College football Power Rankings after Week 13

ByESPN staff ESPN logo
Sunday, November 28, 2021

We save Rivalry Week for the last week of the season every year for a reason, and it always delivers.

Ohio State was losing all game at Michigan and lost. Alabama was losing all game at Auburn and won. And Bedlam was ... bedlam.

The final week of the 2021 college football season mirrored the unpredictable nature of the sport week in and week out this year. We saw snowy conditions, a four-overtime game, coach ejections and ... bedlam.

Conference championship week now looms large as teams gear up for a playoff push while others are forced to sit and hope for favorable results.

But before we get to the title games, it's time to check in one more time on the regular-season Power Rankings.

1.Georgia Bulldogs (12-0)

The Bulldogs' dominance on defense continued in the regular-season finale, as Georgia posted its third shutout of the year with a 45-0 victory at Georgia Tech. It was Georgia's first shutout in the intrastate series since 1964. The Bulldogs finished 12-0 for the first time since winning their last national championship, in 1980. They'll try to take a big step in ending that drought by defeating Alabama in Saturday's SEC championship game in Atlanta, which would ensure the Bulldogs the No. 1 seed in the CFP and possibly knock the Crimson Tide out of the playoff. Georgia freshman tight end Brock Bowers had another big day at Tech with three catches for 100 yards and two scores. Bulldogs wide receiver George Pickens, who suffered a torn ACL in the spring, made his first appearance with one reception for five yards. -- Mark Schlabach

2. Michigan Wolverines(11-1)

The Wolverines got their first win against Ohio State under coach Jim Harbaugh. Michigan hadn't beaten the Buckeyes since 2011, and it snapped the streak on Saturday with a 42-27 decision. Michigan running back Hassan Haskins rushed for five touchdowns, which was a record for any back against Ohio State. Haskins had 169 yards, and Michigan as a team ran for 297, which is the most rush yards against a Ryan Day-led Ohio State team. The Michigan defense held Ohio State to 64 total rush yards and had four sacks on the day. Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson had three of those sacks and broke Michigan's single-season sack record with 13. With the victory, Michigan is now headed to the Big Ten championship game to represent the Big Ten East. -- Tom VanHaaren

3.Cincinnati Bearcats (12-0)

Bearcats QB Desmond Ridder threw for 301 yards in a 35-13 win over East Carolina that clinched home field for the American Athletic Conference championship game against Houston on Saturday. In the triumph, Ridder went over 12,000 total career yards, becoming the school and American career-record holder. In addition, Cincinnati finished 12-0 in the regular season for the second time in school history, joining the 2009 Cincinnati team. The Bearcats have now won 15 straight games against league opponents and 38 in a row against unranked teams. -- Andrea Adelson

4.Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1)

It was one of the worst performances of the Nick Saban era until it wasn't. The offensive line was dreadful, and the mental errors came fast and furious, including a bobbled snap on a field goal attempt and an ill-advised targeting penalty that knocked Jameson Williams, Alabama's best receiver, out of the game. And then everything changed with 1:35 left in regulation. Quarterback Bryce Young bounced back and saved his team's season -- as well as his Heisman Trophy hopes -- by leading a 97-yard, game-tying drive then winning it in the fourth overtime with a 2-point conversion pass toJohn Metchie III. -- Alex Scarborough

5.Oklahoma State Cowboys(11-1)

The Cowboys survived a classic Bedlam thriller -- just the third time in 116 games that both were ranked in the AP top 10 -- managing to trade punches with Oklahoma and clamp down late to finish an 11-1 regular season and prepare to face Baylor next week in the Big 12 title game. The Oklahoma State defense, which has been stellar all season, was gashed at times in single coverage but finished the game by stopping the Sooners on their final eight drives. With the win, it marks the first time since 2011 that the Cowboys sit atop the Big 12 standings at the conclusion of the regular season. -- Dave Wilson

6.Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-1)

The Irish had no trouble putting away a significantly overmatched Stanford team to finish the regular season 11-1. Notre Dame led 24-0 at halftime and outgunned the Cardinal 509 yards to 227. Irish quarterback Jack Coan completed 26 of 35 passes for 345 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception, whileKevin Austin Jr.and Michael Mayer both went over 100 yards receiving.-- Kyle Bonagura

7. Ole Miss Rebels (10-2)

Lane Kiffin and the Rebels secured the first 10-win season in school history with a 31-21 decision over Mississippi State in an Egg Bowl that was much more of a defensive game early on than anticipated. Quarterback Matt Corral led the way for Ole Miss, as he has done all season, with 234 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while wideout Dontario Drummond was his favorite target with 14 catches and 138 yards. Ole Miss is now looking ahead to a New Year's Six bowl, for which Corral has said he'll play if he is healthy. -- Harry Lyles Jr.

8. Baylor Bears (10-2)

It took two turnovers, 10 points off of those turnovers and a missed field goal at the buzzer, but Baylor survived a visit from Texas Tech by the skin of its teeth, 27-24. Bears redshirt freshman quarterback Blake Shapen, filling in for injured starter Gerry Bohanon, completed 20 of 34 passes for 254 yards and two scores. Shapen's 9-yard strike to Ben Sims with seven minutes left provided the winning margin and allowed the Bears to overcome two long Tech touchdowns in the fourth quarter. It wasn't pretty, but thanks to this win and Oklahoma State's victory over Oklahoma, the Bears will play for the Big 12 title next week. -- Bill Connelly

9. Michigan State Spartans (10-2)

A week after being completely embarrassed in a lopsided loss to Ohio State, Michigan State showed a gutsy effort on a snowy Saturday to beat Penn State and earn the program its 10th win of the campaign. The Spartans had a balanced offense against the Nittany Lions' stingy defense, with quarterback Payton Thorne making some clutch plays in difficult weather and running back Kenneth Walker III turning in a performance that could have Heisman voters reconsidering where he is ranked. Thorne's 20-yard touchdown pass to Jayden Reed on fourth-and-15 gave Michigan State a 30-20 lead, and Walker ran for 138 yards and a touchdown. Michigan State's defense, which was anemic last week, forced two turnovers. It was a complete performance that could position Michigan State for a spot in a New Year's Six bowl. --Heather Dinich

10.Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2)

After looking like the team they always hoped to be the past two weeks, the Buckeyes reverted to the poor form they showed to begin the season, especially on defense. They had zero answers forHassan Haskinsand Michigan's run game, allowing 297 yards and six touchdowns, including 188 yards in the second half. Ohio State didn't generate a single sack or tackle for loss, and it applied virtually no pressure on quarterback Cade McNamara. Combined with a feeble run game and 10 penalties, the Buckeyes were soundly beaten in The Game for the first time since 2011. Ohio State likely fell out of the CFP mix, and it must evaluate its defense, which has steadily declined since two top-3 NFL draft picks departed after the 2019 season. -- Adam Rittenberg

11. BYU Cougars (10-2)

Running backTyler Allgeier cracked the 100-yard rushing mark for the fourth time in five games as the Cougars beat Southern California35-31. USC took a 31-28 lead early in the fourth quarter, before BYU retook the lead with 3:57 on a 7-yard touchdown run from Jackson McChesney. The win keeps BYU in the mix for a possible New Year's Six berth. --Bonagura

12.Oregon Ducks (10-2)

The Ducks have rarely made it look easy this season. So, even while they rushed out to a 24-3 halftime lead in the battle for the Platypus Trophy against the Beavers on Saturday, you knew a second-half stalling would be in order. Oregon State battled back, recovered an onside kick and was on the brink of truly putting Oregon's win in jeopardy, before the Ducks buckled down and let their running game vault them to a 38-29 decision. The rivalry win wasn't without a few ugly moments, including a bench-clearing melee and an ejection. But with a balanced offense (275 yards in the air, 231 on the ground), the Ducks were able to wash out the bad taste that Utah left in their mouth last weekend. As Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said postgame, while the plane ride back from Salt Lake City was "rough" because the Ducks had earned the blowout they received, they were able to put it behind them on their way to the Pac-12 title game. -- Paolo Uggetti

13. Pittsburgh Panthers (9-2)

After a terribly slow first half for Pitt, the Panthers eventually found themselves on the right track en route to a 31-14 win over Syracuse for their 10th win of the season. Kenny Pickett finished the game passing 28-of-38 for 209 yards and four touchdowns. Pitt's next challenge comes in the ACC title game against Wake Forest, just as everybody expected before the season started. -- Lyles Jr.

14.Oklahoma Sooners (10-2)

The Sooners gave the Oklahoma State defense all it could handle early, but the Cowboys stymied them in the second half. For the first Bedlam since 2000, OU's offense did not score after halftime. The Oklahoma State pass rush generated 26 pressures on dropbacks -- the most Oklahoma has faced since ESPN started tracking them in 2011 -- forcing OU signal-callerCaleb Williams to keep making plays with his feet. The Sooners' run of six straight Big 12 titles is over. But coach Lincoln Riley threw cold water on LSU speculation after the game, so the focus turns to a bowl game and how Riley can right this offense that has been an anomaly this season. -- Wilson

15. Utah Utes (9-3)

It wasn't the dominant performance they turned in against Oregon the week before, but the Utes were comfortable throughout their 28-13 win versus Colorado. Tavion Thomas (142 yards) and TJ Pledger (103) yards both topped the 100-yard mark on the ground, as Utah matched its best regular-season record since the conference expanded to 12 teams in 2011 (8-1). -- Bonagura

16.Wake Forest Demon Deacons (10-2)

The Demon Deacons absolutely dominated Boston College 41-10 to clinch the Atlantic Division and a spot in the ACC championship game against Pitt next Saturday. It is the second division title in school history and just the second time Wake Forest has won 10 games. QuarterbackSam Hartman continued his spectacular campaign with three passing touchdowns and a rushing score for the sixth time this season -- the most by any ACC player in a single season over the past 15 seasons. Wake wideoutA.T. Perry had two touchdown catches, breaking the school record for touchdown receptions in season with 13. -- Adelson

17. Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2)

The Hawkeyes aren't the most dominant or flashiest 10-2 team out there, but they know how to overcome poor starts to win key division games. Iowa erased a 21-6 third-quarter deficit to Nebraska and scored the final 22 points in classic Hawkeyes fashion, with two field goals, a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, a safety and a touchdown. Hawkeyes quarterback Spencer Petras helped lead the second-half comeback, but opportunistic defense and exemplary special teams once again fueled Iowa, which added two more takeaways to its total. Linebacker Jack Campbell had 16 tackles, and Caleb Shudak went 4-of-4 on field goal attempts, hitting three from 44 yards or longer. -- Rittenberg

18.Houston Cougars (11-1)

When you've got a road game against one of the worst teams in FBS the week before your biggest matchup of the season, attention span is going to be an issue. And it was at times for Houston at UConn; this was a 14-7 game late in the first half. But the Cougars used a 17-0 third-quarter run to cruise to a 45-17 victory, their 11th straight. Seven Houston defenders combined to sack Huskies quarterbacks seven times; Houston signal-callerClayton Tune threw for 301 yards and four touchdowns; and after going just 7-13 in Dana Holgorsen's first two seasons, the Cougars take an 11-1 record to Cincinnati for a titanic AAC championship battle next weekend.-- Connelly

19.San Diego State Aztecs (11-1)

After falling behind 16-3 early in the second quarter, the Aztecs responded with 24 unanswered points to beat Boise State27-16. Quarterback Jordon Brookshire replaced an injured Lucas Johnson with the Aztecs down 13 and responded with a brilliant performance to help San Diego State clinch a spot in the Mountain West title game. Brookshire completed 11 of 15 passes for 192 yards with a passing touchdown and added 46 yards and a score on the ground. -- Bonagura

20. Clemson Tigers (9-3)

Dabo Swinney's team secured its fifth consecutive victory Saturday night against South Carolina in Columbia, 30-0. Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei finished with 99 yards passing and an interception, while running back Will Shipley had 128 yards on the ground and a touchdown. The Tigers finish the regular season with a 9-3 record, and they will not be making an appearance in the ACC title game for the first time since 2014. -- Lyles Jr.

21. NC State Wolfpack (9-3)

Even though the Wolfpack just missed out on playing in the ACC championship game, they put together perhaps their best season under Dave Doeren. Its heart-stopping 34-30 comeback win over the rival Tar Heels on Friday night made NC State the first team this season to win after trailing by nine or more points in the final 2:30 of regulation. That victory allowed the Wolfpack to beat Clemson, Florida State and North Carolina in the same season for the first time since 2002 and just the third time ever. -- Adelson

22. Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns (11-1)

For the first time since an opening-week loss to Texas, the Ragin' Cajuns climb back into the Power Rankings. Louisiana flew under the radar for most of the season but pushed its win streak to 11 following a 21-16 decision over UL Monroe on Saturday. The Sun Belt Conference championship game now awaits the Ragin' Cajuns next week; they'll face Appalachian State, a team they beat 41-13 earlier this season. The game could be coach Billy Napier's last with the program. Or not? Who knows. What we do know is Louisiana has won double-digit games for the third straight season. --Shea Carlson

23.Kentucky Wildcats (9-3)

The Wildcats got written off nationally after three straight losses in the middle of the season but closed it out with three straight wins to finish 9-3. Saturday's performance was an exclamation point to the campaign, as two-point underdog Kentucky downed rival Louisville 52-21 in a game that wasn't even that close. Kentucky QBWill Levis had a career day with 113 rushing yards and four touchdowns, while the Wildcats racked up seven rushing scores. The victory means the Governor's Cup is staying in Lexington for the third straight season.--Carlson

24.Wisconsin Badgers (8-4)

Wisconsin couldn't run the ball, and quarterback Graham Mertz struggled to generate an effective passing game, as the Badgers squandered their chance to win the Big Ten West division. The loss snapped the Badgers' seven-game winning streak and ended their chance of facing Michigan in the Big Ten championship game. Unranked, four-loss Minnesota took back Paul Bunyan's Axe, winning with its stifling defense. Wisconsin freshman Braelon Allen, who had eclipsed the 100-yard mark in each of the past seven games, was held to 47 yards on 17 carries. Mertz completed 21 of 38 passes for 171 yards and an interception. Wisconsin was a combined 5-of-17 on third- and fourth-down attempts. -- Dinich

25.Texas A&M Aggies (8-4)

The Aggies were down for the majority of their game against LSU, but it didn't make the 27-24 loss any less painful. After finally taking a 24-20 lead with 7:33 left in the fourth quarter, LSU regained the lead for good with 20 seconds left thanks to a 28-yard touchdown pass from Max Johnson to Jaray Jenkins. The Aggies' defeat came despite a breakout performance from defensive lineman Micheal Clemons, who had four sacks on the evening. -- Lyles Jr.

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