With the college football regular season in the books and conference championships won, check out each league below to see where the conference teams stand heading into the bowl schedule.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney discusses facing off against Ohio State in the College Football Playoff.
After Clemson lost to Notre Dame in November, Tigers coach Dabo Swinney told his players, “No trophy was handed out tonight. They’re going to hand the trophy out in Charlotte, and when we get to Charlotte, we’ll get the trophy.” That is exactly what happened in Saturday night’s rematch, as the Tigers beat Notre Dame 34-10 to win their sixth straight ACC championship. Because the Fighting Irish won the teams’ first meeting in double overtime, came into the game 10-0 and ranked No. 2 in the country, the thought was they could give Clemson a better game than the previous three ACC championship game opponents who barely mustered a fight.
Instead, the Irish faced a Clemson team that was at full strength with Trevor Lawrence, Tyler Davis, James Skalski and Mike Jones Jr. back and ready to make its usual playoff run. It should be no surprise that Clemson looked like a different team with its most significant players in the lineup, most especially Lawrence, who had 412 total yards and three touchdowns. His presence in the run game (90 yards rushing) helped make life easier for Travis Etienne, who had 124 yards and a touchdown. Clemson also controlled the line of scrimmage, something it failed to do in the team’s first matchup.
The bottom line: Clemson did to Notre Dame what it has done in six straight ACC championship games. That is what makes the Tigers the kings of the ACC. — Andrea Adelson
2. Notre Dame
3. North Carolina
5. NC State
7. Boston College
8. Virginia Tech
9. Wake Forest
12. Georgia Tech
13. Florida State
Broken record alert: Oklahoma wins the Big 12. Yes, the Sooners are league champions for the sixth season in a row — despite an 0-2 start to league play. It was quite an impressive accomplishment, which included avenging one of those two losses by beating Iowa State on Saturday to win the title.
The Cyclones were slow out of the gate but rallied to give themselves a chance in the fourth. Regardless of the result, Iowa State had an impressive season, and it continues an upward trajectory under coach Matt Campbell. But the league still belongs to the Sooners. — Sam Khan
2. Iowa State
4. Oklahoma State
5. West Virginia
7. Kansas State
8. Texas Tech
Ohio State coach Ryan Day discusses what it means for the Buckeyes to be back in the College Football Playoff and to have the opportunity to stop Clemson.
The game was ugly early, but Ohio State came out on top against Northwestern to win the Big Ten championship. Despite its defeat, Northwestern stays at the No. 3 spot, with Iowa not playing this week due to coronavirus issues within the Michigan program. Indiana, Purdue, Maryland and Michigan State also did not play.
Penn State moves up to No. 5 after its win versus Illinois, which finishes the season at the bottom of the power rankings. Wisconsin and Nebraska both move up after their respective victories against Minnesota and Rutgers.
The Big Ten ended up being pretty unpredictable this season, aside from one constant: Ohio State is good. — Harry Lyles Jr.
1. Ohio State
5. Penn State
8. Michigan State
Southern California was no longer the obvious choice for the No. 1 spot after it lost its first game of the campaign in what was officially referred to as the Pac-12 championship game against Oregon.
With the best record, though, the Trojans still are the team most deserving to top the Pac-12 power rankings, especially since Oregon played in the title game despite not winning its own division. It wasn’t the Ducks’ fault they didn’t get a shot to beat Washington to win the division, just as it wasn’t Colorado’s fault it didn’t get a crack at USC.
Based on what we’ve seen over the past month, Stanford, riding a four-game winning streak, might be the best team at the moment. Utah is in a similar bucket after finishing with three straight victories. And make sense of this: Arizona State, which won just two games, finished with the biggest aggregate scoring margin of any team in the Pac-12. What a mess. — Kyle Bonagura
7. Arizona State
9. Washington State
10. Oregon State
Nick Saban discusses how much time the Crimson Tide have to prepare for the College Football Playoff this year compared to previous seasons.
In the end, no one wanted Alabama. None of the SEC’s top teams, not Georgia nor Florida nor Texas A&M, could hang with the Crimson Tide’s prolific offense. And remember, this was an Alabama team that entered the season having lost Tua Tagovailoa, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III on that side of the ball.
Somehow, Alabama didn’t miss a beat. In fact, this offense is more complete than any Tagovailoa helmed. The offensive line is a favorite to take home the Joe Moore Award, and the trio of quarterback Mac Jones, running back Najee Harris and wideout DeVonta Smith all deserve Heisman Trophy consideration.
The defense might not be great, but it might be good enough to bring another national championship back to Tuscaloosa. Only time will tell whether Alabama is able to navigate the playoff; but for now, there’s no doubt it was the class of the SEC in 2020. — Alex Scarborough
2. Texas A&M
8. Ole Miss
12. Mississippi State
13. South Carolina
Group of 5/Independents
Joey Galloway and Kirk Herbstreit debate why Oklahoma outranked Cincinnati for the No. 6 spot in the final College Football Playoff rankings.
Time to really reshuffle the crew here with conference titles being decided, and it’s a good time to remind you that these are power rankings! Cincinnati remains at the top with its win over Tulsa. Coastal Carolina and Louisiana remain at Nos. 2 and 3 after being named co-champions of the Sun Belt with the title game’s cancellation.
San Jose State also jumps after beating Boise State (and having the best tweet of the season). Ball State comes in at No. 5 after an impressive MAC championship win over Buffalo. And UAB makes an appearance at No. 6 with their Conference USA title win over Marshall. BYU, Tulsa, Boise State and Liberty round out the rest. — Lyles
2. Coastal Carolina
4. San Jose State
5. Ball State
9. Boise State