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 Week 12.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

PFF’s Top 25 teams in college football


Baylor finally falls from the ranks of the unbeaten and thus tumble out of our top four, but that’s only the start of the excitement in this week’s PFF College Top 25.

  1. Clemson (Previous ranking: 1)

After impressive wins vaulted them to number one, they didn’t look quite so flawless against Syracuse. Still Deshaun Watson has graded at +16.3 over the past three weeks and the Tigers are just about doing enough to stay in front of Ohio State.

  1. Ohio State (2)

Getting J.T. Barrett back at quarterback helped, with the offense just clicking so much more with him on the field. All the talk has been about who to start at quarterback and about how good Joey Bosa has been defensive, but running back Ezekiel Elliott (+31.4) has had a tremendous year and is one of the best all round players in the nation.

  1. Alabama (4)

It was business as usual for the Crimson Tide against Mississippi State, and they are now a win against Auburn at the end of the month away from booking their place in the SEC Championship game against Florida. Derrick Henry (+15.0) had himself another 200+ yard game on the ground, and is now the Heisman Trophy favorite in the eyes of a lot of people.

  1. Oklahoma State (7)

First it was all about TCU and Baylor, and now that they’ve fallen from the ranks of the unbeaten it’s all about a surging Oklahoma team. Does anyone want to give Oklahoma State some credit? They still get to play Baylor and Oklahoma at home, so two wins should give them as strong a reason for being in the top four as anyone.

  1. Michigan State (5)

Quarterback Connor Cook (+24.0) got injured against Maryland but is reportedly ready for the biggest game of the year against Ohio State. Win here and they’ll be in great shape for a spot in the Big Ten Championship game.

  1. Iowa (9)

Quarterback C.J. Beathard (+17.7) has just reeled off his two highest-graded games of the season. We’ve doubted them all year but Iowa look almost certain to finish the regular season unbeaten. If they do, surely all they need to do (as tough as it will be) is win the conference championship game to get a spot in the top four.

  1. Notre Dame (10)

They make the College Football Playoff top four, but not the PFF College one — not yet, anyway. Deshone Kizer (+13.5) has been playing well recently, but the big story for the Fighting Irish is just how good Sheldon Day (+42.5) and Jaylon Smith (+24.7) have been on the defensive side of the ball.

  1. Oklahoma (15)

Baker Mayfield (+44.0) is now our highest graded quarterback this season and, like his Oklahoma Sooners, he’s making a late season push for glory. Wins against TCU and Oklahoma State would give them a great shot at making the College Football Playoff, and might just push him towards hoisting a certain trophy himself.

  1. Baylor (3)

They finally lost, and it came against arguably the hottest team in the country in Oklahoma. We wondered if the drop off from Seth Russell (+18.9) would be too much for them to overcome, but Jarrett Stidham (+14.2) has been excellent since coming in as his replacement.

  1. Florida (12)

Their place in the SEC Championship is confirmed, but what looms large on the schedule is the season finale against Florida State. It doesn’t have any impact on their SEC aspirations, but if they are hoping to shock everyone and still make the College Football Playoff, they can’t slip up there.

  1. TCU (11)

They were sluggish against Kansas, and lost quarterback Trevone Boykin (+43.2). There slim hopes of making the final top four are slipping, but they can keep it interesting by ending the Sooners surge on Saturday. They might have to do it without their offensive stars though, with both Boykin and wide receiver Josh Doctson (+25.6) questionable to play.

  1. Houston (16)

As much as we don’t like it, it looks like they have no chance of being in the top four at the end of the year, even if they go undefeated. That’s unfortunate, because with Greg Ward Jr. (+29.1) at quarterback they have been a fun team to watch. Still, if they win out they’ll earn themselves a big bowl game either way.

  1. North Carolina (18)

There’s a story developing in the ACC. Quietly, lurking just around the corner, the North Carolina Tarheels are the team who can turn it all on its head if they can beat Clemson in the ACC Championship game. Quarterback Marquise Williams (+22.0) is our 14th-highest graded player at the position.

  1. Michigan (14)

After struggling all year, quarterback Jake Rudock (-1.2) has graded at +13.8 over the past two weeks. That level of play throughout the year would have made the Wolverines a championship contending team with that defense. All is not lost though, they still have an outside shot to win the Big Ten.

  1. LSU (6)

Two losses in a row have ended their championship aspirations, but don’t blame Leonard Fournette (+32.2) for that. Of the 121 yards he’s rushed for the past two weeks, 107 of them have come after contact, with his offensive line giving him very little to work with.

  1. Stanford (8)

“For Stanford to make the College Football Playoff, they need to keep winning.” That’s what we said last week, before the Cardinal’s late loss against the Oregon Ducks. The tough Pac-12 has claimed every team as a victim at some point or another this year, and it’s almost impossible to see any team making the College Football Playoff at this point.

  1. Utah (13)

The story for Utah is basically the same as it is for Stanford. Once the conference’s best hope of postseason glory, two recent losses have ended their hopes. Quarterback Travis Wilson (-3.2) has just one positively graded game in the past four weeks.

  1. Florida State (12)

They still have the Florida game to end the year as a target to aim for. The ACC and College Football Playoff dreams may be a distant memory but they still have that to play for. Quarterback Everett Golson (+17.9) has seen two negatively graded games consign him to the bench. Sean Maguire (-1.5) graded at +2.0 in relief last week.

  1. Wisconsin (22)

You could make the case that the Badgers are the most underrated team in the country, with their two losses coming against our third and sixth ranked teams. Linebacker Joe Schobert (+29.2) has been one of the most productive pass rushers in the country this year.

  1. USC (23)

Don’t look now but here come the Trojans. One of the preseason favorites for the Pac-12 crown, they have bounced back from a mid season head coaching change and now in position to sneak in and get to the conference championship game.

  1. UCLA (21)

Even at 7-3 the Bruins still have the chance to round out the season well, with big games in the next two weeks against Utah and USC. Really, the Pac-12 as a conference has been such an entertaining group of teams, with not a lot separating them.

  1. Oregon (24)

The Ducks are now in a crazy three team race with Stanford and Washington State to see who can win the Pac-12 North. Boosted by one of the best defensive players in the nation in defensive lineman DeForest Buckner (+62.7), Oregon are playing much better recently.

  1. Navy (25)

A few weeks ago everyone wondered if anyone in the AAC could go undefeated. We all seemed to forget that Navy, lead by the all time rushing touchdowns leader in Keenan Reynolds (+16.4) at quarterback, had lost to just Notre Dame. They can still win the conference with a big game against Houston to come.

  1. Temple (18)

The loss against South Florida hurts an awful lot more than the loss to Notre Dame that’s for sure, but let’s not forget everything Temple have accomplished this season. Defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis (+24.5) has just been announced as a Senior Bowl attendee, capping an impressive season.

  1. Memphis (20)

Two tough losses have taken them from the AAC’s lone College Football Playoff hopeful, albeit as a major outsider, to now on the outside looking in for the conference championship. Paxton Lynch (+28.1) is still our 8th highest graded quarterback, but the end of this season has been a big disappointment.

 

| 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.

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