College Football Playoff Rankings: Ohio State taking hold of the East

How do the 2021 Top 25 College Football Rankings and the College Football Playoff shape out following Week 12 action?

As quickly as the 2021 college football season arrived, it’s starting to pass us by. As we head out of Week 12, let’s take a look at our updated Top 25 College Football Rankings. What does the College Football Playoff race look like after Saturday’s action?

College Football Playoff Rankings | 1-5

Which teams make up the top five of our Week 12 Top 25 College Football Rankings?

1) Georgia Bulldogs (–)

Just another day in the office for Georgia. The Bulldogs crushed FCS opponent Charleston Southern 56-7, improving to 11-0 on the year.

2) Ohio State Buckeyes (+1)

Ohio State was always a brutal draw for Michigan State, and they proved it today, demolishing the Spartans in a 56-7 obliteration. This is a different Buckeyes team from the one that lost to Oregon. It’s worth wondering if anyone can stop C.J. Stroud, Garrett Wilson, and Chris Olave.

3) Alabama Crimson Tide (-1)

The Razorbacks gave Alabama a legitimate fight, but the Crimson Tide snuck away in a tense 42-35 fight. Alabama’s playoff hopes stay alive as a result, but it’s worth wondering if they’d win a shootout with Ohio State right now. Seeing the defensive improvements on Ohio State’s side, as well as Alabama’s defensive struggles, I’m inclined to say no.

4) Cincinnati Bearcats (–)

We talked about SMU as the biggest remaining barrier between Cincinnati and the playoffs. The Bearcats came out and blasted the Mustangs 48-14. This was a statement win for Desmond Ridder and Cincinnati’s offense.

The Bearcats proved to be a tier above other Group of Five schools. That’ll be key in determining their playoff viability. They’ve earned a shot.

5) Michigan Wolverines (+2)

If it weren’t for Kenneth Walker III, Michigan would be 11-0 and in the playoffs right now. The Wolverines have played impressive football outside of their loss to the Spartans. Their offense was clicking against Maryland, and their defense has the talent to potentially slow Ohio State down next week. A win against OSU changes the Wolverines’ fate.

Week 12 College Football Rankings | 6-15

Who’s knocking on the door of the playoff race as we head out of Week 12?

6) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+2)

The Fighting Irish have resembled a paper tiger for much of this season, but credit must be given when it’s due. Notre Dame demolished Georgia Tech in Week 12, and they’re moving up in our Top 25 College Football Rankings as a result. The playoffs may be on the table.

7) Oklahoma Sooners (+2)

In Week 12, Oklahoma escaped against Iowa State in what could have potentially been a second consecutive loss. Now that the Sooners have a loss, they’re not going to move up much in our Week 12 Top 25 College Football Rankings. Still, they hold strong with a victory against the Cyclones.

8) Oregon Ducks (-3)

Much like Oklahoma, the Ducks — before Week 12 — looked like a playoff contender that was living dangerously. Many of Oregon’s wins were closer than ideal. And on Saturday, that lack of dominance spilled over into a loss against Utah. Now, with two Pac-12 losses, the Ducks are all but out of playoff contention.

9) Oklahoma State Cowboys (2)

Oklahoma State’s defense proves itself in new ways each week. This week, the Cowboys scoffed at a talented and potentially problematic Texas Tech offense. They shut out the Red Raiders in a 23-0 drubbing. Now 10-1, the Cowboys have a chance to take complete control of the Big 12 if they can knock off Oklahoma next week.

10) Michigan State Spartans (-4)

Michigan State’s playoff hopes officially ended in Week 12 with their 56-7 loss to Ohio State. Consequently, they’re moving down quite a bit in our Week 12 Top 25 College Football Rankings. They can get to 10 wins next week against Penn State, but that won’t be easy.

11) Ole Miss Rebels (-1)

A win is a win. Still, it would’ve been more encouraging to see Ole Miss beat Vanderbilt by more than just 14 points. It’s the same Vanderbilt team that lost to Mississippi State and Florida by a combined 81 points. Nevertheless, Ole Miss moves to 9-2, with a battle against Top 25 Mississippi State on deck to close out the year.

12) Pittsburgh Panthers (+1)

Kenny Pickett couldn’t leave Heinz Field without a little bit more magic. The Panthers outlasted Virginia in a shootout, but it wouldn’t have been possible without star WR Jordan Addison, who racked up 14 catches for 202 yards and 4 scores. With this win, Pitt locks down the ACC Coastal division and secures a spot in the ACC Championship Game.

13) Baylor Bears (+1)

Baylor improves to 9-2 after beating Kansas State in a 20-10 outing. The Bears aren’t in the playoff discussion with two losses, but the gap between them and Oklahoma is closing. Their head-to-head loss against Oklahoma State, however, complicates things a bit. There’s still a champion scenario for them, but Oklahoma State has a leg up.

14) Texas A&M Aggies (+1)

As expected, Texas A&M cruised against Prairie View A&M, moving to 8-3 on the year. This win won’t move the needle for the Aggies in our Week 12 Top 25 College Football Rankings. However, Jimbo Fisher will take a victory no matter who it comes against.

15) Houston Cougars (+1)

It was a little ugly, but Houston managed to reach 10-1 with a win against Memphis on Friday night. There aren’t any more big rising opportunities for the Cougars in our Top 25 College Football Rankings after Week 12. But they’ve solidified their place as a top Group of Five school.

Week 12 College Football Rankings | 16-25

Which teams round out the back end of our Week 12 Top 25 College Football Rankings?

16) Wake Forest Demon Deacons (-4)

In Week 12, Wake Forest accrued their second conference loss, falling to the Clemson Tigers 48-27. The Demon Deacons would’ve clinched the ACC Atlantic division with a win. Instead, there’s now a scenario where Clemson can steal it — if Clemson wins out and Wake loses to Boston College.

17) UTSA Roadrunners (–)

UTSA is the chosen school. So much went against them in Week 12 against UAB — but somehow, the Roadrunners found a way to come through when it mattered. They preserved their record, and they remain one of just three undefeated teams nationwide. Gimme a “meep meep.”

18) Wisconsin Badgers (–)

Nebraska gave the Badgers a fight, but Wisconsin relied on star running back Braelon Allen and managed to pull out a one-score victory.

Not only does that win secure Wisconsin’s standing in our Week 12 Top 25 College Football Rankings, but it also keeps them atop the Big Ten West. If they keep winning, they’ll stay there.

19) Iowa Hawkeyes (–)

For a minute, it looked like Illinois was going to have a shot at upsetting Iowa. But the Hawkeyes closed out a strong fourth quarter and held off the Fighting Illini. With one more game against Nebraska, Iowa is second in the Big Ten West, currently losing a head-to-head tie for the lead to Wisconsin.

20) Utah Utes (+3)

And the Ducks go down — again. They could afford one Pac-12 loss, but not a second. This one comes courtesy of Utah, and it’s not just a loss — it’s a 31-point blowout. This win moves the Utes up three places in our Week 12 Top 25 college football rankings.

21) NC State Wolfpack (-1)

NC State kept its ACC Atlantic division hopes alive in Week 12 with a win against Syracuse, but a lot needs to happen next week for them to win it. Not only does NC State have to beat North Carolina, but they also need to bank on a Wake Forest loss. As long as that happens, NC State has the head-to-head tiebreaker over Clemson.

22) BYU Cougars (-1)

It’s smooth sailing for the BYU Cougars, who bested Georgia Southern 34-17 today. Jaren Hall once again had a productive outing, and Tyler Allgeier was electric as well. BYU holds strong in our Week 12 Top 25 College Football Rankings.

23) Purdue Boilermakers (-1)

Purdue’s passing attack has proven potent this year, and against Northwestern, they were able to use that to their full advantage. The Boilermakers are no longer in contention for the Big Ten West crown, but they can get a nice bowl spot if they finish with another win.

24) Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (–)

Louisiana absolutely demolished Liberty. If Liberty was still perceived as it was three months ago, we’d be talking about moving up Louisiana five spots in our Week 12 Top 25 College Football rankings. But Liberty hasn’t been as good as expected, and neither has QB Malik Willis. Still, the Ragin’ Cajuns deserve respect for their dominance.

25) Mississippi State Bulldogs (–)

Mike Leach’s Bulldogs stayed the course in Week 12 against Tennessee State, securing their standing in our Top 25 College Football Rankings. Mississippi State is now 7-4. If they want to reach eight wins, they’ll have to beat Ole Miss in the season finale.

Closing In

  • Clemson Tigers
  • Kentucky Wildcats
  • Appalachian State Mountaineers
  • San Diego State Aztecs
  • Penn State Nittany Lions
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