College Football Power Rankings: Alabama goes wire-to-wire as a dominant No. 1 team

Another year, another year-end edition of Power Rankings.  Looking back, the top 25 didn't change much from three years ago. In the first Power Rankings of 2018, here's where we had this year's College Football Playoff teams ranked: No. 1 (Alabama), No. 2 (Clemson), No. 8 (Notre Dame) and No. 4 (Oklahoma).

That looks a lot like the version you see below.

Among the biggest movers this season: UCF went from No. 14 in September to No. 7. Kentucky jumped from unranked to 13th. Among the biggest flops: Top 10 teams Auburn (7-5), Wisconsin (7-5) and Stanford (8-4) all finished with at least four losses and fell out of the Power Rankings.

To no one's surprise, the SEC placed seven teams in the Power Rankings. The Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Mountain West all had three.

For the final time this season, let's take a look at 'em:

Biggest Movers
6 Washington
6 Utah
1 Alabama We just witnessed one of the greatest regular seasons of all time. A program that lost 16 players to the NFL -- plus six coaches -- went undefeated in the regular season beating every opponent by one by 22 points. Did Georgia provide a blueprint on how to beat Bama? We'll see if the defending national champions can defend their national championship. --14-1
2 Clemson The Tigers were Alabama Jr., laying waste to almost everyone. They were winning games at an average clip of 33 points late in the season. Dabo Swinney deftly handled the departure of Kelly Brant. Travis Etienne got better and better. The defensive line is generational. --15-0
3 Notre Dame Brian Kelly changed the arc of Notre Dame's season when he started Ian Book in Game 4 against Wake Forest. A week later, tailback Dexter Williams returned from a four-game suspension. That completed a team that is physical on both sides and playing for a championship for the first time in six years. --12-1
4 Oklahoma Another reason Oklahoma deserves to be in the playoff: Lincoln Riley deftly handled the growth and development of Kyler Murray. By the end of the season, Murray had surpassed Tua Tagovailoa as the best player in the country. Fun fact: OU will enter the playoff with the worst defense (108th nationally) ever to play for a championship. Tua vs. Kyler in the Cotton Bowl! 112-2
5 Georgia For the second year in a row, Georgia suffered a heart-breaking loss to Alabama. Bama isn't going away. Neither is Georgia. Jake Fromm developed into an elite quarterback. The defense had its ups and downs and was the main reason the Dawgs weren't quite as good as in 2017. 111-3
6 Ohio State Fear not, Buck Nuts: Ohio State football is bigger than the Ohio State coach. That's why, after the latest retirement of Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes will remain dominant under Ryan Day. For the second consecutive year, an inexplicable road loss killed playoff chances. --13-1
7 UCF Beat LSU in the Fiesta Bowl and the Knights will tie for the 18th-longest winning streak of all time (26 games). We can debate all we want about UCF's playoff worthiness. It can play and beat anyone. It just wasn't given a chance. That debate shouldn't overshadow an incredible accomplishment: UCF changed coaches, coaching staffs, lost its starting quarterback (late) and still went unbeaten. --12-1
8 Washington Very quietly this week, Chris Petersen became the game's winningest active coach (minimum three seasons). (Yes, I know Urban Meyer has one game left.) Petersen's .811 winning percentage includes a second Pact-12 title in three years. The season was capped by an Apple Cup win over Wazzu. 610-4
9 Washington State It's strange the Cougars may be the Pac-12's best team but were shut out of a New Year's Six bowl. Their only losses are to USC (by three) and U-Dub. Mike Leach still has a chance of fulfilling his promise to Gardner Minshew. "We asked him if wanted to lead the nation in passing," Leach recalled. Minshew goes into the Alamo Bowl No. 2 in passing. 111-2
10 Florida The Gators seems to have awoken in Dan Mullen's first season. There needs to be an upgrade at quarterback. Georgia isn't going away anytime soon. The three losses were decisive and indicate how far Florida has to climb -- Kentucky, Georgia and Missouri by a combined 51 points. --10-3
11 LSU Social media already is urging the Tigers to put UCF "out of its misery." Yeah, there is a faction that is tired of UCF's incessant whining. But let's boil down the Fiesta Bowl: LSU can't afford to lose. If it wins, it's supposed to. If it loses, it bolsters the UCF argument. --10-3
12 Michigan The best part of Michigan's season might be last week's news of Meyer's retirement. We're still waiting for the offseason Jim Harbaugh press conference where Michigan's coach what happened against Ohio State. We'll have to settle for a Peach Bowl that will indicate if the Wolverines' heads are in it or not. --10-3
13 Kentucky The SEC coach of the year (Mark Stoops) rode the defense of the national defensive player of the year (defensive end Josh Allen) to win nine for the first time in 41 years. 210-3
14 Texas Progress was measured by a Red River Rivalry win over Oklahoma and a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game. Tom Herman has a quarterback (Sam Ehlinger) he can rely on. A win in the Sugar Bowl would mean the first 10-win season since 2009. 510-4
15 Fresno State In Jeff Tedford's first two seasons, the Bulldogs have won 21 games and captured this season's Mountain West championship. Fresno has won 11 for only the third time since 1990. If UCF had faltered, the Bulldogs would be in a New Year's Six bowl. 512-2
16 West Virginia Sure, Will Grier led the Big 12 in passing yards per game, and David Sills added 15 more touchdown catches. It was the defense that improved by 40 yards per game. Dana Holgorsen's briefly came up for the Texas Tech job. 18-4
17 Utah State Matt Wells had won 15 of his last 38 games before 2018's breakthrough season. That translated to the Texas Tech job. Following a late loss to Boise, the Aggies (10-2) tied for their most regular-season wins ever (10-1). 111-2
18 Penn State The best team in the Big Ten East not named Michigan or Ohio State. James Franklin's name was mentioned briefly at USC until there was no job to be had. Franklin's third straight season of at least nine wins is a landmark. The last time that happened, some guy named Joe Paterno did it from 2007-09. 19-4
19 Utah Don't let the Pac-12 Championship Game fool you. OK, let it fool you. That was terrible. The three points against Washington marked the worst offensive performance since a 28-3 loss to Notre Dame in 2010. A top 15 defense helped the Utes to wins over USC, Stanford and Oregon. 69-5
20 Boise State Brett Rypien departs as the Mountain West's career passing leader (13,578 yards heading into the First Responder Bowl). Coach Bryan Harsin has won at least 10 in four of his five seasons. 410-3
21 Syracuse In a Camping World Bowl where the over/under is 75 and features an All-American kicker (Cuse's Andre Szymt), you want to know more. The bowl is in Orlando. The opponent is in West Virginia. --10-3
22 Cincinnati The Bearcats just did not get enough respect this season. They are one of only 17 teams to win double-digit games this season. A top 10 defense was part of wins over UCLA and South Florida. --11-2
23 Mississippi State A ninth consecutive bowl season featured wins over Auburn and Texas. Eight wins seems low for a team that had Nick Fitzgerald, Montez Sweat, Jeffery Simmons and Kylin Hill. 18-5
24 Appalachian State Scott Satterfield left the Mountaineers in good shape -- 51 wins in five years and three consecutive Sun Belt titles. NR11-2
25 Texas A&M Lots to like in Jimbo Fisher's first season: Kellen Mond's development, the closest game Clemson faced, an epic overtime win vs. LSU. A bowl win would mean the Aggies' first nine-win season in five years. NR9-4
CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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