College football rankings: Northwestern, UAB soar into top 25 of the CBS Sports 129

Nothing will get the attention of the CBS Sports 129 voters quite like clinching a spot in a Power Five conference title game with two weeks left to play. Northwestern, which was considered by this group to be a top-40 team heading into Week 11, shot up in the rankings and has landed in the top 25 after beating Iowa to secure a spot in Indianapolis as the Big Ten West champion. 

The Wildcats are the highest-ranked four-loss team after this weeks balloting of CBS Sports and 247Sports experts, and while there are only minor adjustments at the top of our comprehensive 129-team ranking of all FBS teams, there is plenty to dig into as the season winds to a close. 

The margins separating No. 5 Georgia from No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 7 West Virginia from No. 8 Washington State are small enough that we've seen some swapping among those teams after Week 11, but our voters are in line with the polls and the College Football Playoff Rankings with the top four of Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Michigan

Iowa State has started to make its climb as it hangs in on the Big 12 title race, moving up four spots to No. 17. Texas, Florida and Penn State also saw movement up in the rankings after key conference wins in Week 11.  

College football experts from CBS Sports and 247Sports contribute ballots each week, which are averaged together for our rankings. You can see the top-25 below, and 26-129 on our rankings page.

3Notre Dame10-03
7West Virginia8-18
8Washington State9-17
9Ohio State9-111
13Utah State9-114
17Iowa State6-321
18Penn State7-323
21Boston College7-317
24Fresno State8-213

Biggest movers 

  • Northwestern (+17): No team saw a more significant move in this week's rankings than Northwestern, leaping from No. 39 to No. 22 as it stakes its claim as one of the participants in conference championship weekend.  
  • Pitt (+16): Speaking of crashing conference championship weekend, Pitt moved one step closer to winning the ACC Coastal with a win against Virginia Tech. Our voters took note, and the Panthers went soaring from No. 49 to No. 33. 
  • Army (+14): There aren't a lot of two-loss teams left in college football, but Army is going to have a chance to finish the year 10-2 and our voters recognize this with a move up to No. 26 in the rankings. The Black Knights beat Lafayette on Saturday, host Colgate next weekend and then will wait two weeks for their annual showdown with Navy (which you can see on CBS).  
  • UAB (+12): Crashing the top 25 of our rankings and spotlighting the commitment of Bill Clark, UAB's 2018 team will be one that reigns supreme in Blazers football history. Depending on what happens in the AAC and MW, UAB could be in the conversation for a New Year's Six spot at the end of the year. 
  • Kentucky (-11): There wasn't much of an adjustment for Kentucky after losing to Georgia, but after falling to Tennessee our voters moved the Wildcats down from No. 12 to No. 23. 
  • Wisconsin (-13): The Badgers started the 2018 season up near the top of our rankings, but now they're hanging on in the top 50, down to No. 44 after losing to Penn State.  
  • NC State (-14): The free fall continues for Dave Doeren and the Wolfpack all the way to No. 40. After a tough, close loss at Syracuse last week, our voters saw NC State get bested by a hobbled Wake Forest team at home and adjusted their rankings.   
  • Houston (-16): Back-to-back losses to SMU and Temple leave little for Houston to hang its hat on in the debate for the best teams in college football. At 7-3 our voters think the Cougars are top-50 good, now down to No. 46.  

Check out the rest of the CBS Sports 129: Teams ranked 26-129

CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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