’s not going to get it done even when you’re playing well on defense.
20. Penn State (7-3, 4-3 Big Ten)
Week 11 result: defeated Wisconsin 22-10
What’s next: at Rutgers (Saturday, TBA)
The Nittany Lions didn’t churn out much offense, but they did force four turnovers to wear down Wisconsin at home and put last week’s drubbing at the hands of Michigan in the rearview mirror. Trace McSorley, battling a sore knee, won his 29th game as Penn State’s starting quarterback to tie Todd Blackledge as the Nittany Lions’ winningest quarterback. Though Penn State is out of the Big Ten race, the Nittany Lions could still get to 10 wins, which would be their third straight season of 10 or more wins. The last time that happened was 1980-82.
21. Washington (7-3, 5-2 Pac-12)
Week 11 result: open date
What’s next: vs. Oregon State (Saturday, TBA)
The Huskies are still alive in the Pac-12 North race and can wrap up a berth in the Pac-12 championship game with wins over Oregon State and Washington State the next two weeks. The open date probably came at a good time for both Washington and quarterback Jake Browning, who bounced back from being benched against Cal to helping Washington beat Stanford two weeks ago. Running back Myles Gaskin should also be healthier. He’d missed two games because of a shoulder injury before rushing for a season-high 148 yards against the Cardinal.
22. Utah State (9-1, 6-0 MWC)
Week 11 result: defeated San Jose State 62-24
What’s next: at Colorado State (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET)
Utah State has been one of the hottest teams in the country with its ninth straight win after losing 38-31 at Michigan State in the season opener. The Aggies have scored 179 points in their past three games. It looks as if it will come down to the Boise State trip in two weeks for the MWC Mountain Division title.
23. Boise State (8-2, 5-1 MWC)
Week 11 result: defeated Fresno State 24-17
What’s next: at New Mexico (Friday, 9 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
Boise State, rallying from a 17-10 deficit late in the third quarter, won a November game over a nationally ranked opponent for the first time in school history, and more important, the Broncos extended their winning streak to five straight games. They remain in great shape in the MWC Mountain Division race and face a huge showdown with Utah State at home in two weeks.
24. Cincinnati (9-1, 5-1 American)
Week 11 result: defeated South Florida 35-23
What’s next: at UCF (Saturday, TBA)
If not for stumbling in overtime against Temple three weeks ago, Cincinnati would be getting the kind of Group of 5 love that UCF is right now, although the Knights would argue that they aren’t getting any love. Either way, Cincinnati stayed right in the American Athletic Conference race with a win over South Florida on Saturday and will get its shot at UCF next week on the road.
25. UAB (9-1, 7-0 C-USA)
Week 11 result: defeated Southern Miss 26-23 in overtime
What’s next: vs. Texas A&M (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, TBA)
Bill Clark and the Blazers are one of the more compelling stories in college football. From a program that was disbanded a few years ago, UAB is now riding an eight-game winning streak (the nine wins this season are the most in school history) and bearing down on a potential Conference USA title. In other words, there’s more than only one team in the state of Alabama this season with championship aspirations.