What the College Football Playoff rankings should look like for Week 12

Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart screams during the first half against the Florida Gators at Everbank Stadium in Jacksonville, FL on Saturday, October 28, 2023. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]
Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart screams during the first half against the Florida Gators at Everbank Stadium in Jacksonville, FL on Saturday, October 28, 2023. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun] /
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The third College Football Playoff rankings loom on the horizon, with Week 11 in the books. The top foursome remained static last week, as Ohio State, Georgia, Michigan, and Florida State hold strong in the four coveted CFP slots, with Pacific Northwest rivals Washington and Oregon at 5 and 6, respectively, on the outside looking in. Texas slots in at 7, with Alabama nipping at their heels at 8, and Ole Miss and Penn State rounding out the top ten at 9 and 10. Just behind them, newcomers Louisville and Oregon State finish out the top 12, a grouping that would take on far more significant light if repeated next November, when all these teams would be eyeing the playoff tournament.

Week 11 saw no major upsets; no one in the top 14 lost to unranked opponents. In the wake of this rather predictable slate, I would argue the College Football Playoff rankings for week 12 will resemble this:

No. 25: Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-3, -10). The Cowboys were embarrassed by a 5-5 UCF team that played for one Saturday like a ranked team. Coughing up nearly 600 yards on defense and managing only 52 rushing yards, this is a far cry from the team that handed Oklahoma the final blow to their CFP hopes in October. Despite this setback, if Oklahoma State can win at Houston this week and versus BYU next week, the Cowboys could hang on to their tenuous spot in the Big 12 Championship Game.

No. 24: Kansas Jayhawks (7-3, -8). A tough and easily avoidable 16-13 loss against Texas Tech could have easily sunk the Jayhawks out of the rankings but they sneak into the top 25 for lack of a better-qualified alternate. Kansas struggled against the Red Raiders through three quarters with no points, but after losing Senior QB Jason Bean to a concussion, the Jayhawks somehow found another gear and started on the comeback trail. The season-long outlook may be uphill for the Jayhawks, even more so with the question marks surrounding the QB position, as KU is 4-3 in Big 12 play with no real path to the Big 12 Championship Game. The Lawrence squad will likely settle for a Liberty Bowl or Guaranteed Rate Bowl berth, in keeping with their modest success on the season. Kansas will next see action at home against Kansas State.

No. 23: Kansas State Wildcats (7-3, +2). The Wildcats have rubber-banded in and out of the top-25 ranking. This week, they solidified their standing with a resounding 59-25 win over Baylor, highlighted by a 35-point first half. K State’s saving grace this season has been their sparkling performances at home, yielding an impressive 6-0 record, despite their 1-3 record on the road. Star QB Will Howard continues to dazzle as he earned the all-time TD passing record in Manhattan. The Wildcats are in a 4-way tie for second in the Big 12 and do not hold the inside track to make the championship game, so they need all the help they can in the last two weeks. Kansas State takes on in-state rival Kansas this weekend in Lawrence.

No. 22: Tennessee Volunteers (7-3, -9). The Volunteers were swiftly put in place on their trip to Missouri, enduring a 36-7 beating on the road, an unfortunate warm-up for their giant test at home against Georgia this weekend. Grim prospects for Tennessee, as Joe Milton III has yet to return to the same level he achieved last season after replacing the injured Herndon Hooker, now in the NFL. Tennessee looks to right its ship this weekend and end Georgia’s 27-game win streak at Neyland Stadium, but the Vols face a daunting task to put it lightly.

No. 21: Utah Utes (7-3, -3). While a lot closer than their game against Oregon, Utah was still outgunned against Washington in their 35-28 loss in Seattle. For a team that prides itself on great defense, they give up too many big plays, give up too many TDs that should be drives held to FGs. The Utes fall to 4-3 in conference play, which eliminates practical hopes of a third consecutive Pac-12 Championship Game appearance. Utah faces a red-hot Arizona team in Tucson this weekend, and the result will be a real testament to Utah’s final Pac-12 season.