College Football Power Rankings: Who moved up after Rivalry Week?

  • ESPN staffNov 26, 2023, 12:45 AM ET

Rivalry Week, or at least the Saturday portion of it, lived up to its billing and then some. Ohio State-Michigan. Alabama-Auburn. Washington State-Washington. Heart-stoppers all.

Michigan managed to pull off its third straight win against the Buckeyes in a game that came down to the final minute. Alabama, down by four, got the touchdown it needed on a fourth-and-goal from the 31 with less than a minute left to crush Auburn’s spirit. Washington, elevated to the No. 4 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings this week, kicked a field goal as time ran out to beat Washington State.

Florida-Florida State provided its own drama, as the Seminoles trailed after three quarters and benefited from a late personal foul for a 24-15 win. Georgia Tech was within a touchdown of top-ranked Georgia with two minutes remaining, before the Bulldogs were able to run out the clock in a 31-23 victory.

And they all get to play again in their conference championship games. Here’s how those rivalry matchups, and the rest of the weekend slate, affected this week’s Power Rankings.

No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs (12-0)

Two-time defending national champion Georgia completed an unbeaten regular season for the third straight year with a victory over Georgia Tech on Saturday in Atlanta. In doing so, the Dawgs won their 29th straight game, breaking the SEC record for consecutive victories. Alabama won 28 in a row from 1978 to 1980 and 1991 to 1993. Georgia (12-0, 8-0 in the SEC) will next face Alabama in the SEC title game in Atlanta. Kendall Milton rushed for a career-high 156 yards, and Georgia won for the 19th time in the past 22 meetings of the series. — Chris Low

Up next: vs. Alabama in SEC championship game, Saturday (4 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 2 Michigan Wolverines (12-0)

The Wolverines beat Ohio State for a third time in a row and will now play for a third Big Ten championship in a row. Michigan was held to just 38 yards rushing in the first half against the Buckeyes, but was able to keep chipping away against its rival to ultimately come out on top in a 30-24 win. The Buckeyes had given up just three rushing touchdowns all season, but running back Blake Corum scored two touchdowns on the ground to help put Michigan on top. The Wolverines’ defense had two important interceptions that helped seal the win. The first came from corner Will Johnson on the Buckeyes’ third possession and resulted in an offensive touchdown, and the second came from Rod Moore to effectively end the game. Michigan will now try for a conference crown and another shot at the College Football Playoff. — Tom VanHaaren

Up next: vs. Iowa in Big Ten championship game, Saturday (8 p.m. ET, FOX)

No. 3 Washington Huskies (12-0)

For several weeks now, the Huskies have been able to find just enough plays to stay unbeaten, and that was the case again in the Apple Cup, as Grady Gross’ 42-yard field goal as time expired provided a 24-21 triumph. Style points don’t matter at this point for Washington. It heads to Friday’s Pac-12 title game in Las Vegas undefeated, knowing a victory will provide a ticket to the College Football Playoff. That’s all that matters. Saturday’s win — the Huskies’ final regular-season Pac-12 game — came in the wake of one of the riskiest playcalls of coach Kalen DeBoer’s career. Facing fourth-and-1 from UW’s 29-yard line, DeBoer green-lighted a rushing play the team hadn’t run all season — an option play that gave QB Michael Penix Jr. the choice of handing it off up the middle or pitching to wide receiver Rome Odunze on an end-around. Penix went with the latter, as the Huskies entered Washington State territory with less than a minute remaining, leading to Gross’ winner. — Kyle Bonagura

Up next: vs. Oregon in Pac-12 championship game, Friday (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

No. 4 Florida State Seminoles (12-0)

It was not the prettiest nor the most masterful performance, but the Seminoles did just enough to beat Florida in their first full game without starting quarterback Jordan Travis. Once again, they did it in come-from-behind fashion. For the seventh time this season, Florida State needed a rally to win. Perhaps because this team has been here before, the Seminoles did not panic when they trailed 12-0 midway through the second quarter. Running back Trey Benson scored three touchdowns and was the difference-maker in the contest. His 26-yard touchdown run with 2:48 left sealed the win for the Noles, their first in Gainesville since 2017. Florida State quarterback Tate Rodemaker was efficient, if unspectacular, and he took a nasty hit to the head late on a slide following a run but was able to return to the game. FSU will next play Louisville in the ACC title game with a possible playoff spot on the line. — Andrea Adelson

Up next: vs. Louisville in ACC championship game, Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

No. 5 Oregon Ducks (11-1)

The Ducks did not want a repeat of last season’s rivalry game, during which a failed fourth quarter allowed Oregon State to end their Pac-12 title chances. This season, they made sure the Beavers had no shot from the start. Bo Nix and the Oregon offense moved the ball at will to the tune of 480 yards of offense and scoring drives that varied from eight minutes long to 50 seconds. The latter book-ended the first half and gave the Ducks a two-score lead they wouldn’t relinquish thanks to a defense that held the Beavers to a season-low 53 rushing yards and dynamic running back Damien Martinez to just 2.9 yards per carry. Now, Dan Lanning’s team will get its wish: A rematch against Washington in the Pac-12 title game, with the winner likely headed to the College Football Playoff. — Paolo Uggetti

Up next: vs. Washington in Pac-12 championship game, Friday (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

No. 6 Texas Longhorns (11-1)

The Longhorns crushed Texas Tech 57-7, won 11 games for the first time since 2009 and, most importantly, clinched a spot in the Big 12 title game, their first appearance there since 2018. Texas scored on defense and special teams, put up 528 total yards, including 302 rushing, and held Tech’s Behren Morton to 19-of-36 passing for 88 yards and three interceptions. The Horns will next face Oklahoma State in Arlington, Texas, for a chance at their first conference title since 2009 and to keep their playoff hopes alive. — Dave Wilson

Up next: vs. Oklahoma State in Big 12 championship game, Saturday (noon ET, ABC)

No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1)

The Buckeyes dropped their third straight game to archrival Michigan and will once again watch the Big Ten championship game from home, and most likely the College Football Playoff too. A defense that had risen into the nation’s elite couldn’t stop an aggressive Wolverines offense, surrendering scores on six of the final seven drives before a Michigan kneel-down. Quarterback Kyle McCord couldn’t rally the team like he had at Notre Dame, throwing his second interception in the final minute. Ryan Day dropped to 1-3 against the Wolverines, as six of his seven losses as Buckeyes coach have come either to Michigan or in the CFP. Ohio State competed better than it had the previous season in the second half, but a bitter result means difficult decisions are ahead for Day and the program. — Adam Rittenberg

No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1)

As Iron Bowl miracles go, this is one they won’t forget anytime soon at Alabama. Jalen Milroe connected with Isaiah Bond on a 31-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-31 play in the final seconds, as Alabama escaped with a 27-24 win over Auburn. The Crimson Tide kept alive their playoff hopes, and they will meet Georgia next in the SEC title game. Alabama has won 10 straight games since losing to Texas in Week 2. Milroe continues to improve for the Tide. He passed for 259 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 107 yards. Alabama won despite giving up 244 rushing yards. — Low

Up next: vs. Georgia in SEC championship game, Saturday (4 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 9 Missouri Tigers (10-2)

Missouri’s offense is pretty simple to describe at the moment: Just give it to Cody. Three quarters into Friday’s 48-14 blowout win at Arkansas, Cody Schrader had 217 yards on 27 carries, the Razorbacks had 87 total yards in 39 plays and the Tigers led 41-0. Mizzou benefited from an early injury to Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson but still finished with 12 tackles for loss, four sacks, four pass breakups and four forced fumbles. It was the Tigers’ seventh Battle Line Rivalry win in eight tries and their 10th win of a season that will almost certainly end in a New Year’s Six bowl. In 12 years in the SEC, Missouri has now won double-digit games three times — that’s as many as Arkansas, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt combined in that span. — Bill Connelly

No. 10 Ole Miss Rebels (10-2)

Rivalry wins don’t have to be pretty. Good thing. Ole Miss scored touchdowns on back-to-back second-half possessions, and while that was about it, that was also enough to beat Mississippi State 17-7 in the Egg Bowl. Quarterback Jaxson Dart’s 26 passes gained just 96 yards, but Quinshon Judkins and Ulysses Bentley IV rushed for 182 combined yards and a score, and a bend-don’t-break Rebel defense held MSU to one touchdown in four trips inside their territory. The win gave the Rebels 10 wins for the second time in three years — they hadn’t pulled off that feat since 1960-62 — and their only losses were to top-10 teams on the road (Alabama and Georgia). Another excellent season for Lane Kiffin’s squad. — Connelly

No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners (10-2)

Oklahoma’s defense has certainly improved overall in 2023, but the Sooners are always going to feel pretty comfortable in a track meet. They allowed 520 yards and 45 points to TCU on Friday in Norman … and still won by 24. Dillon Gabriel threw for 400 yards and three touchdowns, Gavin Sawchuk rushed for 130 yards and three scores, and Drake Stoops caught 12 balls for 125 as OU staked out a 26-point halftime lead and rolled 69-45. The win moved the Sooners to 10-2 and kept alive hopes of both a Big 12 championship bid and/or a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl. (They’d be well-advised not to give up 45 points there, though.) It’s been a heck of a rebound from last year’s 6-7 struggle. — Connelly

No. 12 Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2)

After a productive first half in every category but the most important one — 13 first downs, 308 yards, 8.3 yards per play, only 13 points — Penn State took full control at Ford Field. The Nittany Lions scored touchdowns on four of their first five drives after halftime, and their defense continued to pressure and frustrate Katin Houser and a feeble Michigan State offense. Led by Adisa Isaac, Curtis Jacobs and Abdul Carter, Penn State recorded seven sacks and 12 tackles for loss and notched its first-ever shutout of the Spartans and third of the season (Iowa, UMass). Penn State outgained MSU 586-68, allowing just 49 rushing yards outside of sacks. After leaving last week’s game against Rutgers with an injury, PSU quarterback Drew Allar looked sharp, recording 292 pass yards and two touchdowns, while Kaytron Allen added runs of 50 and 40 yards. Penn State recorded its second consecutive 10-2 regular season — with losses to Michigan and Ohio State — and now must wait to see if it can land another New Year’s Six bowl spot. — Rittenberg

No. 13 LSU Tigers (9-3)

Jayden Daniels made one last push for the Heisman Trophy, and LSU put the wraps on its second straight nine-win regular season under Brian Kelly with a 42-30 victory over Texas A&M. The Tigers (9-3, 6-2 in the SEC) trailed 24-21 entering the fourth quarter, but Daniels was sensational in his finale at Tiger Stadium. He threw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes (four TD passes for the game) and finished with 235 passing yards and 120 rushing yards. LSU has scored more than 40 points in seven of its last games, but the Tigers have also given up 30 or more points in seven of their 12 games this season. — Low

No. 14 Arizona Wildcats (9-3)

Arizona is on the rise, and quarterback Noah Fifita might have been in the Heisman Trophy mix had he been the Wildcats starter all season. Against rival Arizona State, Fifita completed 30 of 41 passes for 527 yards and five touchdowns with one interception as Arizona cruised to a 59-23 win. The Wildcats are a safe bet to win in San Antonio at the Alamo Bowl, with the Pac-12 expected to send two teams to New Year’s Six bowls. If the Wildcats prevail in their bowl game, they would reach the 10-win mark for the fourth time in school history and first since 2014. — Bonagura

No. 15 Tulane Green Wave (11-1)

It was super sloppy, but with a spot in the AAC championship game on the line, Tulane’s huge home game against UTSA ended like just about every Tulane game has in the last two years — with a Green Wave win. Quarterback Michael Pratt went just 9-for-22 passing, but Makhi Hughes rushed for 166 yards and a touchdown, Chris Brazzell II caught five balls for 93 yards and two more scores, and the Angry Wave defense forced five Roadrunner turnovers (three interceptions and two fumble recoveries). The win means Tulane will host the AAC title contest for the second straight year, and a win in that one would likely mean a second straight trip to a New Year’s Six bowl. Willie Fritz’s team went 2-10 in 2021; they’ve gone 23-3 since. — Connelly

Up next: vs. SMU in the AAC championship game, Saturday (4 p.m. ET, ABC)

No. 16 Louisville Cardinals (10-2)

The Cardinals closed their regular season with a damper, a week after clinching a spot in the ACC championship game. Because once again, they could not find a way to beat rival Kentucky. Though the Wildcats are having a down year by the standards Mark Stoops has set recently, they won their fifth straight in the series. Louisville had uncharacteristic mistakes that cost it, blowing a 10-point lead two different times. The Cards allowed a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and turned the ball over three times. While a 10-win season and an ACC title game appearance in Year 1 is a credit to Jeff Brohm, he said afterward, “This one hurts more than the others.” — Adelson

Up next: vs. Florida State in ACC championship game, Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

No. 17 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-3)

In Marcus Freeman’s second campaign as the Irish head coach, Notre Dame was able to do two things it couldn’t last season: win nine games in the regular season and beat Stanford. On Saturday, Freeman’s team didn’t just beat the Cardinal; the Irish dominated them 56-23. Running back Audric Estime, like he has done most of this season, had his way on the ground, tallying 238 rushing yards to go with a whopping four touchdowns. The Cardinal had no answer for Estime and Notre Dame’s offense as a whole, surrendering a total of 521 yards, while the Irish’s defense forced four turnovers. — Uggetti

No. 18 Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2)

The Hawkeyes picked up their 10th win with a 13-10 defeat of Nebraska on Friday. The Hawkeyes will represent the West Division in the Big Ten title game against Michigan. Iowa’s defense once again came through, holding Nebraska to 75 rushing yards and 189 passing yards. The Iowa defense has been a huge part of the 10-win season, holding teams to 280.8 yards per game and allowing just 4.05 yards per play this season. As much as the offense has struggled, scoring just 16.33 points per game, the defense has stepped up throughout the season. — VanHaaren

Up next: vs. Michigan in the Big Ten championship game, Saturday (8 p.m. ET, FOX)

No. 19 Liberty Flames (12-0)

In completing the first 12-0 regular season in program history ahead of next week’s Conference USA title game, Liberty did what it does best in a 42-28 win against UTEP. The nation’s best running game rushed for a season-high 441 yards, registering 287 yards in the first half and 203 yards in the first quarter. Quarterback Kaidon Salter (94 rushing yards) and wide receiver Aaron Bedgood (82 rushing yards) paced the Flames on the ground. Quinton Cooley (65 rushing yards and three touchdowns) and Billy Lucas (69 rushing yards and one touchdown) accounted for four of Liberty’s five rushing scores. For the second straight week and the sixth time this season, Liberty ran for over 300 yards, as seven players rushed for at least 30 yards. — Blake Baumgartner

Up next: vs. New Mexico State in Conference USA championship game, Friday (7 p.m. ET, CBSSN)

No. 20 Oregon State Beavers (8-4)

With rumors swirling regarding the status of head coach Jonathan Smith and his candidacy for the job at Michigan State, the Beavers couldn’t replicate last season’s win over Oregon and instead, lost their fourth game of the season. From kickoff, OSU failed to set the tone on both defense and in the running game, which has been their calling card all season. Damien Martinez led a running attack that could only account for 53 yards. With the pressure on quarterback DJ Uiagalelei to bring the Beavers back in the game, the former Clemson quarterback struggled, completing only 19 of his 35 pass attempts for 220 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Beavers’ usual recipe for success doesn’t require explosiveness on offense, but when their typically stout defense allows two wide receivers to go for more than 120 yards, winning this game was going to be near impossible. — Uggetti

No. 21 Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-3)

The Cowboys continue to mystify, clinching a spot in the Big 12 title game against Texas during a season in which they’ve lost 33-7 at home to South Alabama and 45-3 at UCF just two weeks ago. They didn’t make it easy this week, either, trailing 24-6 before outscoring BYU 34-10 in the second half and overtime to win 40-34, completing the third-largest comeback in school history. Ollie Gordon II finished with 34 carries for 166 yards and five touchdowns, tying Barry Sanders for the school record for scoring runs in a game. The Cowboys didn’t play Texas in the regular season, and they will be underdogs, but never count coach Mike Gundy out. According to ESPN Stats & Information, this was his 10th comeback win when trailing by 15 or more points, which leads all FBS teams since 2005. — Wilson

Up next: vs. Texas in Big 12 championship game, Saturday (noon ET, ABC)

No. 22 NC State Wolfpack (9-3)

Brennan Armstrong threw for 334 yards and three TDs, and Brayden Narveson kicked four field goals as the Wolfpack rolled over instate rival North Carolina. NC state led 39-7 heading into the fourth quarter and was never threatened. Kevin Concepcion had 131 yards and two touchdowns receiving, his fifth multiple-TD receiving game this season. — ESPN staff

No. 23 James Madison Dukes (11-1)

Perhaps a little down following last week’s overtime loss to Appalachian State and seeing a 13-game winning streak go by the wayside, it took James Madison some time to settle in against Coastal Carolina. After a pair of three-and-outs to begin the contest, the Dukes’ offense tallied touchdowns on eight of their next nine possessions to take control in an eventual 56-14 triumph. Senior quarterback Jordan McCloud was 26-of-35 passing for 324 yards and five touchdowns — three to sophomore wide receiver Elijah Sarratt (six receptions for 107 yards on six targets) — and one interception. Senior Ty Son Lawton (73 rushing yards), McCloud and Sarratt all ran for touchdowns to add further punch to an offense that finished with 481 total yards. Meanwhile, James Madison’s defense recovered three fumbles and scored 14 points off those turnovers. — Baumgartner

No. 24 SMU Mustangs (10-2)

SMU is getting ready for the challenge of playing in the ACC next season with a serious infusion of momentum. Behind a 28-point first quarter, SMU blitzed Navy early and often by scoring touchdowns on its first four possessions to win its eighth straight game 59-14. Sophomore quarterback Preston Stone (14-of-19 passing for 322 yards) threw three first-quarter touchdown passes, including two to junior wide receiver Moochie Dixon. Dixon ended his afternoon with four receptions for a career-high 125 yards and the two scores, as the Mustangs’ offense put up 487 total yards, with 300 of those yards coming in the first quarter, marking the most by any team in any quarter this season. For good measure to highlight a defense that allowed just 253 total yards (including 71 passing), sophomore safety Isaiah Nwokobia returned an interception 74 yards for a score in the third quarter. The program’s first 10-win season since 2019 now in hand, SMU will play at Tulane next week for the AAC title. — Baumgartner

Up next: vs. Tulane in AAC championship game, Saturday (4 p.m. ET, ABC)

No. 25 Clemson Tigers (8-4)

The Tigers failed to score an offensive touchdown but held South Carolina to just 169 total yards to pull out the win in Columbia. Clemson tallied a defensive touchdown just two plays into the game on a 43-yard scoop and score by Khalil Barnes. It was the fifth defensive TD of the season for Clemson, tied for the most in the FBS with Arkansas, Michigan and Washington State. Jonathan Weitz’s three field goals made the difference for the Tigers in the 16-7 decision. — ESPN staff