College football power rankings for Week 14

ByMark Schlabach ESPN logo
Monday, December 2, 2019

The 2019 regular season is complete, and Championship Week is here.

After 14 weeks, four teams seem to have a clear path to one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff. If Clemson, Georgia, LSU and Ohio State win their respective conference championship games this coming weekend, they'll be among the four teams playing for a national title.

Georgia and LSU, which will meet in the SEC championship game, probably won't both go to the CFP, so that potentially leaves one spot for Baylor or Oklahoma, who will play in the Big 12 championship game, or Utah, which plays Oregon in the Pac-12 title game.

Obviously, there's still much to shake out on the final weekend.

Here are the ESPN Power Rankings after Week 14:

1. LSU (12-0)

In his final game at Tiger Stadium on Saturday night, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow broke the SEC record for passing yards in a season, tied the league mark for passing touchdowns in a season and probably locked up the Heisman Trophy -- if there were any doubts remaining about him winning the stiff-armed award. Burrow completed 23 of 32 passes for 352 yards with three touchdowns in a 50-7 rout of Texas A&M. His 4,366 passing yards this season breaks the previous SEC mark of 4,275 set by Kentucky's Tim Couch in 1998. Burrow also has thrown 44 touchdowns this season, which ties Drew Lock's total at Missouri in 2017. Even more impressive, Burrow has completed a whopping 78.3% of his 401 attempts this season, which would break the FBS record of 76.7% set by Texas' Colt McCoy in 2008. The Tigers led the Aggies 31-0 at the half and outgained them 324-40 in total yards in the first two quarters. The Aggies finished with 169 yards with three turnovers.

Up next: vs. Georgia in SEC championship game in Atlanta (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, CBS)

2. Ohio State (12-0)

Michigan still seems to bring out the best in the Buckeyes, who became the first team in the history of the 116-year rivalry (since 1897) to score 50 points or more in consecutive games. The Buckeyes handed Jim Harbaugh's team a 62-39 loss in 2018, and then they walloped the Wolverines again 56-27 on Saturday at the Big House. OSU tailback J.K. Dobbins ran 31 times for 211 yards with four touchdowns, and Justin Fields threw for 302 yards with four scores. It's the first time in series history that a team had a player with four scoring runs and four TD passes, according to research from ESPN Stats & Information. The Buckeyes survived a huge scare in the third quarter when Fields injured his left knee. He limped off the field, but then returned and threw a 30-yard pass on his first attempt. One concern heading into next week's Big Ten championship game: The Buckeyes surrendered a season-high 396 yards of offense to the Wolverines.

Up next: vs. Wisconsin in Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, Fox)

3. Clemson (12-0)

Here come the Tigers, and they're going be a factor in the College Football Playoff for the fifth consecutive season. Clemson won its 27th consecutive game and completed back-to-back 12-0 regular seasons by blasting rival South Carolina 38-3 on the road on Saturday. The Tigers have won each of their past six games by 35 points or more, the longest streak during the AP poll era (since 1936). Do you remember those concerns about quarterback Trevor Lawrence? He completed 26 of 36 passes for 295 yards with three touchdowns, tying an ACC record with 18 straight completions along the way. He has thrown at least three TDs in seven straight games, the longest streak in the league in the past 20 seasons. Travis Etienne ran for two more scores to set ACC career records for touchdowns from scrimmage (57) and rushing scores (53). Justyn Ross caught nine passes for 111 yards with one TD. Clemson's defense held the Gamecocks to only 174 yards of offense; the Tigers allowed 300 or fewer in each of their 12 games this season.

Up next: vs. Virginia in ACC championship game in Charlotte, North Carolina (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

4. Utah (11-1)

For the second season in a row, the Utes are one victory away from winning their first Pac-12 title -- and possibly earning a spot in the CFP. Utah clinched a Pac-12 South title with a 45-14 decision over Colorado, and it will play Oregon in Friday night's Pac-12 championship game. A year ago, the Utes lost to Washington 10-3 in the Pac-12 title game. They had only 188 yards of offense and the only touchdown in the game was the Huskies' 66-yard interception return. Utah didn't have quarterback Tyler Huntley or tailback Zack Moss in that game because of injuries. The pair also didn't play in Utah's 32-25 victory over Oregon in Salt Lake City in 2018. Against Colorado, Huntley completed 14 of 17 passes for 165 yards with two touchdowns, and Moss ran 20 times for 88 yards with one score. Utah's stingy defense limited the Buffaloes to only 217 yards of offense, including 60 rushing.

Up next: vs. Oregon in Pac-12 championship game in Santa Clara, California (Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC)

5. Georgia (11-1)

Georgia closed the regular season by scoring the most points it had ever scored against the Yellow Jackets in a 52-7 road victory. UGA's overall performance, however, was far from complete. The Bulldogs were dreadful in the second quarter, when they lost two fumbles, failed to cover an onside kick and missed a field goal. On top of that, star tailback D'Andre Swift suffered a bruised left shoulder in the third quarter. UGA coach Kirby Smart said Swift would be ready for next week's game against LSU in the SEC championship game. Freshman receiver George Pickens was ejected in the third quarter for fighting with a Tech defensive back. Under NCAA rules, he will be suspended for the first half against LSU. UGA's defense was again dominant, allowing only seven first downs and 139 yards of offense: 40 passing and 99 rushing. UGA has allowed only 125 points in 12 games; the school record for at least a 12-game schedule is 198 in 2004.

Up next: vs. LSU in SEC championship in Atlanta (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, CBS)

6. Oklahoma (11-1)

Maybe Oklahoma's high-flying offense isn't a one-man show, as Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy suggested ahead of Saturday night's Bedlam Series game. Sooners tailback Kennedy Brooks ran 22 times for 160 yards with one touchdown, leading the Sooners to a 34-16 victory over the Cowboys on the road. It was OU's fifth straight decision over the Pokes and its 15th in the past 17 meetings. Sooners quarterback Jalen Hurts was still very much involved, throwing a touchdown, running for one and even catching another. He completed 13 of 16 passes for 163 yards and ran 16 times for 61 yards. Most importantly, Hurts didn't turn the ball over after throwing three interceptions and losing three fumbles combined in closer-than-expected victories over Iowa State, Baylor and TCU. Now, the Sooners will try to beat the Bears for the second time in three weeks when they play in Saturday's Big 12 championship game. OU will be playing for its fifth straight outright Big 12 title.

Up next: vs. Baylor in Big 12 championship game in Arlington, Texas (Saturday, noon ET, ABC)

7. Baylor(11-1)

The Bears wrapped a remarkable regular season by blasting Kansas 61-6 on the road. Baylor tied the program record by winning 11 games, which it also did in 2013 and 2014. Matt Rhule's impressive rebuilding job continues next week against Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game, where the Bears will have a chance to avenge their only defeat of the season. The Sooners came from 25 points behind -- the biggest comeback in school history -- to win 34-31 on Nov. 16. Baylor's offense ran only 16 plays after halftime, and OU's defense shut the Bears out in the final two quarters. It was a different story against Kansas, which surrendered 506 yards of offense. The Bears ran for six touchdowns, their most in a game since they had seven against North Carolina in the 2015 Russell Athletic Bowl. Baylor's defense forced six turnovers.

Up next: vs. Oklahoma in Big 12 championship game in Arlington, Texas (Saturday, noon ET, ABC)

8. Alabama(10-2)

It has largely been a lost season for Alabama, which saw its CFP hopes dashed with a 48-45 loss at Auburn on Saturday. The Crimson Tide didn't beat a ranked opponent all season and lost to their two biggest rivals in the SEC West. Kicking woes were once again a culprit --Joseph Bulovas' 30-yard field goal attempt that could have tied the score bounced off the left upright with 2:00 to go -- but the Tide were also uncharacteristically undisciplined. After Alabama's defense stopped the Tigers on three straight plays following Bulovas' miss, the Tide were penalized for having 12 men on the field, which gave the Tigers a game-clinching first down. It was Alabama's 13th penalty of the game, its most under Nick Saban. Auburn's 48 points were the most the Tide had allowed under Saban. His teams hadn't surrendered such a high scoring total since his 1999 Michigan State team lost to Purdue 52-28. Now, after missing out on the SEC championship game and probably the CFP, the Tide will have to find motivation for a New Year's Six bowl game, potentially the Capital One Orange Bowl or Allstate Sugar Bowl. With as many as a half-dozen players projected to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft, how many will stick around for the postseason bowl?

Up next: Regular season completed

9. Florida (10-2)

Finally, after a decade of frustration against Florida State at home, the Gators beat the Seminoles at The Swamp 40-17 on Saturday night. Florida hadn't beaten Florida State at home since Tim Tebow's final home game in 2009, losing four in a row. This one wasn't close, however. Florida quarterback Kyle Trask completed 30 of 41 passes for 343 yards with three touchdowns, and seniors Freddie Swain and Van Jefferson each caught two scores in their final home games. Trask became the first UF quarterback since Tebow to have three games with at least 300 passing yards in a season. Florida's defense had eight sacks, including three from Jonathan Greenard, and 12 tackles for loss. Depending on where the CFP committee ranks them, the Gators still have a chance at securing a New Year's Six bowl game. If not, Florida might be headed to the Vrbo Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida.

Up next: Regular season completed

10. Wisconsin (10-2)

The Badgers took back Paul Bunyan's Axe and won the Big Ten West for the sixth time by knocking off Minnesota 38-17 on the road. The Badgers have defeated the Gophers 22 times in the past 25 meetings. Tailback Jonathan Taylor ran for 76 yards with two touchdowns and caught another score. He joined 1982 Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker as the only players in FBS history to run for at least 1,700 yards in their first three seasons. Quarterback Jack Coan completed 15 of 22 passes for 280 yards with two touchdowns in snowy and windy conditions, including a 47-yarder to Quintez Cephus, who caught five balls for 114 yards. The Badgers will try to win their first Big Ten title since 2012 when they take on Ohio State in next week's league championship game.

Up next: vs. Ohio State in Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, Fox)

11. Minnesota (10-2)

The Gophers' Big Ten title hopes came to a screeching halt with a 38-17 loss to Wisconsin at home on Saturday. The loss denied Minnesota an outright Big Ten West championship and a spot in their first league championship game. After a 9-0 start, the Gophers' boat took on water the past three weeks. Against Wisconsin, quarterback Tanner Morgan threw for 296 yards with two touchdowns on 20-for-37 passing. However, he also threw an interception, lost a fumble and was sacked five times. The Badgers converted those turnovers into 10 points. Still, in P.J. Fleck's third season, the Gophers won 10 games for the first time in 16 years. They're in good position to play in a New Year's Day bowl game in Florida, potentially in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl or Outback Bowl.

Up next: Regular season completed

12. Penn State(10-2)

The Nittany Lions were No. 10 in the CFP selection committee's rankings last week, which would have put them in a New Year's Day bowl game. Whether they can stay there the next two weeks is the question. Penn State's ho-hum, 27-6 win over Rutgers on Saturday probably won't matter much. The Nittany Lions led the woebegone Scarlet Knights 7-3 at the half. Playing without injured starting quarterback Sean Clifford, the offense generated only 81 yards passing. Freshman Will Levis completed 8 of 15 attempts with one touchdown and one interception, while running 17 times for 108 yards. Journey Brown added 103 yards with three scores. Penn State's defense, playing without injured starting cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields and defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, allowed 383 yards of offense but only two field goals.

Up next: Regular season completed

13. Auburn(9-3)

Fire Gus? Yeah, right. For the third time in his seven-year tenure, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn guided the Tigers to a victory over a higher-ranked Alabama team with a 48-45 upset in the second-highest-scoring Iron Bowl in history. In fact, Auburn is now 7-0 against Alabama at home when both teams were ranked. The Tide outgained the Tigers in total offense, 515 yards to 354, but Auburn's defense turned in the two biggest plays of the game. Smoke Monday returned an interception 29 yards for a touchdown, and Zakoby McClain had a 100-yard return for another score, the longest pick-six in Iron Bowl history. Those plays were Auburn's first nonoffensive touchdowns of the season. Freshman quarterback Bo Nix completed 15 of 30 passes for 173 yards with one touchdown, and JaTarvious Whitlow ran 16 times for 114 yards.

Up next: Regular season completed

14. Oregon (10-2)

The Ducks bounced back from their deflating loss at Arizona State last week by beating rival Oregon State 24-10 in the Civil War. Oregon has won 11 of the past 12 meetings in the series. Despite the victory, Oregon's offensive production has to be a concern heading into next week's game against Utah in the Pac-12 championship game. Oregon State held the Ducks to a season-low 174 passing yards. Quarterback Justin Herbert completed 18 of 30 passes with one touchdown in his final game at Autzen Stadium. The Beavers actually outgained the Ducks 380-365 in total yards, and Oregon went only 3-for-14 on third down. On a cold day, Oregon looked to play it safe. It punted three times inside OSU territory. The Ducks failed to score from the OSU 10 and missed a 24-yard field goal. The good news: Mykael Wright had a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown

Up next: vs. Utah in Pac-12 championship game in Santa Clara, California (Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC)

15. Notre Dame(10-2)

The Fighting Irish secured their third straight season (and fourth in five years) with at least 10 victories by defeating Stanford 45-24 on the road on Saturday. It's the first time the Irish have had three consecutive such seasons since Lou Holtz's teams did it from 1991 to 1993. Quarterback Ian Book threw four more touchdowns with 255 yards on 17-for-33 passing. He has 33 touchdown passes this campaign, which is the second most in a single season in school history; Brady Quinn threw 37 in 2006. Book has been especially good in the past three games, with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions. Unfortunately for the Irish, there doesn't seem to be much hope for them to be selected to a New Year's Six bowl game. Their most likely postseason destination is a date against a Big 12 opponent in the Dec. 28 Camping World Bowl in Orlando, Florida.

Up next: Regular season completed

16. Memphis (11-1)

The Tigers defeated Cincinnati 34-24 at home on Friday to win their third consecutive AAC West Division title -- and they'll get to play the Bearcats again next week in the AAC championship game at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Memphis won 11 games in a season for the first time in school history and remained the front-runner for the Group of 5's automatic invitation to the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. Quarterback Brady White passed for 233 yards with two touchdowns, and Damonte Coxie caught six balls for 145 yards with one score. Chris Claybrooks returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, the 11th time in the past four years that Memphis returned a kickoff for a score, the most among any FBS team. Memphis' defense had 15 tackles for loss and five sacks.

Up next: vs. Cincinnati in AAC championship game (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

17. Boise State (11-1)

The Broncos finished unbeaten in MWC play for the first time by holding off Colorado State 31-24 on the road on Friday. Boise State will try to win its third outright MWC title since 2014 when it hosts Hawaii in the MWC championship game next week. The Broncos beat the Rainbow Warriors 59-37 at home on Oct. 12. They lost starting quarterback Hank Bachmeier to a hip pointer in that game, and Chase Cord came off the bench to throw three touchdowns. Bachmeier hasn't played since Nov. 2, and Cord hasn't played since Nov. 9. Senior Jaylon Henderson is 3-0 as the starter in their absence. He threw for 253 yards with two touchdowns and ran for another score at Colorado State. Khalil Shakir caught seven passes for 103 yards.

Up next: vs. Hawaii in MWC championship game (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN)

18. Michigan (9-3)

There's no question the Wolverines are better under Jim Harbaugh -- unless they're playing rival Ohio State in the game that matters most. Harbaugh's record against the Buckeyes fell to 0-5 after Saturday's 56-27 rout. Based on the past two results, there seems to be a gap as wide as Lake Michigan between the programs. Harbaugh's teams are allowing 48.8 points against OSU and 15.4 points against everybody else. The Buckeyes are responsible for three of the four highest-scoring totals against Harbaugh's teams, and the 118 points the Wolverines allowed in the past two meetings are the most in two games against a single opponent in school history, according to data from ESPN Stats & Information. On Saturday, the Wolverines made a plethora of mistakes. They missed an extra point, fumbled a botched snap and dropped two passes in the end zone. Quarterback Shea Patterson completed only four of 24 attempts in the second half (after completing 14 of 18 in the first), and his 16.7% completion percentage after halftime was the worst by any FBS player with at least 20 attempts in any half in the last 15 years. Michigan has dropped a school-record eight consecutive games to OSU and 15 of the past 16 in the series.

Up next: Regular season completed

19. Iowa(9-3)

The Hawkeyes beat Nebraska for a fifth straight time on Keith Duncan's 48-yard field goal with one second left in a 27-24 decision on the road on Friday. The kick knocked the Cornhuskers out of the postseason for the third straight year -- and earned Duncan a scholarship from coach Kirk Ferentz. Duncan, who walked on the team in 2016, set a Big Ten single-season record with 29 field goals this year. Once again, Iowa overcame its sluggish offense -- it had 18 yards in the second and third quarters combined -- and relied on its defense and special teams. Ihmir Smith-Marsette scored on a 45-yard run and returned a kickoff 95 yards for a score. End A.J. Epenesa had 14 tackles, 4 tackles for loss and two sacks. The Hawkeyes can win 10 games for only the sixth time in Ferentz's 21 seasons by winning their bowl game. They're probably headed to either the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl or the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl.

Up next: Regular season completed

20. Appalachian State (11-1)

The Mountaineers scored touchdowns on each of their first five possessions and rolled to a 48-13 victory at Troy on Friday night. In coach Eli Drinkwitz's first season, the Mountaineers won 11 games for the third time since 2015 and went unbeaten on the road for the first time since 1995. Even without leading receiver Corey Sutton, who tore his ACL against Texas State last week, the Mountaineers piled up 522 yards of offense, including 328 passing. Quarterback Zac Thomas completed 28 of 34 passes for 326 yards with four touchdowns and he ran for another score. Appalachian State's defense allowed only 35 rushing yards and intercepted two passes.

Up next: vs. Louisiana in Sun Belt championship game (Saturday, noon ET, ESPN)

21. Cincinnati (10-2)

The Bearcats' nine-game winning streak ended with their loss at Memphis, the first time they were on the wrong end of the score since a 42-0 rout at Ohio State on Sept. 7. The good news: They'll have to wait only a week to try to avenge their second loss of the season. Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said he would wait until Tuesday or Wednesday to decide whether sophomore Desmond Ridder or redshirt freshman Ben Bryant will start against Memphis in the rematch. Ridder didn't start for the first time in 25 games on Friday because of an ailing shoulder. Bryant made his first start and completed 20 of 32 passes for 229 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He also lost a fumble and the Tigers sacked him five times. Still, the Bearcats had 407 yards of offense and went 8-for-17 on third down.

Up next: at Memphis in AAC championship game (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

22. USC(8-4)

The Trojans' regular season ended with a 52-35 decision over rival UCLA a week ago. They won't play in the Pac-12 championship game after Utah beat Colorado and won the Pac-12 South on Saturday night. Now, the waiting game begins for embattled USC coach Clay Helton, who has a 40-21 record in four-plus seasons at the school. After guiding the Trojans to a 21-6 record and a Rose Bowl victory in his first two full seasons, his teams were 13-11 over the past two campaigns. Helton reportedly has the support of USC president Carol Folt and recently hired athletic director Mike Bohn. Plus, the Trojans would have to pay Helton and his assistants between $15 million and $20 million if they are fired. With the way the Trojans battled through injuries and showed improvement on offense this year, the USC brass is going to have to weigh whether it might make more sense to bring Helton back for another season.

Up next: Regular season completed

23. Navy (9-2)

The Midshipmen are the most improved team in the FBS after finishing 3-10 in 2018. Navy won its ninth game on Saturday, 56-41 at Houston, and can win its 10th contest when it plays Army in Philadelphia on Dec. 14. Against the Cougars, the Midshipmen ran for 447 yards on 56 attempts, while attempting only four passes and completing two. Fullback Jamale Carothers ran 18 times for 188 yards with five touchdowns, and quarterback Malcolm Perry ran 18 times for 146 yards with one score. The Navy defense forced five turnovers, four interceptions and one fumble. Coach Ken Niumatalolo's staff shakeup after last season's disappointing finish has paid big dividends. The Midshipmen's only losses were at Memphis and Notre Dame.

Up next: vs. Army in Philadelphia (Dec. 14, 3 p.m. ET, CBS)

24. Air Force (10-2)

The Falcons ended a three-game losing streak to Wyoming with a 20-6 decision, which assured them of their first 10-win season in 21 years. It also was Air Force's seventh consecutive victory, after early-season losses at Boise State and Navy, which is its longest winning streak since it won eight in a row in 1998. The 400th victory in the history of the Air Force Academy wasn't secure until Donald Hammond III threw a 75-yard touchdown to Benjamin Waters with 2:04 to play. Hammond completed 5 of 6 passes for 121 yards with one touchdown, and Waters had three catches for 100 yards. Jeremy Fejedelem had two interceptions, and the Falcons limited the Cowboys to only 225 yards of offense -- 114 passing and 111 rushing -- and forced three turnovers.

Up next: Regular season completed

25. Virginia (9-3)

The Cavaliers ended 15 years of misery with 23 seconds of exhilaration in a 39-30 victory over rival Virginia Tech in the Commonwealth Cup on Friday. Virginia's Brian Delaney kicked a 48-yard field goal to take a 33-30 lead with 1:23 to play, and then the Cavaliers sacked Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker on three consecutive plays. He fumbled on the last one by Mandy Alonso, and Eli Hanback recovered the ball in the end zone for a score with 1:01 remaining. It was Virginia's first win in the series since a 35-21 decision on Nov. 29, 2003. The Cavaliers will play No. 3 Clemson in their first ACC championship game. Virginia also might have secured a spot in the Capital One Orange Bowl. Quarterback Bryce Perkins had 475 yards of offense -- 311 passing and 164 rushing -- with three total touchdowns against the Hokies.

Up next: vs. Clemson in ACC championship game in Charlotte, N.C. (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Related Video