The Week 14 Associated Press and Amway Coaches polls were only slightly tweaked after some heavyweight matchups, as the top of rankings remain largely the same.
Michigan and Ohio State played an epic contest, but the Wolverines only dropped a few spots as Washington moved into the top four of both polls. Meanwhile, Colorado, Penn State and Wisconsin did not rise in either poll despite impressive wins on Saturday.
Let us take a look at the rankings, as well as some predictions for notable teams. The full national standings for each conference can be found at NCAA.com.
Can Western Michigan Crash a New Year’s Six Bowl?
Perhaps no team in college football has experienced quieter success this season than Western Michigan, as the Broncos sit at 12-0 with one game remaining on their schedule.
After throttling Toledo 55-35 this past week, Western Michigan comes in at No. 13 in the AP Poll and No. 14 in the coaches poll. While the pollsters have decent respect for the Broncos, the College Football Playoff committee does not. In the last rankings, the team was a measly No. 21.
However, the Broncos could now be in prime position to land in a New Year’s Six Bowl.
With Boise State and Houston both going down in Week 13, Western Michigan is now the highest ranked team from outside the Power Five conferences. This ensures that the Broncos would get into a major bowl game if they defeat Ohio on Friday for the MAC title.
Making matters better is the favorable matchup Western Michigan has with Ohio.
Zach Terrell is one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, as he is completing over 70 percent of his throws for 3,086 yards, 30 touchdowns and just one pick on the year. He also has the most statistically prolific receiver in NCAA history at his disposal, per ESPN College Football:
Western Michigan WR Corey Davis passes Trevor Insley of Nevada (5,005 yards) to become the FBS all-time receiving yards leader. pic.twitter.com/xMmU6ot7HG
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) November 25, 2016
Ohio ranks 97th nationally in passing yards allowed per game, and it is not like the Bobcats have tremendous offensive firepower to make up for that mark, as they are 76th nationally with 26.8 points scored per game. If Ohio decides to force Western Michigan to win on the ground, the Broncos will simply feed Jarvion Franklin, who has run for 1,266 yards and 12 scores on the season.
On paper, Western Michigan should remain undefeated next week. This will put it in a New Year’s game, assuming the committee does not decide jump it with Navy. Considering the Midshipmen are below the Broncos with just Army remaining, that does not seem likely.
Could Colorado Jump Into Top Four?
The playoff is nearly set if Clemson and Washington take care of business in Week 14. However, what happens if the Huskies falter?
A two-loss team would almost certainly move into the top four, and there are a lot of teams in that group with a case. Either Penn State or Wisconsin would be the Big Ten champion, but Michigan defeated both of those teams. Oklahoma or Oklahoma State could be Big 12 winners, but that conference does not garner much national respect this season. The team that is not getting much attention is Colorado, and the Buffaloes could have a case to play for a national title.
The team is in the top 10 of both polls, which seemed like a complete long shot when the season began. ESPN’s Ted Miller noted that the turnaround is something truly special:
Colorado's turnaround is not only 1 of best stories in college football, it's one of best I've witnessed in 2 decades of covering the sport
— Ted Miller (@TedMillerRK) November 27, 2016
A win over Washington would give Colorado a marquee victory to complement solid triumphs over Utah and Washington State. That is a possibility given that it ranks within the top 36 nationally in both scoring offense and defense.
Colorado’s two losses are also extremely high-quality against Michigan and USC, so the Buffaloes have a case as a two-loss conference champion.
But as CBS Sports’ Doug Gottlieb points out, Colorado is part of a slew of teams that may not deserve a bid based on this season’s head-to-head results:
Not sure how the committee is supposed to keep #Michigan out. Beat Colorado,Wisconsin and PennState. Lost to OhioState in 2OT
— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) November 27, 2016
If the committee decides to go with results, then Colorado may not get in over Michigan. If being a conference champion is more important, then the Buffaloes will have to outshine the Big 12 and Big Ten champion on Friday.
The current polls and the latest playoff rankings indicate that the Big 12 and Big Ten are seen more favorably than the Pac-12. With all of that in mind, it seems that Colorado may fall just short of earning a spot among the final four teams.
Statistics are courtesy of NCAA.com.