Top 25 College Football Power Rankings Week 14: J.J. McCarthy, Michigan Prove Their Mettle

The final week of the regular season saw major shifts in our College Football Power Rankings, including a new CFP member heading into Week 14.

With just three undefeated college football teams remaining and conference championships on the horizon, the College Football Playoffs have a hotly contested No. 4 spot up for grabs. We explore the options, as well as the three teams that joined the Top 25 of our Week 14 College Football Power Rankings.

Week 14 Top 25 College Football Power Rankings

1. Georgia Bulldogs

It was only 10-7 at halftime, but Georgia quickly dispatched Georgia Tech 37-14 by the final period. It was the Kenny McIntosh show, as he took 12 rushing attempts for 86 yards and a score and two receptions for 96 yards.

The defense is elite, but Stetson Bennett has struggled in his last five games. He will need to get back on track if the Bulldogs want to repeat as national champions.

2. Michigan Wolverines (Last Week: 3)

With Blake Corum out, Michigan needed J.J. McCarthy to step up vs. Ohio State in “The Game.” And while his final completion percentage of 50% isn’t exactly outstanding, he made some spectacular throws without any turnovers.

Oh, and Donovan Edwards exploded for 216 yards and two touchdowns, 167 of which came on the Wolverines’ final two scoring drives to put the game away.

3. TCU Horned Frogs (Last Week: 4)

TCU beat the brakes off Iowa State, 62-14. It was an all-around team performance and only further cemented the Horned Frogs’ place in the College Football Playoff.

4. USC Trojans (Last Week: 5)

If USC enacts its revenge on Utah in the Pac-12 Championship, the committee has to put them in the College Football Playoffs. Caleb Williams is college football’s version of Patrick Mahomes, and he should be the favorite for the Heisman Trophy when the updated odds are released.

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Each winner has their “Heisman moment” at some point during the season. Williams had his vs. Notre Dame in Week 13.

5. Ohio State Buckeyes (Last Week: 2)

While I don’t agree that Ohio State should even think about letting head coach Ryan Day go, it’s fair to criticize the relative lack of success the Buckeyes have had under his reign, especially with the sheer amount of talent on the roster.

Losing to an undefeated Michigan team wouldn’t turn too many heads, but the way they lost (45-23, scoring only 3 points in the second half) is what has fans concerned.

6. Alabama Crimson Tide (Last Week: 7)

Like in most recent years, the Iron Bowl was dominated by Alabama, with Auburn having its worst season since 2012. But unlike most recent years, the Crimson Tide won’t be present in the College Football Playoff.

It’s also likely we’ve seen the last of Bryce Young on a college football field as he turns his eye toward the 2023 NFL Draft.

7. Tennessee Volunteers (Last Week: 9)

We got a glimpse of earlier season Tennessee, with Joe Milton and Co. dropping 56 on Vanderbilt. The defense also did its part, holding the Commodores to 0 points. The rushing attack went to work in an on-paper meaningless game for the Vols, gaining 362 yards and six TDs on just 31 carries.

8. Washington Huskies (Last Week: 10)

Michael. Penix. Jr. The Washington QB has thrust himself onto the NFL draft radar, even despite two ACL tears and modest success at Indiana. Against Washington State in the Apple Cup, Penix generated 500+ total yards and five total TDs.

It was a spectacular outing that led Washington to their second win over Oregon — first on the field in Week 11, and then by holding them out of the Pac-12 Championship with a win vs. the Cougars.

9. Penn State Nittany Lions (Last Week: 12)

All five of Penn State’s vs. Michigan State scores were touchdowns, although it’s not as if they didn’t try field goals (their kicker missed both of his attempts). Sean Clifford tossed four TDs to five incompletions, and KeAndre Lambert-Smith even got in on the fun with a 48-yard WR passing TD.

10. Clemson Tigers (Last Week: 8)

Why did Dabo Swinney keep DJ Uiagalelei in the lineup the entire game? Clemson narrowly lost 31-30, but the score was so close in spite of their starting QB. Although Will Shipley and the defense gave their all, you can only do so much when your QB completes 8 of 29 passes for 99 yards.

11. LSU Tigers (Last Week: 6)

All LSU had to do to keep themselves in contention for the final four spots was defeat 4-7 Texas A&M. Well, they couldn’t, and they didn’t just fail to do so; they lost 38-23.

Jayden Daniels couldn’t get anything done through the air, and Aggies RB Devon Achane dashed his way to 215 yards and two TDs on the ground.

12. Oregon Ducks (Last Week: 11)

Oregon held their destiny in their hands and came up just three yards short on a fourth-and-goal. Don’t get me wrong; they faced a stout Oregon State squad (just two spots lower in our College Football Power Rankings). But the Ducks allowed four touchdowns on the Beavers’ last four true possessions.

MORE: CFB Week 13 Players of the Week

The Pac-12 is going to Pac-12, and that’s a real reason to worry about USC’s chances vs. Utah in the title bout.

13. Utah Utes (Last Week: 17)

Speaking of Utah, they thrashed Colorado 62-21, and all of the Buffaloes’ points came in the second half after they were down 42-0.

The Utes have all the momentum heading into conference championship week, and they have the blueprint to beating USC, considering that they are the only team to do so in 2022. Can they do so again? It’s definitely possible, especially in the Pac-12.

14. Oregon State Beavers (Last Week: 24)

Give yourselves a hand, Oregon State. The QB position has been all over the place all year, and yet, you finished the regular season 9-3. The stingy defensive secondary is going to be thin next year with a few starters leaving, but true freshman RB Damian Martinez is a force to be reckoned with on the other side.

15. Florida State Seminoles

In the battle for the state of Florida, Florida State reigned victorious behind the efforts of QB Jordan Travis and RB Trey Benson. It was an offensive shootout (45-38), but it came out to the effectiveness of the QBs. And Travis proved to be a better facilitator vs. Anthony Richardson.

16. Kansas State Wildcats

Kansas State earned its Big 12 Championship berth in dominant fashion, knocking off Kansas 47-27. Deuce Vaughn led the team in rushing (147) and receiving (82), and the defense forfeited just 5.5 yards per pass.

The last time they played TCU, they lost 38-28 after being shut out in the second half. Kansas State should give the Horner Frogs a fight next week, with QB Will Howard preparing as the starter this time around.

17. UCLA Bruins (Last Week: 18)

Despite being down at the half and giving the ball back to a hot Cal team with less than two minutes remaining, UCLA eeked out a 35-28 victory in Week 13.

The biggest takeaway was Dorian Thompson-Robinson becoming the program’s all-time leader in completions and the first Bruin to surpass 12,000 yards of offense in a career.

18. Tulane Green Wave (Last Week: 22)

In a must-win game vs. the AAC’s reigning champion, Tulane defeated Cincinnati 27-24. RB Tyjae Spears is electric, as he took 35 carries for 181 and two TDs. And the defense came to play like they have all season, holding Bearcats QB Evan Prater to 10 of 26 passing for 102 yards and one INT.

Next up: a rematch with UCF, who handed them a 38-31 loss just two weeks ago. It’s safe to say we should see an exciting AAC title match.

19. North Carolina Tar Heels (Last Week: 13)

Ending your season and back-to-back losses isn’t exactly inspiring, but North Carolina can take their anger out on Clemson in the ACC Championship.

If Drake Maye and the offense can get back on the saddle, the difference between the starting QBs will be apparent, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Clemson’s true freshman phenom Cade Klubnik made an appearance.

20. UTSA Roadrunners (Last Week: 21)

UTSA had a 34-31 scare vs. UTEP, but they still haven’t lost since September 17 vs. Texas. Frank Harris and the offense have generated 30+ points in all but one game this season, and with only North Texas in their way, the Roadrunners should … run … their way into a sought-after bowl game.

21. Troy Trojans (Last Week: 23)

Jon Sumrall’s Troy squad garnered their first Sun Belt Championship berth with a 48-19 victory over Arkansas State. But the score doesn’t tell the whole story.

The Trojans scored 34 points in the final 15 minutes behind the pads of Kimani Vidal, who rushed for 208 yards and four TDs on the day.

Troy shouldn’t struggle to outpace a reeling Coastal Carolina team without QB Grayson McCall en route to a conference title.

22. South Carolina Gamecocks (Last Week: Unranked)

Thanks in large part to WR Antwane Wells Jr. (9-131-2), South Carolina upset Clemson 31-30. Spencer Rattler still threw two INTs and had two quick punts, giving the Tigers more than enough chances to come back on top.

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Nevertheless, he passed for 360 yards against one of the top defenses in the country and did more for his team than his counterpart in Week 13.

23. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Last Week: 14)

After upsetting the last three ranked opponents they have faced (No. 16 BYU, No. 16 Syracuse, and No. 4 Clemson), Notre Dame fell to No. 6 USC 38-27. But don’t put any blame on star TE Michael Mayer, who hauled in eight passes for 98 yards and two scores.

The defense simply couldn’t contain QB Caleb Williams and RB Austin Jones, leaving the Fighting Irish with their first non-10-win season since 2016.

24. UCF Knights (Last Week: Unranked)

It took a touchdown drive with less than three minutes left on the clock, but UCF held on to defeat USF 46-39. Two-QB systems don’t typically work, but Mikey Keene and John Rhys Plumlee offer different skill sets that the offense can operate, with both receiving significant playing time.

Earning another victory over Tulane won’t be easy, but if Plumlee can get going on the ground as he did last time, the Knights could be in a great position.

25. Purdue Boilermakers (Last Week: Unranked)

The Big Ten East featured three teams with a two-win lead on Big Ten West representative Purdue. Yet, the Boilermakers are much more than a pushover. They beat Illinois 31-24 — the same Illinois team that almost upset Michigan 19-17.

I think Purdue is a long shot to hand the Wolverines their first L, but it’s at least a non-zero chance with Aidan O’Connell under center.

Teams on the Outside Looking In 

  • Illinois Fighting Illini
  • South Alabama Jaguars
  • James Madison Dukes
  • North Carolina State Wolfpack
  • Texas Longhorns

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