College football Power Rankings after Week 11

ByESPN staff ESPN logo
Sunday, November 14, 2021

In a year of upsets, college football's top-10 decided to quit messing around and give us a relaxing Week 11. But nobody told Oklahoma.

The Sooners were the latest team in the top-10 to get knocked off, losing 27-14 to Baylor on Saturday, and lose an undefeated season. The upset in the early window looked like it would set up another rollercoaster week of close calls and unexpected results but, outside of some losses in the bottom half of the rankings, the status quo prevailed.

Michigan escaped an upset bid from Penn State while Ohio State made sure the Purdue Boilermakers wouldn't spoil there season like Iowa and Michigan State. Georgia and Alabama rolled -- what's new -- and Cincinnati just keeps winning.

While upsets weren't all the rage this week, several rated teams did lose so the bottom half of the Power Rankings did receive a shakeup.

Still trying to get a beat on who is actually good this season? Find out in the latest edition of the Power Rankings this week.

1.Georgia Bulldogs (10-0)

For the first time since 1982, Georgia is 10-0 to start the season and steamrollering its way to its first College Football Playoff appearance since 2017. The Dawgs still have some work to do to get there, but looked the part Saturday of the best team in the country with a 41-17 victory over Tennessee. Neyland Stadium was rocking to start the game, as the Vols drove 77 yards to take an early 7-0 lead. But it was all Georgia after that. The Dawgs racked up 274 rushing yards, and for the first time all season, their defense allowed two touchdowns in a game. But Tennessee's final touchdown came inside the final four minutes. Georgia held Tennessee to just 55 rushing yards -- and only 14 after the Vols' scoring drive to open the game. It was Tennessee's lowest scoring output since losing 38-14 to Florida back on Sept. 25. -- Chris Low

2.Alabama Crimson Tide (9-1)

After nearly getting upset by unranked LSU last weekend, Alabama needed to get right against 1-8 New Mexico State. And it did in a big way, jumping out to a comfortable lead in the first half and cruising to a 59-3 victory. The defense was solid, racking up seven sacks, and the offensive line was much improved, even without starting center Darrian Dalcourt available with an ankle injury. A week after rushing for just 18 yards against LSU, Brian Robinson Jr. bounced back with 99 yards and a touchdown on nine carries against New Mexico State. -- Alex Scarborough

3.Cincinnati Bearcats (10-0)

The start to the game was about as bad as it gets for Cincinnati, which turned the ball over on its first two possessions and fell behind 7-0 early. But the Bearcats reeled off 31 unanswered points Friday to charge past South Florida45-28 on the road and stay unbeaten. Desmond Ridder passed for 304 yards and two touchdowns (setting the school record with 79 career touchdown passes) and also rushed for a touchdown, as Cincinnati weathered some shaky stretches in the second half to win by double digits. South Florida pulled within 10 points in the fourth quarter and had the ball, but a Deshawn Pace interception and Ryan Montgomery's 55-yard touchdown run on the next play sealed the victory for the Bearcats, who were playing without leading rusher Jerome Ford, who was out with a lower leg injury. -- Low

4.Oregon Ducks (9-1)

Unlike previous games, Oregon came out of the gate strong against Washington State, going up 14-0 in the first quarter before then slowly reverting to the team that's struggled to put away lesser opponents in the past. Halftime served the Ducks well -- they came out of their slumber and ensured this game ended with a strong 38-24 win they needed to keep their playoff march going. Quarterback Anthony Brown played a quintessential Anthony Brown game -- he was an efficient game manager, completing 17-of-22 passes and running for 123 yards. Oregon found success in the ground game once again. Coming into this game they had scored the sixth-most rushing touchdowns in the nation and they added four more on Saturday night, including two from Byron Cardwell. -- Paolo Uggetti

5.Ohio State Buckeyes (9-1)

In this upset-happy season, the Buckeyes made easy work of a Purdue team that had already upset two top-five teams this season. In a time of year when style points seem to matter for playoff consideration, OSU put up giant numbers: 624 yards of offense, led by C.J. Stroud, who went 31-of-38 for 361 yards and five touchdowns. Garrett Wilson returned with a monster day after missing last week, catching 10 passes for 126 yards and three TDs, plus a 51-yard touchdown run. Jaxon Smith-Njigba added another nine catches for 139 yards. The defense wasn't perfect, giving up 390 passing yards and four TDs, but with this offense, it was never an issue. -- Dave Wilson

6. Michigan State Spartans (9-1)

The Spartans had a balanced effort on offense in their win against Maryland. Quarterback Payton Thorne threw for 287 yards and four touchdowns while Kenneth Walker III ran for 143 yards and two touchdowns on the day. Thorne now has 21 touchdowns on the season, which is tied for the most by a Spartans player through 10 games. The Michigan State defense did allow Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa to throw for 350 yards and two touchdowns, but was able to hold the Terps to just 97 yards on the ground. Michigan State now has a big opportunity against Ohio State in a battle of one-loss teams. -- Tom VanHaaren

7. Michigan Wolverines(9-1)

The Wolverines got a late touchdown from tight end Erick All in the game against Penn State to go up 21-17 after falling behind in the fourth quarter. Michigan was able to close out the game against the Nittany Lions for its ninth win of the season. The defense pressured Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford on 38% of his dropbacks. That pressure resulted in seven sacks and held Clifford to just 2-of-7 passing for only 27 yards on plays he was pressured. Michigan's offense was without running back Blake Corum, but Hassan Haskins took on the load himself, running for 156 yards on 31 carries in the win. With only one loss, the Wolverines have Maryland standing between them and a potential top-five showdown with Ohio State at the end of the season. -- Tom VanHaaren

8.Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-1)

Balance was the name of Notre Dame's game Saturday in its dominant 28-3 victory over Virginia. No single Irish skill player accrued more than 100 yards on the ground or in the air, and quarterback Jack Coanthrew the ball for only 132 yards. Yet it was enough to let the Notre Dame defense put in the real work. Virginia came into Saturday's game boasting the No. 1 offense in the nation in total yards per game with 545.2, and though the Cavaliers were missing starting quarterback Brennan Armstrong, Notre Dame completely stumped their attack and held them to just 278 total yards. Virginia quarterback Jay Woolfolk spent most of the game either on the ground -- he was sacked eight times -- or throwing picks (twice). If Virginia was the Irish's best opponent left on the schedule, it's hard to envision them not finishing the year 11-1. Whether that will be enough to put Notre Dame in the playoffs is another question altogether. --Paolo Uggetti

9.Oklahoma State Cowboys(9-1)

Since a tight loss at Iowa State on October 23, Mike Gundy's Cowboys have gotten nasty. They have outscored their last three opponents by a combined 142-23, including a 63-17 stomping of TCU on Saturday night in Stillwater. After a tight first quarter, the Pokes unleashed 42 straight points that more than put the game away. The defense was dynamite yet again, but the OSU offense came up big in this one, too: Cowboy running backs Dominic Richardson, Jaylen Warren, Dezmon Jackson and Jaden Nixon combined to rush 47 times for 384 yards and eight touchdowns. This was a romp. OSU is peaking at just the right time. -- Bill Connelly

10.Wake Forest Demon Deacons (9-1)

After losing its perfect season last week, Wake Forest responded with an important 45-42 win against NC State to remain unbeaten in ACC play. The Demon Deacons trailed briefly after NC State returned the second-half kickoff for a touchdown, but took the lead right back and didn't trail the rest of the game. QB Sam Hartman accounted for four touchdowns (3 passing, 1 rushing) to make up for his three interceptions. Wake limited to NC State to just 3 of 14 conversions on third down, but allowed 408 yards passing. -- Kyle Bonagura

11. Ole Miss Rebels (8-2)

It wasn't pretty and it didn't follow the script, but Lane Kiffin will take a 29-19 win over No. 11 Texas A&M to improve to 8-2 on the season. Never mind that quarterback Matt Corral threw just one touchdown pass. Jerrion Ealy ran for 152 yards. Never mind that the offense stalled out inside the Texas A&M 25-yard line, setting for two field goals and twice turning it over on downs. The much-maligned defense was happy to turn in its best performance of the season, dominating the line of scrimmage in the first half and coming up with two fourth-quarter interceptions to seal the game. -- Scarborough

12. Baylor Bears (8-2)

Dave Aranda seems to be the one with the secret recipe for stopping Lincoln Riley. A year after becoming the first team to hold the Sooners under 300 yards, Baylor held the Sooners to a new low in the Riley era with just 260 yards. While Gerry Bohanon missed a few deep balls that could've blown open the game and threw one interception, he and Abram Smith carried the Bears with their legs. Smith averaged 7.4 yards per carry, rushing for 148 yards on 20 carries, and Bohanon rushed for 107 more with two touchdowns. Aranda irked Riley with a late timeout to kick a field goal for Big 12 tiebreaker considerations, but the Bears have proven that they could be a factor in the conference title race, a turnaround after a late loss to TCU last week. -- Dave Wilson

13.Oklahoma Sooners (9-1)

A year of hard living caught up to the Sooners against a physical Baylor team. Oklahoma managed just 260 yards of offense and 14 points, both new lows in the Lincoln Riley era, and could never get anything working. Caleb Williams, who threw two interceptions, was benched in the third quarter for Spencer Rattler, who was sacked twice on third down on his two drives. Kennedy Brooks had just 51 yards. Baylor had two 100-yard rushers in Abram Smith and quarterback Gerry Bohanon. Now, with the College Football Playoff talk likely out of the way, OU can exhale and focus on trying to win the Big 12. -- Wilson

14. BYU Cougars (8-2)

BYU had the comfort of a bye after beating Idaho State 59-14 last week. The Cougars travel to Georgia Southern next week before a crucial game in Los Angeles against USC on Nov. 27. With wins in both games, BYU could have a great chance at a New Year's Six bowl game this season. If the Cougars beat the Trojans, they would move to 6-1 against Power 5 competition this season. --Shea Carlson

15.UTSA Roadrunners (10-0)

After a series of blown scoring opportunities and a pick-six, UTSA found itself trailing Southern Miss17-10 late in the third quarter at the Alamodome. But a perfect final 15 minutes or so turned the game around. The Roadrunners scored on three of their last four drives and forced three consecutive Golden Eagles turnovers to secure a 27-17 win. Star running back Sincere McCormick was held to 90 yards on 19 carries, but Joshua Cephus and Zakhari Franklin combined to catch 11 balls for 170 yards, just 19 fewer than USM gained as a team. It was eventually enough to extend the school's record winning streak to 10 games. -- Connelly

16. Houston Cougars (9-1)

The Cougars clinched a berth in the AAC championship game for the first time since 2015 after winning their ninth straight game Saturday. Alton McCaskill ran for 129 yards and two TDs and the defense held Temple to just 10 first downs while picking off three passes. Clayton Tune continued his hot streak, throwing two more touchdowns on 21-of-34 passing for 224 yards. Tune has thrown for 14 touchdowns and no interceptions in the past five games. -- Wilson

17.Wisconsin Badgers (7-3)

In its first game without leading rusher Chez Mellusi, Wisconsin ran for 268 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-7 win over Northwestern. Beating up on the 3-7 Wildcats probably doesn't fully alleviate concerns about the Badgers' offense for the final two games of the year, but it was a good reminder that the backfield depth went well beyond Mellusi. Wisconsin has now topped 30 points in three of its last four games after hitting that mark just once in the first half of the season. Wisconsin controls its destiny in the Big Ten West, with reeling Nebraska and Minnesota all that stands in the way of a trip to the conference title game. -- David Hale

18. Pittsburgh Panthers (8-2)

The Panthers never seem to make things easy on themselves, and Thursday night against North Carolina was no different. After jumping out to a 23-7 lead, Pitt allowed the Tar Heels to come back and tie the game, sending it into overtime. After Pitt scored a touchdown on its opening possession of OT, a steady rain turned into a monsoon -- leaving North Carolina completely ineffective. Ultimately, Pitt pulled out the nail-biting 30-23 win. Quarterback Kenny Pickett threw for 346 yards, three touchdowns and an interception and set the school record for career passing yards. But Pitt was shut out in the second half and the offense could not sustain drives, something to keep an eye on in these final two games. At 8-2, Pitt is off to its best start since opening 9-1 in 2009 and remains the favorite in the ACC Coastal Division. -- Andrea Adelson

19. Iowa Hawkeyes (8-2)

Despite having to start backup quarterback Alex Padilla in place of the injured Spencer Petras, and despite getting outgained significantly, 409 yards to 277, Iowa extended its winning streak against Minnesota to seven games with a 27-22 win in Iowa City. Padilla completed passes of 34 and 72 yards to Charlie Jones, and while the Hawkeyes' other 47 snaps gained just 171 yards, they made their chances count and Minnesota didn't -- the Gophers finished seven drives in Iowa territory but scored just two touchdowns. Like many Hawkeyes wins, it wasn't pretty. But it was their eighth win of the season. -- Connelly

20. Utah Utes (7-3)

It wasn't the dominant performance Utah probably expected against an Arizona team with just one win (that came against undermanned Cal last week), but style points don't really matter as the Utes try to wrap up the Pac-12 South. Quarterback Cam Rising completed 19 of 30 passes for 294 yards with a pair of touchdowns in what was one of his best games of the season. TJ Pledger added 199 yards rushing on 25 carries with two touchdowns, but the Utes had trouble separating. After Utah took a 31-20 lead into the fourth quarter, Arizona kicked a field goal and then scored on a blocked punt -- only to have the game-tying 2-point conversion attempt fail. A 15-play, 8-minute, 34-second touchdown drive put the game on ice to keep the Utes a game ahead of Arizona State in the standings with two to play. -- Bonagura

21.San Diego State Aztecs (9-1)

It would be fitting that a close San Diego State game late into the Sunday morning hours on the East Coast would come down to Matt Araiza's left leg. The kicker has been the Aztec's most prominent, and arguably most important, player this season and for good reason. On Saturday, he added two more punts of 60 yards or more and hit a 35-yard go-ahead field goal with 1:21 left in the game to give SDSU the 23-21 victory over Nevada. Believe it or not, 23 points is a near shootout score for the Aztec offense, which hasn't scored above 20 points in the last four games. Against Nevada Saturday, it was enough to push them to 9-1 on the season and remain in the top-25.. -- Uggetti

22.Texas A&M Aggies (7-3)

The Aggies can't say they didn't have opportunities to beat Ole Miss. Almost nothing went right for them in the first half, offensively or defensively, and yet they were still within earshot of the Rebs. But then, when they finally showed signs of life in the second half, getting some push up front on offense and making some plays in the passing game, they couldn't capitalize, settling for field goals instead of touchdowns. Instead of leading a comeback, Zach Calzada threw two fourth-quarter interceptions, and both were turned into touchdowns, handing Texas A&M its third loss this season. -- Alex Scarborough

23. Arkansas Razorbacks (7-3)

It took three takeaways and an overtime field goal, but the Golden Boot is heading back to Fayetteville after Arkansas' 16-13 win over LSU in Baton Rouge. Montaric Brown picked off aGarrett Nussmeierpass in the end zone in LSU's overtime possession, and Cam Little banged in the game-winning 37-yarder three plays later. Nothing came easy for the Hogs against a quickly improving Tigers defense, butKJ Jeffersonthrew for 142 yards and rushed for 41, linebacker Bumper Pool made a pair of tackles for loss, and Arkansas created just enough breaks to move to 7-3. -- Connelly

24. Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-4)

Down 28-3 in the second quarter at Auburn, the Bulldogs looked like they were on their way to a blowout loss and a .500 record. Instead, they scored 40 unanswered points to stun the Tigers in front of a shocked Jordan-Hare crowd. Mississippi State quarterback Will Rodgers -- who had only three incompletions after the first quarter --threw for 415 yards and six touchdowns in the comeback win. The rally makes the Bulldogs bowl eligible this season with two games remaining on the schedule. --Carlson

25. Clemson Tigers (7-3)

It was a fun idea while it lasted ... all of two-thirds of the first quarter. UConn started what was expected to be a lopsided game with a bang--a 99-yard touchdown return to put at least a modicum of fear into Dabo Swinney during a season where the Tigers have struggled to say the least. Clemson responded, however, in loud fashion. Over the next three and a half quarters, they proceeded to score 44 unanswered points and amass 476 total yards while holding the Huskies to just 99. It was almost as if they needed the wake-up call, which says all you need to know about this year's Clemson squad. -- Uggetti

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