May 25, 2024

after Championship Saturday and as playoff selection becomes official
JAMES PARKS3 HOURS AGO
The 2023 college football regular season and championship weekend are in the books and now we enter Bowl Season and the College Football Playoff national semifinal. For the last time ever, the playoff will feature four teams before the format expands to 12 teams starting next postseason. For now, it’s Michigan, Washington, Texas, and Alabama competing for the national championship. Where does that leave things in the national rankings as we move into Bowl Season?

ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) college football rankings and computer prediction model are a measure of team strength that predicts a team’s future performance.
Rankings and scores predictions are based on 20,000 simulations of a team’s season and games, using a combination of key analytics, including scores to date, quality of opponents, team talent, recruiting, and a team’s schedule.
Teams are ranked not in order of talent like in other rankings, but by a projected point margin per game against an average team on a neutral field.
25. Utah
Utah Utes running back Sione Vaki carries the ball during a college football game.
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Rankings change: None

Utah’s record: 8-4

Utah finishes with three losses out of the final give games, and looks ahead to its inaugural campaign in the Big 12 in 2014, with the added bonus of quarterback Cameron Rising announcing his return.

24. Miami
Miami Hurricanes running back Henry Parrish, Jr. on a rushing attempt during a college football game in the ACC.
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Rankings change: None

Miami’s record: 7-5

Ranking around top-50 nationally in the major categories, the Hurricanes dropped three straight late in the season and now are in the market for a quarterback after Tyler Van Dyke entered the transfer portal.

23. Louisville
Louisville Cardinals quarterback Jack Plummer attempts a pass during a college football game in the ACC.
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Rankings change: Down 1

Louisville’s record: 10-3

Just 6 points was all the Cardinals could scratch together in the ACC Championship Game, but Jeff Brohm’s debut season as head coach was overall a success as the team won 10 games.

22. Arizona
Arizona Wildcats wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan celebrates catching a pass during a college football game.
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Rankings change: Up 1

Arizona’s record: 9-3

Sitting at 12th nationally in passing production, the Wildcats won four games against ranked teams, and were 10 combined points away from winning two more.

21. USC
USC Trojans running back Austin Jones celebrates a touchdown during a college football game.
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Rankings change: None

USC’s record: 7-5

A marked decline for the Trojans in Year 2 under Lincoln Riley thanks to another, even worse, defensive performance from start to finish, but the addition of D’Anton Lynn as coordinator from UCLA could mean greener pastures lie ahead for USC’s maligned D.

20. SMU
SMU Mustangs quarterback Preston Stone attempts a pass during a college football game in the AAC.
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Rankings change: None

SMU’s record: 11-2

Despite being underdogs going in, and not having their starting quarterback after an injury, the Mustangs went into Tulane and won the AAC Championship Game.

19. Clemson
Clemson Tigers running back Will Shipley celebrates a touchdown during a college football game in the ACC.
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Rankings change: None

Clemson’s record: 8-4

A win over South Carolina in the finale ensures Clemson finished the month of November with a perfect record, although that’s not quite what fans are expecting from a program that’s won two national titles in recent years.

18. Oregon State
Oregon State Beavers running back Damien Martinez on a carry during a college football game in the Pac-12.
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Rankings change: None

Oregon State’s record: 8-4

The Beavers were just 8 combined points away from an undefeated record until the Oregon game, a 24-point loss. Now, their head coach is gone, their starting quarterback is gone, and their conference is gone.

17. Tennessee
Tennessee Volunteers running back Jaylen Wright runs with the ball during a college football game in the SEC.
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Rankings change: None

Tennessee’s record: 8-4

It was expected the Vols would take a step back after last season’s offensive output, and despite a strong rushing attack and an improved defensive unit, the team didn’t pass the eye test in big games against Alabama and Georgia.

16. Missouri
Missouri Tigers quarterback Brady Cook attempts a pass during a college football game in the SEC.
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Rankings change: None

Missouri’s record: 10-2

Mizzou ranks around the top 10 in most other rankings, but FPI projects the team to be 15.3 points better than an average opponent, hence this lower position compared to other teams. But the Tigers’ offensive trio has been a force to be reckoned with this season.

15. Ole Miss
Ole Miss Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart attempts a pass during a college football game in the SEC.
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Rankings change: None

Ole Miss’ record: 10-2

Whether it was throwing the ball, running the ball, or playing better defense, the Rebels found ways to win games this season that they didn’t win last year, although poor results against Alabama and Georgia still show there’s a road ahead for Ole Miss to truly be counted as elite in the SEC.

14. Texas A&M
Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Evan Stewart catches a pass during a college football game in the SEC.
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Rankings change: None

Texas A&M’s record: 7-5

ESPN’s ranking index has been really high on the Aggies for much of the season, probably because of the team’s strong defensive play over that time. The Mike Elko era begins in 2024 as the former A&M defensive coordinator looks to build a stronger foundation going forward.

13. Washington
Washington Huskies running back Dillon Johnson on a rushing attempt during a college football game.
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Rankings change: None

Washington’s record: 13-0

The Huskies’ projected point margin may result in a low ranking here thanks to the team’s close results as of late, but as undefeated Pac-12 champions, there’s nothing to keep them out of the College Football Playoff, quite the achievement for coach Kalen DeBoer in Year 2.

12. Kansas State
Kansas State Wildcats quarterback Avery Johnson on a rushing attempt during a college football game in the Big 12.
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Rankings change: None

Kansas State’s record: 8-4

The reigning Big 12 champions slid down the conference hierarchy this year and finished with a loss at home to Iowa State and then by losing quarterback Will Howard to the transfer portal, but a good enough bowl should be in the Wildcats’ future.

11. Florida State
Florida State Seminoles running back Trey Benson on a rushing attempt during a college football game in the ACC.
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Rankings change: Down 2

Florida State’s record: 13-0

The Seminoles are undefeated ACC champions, thanks to a strong ground game and punishing defense, an astonishing turnaround for head coach Mike Norvell and his program, but it’s still not enough for the ESPN computer rankings, which actually dropped FSU this week.

10. Notre Dame
Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Audric Estime on a rushing attempt during a college football game.
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Rankings change: Up 1

Notre Dame’s record: 9-3

When the Irish offense started to slow, tailback Audric Estime stepped in and picked up the slack, powering through for a career-high mark of 238 rushing yards and four touchdowns against Stanford.

9. LSU
LSU Tigers wide receiver Malik Nabers after catching a pass during a college football game in the SEC.
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Rankings change: Up 1

LSU’s record: 9-3

A win over Missouri and a potent offense led by Heisman favorite quarterback Jayden Daniels makes LSU the best three-loss team in college football.

8. Oklahoma
Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Nic Anderson celebrates a touchdown during a college football game.
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Rankings change: None

Oklahoma’s record: 10-2

Losses to Kansas and Oklahoma State derailed the Sooners’ otherwise terrific season, just missing out on a chance at the Big 12 title against a Texas team they already beat. Still, the 10 wins mark a noticeable step forward after Brent Venables’ tough debut season in 2022.

7. Texas
Texas Longhorns tight end Gunnar Helm celebrates a touchdown during a college football game.
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Rankings change: None

Texas’ record: 12-1

The Longhorns’ offense exploded over the last two games of the season, pounding Texas Tech by 50 and then discarding the Pokes to win the Big 12 championship to move into College Football Playoff contention, thanks in part to a head-to-head win over now-SEC champion Alabama, too.

6. Georgia
Georgia Bulldogs tight end Brock Bowers catches a pass during a college football game in the SEC.
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Rankings change: Down 1

Georgia’s record: 12-1

A shot at the historic three-peat appears to be gone now after a loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, snapping a 29-game win streak, and can’t help but leave the feeling that the season, despite all its triumphs, was a disappointment.

5. Alabama
Alabama Crimson Tide running back Jam Miller on a rushing attempt in a college football game in the SEC.
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Rankings change: Up 1

Alabama’s record: 12-1

What a turnaround for the Crimson Tide, a team that most people wrote off after the Texas loss and the sloppy win over USF. But they locked in after that, winning 11 straight games, including a miracle at Auburn and then out-playing Georgia to win the SEC Championship Game. This has to be one of Nick Saban’s single greatest coaching efforts in his career.

4. Oregon
Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix attempts a pass during a college football game.
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Rankings change: Down 1

Oregon’s record: 11-2

Despite the loss to Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game, their second of the season (and to the same team), the Ducks own a better scoring margin average by ESPN’s calculations thanks to their more dominant performances earlier this season. But a shot at the playoff evaporated in Vegas.

3. Penn State
Penn State Nittany Lions tight end Theo Johnson catches a pass during a college football game.
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Rankings change: Up 1

Penn State’s record: 10-2

The big win over Michigan State in the finale and some other wider margins help keep the Lions near the top of these particular rankings, and a good New Year’s bowl game awaits. But James Franklin still needs to find the formula to get past Ohio State and Michigan, or else perpetually be the Big Ten’s third-best team every year.

2. Ohio State
Ohio State Buckeyes running back TreVeyon Henderson on a carry during a college football game in the Big Ten.
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Rankings change: Down 1

Ohio State’s record: 11-1

ESPN ranked the Buckeyes at No. 1 in this poll a week ago despite losing at Michigan, but the Wolverines’ outing in Indy finally changed that questionable slotting. Ohio State is bound for a New Year’s bowl game, but Ryan Day is facing a mandate to change the narrative around Michigan, or else.

1. Michigan
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Rankings change: Up 1

Michigan’s record: 13-0

Back-to-back-to-back winners against OSU and Big Ten champions, and Michigan is in position once again to make a play for the national championship. It’s yet to advance to the CFP national title game, but this might be Jim Harbaugh’s best overall roster.

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BY JAMES PARKS
James Parks is the founder and publisher of College Football HQ. He previously covered football for 247Sports and CBS Interactive. College Football HQ joined the Sports Illustrated Fannation Network in 2022.

 

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