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College Football Power Rankings: Week 14 (2021)

by November 29, 2021
Aidan Hutchison

This year, rivalry week was appropriately named and appropriately saved for the final week of the regular season as we saw a bunch of instant classics between some of college football’s fiercest rivals.

Michigan finally conquered the Ohio State demon, as the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes for the first time in the Jim Harbaugh era. Alabama needed four overtimes to defeat Auburn in the Iron Bowl. While they didn’t look playoff-ready, they’re still very much playoff-alive as they head into the SEC Championship game against Georgia. And Bedlam was as advertised – Bedlam. It came down to the last play with 10 seconds to go. Still, Oklahoma State improved their record against in-state rival Oklahoma to a modest 19-90-7 with a massive victory over the Sooners in Stillwater.

We’ve still got conference championship week and bowl season to go this year, so let’s take one final peek at the regular season power rankings.

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College Football Power Rankings Week 14

Team (AP Rank) Rank (Δ) Last Week Next Week Notes
Georgia (1) 1 W 45-0 @ Georgia Tech vs. (4) Alabama (SEC Championship) Georgia should be in the playoffs whether they beat Alabama or not.
Michigan (2) 2 (+3) W 42-27 vs. (9) Ohio State vs. (15) Iowa (Big Ten Championship Jim Harbaugh finally beats Ohio State.
Alabama (4) 3 W 24-22 @ Auburn vs. (1) Georgia (SEC Championship) Regardless of what Nick Saban told the media postgame, there’s no way he’s pleased with how his team played.
Cincinnati (3) 4 W 35-13 @ East Carolina vs. (16) Houston (AAC Championship) Beat Houston and the Bearcats should be in the playoff.
Oklahoma State (5) 5 (+2) W 37-33 vs. (13) Oklahoma vs. (9) Baylor (Big 12 Championship) How ’bout them (Oklahoma State) Cowboys!?
Notre Dame (6) 6 W 45-14 @ Stanford While all the other playoff contenders look to solidify their cases in conference title games, the Irish will sit and hope things break their way.
Ole Miss (8) 7 (+1) W 31-21 @ Mississippi State Ole Miss capped a tremendous second year of Lane Kiffin’s tenure.
Baylor (9) 8 (+1) W 27-24 vs. Texas Tech vs. (5) Oklahoma State (Big 12 Championship) It took a missed field goal from Tech, but the Bears are on to the Big 12 title game.
Ohio State (7) 9 (-7) L 42-27 vs. (2) Michigan The Buckeyes’ defense turned back into a pumpkin.
Michigan State (11) 10 (+1) W 30-27 vs. Penn State Big win over Penn State to end a solid year on a high note.
Oregon (10) 11 (+1) W 38-27 vs. Oregon State vs. (14) Utah (Pac-12 Championship) Can the Ducks get revenge on the Utes in the conference title game?
Oklahoma (13) 12 (-2) L 37-33 @ (5) Oklahoma State What’s next in Norman with Lincoln Riley heading to USC?
Houston (16) 13 (+1) W 45-17 @ Connecticut vs. (3) Cincinnati Can the Cougars spoil Cincinnati’s playoff dreams?
BYU (12) 14 (+3) W 35-31 @ USC BYU finishes 5-0 vs. the Pac-12.
Pittsburgh (17) 15 (+1) W 31-14 @ Syracuse vs. (18) Wake Forest (ACC Championship) Pitt is looking for their first ACC title in school history.
Utah (14) 16 (+3) W 28-13 vs. Colorado vs. (10) Oregon (Pac-12 Championship) The Utes look to beat the Ducks for the second time, this time for the Pac-12 title.
Iowa (15) 17 (+3) W 28-21 @ Nebraska vs. (2) Michigan (Big Ten Championship) Their chances against the Wolverines don’t look great, but it’s tough to knock a 10-win season.
Wake Forest (18) 18 (+4) W 41-10 @ Boston College vs. (17) Pittsburgh (ACC Championship) Expect a heavy offensive performance in the ACC title game.
Louisiana-Lafayette (20) 19 (+3) W 21-16 vs. Louisiana-Monroe vs. Appalachian State (Sun Belt Championship) 11-straight wins, three consecutive 10-win seasons for the Cajuns.
San Diego State (19) 20 (+3) W 27-16 vs. Boise State vs. Utah State (Mountain West Championship) Slow start, strong finish.
Clemson (22) 21 (+4) W 30-0 @ South Carolina The Tigers will miss the ACC title game for the first time since 2014.
North Carolina State (21) 22 (NR) W 34-30 vs. North Carolina What a comeback, and what a season for the Wolfpack.
Texas A&M (24) 23 (-8) L 27-24 @ LSU Jimbo Fisher won’t be pleased with a four-loss season, but the Aggies had to endure a lot.
Texas San-Antonio 24 (-11) L 45-23 @ North Texas vs. Western Kentucky (Conference USA Championship) Disappointing way to end a nearly-perfect season, but the Roadrunners can still win the conference.
Kentucky (25) 25 (NR) W 52-21 @ Louisville Kentucky is back in the top 25 for the fourth different time.

* (NR) = not ranked in last week’s power rankings

Big Movers

Michigan Wolverines
What a year in Ann Arbor for Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines. Had they not blown a two-score lead against Michigan State, the Wolverines would be undefeated and would have a case for the number one spot. Either way, Michigan’s victory over Ohio State was awe-inspiring as they ran all over the Buckeyes defense and did a great job containing all their receiving weapons. Georgia has looked pretty invincible all year long, but they’ve got questions on offense. This variation is undoubtedly not Nick Saban’s best Alabama team. And Michigan is far more talented than Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, and Cincinnati. It may sound crazy, but they could be the favorite, assuming they win the Big Ten and get in the playoffs.

Clemson Tigers
Clemson hasn’t had a good year by Dabo Swinney-era standards, but they’re still one win away from another 10-win season after blanking in-state rival South Carolina. Clemson’s offense was anemic through the first third of the season, but it’s steadily improved each week and has looked solid over the last few games. Their defense was great all year, but the offensive struggles overshadowed the unit. Clemson will miss the ACC title game for the first time since 2014, but the improvement from the beginning to the end of the season indicates good things to come for the Tigers in 2022.

Texas San-Antonio
The Roadrunners had us all believing, and it took until the final week of the season, but they finally fell. This game wasn’t even close, and UTSA’s defense couldn’t get a stop against North Texas en route to a 22-point loss, spoiling the undefeated season bid. They still have a lot to play for – the conference title game is next week, and if they come out victorious, they should be in a decently-prominent bowl game. And at the very least, UTSA is on the map as a Group of 5 school that will attract recruits and make some noise in the rankings.

Newcomers

North Carolina State Wolfpack 
NC State is back for the third time, as they topped the rival Tar Heels in absolutely thrilling fashion. With just a shade over two minutes to go, North Carolina led 30-21. Two minutes later, North Carolina State students were storming the field to celebrate a 34-30 victory for the Wolfpack. Two touchdowns and an onside kick recovery made it all happen, and the loss added insult to injury on top of a disappointing year for UNC. On the other hand, North Carolina State had an awe-inspiring year and should get a bid to a solid bowl game. The future looks bright for the Wolfpack.

Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky is back in the power rankings for the fourth time. Nobody told the Wildcats that Louisville was the explosive offense in their contest on Saturday, as Kentucky went off for 52 points to beat their arch-rival on their home field. With the win, Kentucky has a shot at a ten-win season, they finish second in the SEC East only behind the best team in the country, and they secure a 6-1 record at home. The Wildcats have a massive advantage in Lexington on the hardwood, but that’s rarely translated to the gridiron. Until now.

Random Musings

Oklahoma Sooners
Yes, the Sooners heartbreakingly lost to Oklahoma State after having so many chances to win. They also probably should have gotten a pass interference call with 30 seconds to go, but the officials let them play, and Oklahoma State got away with an iffy one. Regardless, there are more significant problems on the horizon in Norman. Lincoln Riley looks to be headed to USC to take over as the head coach of the Trojans, leaving behind an offense that was underwhelming all year long. What happens to the two five-star quarterbacks Spencer Rattler and Caleb Williams? Do they stay, do they follow Riley, or do they re-open the recruitment process entirely? And what about all the four and five-star recruits scheduled to join the Sooner program in the fall, a bunch of whom hail from the southern California area? The transition will be a fascinating situation to watch.

Cincinnati Bearcats
Just two weeks ago, it looked like Cincinnati wasn’t going to get in the playoffs. But many of the top teams have lost, and Cincinnati has finally kicked it into high gear and runs up the score on some of their inferior opponents. Barring something substantial, I think the Bearcats are in the playoff. The path gets a lot clearer if Iowa beats Michigan in the Big Ten title game. Had Alabama blown out Auburn, I think they would have gotten in even if they lost to Georgia next week. Now, I’m not so sure, which makes things potentially even easier for Cincinnati. All they have to do in my eyes is beat Houston. That’s no easy task, but if they can’t beat Houston, they don’t stand a chance against any playoff teams.

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