College Football Power Rankings: Close but no cigar for Ohio State and USC

We bid a fond farewell to the Power Rankings this season with these conclusions.

  • Clemson finishes No. 1. The only other teams to occupy that spot this season were Georgia and Alabama.
  • The Big Ten leads everyone with five teams in the top 25 but had zero in the College Football Playoff.
  • Three SEC teams finish in the top 10.
  • Nine teams that appeared in the post-spring Power Rankings did not make it to the end, including then-No. 1 Florida State.
  • More than a quarter of the entries (seven, including Notre Dame) did not come from Power Five conferences.
  • We'll see you following the CFP National Championship on Jan. 8 with the 2018 preseason top 25.

Let's get to it.

Biggest Movers
6 Southern California
7 Auburn
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Clemson The CFP favorite after blowing through another season with only one inexplicable hiccup (Syracuse). The defending national champs are well equipped to make it two in a row. The Tigers are 43-3 in their last 46. 112-1
2 Oklahoma Among Baker Mayfield's accomplishments: He has posted the two best seasons in pass efficiency of all time. The Shelf Elf is the fuel behind the Sooners' second playoff berth in three years. 112-1
3 Georgia In Year 2, Kirby Smart lifted the Dawgs from 8-5 to SEC champions. He did it losing his starting quarterback, keeping his two best backs on campus and looking an awful like his previous employer. 312-1
4 Alabama AD Greg Byrne went to church Sunday. It helped as Bama became the only team to participate in each of the first four CFPs. Bama-Clemson III is next. --11-1
5 Ohio State Aside from Buckeyes' fans, I haven't heard a lot of outrage. The playoff would have been less credible with Ohio State in it. J.T. Barrett closed out a fantastic career. 411-2
6 Southern California In his first two seasons in Troy, Clay Helton won the Rose Bowl and Pac-12. Somehow, AD Lynn Swann felt compelled to give him a vote of confidence after beating Stanford in the conference championship game. 611-2
7 UCF Scott Frost provided a unicorn for the Knights -- a 12-0 season two seasons after an 0-12 season. Then Frost left for Nebraska. UCF would have done it all over again. 112-0
8 Auburn How many other teams played four times against teams ranked No. 1 at some point this season? That would be none. A great bounce-back season for Gus Malzahn, who bounced back to Auburn with a new deal. 710-3
9 Wisconsin The last undefeated Power Five didn't trail all season in the fourth quarter until meeting Ohio State. The Badgers have at least as good a record as all four teams in the playoff. 412-1
10 Miami (Fla.) Bummer of a finish. The Canes lost to Pittsburgh and Clemson by a combined 62-17, but Mark Richt was the ACC coach of the year in a turnaround season. 310-2
11 Penn State The Nittany Lions are officially back as a Big Ten power. Playing in back-to-back major bowls for the first time in 31 years. The loss of Joe Moorhead hurts. 110-2
12 Washington A 10-2 follow up to a playoff berth in 2016. Not bad. Chris Petersen lost his OC Jonathan Smith to Oregon State. 210-2
13 LSU In his first full season as a full-time head coach in 11 years, Ed Orgeron remade himself. After the Troy loss, the Tigers finished 6-1 losing only to Alabama. 49-3
14 Northwestern Pat Fitzgerald could lead everything from the NCAA to a Fortune 500 company. Northwestern is lucky enough to have him. His fourth season of at least nine wins leads to the Music City Bowl. 29-3
15 TCU Gary Patterson isn't going anywhere. The Frogs played in the new Big 12 title game, losing to Oklahoma for a second time. It doesn't get any easier in the Alamo Bowl against Stanford. 410-3
16 Memphis Fell to UCF in the AAC title game but retained coach Mike Norvell, keeping him away from Arkansas. 110-2
17 San Diego State The Armed Forces Bowl against Army should take about 2 ½ hours. A meeting of the No. 1 (Army) and No. 12 rushing offenses. 110-2
18 Stanford The best four-loss team in the country. For the fifth time since 2009, a Cardinal (Bryce Love) could finish as a Heisman runner-up. 59-4
19 Notre Dame A five-game improvement to 9-3 for Brian Kelly after a 4-8 downer in 2016. There was a return to physicality this year in South Bend. --9-3
20 Washington State Mike Leach lost his AD (Bill Moos) and only three games -- the fewest since 1997 for the Cougars. Rose Bowl Jr. in the Holiday Bowl against Michigan State. --9-3
21 Oklahoma State Mike Gundy hunted rattlesnakes, flirted with Tennessee and won at least nine games for the ninth time in the last 10 years. 59-3
22 Florida Atlantic Only 19 teams won at least 10 games this season. Incredibly, Lane Kiffin's team was one of them. Kiffin will be back next season. There aren't any jobs that fit this tweeting cowboy at the moment. 110-3
23 Boise State Bryan Harsin's second Mountain West title in his four seasons. Harsin is 41-12 in that span. 311-3
24 Michigan State Mark Dantonio proved his versatility this season. Only two other Big Ten quarterbacks threw more passes per game than Brian Lewerke (33). Spartans went from 3-9 to 9-3 and beat Michigan. 29-3
25 South Florida It looks like Charlie Strong is going to make it to Year 2 with the Bulls. In his first season, South Florida finished second in the American East losing only to Houston and UCF. 19-2
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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