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Power 5 conference power rankings

Nov 19, 2018

  • ESPN staff

These rankings are all about rating teams against their conference brethren, but we are also ranking the conferences against each other.

Check out the chart below, and click on a conference to get full details on why we ranked teams how we did.

1. SEC | 2. Big Ten | 3. Big 12 | 4. Pac-12 | 5. ACC

1. SEC

The week that bore Nick Saban’s memorable “tin horn” quote came and went with at least a little bit more excitement than expected. And it came, of course, at Alabama’s expense. The Citadel gave the Crimson Tide a headache for a half, causing eyebrows to raise when the halftime score was 10-10.

The Crimson Tide eventually took care of business, but it’ll give Saban a reason to get after his team leading up to the Iron Bowl. Everything else went mostly as expected. On to the final week in the SEC.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0)

The Citadel was certainly more than just a bump in the road on the way to the Iron Bowl. It was a halftime heart attack. But on the upside, at least Nick Saban can yell at his team this week and actually mean it.

2. Georgia Bulldogs (10-1)

It’s tempting to look ahead to the SEC Championship Game, but next Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech and its tricky triple-option offense can’t be overlooked.

3. LSU Tigers (9-2)

Already at nine wins and with a New Year’s Six bowl in sight, the Tigers will end the regular season next weekend with an interesting game against Texas A&M and the coach who once spurned LSU, Jimbo Fisher.

4. Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-4)

Nothing is going to quell the disappointment of some Bulldogs fans, but beating Ole Miss on the road next week would help. And an eight-win regular season isn’t anything to scoff at.

5. Kentucky Wildcats (8-3)

The hype around the Wildcats has cooled in recent weeks, but by taking care of business against Middle Tennessee on Saturday, Kentucky was able to put itself in good position for a quality bowl game and, maybe, a 10-win season.

6. Texas A&M Aggies (7-4)

Kellen Mond played a turnover-free game and the Aggies cruised past UAB. Now, can the A&M offense put together a similar effort against an elite LSU defense?

7. Auburn Tigers (7-4)

It wasn’t in a game that truly mattered, but Jarrett Stidham and the offense were able to gain some confidence before a huge game against Alabama next week and that’s worth something.

8. Missouri Tigers (7-4)

The Tigers have become a November team under Barry Odom, winning 9 of 11 games in the regular season’s final month under his watch, including a rout of Tennessee on Saturday. A win in Week 13 would give them eight wins for the first time since 2014.

9. Florida Gators (8-3)

The season hasn’t been everything Gator fans have hoped for, but after beating Idaho handily to improve to 8-3, a 10-win season is in sight with a struggling Florida State to end the regular season and the bowl game.

10. South Carolina Gamecocks (6-4)

This team fell short of expectations, but it succeeded in reaching bowl eligibility and could give fans something else to feel good about next weekend if it can go on the road and threaten to derail No. 2 Clemson’s march to the playoff.

11 Tennessee Volunteers (5-6)

The Vols got trounced by Mizzou just a week after their big win over Kentucky, but they still have a shot at a bowl game if they can beat Vanderbilt in the regular-season finale.

12. Vanderbilt Commodores (5-6)

The Commodores kept their bowl hopes alive with a 36-29 overtime win over Ole Miss. If they do it, it’ll be two in the past three seasons.

13. Ole Miss Rebels (5-6)

The Rebels let a 13-0 lead over Vanderbilt slip away. Now they’ll turn their attention to their season finale: rival Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl.

14. Arkansas Razorbacks (2-9)

Fans have been looking forward to next season for a while and a performance like Saturday’s against Mississippi State is a good reason why.

2. Big Ten

An unexpectedly wild Saturday afternoon left the Big Ten right in the position that it entered Week 12 — with Michigan and Ohio State on a collision course to play Saturday in Columbus for the right to meet Northwestern in Indianapolis. Who saw the Wolverines struggling with Indiana, though, and the Buckeyes needing overtime to overcome Maryland? Meanwhile, four teams still need one win to join the seven that are bowl eligible as the final week of the regular season arrives. One program, as you’ll see below, is guaranteed to get that sixth win.

1. Michigan Wolverines (10-1)

The 23rd straight win over Indiana came at a price as star defensive end Chase Winovich left with an upper-body injury. The Wolverines came from behind and used six field goals by Jake Moody to earn their 10th straight win.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1)

QB Dwayne Haskins accounted for six touchdowns and set the OSU season record with 36 passing TDs. But the Buckeyes struggled mightily on defense in a 52-51 overtime win in which they twice came back from 14 points down.

3. Northwestern Wildcats (7-4)

The Wildcats’ eighth straight road moved the West Division champs to 7-1 in conference play, the best Big Ten record for the school since 1996, when Pat Fitzgerald was named the league’s defensive player of the year.

4. Penn State Nittany Lions (8-3)

For the first time since 2005 to 2009, the Nittany Lions have won eight games for a third straight year. Trace McSorley can break the PSU career record with his 31st win as a starting QB in the season finale against Maryland.

5. Wisconsin Badgers (7-4)

Jonathan Taylor ran for 321, the third-highest total in school history, and scored the decision touchdown in the third overtime of the Badgers’ 47-44 win at Purdue.

6. Iowa Hawkeyes (7-4)

A 63-0 beatdown of Illinois marked the largest victory margin in 20 years under coach Kirk Ferentz, who joined legends Hayes, Schembechler, Stagg and Paterno with his 150th Big Ten win.

7. Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-7)

Three fourth-quarter field goals by freshman Barret Pickering pushed the Huskers’ to a 9-6 win over Michigan State, their fourth in five games and fourth straight at home. A final shot this year at a first road victory comes Friday at Iowa.

8. Michigan State Spartans (6-5)

The Spartans dropped numerous passes in the snow and cold in Lincoln, including one in the end zone during the decisive fourth quarter as redshirt freshman Rocky Lombardi again got the start at QB.

9. Purdue Boilermakers (5-6)

True freshman Rondale Moore was spectacular against Wisconsin, but the Boilermakers have lost three of four since that Week 8 upset of Ohio State and must win at Indiana to play past next week.

10. Indiana Hoosiers (5-6)

A halftime lead at the Big House and 385-yard output, the most allowed by Michigan this year, does not hide the fact that the Hoosiers have won once since Week 6 as they host Purdue on Saturday.

11. Maryland Terrapins (5-6)

Freshman Anthony McFarland rushed for 298 yards, the second most ever allowed by Ohio State, but Tyrell Pigrome’s two-point conversion in OT was off the mark as the Terps missed a golden opportunity at bowl eligibility.

12. Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-6)

The Golden Gophers visit Wisconsin in danger of missing the postseason in consecutive years for the first time since 2010 and ’11 after Northwestern turned a pair of turnovers by QB Tanner Morgan into 10 points in a 24-14 win by the Wildcats in Minneapolis.

13. Illinois Fighting Illini (4-7)

What was that? To start, it was the worst loss in 73 games all time against Iowa for the Fighting Illini.

14. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-10)

Coach Chris Ash’s team must beat Michigan State next week in East Lansing to avoid a second winless Big Ten season in three years.

3. Big 12

Things got awfully interesting in Week 12 in the Big 12.

The Sooners got all they could handle from Kansas — yes, that Kansas — West Virginia saw its playoff hopes go down the drain and Texas is still in the mix in the title game hunt.

Plenty left to be decided, including the championship game participants, as the last week of the regular season approaches.

1. Oklahoma Sooners (10-1)

The Sooners won, but giving up 40 to Kansas? Woof. The scoreboard will be lighting up in Morgantown next week and if Oklahoma wins, they’re in the Big 12 title game — and keep their playoff hopes alive.

2. Texas Longhorns (8-3)

Texas will enter the regular-season finale with Big 12 championship hopes still alive for the first time since 2013 after beating Iowa State. It’s a notable step for the program under Tom Herman.

3. West Virginia Mountaineers (8-2)

The Mountaineers’ playoff hopes are out the window after a loss at Oklahoma State but their Big 12 title hopes are still alive. They must beat Oklahoma next week to get in.

4. Iowa State Cyclones (6-4)

The Cyclones’ Big 12 title game hopes fizzled in Austin. Brock Purdy was pressured early and often, and the offense clearly missed David Montgomery in the first half. Still, this has been a good season for Matt Campbell’s group.

5. Oklahoma State Cowboys (6-5)

What a win for the Cowboys. Mike Gundy’s squad has three home wins against AP top-10 teams this season, the latest being a big one over West Virginia. It’s the first time since 1976 the Pokes have beaten two top-10 teams in Stillwater.

6. Texas Tech Red Raiders (5-6)

Kliff Kingsbury back on the hot seat? Seemingly safe just weeks ago, things are looking a little uncertain in Lubbock after the Red Raiders took it on the chin from Kansas State. Next week vs. Baylor is a must-win for Kingsbury.

7. TCU Horned Frogs (5-6)

The Horned Frogs holding Baylor to nine points in a win marks the third time Gary Patterson’s crew has won a conference game by holding a Big 12 foe to under 20 points. Unfortunately for TCU, those are its only three league wins.

8. Baylor Bears (5-6)

The Bears fell to TCU, leaving the regular-season finale against Texas Tech as a must-win in terms of bowl eligibility. If the Bears can pull it off, it would be a huge step for Matt Rhule’s program.

9. Kansas State Wildcats (5-6)

The Wildcats’ bowl hopes are still alive after they surprised the Red Raiders with a double-digit victory. Will it be the final game of the Bill Snyder era?

10. Kansas Jayhawks (3-8)

The Jayhawks put quite the scare into Oklahoma, scoring 40 points. Now, they host the Longhorns for the first time since they beat them in 2016. Fittingly, the final game of the David Beaty era will be against the team he scored his biggest win over.

4. Pac-12

Utah will be awaiting the winner of the Apple Cup at Levi’s Stadium on Dec. 1. In either scenario, the Utes will be playing a team — Washington or Washington State — that it lost to earlier in the season.

1. Washington State Cougars (10-1)

The Cougars turned in one of the most dominant halves of football by any team in the country this season when they jumped out to a 55-14 halftime lead against Arizona Saturday night. By the time it was over, quarterback Gardner Minshew set the school record with seven touchdown passes and connected on 43 of 55 passes for 473 yards without an interception. If anyone was on the fence about including him on their Heisman ballot, Minshew’s big night should have changed that.

2. Washington Huskies (8-3)

Quarterback Jake Browning is now the Pac-12’s winningest all-time quarterback and could still add a second conference title to his legacy. If he does, it’ll be because Chris Petersen again figures out a way to beat Wazzu. The Huskies have not lost to the Cougars since before Petersen arrived in 2014.

3. Utah Utes (8-3)

The Utes’ first Pac-12 South title feels overdue. They’ve been arguably the most consistent team in the division since it was created in 2011, but are the last team to win it. After losing their starting quarterback and starting running back two weeks ago, this felt like an unlikely result, which makes it that much more impressive.

4. Stanford Cardinal (6-4)

Limited by injuries and affected by an underachieving offensive line, running back Bryce Love’s lack of impact this season was an anticlimactic end to his career. Still, Stanford is wins against Cal and UCLA from finishing the regular season 8-4 with a decent bowl appearance. That falls short of what was probably expected internally, but it’s the type of season several other programs in the conference would be thrilled to have.

5. Oregon Ducks (7-4)

It’s easy to find places the Ducks left meat on the bone, but it’s now clear some of the early-season excitement raised the expectation bar sooner than it should have. Plenty of handwritten thank you cards figure to be arriving shortly to the team facility from addresses in Utah.

6. California Golden Bears (6-4)

Cal made the responsible decision to postpone the Big Game for two weeks due to poor air quality in the Bay Area. Without playing, the Bears’ defense saw its reputation improve after Wazzu dropped 69 on Arizona. In Pullman only two weeks prior, Cal held the Cougars to just 19 points.

7. Arizona State Sun Devils (6-5)

After seeing their division title hopes slip away, the Sun Devils can now keep Arizona out of a bowl with a win in the Territorial Cup.

8. USC Trojans (5-6)

The Trojans show up ranked ahead of four teams here, but no program feels more like a sinking ship. Clay Helton might have had the equity built up to survive a 6-6 season, but a loss to a UCLA team with just two wins changes the equation significantly.

9. Arizona Wildcats (5-6)

They began the day Saturday alive in the conference title race and finished it needing an upset win at home against rival ASU to reach bowl eligibility. Lost in the 41-point drubbing was that one-time Heisman candidate quarterback Khalil Tate turned in another outstanding performance at the end of an injury-plagued year.

10. UCLA Bruins (3-8)

A win over Stanford would pull the Bruins even with USC in the final standings and give fans a positive final impression headed into an important offseason.

11. Colorado Buffaloes (5-6)

The program is in much, much better shape than when Mike MacIntyre took it over, but a sixth straight loss following a 5-0 start spelled the end for a coach who just two years received national coach of the year honors. It’s a harsh business.

12. Oregon State Beavers (2-9)

There’s only so much coaching can help. The Beavers didn’t have the talent to compete at a much higher level than they did this season.

5. ACC

Here’s how the ACC looks after Week 12.

1. Clemson Tigers (11-0)

Despite a slow start against Duke, it was another easy win Saturday. The Tigers are now one win away from a perfect regular season.

2. Syracuse Orange (8-3)

The injury to Eric Dungey essentially sealed Syracuse’s fate early against Notre Dame. The late field goal proved the only highlight.

3. NC State Wolfpack (7-3)

The Wolfpack were the latest to embarrass Louisville, and a win in a rivalry game against North Carolina next week should ensure NC State a solid bowl bid.

4. Boston College Eagles (7-4)

The Eagles controlled the second half against Florida State right up until Deondre Francois‘ bomb turned the tide. It was a brutal loss for BC, and there’s a danger of a third straight defeat next week against Syracuse.

5. Pittsburgh Panthers (7-4)

Ladies and gentlemen, your Coastal Division champs. It wasn’t pretty in September, but Pitt is one of the hottest teams in the country now.

6. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (7-4)

The Yellow Jackets are red hot, too, and all that talk about Paul Johnson’s job security from September now seems like a distant memory.

7. Virginia Cavaliers (7-4)

The Hoos pushed Georgia Tech to the brink, but a missed field goal proved their undoing. Still, this has been a solid season for Virginia, and Bronco Mendenhall’s crew can get their biggest win next week against Virginia Tech. They haven’t beaten the Hokies since 2003.

8. Duke Blue Devils (7-4)

The Blue Devils pushed Clemson in the first half, but they simply ran out of gas. The losses on defense have been too much to overcome.

9. Miami Hurricanes (6-5)

The Canes snapped a four-game losing streak with a needed win over Virginia Tech. N’Kosi Perry had a solid game, but the big question is whether he can continue to build on it.

10. Florida State Seminoles (5-6)

The bowl hopes remain alive after Deondre Francois and Tamorrion Terry pulled off a miracle with a 74-yard bomb with less than two minutes to play against BC.

11. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-6)

Wake held strong through a half but ran out of gas against Pitt. They’ll need to win the finale against Duke to earn a bowl bid.

12. Virginia Tech Hokies (4-6)

Remember when the Hokies opened with a huge win at Florida State and looked like the clear favorites to win the Coastal? Yeah, neither do we.

13. North Carolina Tar Heels (2-8)

Hey, a win! Sure it was against Western Carolina, but beggars can’t be choosers.

14. Louisville Cardinals (2-9)

New coach, same awful defense.

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