On Tuesday, the first College Football Playoff rankings helped set the stage for the final weeks of the 2016 season. All the contenders knew where they stood and what they had to do to make the semifinals.
A few of those teams can turn attention toward other goals after losing Saturday, as five squads that were ranked in last week’s Bleacher Report Top 25 ended up losing by a combined 137 points. Those results knocked that group down a few pegs while also helping to solidify the top of the rankings.
The Bleacher Report poll is voted on by 17 members of our college football staff: writers Greg Couch, Ed Feng, Matt Hayes, David Kenyon, Sanjay Kirpalani, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller, Brian Pedersen, David Regimbal, Barrett Sallee, Damon Sayles, Brad Shepard, Greg Wallace and Christopher Walsh; video staff Hunter Mandel; and editors Eric Bowman and Eric Yates.
First-place votes are worth 25 points, with each subsequent vote worth one fewer point all the way down to one for 25th place. The 25 teams with the most poll points make our list, with the rest falling into the “others receiving votes” category.
Check out where everyone stands after Week 10, then give us your thoughts in the comments section.
Arkansas knocked off Florida 31-10 at home Saturday to become bowl-eligible for the third consecutive season, and it boosted the Razorbacks on several ballots. It wasn’t enough to get into the Top 25, though, as they fell a few votes short.
Here’s a look at all the teams that were voted for but didn’t get the requisite number of poll points to crack the rankings.
- Arkansas (17)
- Baylor (16)
- Ole Miss (14)
- Stanford (12)
- Troy (12)
- San Diego State (11)
- Tennessee (10)
- TCU (8)
- South Florida (7)
- Houston (2)
- Miami, Florida (1)
- Navy (1)
- Wyoming (1)
Poll points: 40
Last week’s ranking: Not ranked
Week 10 result: Won 45-20 vs. Oregon
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 at Washington
USC (6-3, 5-2 Pac-12) won its fifth straight game to keep in sight of South Division co-leaders Colorado and Utah while turning to a lightly used running back for the bulk of its production.
Ronald Jones II had a career-high 20 carries for 171 yards and four touchdowns, picking up the slack with Justin Davis and Aca’Cedric Ware sidelined by ankle injuries. Jones had 80 carries in the Trojans’ first eight games but now has 394 yards and five rushing scores in their last two contests.
Sam Darnold added 309 passing yards and two TDs, and USC held Oregon to a season-low 85 rushing yards, 163 below its average.
Poll points: 51
Last week’s ranking: 24th
Week 10 result: Won 45-31 vs. San Jose State
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 at Hawaii
Boise State (8-1, 4-1 Mountain West) rebounded from last week’s loss at Wyoming with big performances Friday from quarterback Brett Rypien and his skill players.
Rypien was 16-of-21 for 219 yards and three touchdowns. Cedrick Wilson caught two of those scores as part of a six-catch, 102-yard performance. Jeremy McNichols ran for 158 yards and two TDs, while Alexander Mattison added 100 rushing yards and a score.
The Broncos reached eight wins for the 18th consecutive season, the longest active streak in the FBS.
Poll points: 86
Last week’s ranking: Not ranked
Week 10 result: Won 69-7 vs. Arizona
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 vs. California
Washington State (7-2, 6-0 Pac-12) was the model of efficiency in winning for the seventh time in a row, scoring on 11 of 12 possessions.
Luke Falk completed 32 of 35 passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns, and his 91.4 percent completion rate was the best of any quarterback with at least 35 attempts in the last 12 years, per ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura. Backup Tyler Hilinski was nearly as good, going 15-of-17 for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cougars also ran for 140 yards and three scores and held Arizona to 286 total yards while forcing three turnovers.
Poll points: 108
Last week’s ranking: 10th
Week 10 result: Lost 31-10 at Arkansas
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 vs. South Carolina
Florida (6-2, 4-2 SEC) had a three-game win streak snapped as its offense could do nothing. The loss knocked the Gators out of the playoff picture and damaged their chances to repeat as East Division champions.
Arkansas outgained the Gators 466-241 as Florida had only 12 rushing yards, its fewest in more than five years. Luke Del Rio was sacked three times and picked off twice as he completed 19 of 37 passes for 229 yards.
Florida’s only touchdown came on Duke Dawson’s 37-yard interception return score late in the first quarter. It has averaged just 17 points in three road games this season.
Poll points: 110
Last week’s ranking: 12th
Week 10 result: Lost 62-3 at Ohio State
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 vs. Minnesota
Nebraska (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) dropped its second straight game, both to Top 10 teams. But after losing in overtime at Wisconsin last week, the Cornhuskers were run over early and often by Ohio State.
Tommy Armstrong Jr. had an interception returned for a touchdown in the game’s opening minutes, then after Drew Brown kicked a 20-yard field goal midway through the first quarter, the Cornhuskers yielded 55 unanswered points. Along the way, they lost Armstrong to a scary injury after he was knocked out of bounds and was briefly unconscious. He was taken to a local hospital but later returned to the sideline.
Nebraska managed a season-low 204 yards and failed to score a touchdown for the first time since a 9-6 loss to Texas A&M in November 2010.
Poll points: 113
Last week’s ranking: 19th
Week 10 result: Won 24-20 at North Carolina State
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 11 vs. Boston College
Florida State (6-3, 3-3 ACC) avoided a second consecutive loss by rallying from a 10-point deficit late in the third quarter, but not without some late drama before securing bowl eligibility for a 35th consecutive season.
Deondre Francois’ 19-yard touchdown pass to Travis Rudolph with 3:09 remaining was the game-winner, a pass that looked like it was thrown in desperation as Francois was about to be hit. It also came one play after a North Carolina State player dropped an interception in the end zone.
The Seminoles got 330 passing yards from Francois, while Dalvin Cook ran for 65 yards and a TD on 18 carries. It was Cook’s worst performance since rushing for 54 yards in FSU’s 63-20 loss at Louisville in September.
Poll points: 123
Last week’s ranking: 13th
Week 10 result: Lost 10-0 vs. Alabama
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 at Arkansas
LSU (5-3, 3-2) lost for the first time under interim coach Ed Orgeron, as its recently explosive offense could do nothing against the stout Alabama defense.
The Tigers managed a mere 125 yards with just 33 on the ground. It got only 35 rushing yards on 17 carries from Leonard Fournette after he’d run for a school-record 284 yards and three touchdowns last game against Ole Miss.
LSU allowed only 323 yards and kept Alabama scoreless until the fourth quarter. However, it never got closer to scoring than on its first drive when Jamal Adams intercepted a pass, but Colby Delahoussaye had a 49-yard field goal blocked.
Poll points: 138
Last week’s ranking: 20th
Week 10 result: Won 24-21 at Duke
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 vs. Georgia Tech
Virginia Tech (7-2, 5-1 ACC) remained in control of the Coastal Division, but not before nearly blowing a 14-point lead in the second half.
The Hokies led 21-7 but were up by only three after Duke’s Daniel Jones scored on a two-yard run with 7:10 left. After punting, they sealed the game by forcing the Blue Devils to turn it over on downs and then ran out the final 4:06 by converting a pair of third downs.
Jerod Evans threw for 192 yards and ran for 83 yards with a touchdown while Travon McMillian had 72 rushing yards and a score. Adonis Alexander contributed a 75-yard return TD on a blocked field goal in the second quarter.
Poll points: 152
Last week’s ranking: 17th
Week 10 result: Won 48-20 vs. Georgia Tech
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 10 at Duke
North Carolina (7-2, 5-1 ACC) matched its season high for points against an FBS school for its third consecutive victory thanks to big games from quarterback Mitch Trubisky and rusher Elijah Hood.
Trubisky was 20-of-32 for 329 yards and a touchdown, his fifth 300-yard game of the season. He also ran for 44 yards and a score. Hood rushed for 168 yards and three TDs on just 12 carries, scoring from one, 36 and two yards out.
The Heels tallied a season-best 636 yards but allowed 518 yards, including 334 on the ground. They converted a pair of Georgia Tech second-half fumbles into TDs to break open what had been a 34-20 lead.
Poll points: 154
Last week’s ranking: 15th
Week 10 result: Won 52-20 at Ball State
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 8 at Kent State
Western Michigan (9-0, 5-0 Mid-American) won its 11th consecutive game Tuesday and continued its dominance on the road, topping 40 points for the sixth straight time.
The Broncos led 21-7 after the first quarter and finished with 553 yards, with quarterback Zach Terrell providing 367 yards and three touchdowns on 23-of-34 passing. His main target was Corey Davis, who had 12 catches for 272 yards and three scores to move to second in FBS history with 4,789 yards.
Jarvion Franklin added 109 rushing yards and two scores for Western Michigan, which has won its five road games by an average of 27.4 points.
Poll points: 156
Last week’s ranking: 21st
Week 10 result: Bye
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 10 at Arizona State
Utah (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) was one of the few FBS teams to get the week off, and after the amount recently unretired running back Joe Williams has been used of late, the break was much-needed.
Williams, who left the team in September only to be asked back in mid-October, has rushed 98 times for 683 yards and six touchdowns in the Utes’ last three games. He’s accounted for more than 35 percent of Utah’s season rushing numbers in that span.
Utah’s two losses are by a combined 12 points, including last week’s seven-point home loss to Washington.
Poll points: 158
Last week’s ranking: 23rd
Week 10 result: Won 43-37 at Kansas State
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 vs. Texas Tech
Oklahoma State (7-2, 5-1 Big 12) rallied from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter to clinch its fifth consecutive victory.
Chris Carson’s 17-yard touchdown run with 1:46 left gave the Cowboys the lead, then Jordan Sterns picked off a pass as time expired after Kansas State had driven to the Oklahoma State 3-yard line.
Mason Rudolph threw for 457 yards and five touchdowns on 29-of-38 passing, but he was also intercepted twice, one of which the Wildcats returned for a touchdown in building a 30-21 lead. K-State quarterback Jesse Ertz ran for 153 yards and three touchdowns, the last helping his team to a 37-28 lead with 12:21 to go before the Cowboys began their comeback.
James Washington’s 82-yard TD catch with 7:45 left helped pull OK State within two before Carson scored the game-winner.
Poll points: 187
Last week’s ranking: 16th
Week 10 result: Won 48-21 vs. Kansas
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 at Texas
West Virginia (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) took out its frustration from last week’s loss at Oklahoma State on hapless Kansas, leading 31-0 at halftime and cruising to victory.
Quarterback Skyler Howard accounted for five touchdowns, four in the first half, and had 324 yards of total offense. He was 16-of-27 for 260 yards with three touchdowns and ran for 64 yards with two scores.
Justin Crawford ran for 129 yards and a score, and Kennedy McKoy added 127 rushing yards as the Mountaineers gained 341 yards on the ground.
Poll points: 208
Last week’s ranking: 18th
Week 10 result: Won 20-10 vs. UCLA
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 at Arizona
Colorado (7-2, 5-1 Pac-12) overcame four turnovers and 128 penalty yards Thursday to secure its first winning record since 2005 and stay atop the South Division.
The Buffaloes managed a season-low 304 yards, had a field goal blocked and trailed 10-7 at halftime. But a pair of field goals gave them the lead before Isaiah Oliver’s 68-yard punt return touchdown with 5:27 left sealed the victory, the Buffs’ first punt return score in 11 years.
Sefo Liufau threw for 143 yards and ran for 58 more, but he turned it over three times—two on interceptions and one on a fumble. Phillip Lindsay ran for 73 yards and a TD and added 11 catches for 76 yards.
Poll points: 218
Last week’s ranking: 22nd
Week 10 result: Won 41-14 vs. Iowa
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 at Indiana
Penn State (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten) won for the fifth straight time as Saquon Barkley paced a huge night on the ground for the Nittany Lions.
Barkley ran for 167 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, part of 359 yards and three touchdowns for the team. He also caught a 44-yard scoring pass. Tommy Stevens ran for 70 yards and a score and Trace McSorley had a rushing touchdown along with 240 passing yards and two touchdowns.
The Lions limited Iowa to 234 yards and only 30 on the ground.
Poll points: 233
Last week’s ranking: 7th
Week 10 result: Lost 35-28 at Mississippi State
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 vs. Ole Miss
Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2 SEC) can cancel those playoff plans after it fell in Starkville, Mississippi, in its second consecutive conference loss following a 6-0 (4-0 SEC) start.
The Aggies fell behind 28-7 late in the first half and didn’t have enough offense to complete a rally after quarterback Travis Knight suffered a shoulder injury on a 19-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Jake Hubenak replaced him and was 11-of-17 for 222 yards with two fourth-quarter TD passes. However, he threw a pass that was intercepted with 14 seconds remaining.
Christian Kirk had 237 all-purpose yards, including a 93-yard punt return for a score late in the first half and a 54-yard TD catch.
Knight, who was 5-of-14 for 43 yards through the air, was also A&M’s top rusher with 54 yards. The Aggies ran for 117 yards, their second time in the last three games they failed to top the 200-yard mark on the ground.
“Texas A&M doesn’t have the depth to withstand major injuries to its stars, and it doesn’t have the ability to adapt mid-game or during practice,” Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee wrote.
Poll points: 277
Last week’s ranking: 11th
Week 10 result: Won 34-24 at Iowa State
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 vs. Baylor
Oklahoma (7-2, 6-0 Big 12) beat Iowa State for an 18th consecutive time Thursday but never led by more than two scores, briefly trailing in the second quarter en route to its 13th straight conference victory.
The Sooners trailed 17-14 with 4:30 left in the first half but scored on their next offensive play, with Baker Mayfield hitting Dede Westbrook for a 65-yard touchdown. Mayfield was 25-of-34 for 328 yards and four touchdowns, while Westbrook had seven catches for 131 yards and a TD.
Fullback Dimitri Flowers, a junior who had never logged a carry in his career, ran for 115 yards on 22 carries in relief of the injured Samaje Perine (leg) and suspended Joe Mixon.
Poll points: 291
Last week’s ranking: 9th
Week 10 result: Won 23-16 vs. Vanderbilt
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 at Georgia
Auburn (7-2, 5-1 SEC) turned to injured quarterback Sean White to key a second-half rally to keep pace in the West Division race.
White, who did not start because of a shoulder injury, entered the game to open the third quarter and threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Darius Slayton to help give the Tigers a 17-13 lead. He finished 10-of-13 for 106 yards, while starter John Franklin III was just 2-of-4 for nine yards but ran for 59.
Kamryn Pettway rushed for 173 yards, Kerryon Johnson had a short scoring run and Daniel Carlson made three of four field goals for Auburn, which has won six straight.
Poll points: 316
Last week’s ranking: 8th
Week 10 result: Won 21-7 at Northwestern
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 vs. Illinois
Wisconsin (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) ground out another low-scoring win to stay in the hunt for the West Division title, building a 10-0 lead and never relinquishing it.
The Badgers won despite gaining just 333 yards but still held possession for more than 40 minutes. Jazz Peavy’s 46-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter was one of only two gains of more than 30 yards, the other coming on a 32-yard catch by the junior wideout.
Corey Clement ran for 106 yards and a TD on 32 carries, and the Badgers defense held Northwestern to 39 rushing yards. The Wildcats were Wisconsin’s sixth consecutive opponent that came into the game with at least a .500 record.
Poll points: 350
Last week’s ranking: 5th
Week 10 result: Won 52-7 at Boston College
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 vs. Wake Forest
Louisville (8-1, 6-1 ACC) burst out to a 38-0 halftime lead as Lamar Jackson continued his push for the Heisman Trophy with another monster effort.
The sophomore quarterback accounted for 416 yards of total offense (231 yards on 12-of-17 passing along with 15 carries for 185 yards) and all seven of the Cardinals’ touchdowns. He threw four TD passes, two to James Quick and one each to Cole Hikutini and Jaylen Smith. Jackson also ran for three scores, including a 69-yard TD run 76 seconds into the game.
Jackson has now accounted for 45 touchdowns in nine contests. The FBS single-season record is 63, set by Hawaii’s Colt Brennan over 14 games in 2006.
The Cardinals held Boston College to 207 yards, had three sacks and forced three turnovers.
Poll points: 351
Last week’s ranking: 6th
Week 10 result: Won 62-3 vs. Nebraska
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 at Maryland
Ohio State (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten) put together its best performance of the season, racking up 590 yards and scoring on all eight possessions other than the one that ran out the game clock.
The Buckeyes took a 7-0 lead on Damon Webb’s 36-yard interception touchdown just 1:34 into the contest. It was the first of two defensive scores, and they now have six on the year. The other came on Malik Hooker’s 48-yard pick-six in the third quarter.
J.T. Barrett threw for 290 yards and four touchdowns on 26-of-38 passing, while Mike Weber and Joe Burrow had rushing scores. The Buckeyes held Nebraska to 204 yards of total offense and forced two turnovers.
Poll points: 375
Last week’s ranking: 4th
Week 10 result: Won 66-27 at California
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 vs. USC
Washington (9-0, 6-0 Pac-12) used its playoff committee snub as extra motivation for a blowout road win, shaking off a close game through the first 25 minutes to run away in the second half.
Jake Browning threw a school-record six passes, giving him 34 for the season, and was 19-of-28 for 378 yards. John Ross and Dante Pettis each had three TD catches, combining for 312 yards on 14 receptions. Lavon Coleman and Myles Gaskin added rushing scores as Washington tallied 704 yards of total offense.
The Huskies, winners of 12 straight and off to their best start since 1991, were ranked behind Texas A&M in the initial playoff rankings but don’t figure to face the same fate after the Aggies lost at Mississippi State on Saturday.
Poll points: 395
Last week’s ranking: 3rd
Week 10 result: Won 54-0 vs. Syracuse
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 vs. Pittsburgh
Clemson (9-0, 6-0 ACC) scored its second shutout of the year and held Syracuse (277 total yards) more than 200 yards below its season average (486.8) in winning for the 21st straight time in Death Valley.
Deshaun Watson threw for 169 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-16 passing and ran for 39 yards and a score but left the game in the second quarter with a shoulder injury. He was held out the remainder of the game for precautionary reasons but told ESPN afterward he was in no pain.
Backup Nick Schuessler threw for 177 yards and two touchdowns, and Wayne Gallman ran for 63 yards and a score. Tanner Muse returned one of Clemson’s three interceptions 64 yards for a TD.
Poll points: 398
Last week’s ranking: 2nd
Week 10 result: Won 59-3 vs. Maryland
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 at Iowa
Michigan (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) matched its best start in 10 years in a game that was over before halftime.
The Wolverines led 35-0 after two periods and scored the contest’s first 45 points, coming a field goal shy of their second conference shutout this season. They held Maryland to 367 yards and forced two turnovers with three sacks and 13 tackles for loss, their sixth game in 2016 with at least 10 TFLs.
Wilton Speight threw for 362 yards and two touchdowns on 19-of-24 passing and ran for a score, while De’Veon Smith ran for 114 yards and three TDs. Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh combined for nine catches, 189 yards and two touchdowns, and Jake Butt became Michigan’s career receiving leader for a tight end (1,521 yards) thanks to five catches for 76 yards.
Michigan has held five opponents to eight or fewer points this season.
Poll points: 425 (17 first-place votes)
Last week’s ranking: 1st
Week 10 result: Won 10-0 at LSU
Week 11 matchup: Nov. 12 vs. Mississippi State
Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC) didn’t score until the fourth quarter, but it didn’t need much to win its 21st consecutive game and maintain control of the West Division.
Jalen Hurts’ 21-yard rushing touchdown with 13:08 left broke a scoreless stalemate, with Adam Griffith adding a 25-yard field goal in the final minutes after missing on a previous kick. It was the first time since 2007—a stretch of 126 consecutive games, per Bleacher Report’s Christopher Walsh—that the Crimson Tide failed to score in the first half.
Hurts threw for 107 yards with an interception on 10-of-19 passing and ran for 114 yards, accounting for 221 of Alabama’s season-low 323 yards.
The Tide defense dominated once gain, holding LSU to 125 yards, including 33 on the ground. ‘Bama earned its second shutout of the season and 19th under head coach Nick Saban.
All slides written by Brian J. Pedersen. Follow the author on Twitter at @realBJP.