College Football Conference Power Rankings for Week 13 of the 2016 season. The Big Ten maintains its lead with wins from Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Penn State.
Which Power Five conference houses the best collection of programs in the nation, and which are lagging behind? It’s a fluid, though slightly more stable, process as the regular season nears its conclusion.
Sizing up the league pecking order is bigger than the simplicity of regional bragging rights. It’ll directly impact the selections and rankings of the College Football Playoff committee, which will be tasked with deciding which league champion—or two—winds up on the outside looking in when the four berths are released in early December.
Week 13 College Football Conference Power Rankings
5. Big 12
Football in Oklahoma? Wonderful. Everywhere else in the league? A wreck.
It’ll be the Sooners and the Cowboys in Bedlam two weeks from now to decide the 2016 Big 12 champion. Both teams regrouped from slow starts to finish the regular season on tears. That’s the good news in Big 12 world. The bad is that the drop-off from the top two is precipitous. West Virginia, the third highest ranked team, wasn’t competitive against Oklahoma or Oklahoma State. And TCU, Baylor and Texas have been dramatic disappointments this fall. Hey, at least Iowa State is finishing with a flurry and Kansas finally snapped its 19-game conference losing streak at the Longhorns’ expense.
If nothing else, the Pac-12 has proven this season that you don’t have to be Stanford, Oregon or USC to compete for a conference championship.
The names have changed, but the Pac-12 remains well-represented in the rankings. Colorado remains the team to beat in the South Division after handling Washington State. And Wazzu hosts Washington this Friday in an Apple Cup that’ll determine the North representative. Half the league can hold its head up high, aided by the strong finishes of the Cardinal and the Trojans. The lower half, though, has missed the mark, with six teams, namely the Ducks, UCLA and Arizona State, still sitting below the .500 mark.
It has not been a grand November in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The ACC’s top two teams, Clemson and Louisville, have suffered losses in the past two weeks. The Tigers recovered against Wake Forest, and will be playoff-bound by beating South Carolina and then the Coastal Division champ. However, when Houston ransacked the Cards last Thursday it ended any hopes of the league sending two teams to the playoff. Miami has regrouped with three straight wins, while Pitt’s brand is soaring with a pair of wins over ranked opponents, Penn State in Week 2 and Clemson two weeks ago. Rivalry week affords the league four cracks at SEC teams, Florida, the Gamecocks, Kentucky and Georgia.
Only two SEC schools, Mississippi State and Mizzou, have been eliminated from bowl-eligibility entering the final weekend. But the widening gap between top-ranked Alabama and the rest of the conference is preventing it from overtaking the Big Ten.
The SEC, as always, is home to a lot of quality teams. Great ones outside of Tuscaloosa, though, have been elusive this fall. Flawed Florida upset LSU in Baton Rouge Saturday. Tennessee and Texas A&M have fallen from their heights at midseason. And Auburn is likely to suffer its fourth loss of the year this Saturday at Bryant-Denny. Who gets the second New Year’s Six bowl invitation if the Gators finish 8-4 following losses to Florida State in Tallahassee ad Bama in Atlanta?
1. Big Ten
No one is tougher up top than the Big Ten, the difference in a close race with the SEC.
Sure, the Big Ten has Rutgers and Purdue and Illinois, who’ve performed this year as if they ought to be relegated to various Group of Five conferences. But the wasteland on the back end has been offset by the fact that four teams, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Penn State, remain in the hunt for not only a Big Ten crown but also a playoff spot. The Buckeyes and Wolverines square off in Columbus in a de facto playoff semifinal game. The Badgers and the Lions will spend their weekend trying to secure spots in the Big Ten Championship Game. Nebraska has been an added bonus in 2016, while Iowa is trying to salvage its season with a strong November.