Clemson, Alabama lead PFF’s Top 25 teams in college football
Gordon McGuinness, Steve Palazzolo, and Mike Renner use PFF's data to rank the top 25 teams heading into rivalry week.
Clemson, Alabama lead PFF’s Top 25 teams in college football
The Buckeyes drop out of the top four for the first time as Oklahoma continues to rise, as we run through the top 25 teams in college football before rivalry week.
- Clemson (Previous ranking: 1)
Still number one, and looking even more comfortable at the top. The biggest threat to their playoff chances will come against North Carolina in the ACC Championship game. With Deshaun Watson (+27.7) really stepping it up in the second half of the season, they are going to be really tough for anyone to beat at this point.
- Alabama (3)
That loss to Ole Miss gets less and less important by the week. Running back Derrick Henry (+15.0) has emerged as a late Heisman candidate, forcing 28 missed tackles in the past four games, after forcing just 26 in the first six.
- Iowa (6)
There comes a point where we just need to accept that, until they lose, Iowa deserve to be in the College Football Playoff discussion. Good defensively, they have been boosted by quarterback C.J. Beathard’s (+18.5) play in recent weeks, with the signal caller our 9th highest graded player at the position in the past four weeks.
- Oklahoma (8)
As much as they kept winning, I thought it would take until after this week for them to break the top four but, thanks to Oklahoma State losing, they are now in perfect position to win the Big 12 with a win on Saturday night. Our highest graded quarterback in 2015, Baker Mayfield (+47.1), is expected to be ready to play.
- Michigan State (5)
Remember when they lost to Nebraska and all of a sudden were out of the race? Things change quickly in college football, and the huge win over Ohio State means they likely just need to win their next two games — including Iowa in the Big Ten Championship game — to make the top four. One key thing to keep an eye on: Quarterback Connor Cook (+24.0) is expected to be a game-time decision against Penn State.
- Ohio State (2)
We’ve said all year that their quarterback issues would surely hurt them at some point, and it finally happened against Michigan State. Now they need to rebound with a win against Michigan, and hope that Michigan State slips up. Still in the hunt, expect running back Ezekiel Elliott (+30.9) to see a lot of the ball against a tough Michigan defense.
- Notre Dame (7)
The win over Boston College was a win, but it wasn’t an impressive one. Quarterback Deshone Kizer (+12.0) struggled, but even when he was on target, wide receiver Will Fuller (+8.7) couldn’t hang onto the ball. On Saturday their defense becomes the next team to try to slow down Christian McCaffrey.
- Oklahoma State (4)
That loss makes things trickier but they can still win the Big 12 if things go their way. With quarterback Mason Rudolph (+40.0) at the helm, expect a high scoring game when they take on Oklahoma on Saturday.
- Florida (10)
The win was not the type of performance to fill you with much hope for the Gators chances against Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Slowing down Derrick Henry will be a challenge, but they get the perfect warm up for that this weekend when they take on Dalvin Cook and Florida State.
- North Carolina (13)
It feels like the Tar Heels are not getting enough respect right now. They’ve gone on a run since losing by four points against South Carolina to open the year and will give Clemson a big test in the ACC Championship game in two weeks. Quarterback Marquise Williams (+25.3) is one of the best dual threats in the nation.
- Navy (23)
For Navy to get into the College Football Playoff discussion we need chaos over the next two weeks. We need multiple two-loss conference champions and a two-loss Notre Dame. Even then it might not be enough. Still, seeing quarterback Keenan Reynolds (+16.4) and the triple option in the top four would be a lot of fun.
- Michigan (14)
They need some help, but Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines still have a shot at winning the Big Ten if they can pull the upset over Ohio State this weekend. We’ve talked all season long about the Michigan defense, but quarterback Jake Rudock (-2.6) has been our fifth-highest graded quarterback over the past three weeks.
- Stanford (16)
This is the big stage Christian McCaffrey (+38.4) has been waiting for. Our highest graded running back — and an all purpose superstar — he gets the chance to show everyone what he’s made of over the next two weeks with a huge game against Notre Dame and then the Pac-12 Championship game.
- Baylor (9)
They are now down to their third-string quarterback, but amazingly Chris Johnson threw some impressive passes in the win over Oklahoma State. It helps having wide receiver Corey Coleman (+17.7) to throw to, despite the top playmaker having just eight catches over the past two games.
- Florida State (18)
Though their ACC and College Football Playoff hopes have ended, Florida State can still end the season on a high with a win over Florida. Running back Dalvin Cook (+19.4) has had a tremendous season and will look to leave his mark as the season comes to an end.
- Oregon (22)
Where has this Oregon team been all year? Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. (+6.0) had by far his best game of the year as the Ducks beat USC. His struggles early in the year were key in their failings in September in October, but he’s righted the ship in time for bowl season.
- Ole Miss (UR)
It’s been a strange season for Ole Miss, who have been very much up and down throughout 2015. Quarterback Chad Kelly (+21.9) has looked much better again in recent weeks, while wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (+17.0) has been impressive throughout.
- UCLA (21)
They head into this week’s game against USC knowing that a win will be enough to earn them a shot at Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship game. Can quarterback Josh Rosen (+12.4) and wide receiver (+21.7) find enough big plays to get it done?
- USC (20)
It’s a similar story for USC, who despite a terrible start to the year can end it with a trip to the conference championship game with a win here. Quarterback Cody Kessler (+17.9) has impressed in the second half of the season.
- Utah (17)
With losses to both USC and UCLA under their belt, Utah is out of the running after three defeats in the last five games. Worse still, they head into the final game of the year without star running back Devontae Booker (+29.4), who picked up an injury last week.
- Northwestern (UR)
Their season got derailed in a two week span with heavy losses to Michigan and Iowa, but Northwestern have had a really good year, which started with a bang with a win over Stanford. Defensive linemen Dean Lowry (+29.3) and Deonte Gibson (+20.5) have been particularly impressive.
- Wisconsin (19)
Wisconsin’s three losses have caused them to drop out of most people’s top 25, but it’s worth noting that their losses have come against Northwestern, Iowa and Alabama, who have a combined three losses on the year.
- Houston (12)
That loss against UConn likely ends their slim College Football Playoff hopes, but they can still earn themselves in New Year’s Six bowl appearance if they can beat Navy, twice, in the next couple of weeks.
- Temple (24)
It’s been a fun season for the Owls, and we get to see defensive linemen Matt Ioannidis (+28.6) and Haason Reddick (+24.1) and linebacker Tyler Matakevich (+20.0) one more time against UConn after Temple’s big win over Memphis.
- Washington State (UR)
Another one of the Pac-12’s group of solid teams, the Cougars have ended the season well, with their only loss since a 2-2 start coming against Stanford. Offensive tackle Joe Dahl (+16.9) is our highest graded player at the position this year.
Gordon McGuinness | Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst
Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.