College football Power Rankings after Week 12

ByESPN staff ESPN logo
Sunday, November 20, 2022

Just when it seemed like the top 10 was going to escape unblemished after TCU and Michigan both hit late field goals to stay undefeated, Week 12 delivered the drama.

The Tennessee Volunteers, just on the cusp of the College Football Playoff top four, were upended by South Carolina in what turned out to be a 63-38 rout in Columbia. The blowout was just one of the upsets in the SEC, as Ole Miss fell 42-27 to Arkansas.

The dream of the SEC getting three teams in the CFP might have been lost Saturday, as the rest of the top 10 held serve ahead of rivalry week.

Georgia and Ohio State both withstood strong tests from divisional opponents, while USC won a dramatic Battle of Los Angeles and Alabama took care of an FCS foe.

The CFP is running out of teams worthy of the top four, and that's OK because we're running out of season. Here are the Week 12 Power Rankings.

1. Georgia Bulldogs(11-0)

Kentucky's defense came to play and made this one a lot closer than most expected, but the heavily favored Dawgs were able to grind it out for a 16-6 win on the road. Georgia struggled to score touchdowns in the red zone and had to settle for three short field goals. Kenny McIntosh was the main cog in Georgia's offense with 143 rushing yards, including a 9-yard touchdown. A couple of different times in the game, Georgiahad problems converting on short-yardage situations. Nonetheless, the Dawgs won their 26th straight regular-season game and completed an unbeaten 8-0 season in the SEC for a second straight year. Only two other schools have done that in the past 40 years -- Alabama (2008-09) and Florida (1995-96). -- Chris Low

Up next:vs. Georgia Tech (Saturday, noon ET, ESPN/ESPN app)

2. Ohio State Buckeyes(11-0)

The Buckeyes made it to 11-0 and an epic showdown with archrival Michigan, but the final step wasn't easy. They trailed Maryland at halftime and needed a huge effort from freshman running back Dallan Hayden, an afterthought before the season, who rushed for 146 yards and three touchdowns. Ohio State's defense struggled for stretches but stood tall in the end, as Zach Harrison recorded 2.5 sacks, including a strip of Taulia Tagovailoa in the final minute that went to teammate Steele Chambers for a touchdown. The Buckeyes blocked a punt for the second straight game but also had a PAT attempt blocked and returned for two points. They clearly aren't without their flaws, but they're also without any losses. -- Rittenberg

Up next:vs. Michigan (Saturday, noon ET, Fox)

3. Michigan Wolverines(11-0)

Michigan came away with a win against Illinois off a field goal from Jake Moody with nine seconds left that put the Wolverines up 19-17. That's how the game would finish, and while it kept the team undefeated, it did create a few more questions. Star running back Blake Corum went down with an injury to his left knee late in the second quarter and took only one snap in the second half. Corum still finished the game with 108 rush yards and a touchdown despite not playing the last two quarters. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy had 208 yards through the air but completed 53% of his passes. Corum's X-rays were negative, but his lack of playing time in the second half leaves his condition in doubt as Michigan prepares for Ohio State. -- Tom VanHaaren

Up next:at Ohio State (Saturday, noon ET, Fox)

4. TCU Horned Frogs (11-0)

Nothing should surprise us with this Horned Frogs team anymore, but a fire-drill 40-yard walk-off field goal by Griffin Kell to win at Baylor was still a stunner. The Frogs keep making history, including becoming the first Big 12 team since 2009 Texas to start 11-0. Max Duggan's big day -- 24-of-35, 327 yards passing with one touchdown and one interception along with 50 yards rushing on eight carries -- was crucial with the Frogs missing WR Derius Davis, followed by departures of TCU's best receiver, Quentin Johnson, and best running back, Kendre Miller. But once again, TCU never panicked, and rallied for its fifth second-half comeback win of this magical season. -- Dave Wilson

Up next:vs. Iowa State (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET)

5.USC Trojans(10-1)

It was the Air Raid we all expected in the Rose Bowl, and somehow, someway, by the play of Caleb Williams (who had more than 500 yards of offense on his own) and three interceptions by the USC defense, the Trojans are Pac-12 championship game bound after outlasting UCLA and winning their 10th game of the season. The back-and-forth affair also keeps USC alive in the playoff hunt. And with Tennessee dropping a game to South Carolina on Saturday, the path to that elusive fourth spot is looking more attainable by the week. -- Paolo Uggetti

Up next:vs. Notre Dame (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN app)

6. LSU Tigers (9-2)

Noah Cain ran for a season-high three touchdowns as LSU beat UAB 41-10 to set up a regular-season finale next Saturday against Texas A&M. But as good as Cain was, the story of the game was the defense. UAB running back DeWayne McBride entered the weekend leading the country in rushing yards per game (156.3). But against LSU, he couldn't find the light of day, rushing for 34 yards on 13 carries. Holding the Blazers to 52 yards rushing could be a positive sign as we look ahead two weeks to the SEC championship and Georgia's strong running game. -- Alex Scarborough

Up next:at Texas A&M (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN app)

7. Clemson Tigers(10-1)

Credit Dabo Swinney's team for resuming its ACC success after a humbling loss at Notre Dame. Despite playing without star defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, Clemson had little trouble against Miami, shutting out the Hurricanes for two and a half quarters and holding them to only 8 yards in the first half. Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei accounted for 316 yards (227 passing, 89 rushing) and three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing), and 12 different Clemson players recorded a reception. Clemson recorded its first undefeated regular season in ACC play since 2019 and its fourth since 2015. -- Rittenberg

Up next:vs. South Carolina (Saturday, noon ET, ABC/ESPN app)

8. Alabama Crimson Tide (9-2)

A 34-0 win over Austin Peay doesn't prove much. On the one hand, Jermaine Burton had his best game at Alabama with seven receptions for 128 yards and two touchdowns. And the defense was solid with a pair of interceptions -- one by Kool-Aid McKinstry and one by Brian Branch. On the other hand, committing three turnovers against an FCS opponent is going to frustrate coach Nick Saban as his team prepares to close out the regular season at home against Auburn next Saturday. -- Scarborough

Up next:vs. Auburn

9.Tennessee Volunteers (9-2)

It has been a rough past decade and a half for Tennessee -- until this season. But what had looked like it was going to be a special season -- maybe even a berth in the College Football Playoff -- blew up in the Vols' faces Saturday night in a stunning 63-38 blowout loss to South Carolina on the road. The Vols were shredded on defense to the tune of 606 total yards. South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler passed for 438 yards and six touchdowns against a Tennessee defense that didn't offer much of a pass rush and even less pass coverage. The Vols pulled within 35-31 at the 9:53 mark of the third quarter but lost quarterback Hendon Hooker to what appeared to be a knee injury. -- Low

Up next:at Vanderbilt (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network/ESPN app)

10.Penn State Nittany Lions (9-2)

When you score in all three phases of the game, you figure to be in good shape. Penn State was well-rounded during its 55-10 victory at Rutgers on Saturday. For the first time since 2005, it had multiple defensive scores, with freshman linebacker Kobe King and fifth-year senior safety Ji'Ayir Brown returning fumbles for touchdowns. The Nittany Lions' three non-offensive touchdowns, started by freshman running back Nick Singleton's 100-yard kickoff return, marked the first time the team had done that in 24 years. -- Blake Baumgartner

Up next:vs. Michigan State

11.Oregon Ducks (9-2)

With just over a minute left in Saturday's game against Utah, a banged-up Bo Nix stumbled his way to a first down that sealed the 20-17 win over the Utes and put the Ducks a win from a date with USC in the Pac-12 title game. Nix, who was a game-time decision, threw for 287 yards and a touchdown in what was an uncharacteristic, low-scoring affair between two Pac-12 teams. Despite the disappointing loss to Washington last week, the Ducks still have a shot to finish Dan Lanning's debut season with a conference title. -- Uggetti

Up next:at Oregon State

12. Kansas State Wildcats (8-3)

Will Howard (19-of-27, 294 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) once again filled in for Adrian Martinez with an impressive performance after overcoming a first-quarter pick-six, helping the Wildcats equal the most points they've scored this season (48, vs. Oklahoma State and then on Saturday against West Virginia). Malik Knowles had six catches for 111 yards, his third 100-yard performance in the Wildcats' past six games. K-State is closing in on a Big 12 championship game rematch with TCU and can clinch it with a win over Kansas next week. -- Wilson

Up next:vs. Kansas (Saturday, Fox)

13. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-3)

There aren't many consistent labels for Marcus Freeman's first Notre Dame team, but the Irish have built a habit of starting fast since the Stanford loss on Oct. 15. The Irish jumped on Boston College with 37 points in the first half, as Logan Diggs and Audric Estime combined for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Defensive end Isaiah Foskey recorded his 25th career sack, breaking the single-season school record. Unlike last week against Navy, Notre Dame didn't take its foot off the gas after halftime and cruised to an easy win on senior day. Cornerback Benjamin Morrison continued his brilliant freshman season with three more interceptions as Notre Dame recorded its second-most lopsided win over Boston College. -- Rittenberg

Up next:at USC (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN app)

14. Washington Huskies (9-2)

The Huskies have had a pass-centric offense all season, but coach Kalen DeBoer and offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb want to achieve greater balance. They got their wish against Colorado, as Washington stormed out to a 33-0 halftime lead behind three rushing touchdowns, and finished with 280 yards on the ground. Washington also continued to get strong play from its defense, which has responded well after a tough midseason stretch and shut out Colorado for nearly three quarters. After three single-digit wins, Washington never faced real adversity and recorded its first perfect record at home since 2018. -- Rittenberg

Up next:at Washington State

15.Utah Utes(8-3)

The Utes offense sputtered in Eugene on Saturday as quarterback Cameron Rising, running back Tavion Thomas and the rest of the unit could only muster 17 points -- their lowest total this season -- in a loss to Oregon. Their third loss of the season (second in conference) comes at a bad time for the Utes, who still have a slim outside shot at going to the Pac-12 championship to try and defend last year's titles. Unless Oregon State beats Oregon, Washington beats Washington State and UCLA beats Cal while Utah wins at Colorado, there will be a new Pac-12 champion this year. -- Uggetti

Up next:at Colorado

16. Florida State Seminoles(8-3)

The Seminoles are surging down the stretch, becoming a team no one wants to play. Florida State made quick work of Louisiana, scoring 21 first-quarter points behind two Jordan Travis touchdown runs and another from Treshaun Ward. FSU's 165 rushing yards in the first quarter marked the most in any quarter since 2013 (Nevada). The Seminoles finished with 251 rushing yards and five touchdowns, as five players finished with between 31 and 80 yards. But the story continued to be a defense that extended its streak of not allowing a touchdown for 32 drives until the Ragin' Cajuns broke through early in the fourth quarter. -- Rittenberg

Up next:vs. Florida (Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN app)

17. Tulane Green Wave (9-2)

Junior quarterback Michael Pratt (211 total yards, six TDs) rebounded in a big way in spearheading a 59-24 rout of SMU on Thursday. Pratt ran for three scores (new career high) while throwing for three more (tied career high). Junior running back Tyjae Spears eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the fifth straight game (121 yards, two TDs) as the Green Wave offense racked up 310 yards on the ground. Tulane's defense forced a season-high five turnovers (three fumbles, two interceptions), while redshirt sophomore defensive end Darius Hodges recorded 2.5 sacks.-- Baumgartner

Up next:at Cincinnati (Friday, noon ET)

18.North Carolina Tar Heels (9-2)

The Tar Heels picked a bad time to fall on their faces offensively, and after building a 17-0 lead in the second quarter, couldn't scratch from there and lost 21-17 at home to Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets, under interim coach Brent Key, played with more purpose and more grit and forced the Tar Heels to punt four times in the second half. North Carolina freshman quarterback Drake Maye also threw an interception in the second half and for the first time all season failed to throw a touchdown pass. The only consolation for the Tar Heels is that they've already clinched a spot in the ACC championship game against Clemson. -- Low

Up next:vs. NC State (Friday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN app)

19.UCLA Bruins (8-3)

The Bruins were one storybook Dorian Thompson-Robinson drive away from beating USC on Saturday, but it was not to be as DTR was picked off for the third time in the game. The UCLA offense showed up Saturday to the tune of 513 yards, but the Bruins' defense could not contain Caleb Williams and Co. to avoid their second straight loss, their third of the season, which will likely keep them from playing in the conference title game. -- Uggetti

Up next:at Cal (Friday, 4:30 p.m. ET, Fox)

20. Oregon State Beavers (8-3)

The best Beaver season in a decade continues. Damien Martinez rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns, and Oregon State scored the final 24 points of a 31-7 win over Arizona State in Tempe. It was OSU's eighth win of the season, the first time it has hit that mark since going 9-4 in 2012. Tied at 7 late in the first half, Ben Gulbranson found Jack Velling for a 21-yard score late in the first half, and OSU cruised through an easy second half. It's too late for them to get involved in the Pac-12 race, but it has been a heck of a season in Corvallis all the same. -- Connelly

Up next:vs. Oregon

21. Cincinnati Bearcats (9-2)

Cincinnati's defense was stifling during Saturday's 23-3 win at Temple, allowing it to keep pace with Tulane in the AAC standings. The Bearcats' defense intercepted Owls freshman QB E.J. Warner, Kurt Warner's son, twice, permitted 202 total yards (35 rushing) and forced four turnovers. Cincinnati quarterbacks Ben Bryant and Evan Prater combined to throw for 257 yards and a touchdown, while senior running back Ryan Montgomery (58 yards, one TD) paced the Bearcats' 131-yard rushing performance. -- Baumgartner

Up next:vs. Tulane (Friday, noon ET)

22.Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (9-1)

After clinching the Sun Belt East title a week ago, Jamey Chadwell's Chanticleers were on bye in Week 12, getting some time to continue working with quarterbacks Jarrett Guest and Bryce Carpenter in the absence of injured star Grayson McCall. The duo combined for 191 passing yards (mostly from Guest) and 15 rushes in Coastal's 26-23 win over Southern Miss last week. The Chants make their first visit to James Madison as Sun Belt foes next Saturday, and then it's time to face either Troy or South Alabama for the conference title. --Connelly

Up next:at James Madison (Saturday, noon ET, ESPNU/ESPN app)

23. Ole Miss Rebels(8-3)

Good luck finding a worse start to a game than what Ole Miss managed to pull off Saturday in a 42-27 loss at Arkansas. The Hogs led 35-6 at the half and 42-6 less than a minute into the third quarter, and the Rebels lost for the third time in their past four outings. Going into the game, there was a lot of chatter surrounding Lane Kiffin's candidacy for the Auburn head-coaching job, and the Rebels withered under their own mistakes. Any chance Ole Miss had of winning the game dissipated early after the Rebels moved the ball but had two touchdown passes nullified by holding penalties. They also lost a fumble and missed a field goal. Amazingly, the Rebels finished with 703 yards in total offense, and both Quinshon Judkins and Zach Evans rushed for more than 200 yards, but it all went for naught. -- Low

Up next:vs. Mississippi State (Thursday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN app)

24. Texas Longhorns (7-4)

If only the Longhorns could play every game against the state of Kansas, perhaps the season would have dramatically different. After failing to score an offensive touchdown on their home field, the Longhorns produced their most impressive offensive performance of the season. Bijan Robinson showed why he's arguably the most talented running back in the country, rushing for 243 yards and four touchdowns. Quarterback Quinn Ewers continued to look a bit shaky, but Texas rolled up 427 rushing yards in a 55-14 win, its second-highest total in a Big 12 game. -- Rittenberg

Up next:vs. Baylor (Saturday, noon ET)

25. Troy Trojans (9-2)

Jon Sumrall has led Troy to the doorstep of a Sun Belt championship game appearance in his first season in charge. His Trojans moved to 9-2 overall and 6-1 in conference play with a 34-16 home win over ULM. Kimani Vidal rushed for a career-high 242 yards and two touchdowns, and Antonio Showers' fumble return for a score late in the first half gave his team a 20-0 lead that provided the deciding margin. Sumrall took over a team that went just 5-7 last season, and with defense and some big plays, Troy is inching closer toward its first outright conference title in 13 years. -- Connelly

Up next:at Arkansas State (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET)

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