It's time for a change at the top. For three consecutive weeks in this space, Notre Dame has been No. 1, ever since its Nov. 7 win over then-No. 1 Clemson. The ranking was well deserved. Notre Dame was the first team to beat a sitting No. 1 in the regular season since Auburn defeated Alabama in 2017. But Alabama has been so dominant all season that it's clear the Power Rankings need a new top team
After a 55-17 win over LSU, Bama has now scored at least 35 points in 22 straight games. That's an ongoing college football record. It has scored at least 40 in an SEC-record eight consecutive straight games. Both of those numbers are unheard of previously.
Here's more: The highest-scoring Power Five team (49.2 points) has a combined winning margin of 278 points this season. That's more than 26 teams scored all of 2019 with a full 12-game schedule. Alabama's average margin of victory so far (30.88) would be the largest for a national champion since Florida State averaged winning by 39.5 points in 2013.
You may have noticed Nick Saban lost the nation's best wide receiver to a season-ending injury (Jaylen Waddle) then developed the nation's new best receiver. DeVonta Smith went for 231 yards and three more touchdowns against the Tigers. That's one Heisman candidate. There are two others on the roster – running back Najee Harris and quarterback Mac Jones.
Bama is rolling like it rarely has before under Saban. There's another whole column to be written about Saban embracing the offensive concepts that are now dominating the game.
Elsewhere in the Power Rankings, Ohio State is officially the 800-pound Buckeye in the room. From here, its season goes one of three ways. It either plays Michigan to get to the Big Ten Championship Game, finds another opponent to replace a potentially COVID-19 impacted Michigan, or the Big Ten rescinds its six-game minimum to get Ohio State to the league title game.
Bottom line: If Ohio State plays, it's in the Big Ten Championship Game. If it plays and wins, it is still alive in the College Football Playoff. The only way there is uncertainty is if a 5-0 Ohio State can't play in the title game and cannot find another opponent.
The BYU-Coastal Carolina game called into question the need to schedule games 15 years in advance, the 85-scholarship limit, coaching staff sizes, even scheme. Coastal just won a de facto pick-up game on three days' notice, possibly securing a New Year's Six Bowl. The program is not as old as some of its freshmen, 17 years.
Now we know why the ACC eliminated those nasty football games for Clemson and Notre Dame this week. Why hold the conference's two best teams to their schedules when they've proven all they can. Both Notre Dame and Clemson clinched a Charlotte rematch. Isn't that we all wanted to see anyway?
|The competition at the top is so intense that we're measuring the size of blowouts. At one point Saturday night, Alabama had scored 70 consecutive points at LSU going back to the 2014 meeting. The Tigers interrupted the run but just a little. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide clinched the SEC West. Mac Jones threw four more touchdowns causing a Heisman Watch jam at the top.||1||13-0|
|After a sleepy start, the Fighting Irish pummeled Syracuse, 45-21. Ian Book threw for three touchdowns and won his 30th career game in his last at Notre Dame Stadium. The ND winning streak is at a nation's best 16. That's part of 24 in a row at home. The Irish had already clinched a spot in the ACC Championship Game. Now they get two weeks to prepare.||1||10-2|
|The rematch of the year is official. The Tigers pounded Virginia Tech, 45-10, setting a chance at a sixth consecutive ACC championship. Trevor Lawrence may or may not win the Heisman, but he played what is sure to be his last regular-season game, running for two touchdowns and throwing for another.||--||10-2|
|Statement made in a 52-12 win over Michigan State. Missing their head coach and several players -- including three starters on the offensive line -- the Buckeyes proved they haven't missed a beat. Here's a weird one: Ohio State clinched the Big Ten East but only if they play one more game. (Unless the Big Ten votes to rescind its six-game minimum.)||--||7-1|
|The Gators wrapped up the SEC East with an easy win over Tennessee. Kyle Trask kept his Heisman front-runner status intact with four touchdown passes. The troubling piece: If Florida is going to give Alabama a challenge, it will have to develop a running game. The Gators rushed for only 19 yards. They're 11th in SEC rushing.||--||8-4|
|The Aggies got through the Auburn challenge 31-20 and need only to beat Ole Miss and Tennessee to be a factor in the playoff conversation. It should be noted TAMU last week celebrated the 20th anniversary of its last conference title. Yes, it's been that long.||2||9-1|
|Idle. For the second consecutive year, the Bearcats will play back-to-back games against the same opponent on its way to the AAC Championship Game. This time, it's Tulsa on Saturday then back for the championship on Dec. 19. The winner this week gets home-field advantage in the championship game.||1||9-1|
|It was a Tom Allen lovefest after a 14-6 win at Wisconsin. The Hoosiers love playing for him, and Allen loves them back. Depending what happens to Ohio State, Indiana is still in line for the Big Ten Championship Game. Jack Tuttle threw two touchdown passes in his first career start.||1||6-2|
|It was a bit of a party in Ames as the Cyclones clinched a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game with a 42-6 win over West Virginia. Breece Hall had a rushing touchdown in his 10th straight game. Where's the Heisman love? Iowa State won its fifth in a row. Where's the love in general?||1||9-3|
|Idle. The Hurricanes were quietly eliminated from the ACC Championship Game when Clemson beat Virginia Tech. They loudly stomped Duke, 48-0. Playing for the first time since Nov. 14, the Canes posted their first road shutout in 20 years. If Miami wins out it to go 10-1, it would likely land in the Orange Bowl.||3||8-3|
|How long can Cincinnati hold off the Chanticleers? This is one of the season's key questions down the stretch. After beating BYU, Coastal may not need the Bearcats to lose to snag a New Year's Six berth. It's good enough. It depends on the CFP Selection Committee to reward an upstart program from Conway, South Carolina.||6||11-1|
|Lincoln Riley lost a coach and fought through more COVID-19 issues. The Sooners still beat Baylor, 27-14. Oklahoma assistant Shane Beamer missed the game on his way to South Carolina to become the Gamecocks' new coach. Meanwhile, the Sooners will play Iowa State in two weeks in the Big 12 Championship Game attempting to win their sixth straight conference title. Nice finishing kick by the Sooners holding a third straight opponent to less than 300 yards.||1||9-2|
|It was a brilliant play by athletic director Tom Holmoe, going to Coastal Carolina for the Cougars' best shot at a New Year's Six bowl. BYU is out of the running, but the publicity this season will pay off down the road. Coach Kalani Sitake has turned the program around. BYU's age of independence is starting to pay off.||6||11-1|
|Idle. What a day. The Wildcats clinched a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game without doing a damn thing. Only three league games needed to be played to keep the six-game threshold for championship game qualification. The Wildcats are 5-1 and will face ... somebody in that Dec 19 championship game.||--||7-2|
|The Pac-12's best brand name may be its only hope for a major bowl. Prior to the Washington State game Sunday night, Clay Helton had started 3-0 for the second time at USC. Four-star quarterback prospect Jake Garcia decommitted with 10 days to go until signing day.||5||5-1|
|Quite a week for Billy Napier. He had a long-snapper problem against App State then took his name out for the South Carolina job. The Ragin' Cajuns now get two weeks off before the Sun Belt Championship Game. This is Napier's third straight Sun Belt title game.||2||10-1|
|Idle. What in the wide, wide world of sports is Georgia doing No. 8 in the CFP Rankings? Its best win is over an Auburn team with four losses. The offense has been a major disappointment. The defense has underachieved. I just don't get it.||5||8-2|
|The Golden Hurricane became the first team to win on Navy's Senior Day since 2002 with a 19-6 victory over the Midshipmen. That sets up one of the best fairytale endings of the season. Tulsa has done it with defense. Linebacker Zaven Collins is a Nagurski Award frontrunner. Back-to-back games with Cincinnati are forthcoming, the second one for the AAC title.||3||6-3|
|Colorado being 4-0 at this point is one best-hidden surprises of this strange season. The Buffaloes shut out Arizona in the second half to grab a 24-13 road win. Even weirder, Jarek Broussard ran for 301 yards wearing a knee brace following a serious injury last season.||4||4-2|
|Idle. The Flames are waiting for a bowl assignment after finishing up last month. Hugh Freeze is 17-6 in his comeback tour with Liberty through two seasons. Auburn transfer Malik Willis was a find this season as the No. 1 rushing quarterback in the country (807 yards).||5||10-1|
|Remember those throwaway late-season SEC nonconference games? North Carolina played something like that Saturday in beating Western Carolina, 49-9. Michael Carter scored three touchdowns in his last game at Kenan Stadium. The Tar Heels win the state championship going 4-0 against Duke, Wake Forest, NC State and the Catamounts.||NR||8-4|
|Don't penalize the Thundering Herd for a lackluster 20-0 loss to Rice. Celebrate the Owls, who beat a ranked team for the first time since 1997. Freshman Grant Wells threw five interceptions. He had thrown four in his freshman season up to that point. Marshall still needs to beat Charlotte on Friday to clinch the Conference USA East.||3||7-3|
|The Hawkeyes have won five in a row after scoring 35 straight points against Illinois. Iowa fell behind 14-0 before going on its run. Don't get too excited. The five wins are over teams that are a combined 10-20.||NR||6-2|
San Jose State
|The Spartans are still an under-the-radar success story. The game against Hawaii (a 35-24 win) was moved from the mainland to Oahu after COVID-19 concerns. San Jose State then won despite playing for the first time in three weeks. The Spartans are 5-0 for the first time since 1939.||NR||7-1|
|More Mountain West love. The Wolf Pack stayed close to San Jose State after Carson Strong threw five touchdown passes in a 37-26 win over Fresno State. The last time that happened one Colin Kaepernick threw five against Idaho in 2010. If Nevada can beat the Spartans on Friday, it will advance to the Mountain West Championship Game.||NR||7-2|
Out: Oregon, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, Washington