Statement Saturday arrived during college football’s Week 12 and some teams rose to the occasion while others saw their high hopes come crashing down.
The Ohio State Buckeyes kicked off the day with possibly the biggest statement win of the season in a 56-7 drubbing of a top-10 Michigan State team. Perhaps it was a warning to rival Michigan ahead of one of the biggest matchups in recent history or a message to the playoff selection committee, either way, the Buckeyes looked like one of the most dominant teams in the country.
On the other end of the college football pendulum, the Oregon Ducks’ playoff hopes were dashed by a Utah team that played like it had a point to prove. The Utes outclassed the Ducks in all three elements of the game during a 38-7 rout that didn’t feel that close.
Elsewhere, Cincinnati solidified its playoff case and a top four spot with a 48-14 win against SMU and the SEC powers prepped for a showdown in the conference title game.
With only one week remaining in the regular season, it’s time to check out this week’s Power Rankings.
1. Georgia Bulldogs (11-0)
The top team in the country knew its last home game of the season against Charleston Southern was going to amount to a 60-minute victory formation. And so as soon as the Bulldogs got near the goal line in the first quarter, they put 330-pound senior tackle Jordan Davis into the game, motioned him to the backfield and had him run the ball not once but twice for a touchdown. The novelty score prompted the biggest cheers of the day as the Bulldogs went on to trounce their FCS opponent 56-7. Perhaps the only mistake Georgia made on Saturday was having its quarterback throw an interception on the first drive of the game. And that came by way of a tipped ball. From there, Georgia dominated the Buccaneers, allowing the starters to more or less take the whole second half off, and giving Davis and the rest of the seniors an ideal send-off from Sanford Stadium. — Paolo Uggetti
2. Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1)
The Buckeyes blew out the Michigan State Spartans at home in a game that was never close from start to finish. Quarterback C.J. Stroud played only three quarters but still racked up 432 yards passing and six touchdowns. He is the first quarterback to ever throw six touchdowns against Michigan State and at one point in the game, he completed 17 consecutive passes. Ohio State’s defense was able to hold Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III to only 24 rush yards in the first half and bottled him up in the second half, as well. The Buckeyes now have one game remaining against rival Michigan that could decide the fate of both teams beyond the regular season. — Tom VanHaaren
3. Alabama Crimson Tide (10-1)
There might be a lot of things this Alabama team isn’t when compared to some of its past powerhouse teams, but sophomore quarterback Bryce Young showed yet again Saturday why he’s one of the best players in the country. Young set a school record with 559 passing yards and threw five touchdown passes in a 42-35 win over Arkansas. It was a game of big plays, and Alabama gave up its share. The Crimson Tide also struggled to get off the field on third down, but Young kept on connecting with Jameson Williams and John Metchie III in the passing game to lock up a spot for the Tide in the SEC championship game. Alabama lost a fumble at the goal line in the fourth quarter, which kept Arkansas in the game. The two teams combined for 1,139 total yards. — Chris Low
4. Cincinnati Bearcats (11-0)
You want a statement win? Cincinnati delivered a statement win, in a dominant 48-14 victory over SMU on senior day at Nippert Stadium. It was a complete effort — from a suffocating defense that allowed only 199 total yards, including 66 passing. To an offense that scored on its first play of the game and rolled up 544 yards. To its special teams, with a blocked punt that led to another touchdown. Cincinnati has now won 26 straight games at home. Its four-year senior class has won 42 games — a new school record. And the Bearcats clinched a spot in the AAC championship game against Houston. A win next week, and Cincinnati will be hosting back in Nippert Stadium. — Andrea Adelson
5. Michigan Wolverines (10-1)
There would be no letdown for the Wolverines before the much-anticipated Ohio State showdown. Playing without its second leading rusher Blake Corum, Michigan jumped ahead of Maryland with two first-quarter touchdowns and never looked back in a 59-18 win, its second straight on the road. The 59 points mark Michigan’s most against a Power 5 opponent in the past five seasons. Quarterback Cade McNamara played efficiently, while not stretching the field much other than a 77-yard Donovan Edwards touchdown. Freshman J.J. McCarthy completed all five of his pass attempts, including a touchdown to Mike Sainristil. Other than the third quarter, Michigan’s defense shut down Maryland’s offense, denying the Terrapins on 11 of 14 third-down attempts. — Adam Rittenberg
6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-1)
The Irish can’t go back and play Cincinnati again, or improve what has become a lackluster schedule featuring ACC and Pac-12 teams. But Notre Dame undoubtedly is hitting its stride in the second half of the season, and could give the CFP selection committee something to think about in early December. The Irish left no doubts against Georgia Tech, storming out to a 45-0 halftime lead behind defense and quarterback Jack Coan, who passed for 285 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Coan attacked downfield to wide receiver Kevin Austin Jr. and tight end Michael Mayer, and running back Kyren Williams had his standard production. Notre Dame had defensive touchdowns by Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and Jack Kiser and held Georgia Tech scoreless in the 55-0 victory. — Rittenberg
7. Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-1)
Texas Tech gained 639 yards on Texas and 541 yards on Oklahoma. On Saturday night against Oklahoma State, it took the Red Raiders 55 minutes to gain 100. The Cowboys pummeled Tech 23-0 to clinch a spot in the Big 12 championship and stay alive in the CFP hunt, and it appears an already brilliant defense continues to get better. OSU held Tech to 108 total yards (1.9 per play) with 12 tackles for loss and became the first team to shut the Red Raiders out in 24 years. OSU’s Spencer Sanders threw for 239 yards and a touchdown and rushed for a nine-yard score as well, but the game was over as soon as OSU kicked a field goal on its first drive. — Bill Connelly
8. Ole Miss Rebels (9-2)
The Rebels knocked off Vanderbilt in a 31-17 game where the offense did its part despite their defense giving up 454 total yards to the Commodores who have now lost 20 consecutive SEC games. With the win, Ole Miss went undefeated at home for the first time since 1992. QB Matt Corral, who was starting in his final game in Oxford, finished the game with 326 passing yards and two touchdowns despite the Vanderbilt defense’s best attempts to keep him off rhythm. The Rebels travel to Starkville next week for what should be a fun Egg Bowl for everyone who watches. Of course, except for whoever is on the wrong side of the game result. — Harry Lyles Jr.
9. Baylor Bears (9-2)
The Bears snapped Kansas State’s four-game winning streak with a 20-10 win Saturday night, but suffered a loss with an injury to quarterback Gerry Bohanon. Bohanon injured his right leg late in the first half and was replaced by redshirt freshman Blake Shapen, who finished the game 16-of-21 passing for 137 yards. Running back Trestan Ebner was also a key contributor for the Baylor offense, with 86 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown. Bohanon’s status moving forward isn’t known yet, but it didn’t seem promising that he returned to the sidelines in street clothes. — Lyles Jr.
10. Oklahoma Sooners (10-1)
The Sooners avoided a letdown after their 17-game winning streak ended last week at Baylor, playing stingy defense in limiting Iowa State to a season-low 51 rushing yards and recording seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss. It wasn’t always pretty offensively — as much of the season has gone — but the Sooners set a single-season school record with their sixth win by seven or fewer points while completing just nine passes all day. But Lincoln Riley got another win, tying him with Bob Stoops for the most wins in the first five years of a career at Oklahoma with 55 to just nine losses. — Wilson
11. Michigan State Spartans (9-2)
The Spartans had little success against Ohio State, allowing seven total touchdowns in the first half. Michigan State’s first touchdown came in the fourth quarter, when Ohio State was playing some of its backups. Running back Kenneth Walker III didn’t have much success on the day, and when he isn’t moving the chains, the Michigan State offense can struggle. It was an unfortunately timed loss for the Spartans as it squashes their hopes of making it to the Big Ten championship game and potentially beyond. — VanHaaren
12. Oregon Ducks (9-2)
The Ducks left no doubt they were unfit for the College Football Playoff by halftime of their game at Utah. The 28-0 deficit at the break eventually became a 38-7 loss for a team that has seen its fair share of unconvincing performances throughout conference play. Oregon didn’t do anything well in Salt Lake City: it was completely dominated in all three phases of the game. With the CFP out of play, Ducks will shift their focus to winning the Pac-12 in order to secure a Rose Bowl berth. — Kyle Bonagura
13. BYU Cougars (9-2)
BYU’s 34-17 win against Georgia Southern won’t exactly move the needle for the Cougars, but it was another solid win as they march toward a consecutive double-digit win season. QB Jaren Hall continues to play well in support of BYU’s impressive running game. He threw for 312 yards with two touchdowns and finished without an interception for the fifth straight game. All of Georgia Southern’s points came in the first half before a dominant second half saw BYU win. — Bonagura
14. Wisconsin Badgers (8-3)
Ask a neutral bystander what might happen in a Wisconsin-Nebraska game, and they would probably say something like, “Wisconsin will rush for a bunch of yards, and Nebraska will play well and come up just short,” right? Well guess what: Wisconsin indeed rushed for a bunch of yards — freshman Braelon Allen went for a career-high 228 yards and three touchdowns — and after matching the Badgers score for score for most of 60 minutes, Nebraska’s last-ditch comeback effort came up 21 yards short with a late turnover on downs. Wisconsin picked off two Adrian Martinez passes, scored on three of its last four drives and moved to the cusp of a Big Ten West title with a 35-28 win. — Connelly
15. Pittsburgh Panthers (9-2)
A Pitt-Virginia game was guaranteed to produce fireworks, and this one didn’t disappoint. After 1,023 yards and 86 points, Pitt clinched its first ACC Coastal title in three years with a 48-38 victory. UVA’s Brennan Armstrong (487 yards, three TDs, one INT) outdueled Pitt’s Kenny Pickett (340 yards, four TDs, two INTs), but Israel Abanikanda’s 98-yard kick return touchdown and Pitt’s ability to create more negative plays — eight tackles for loss, five sacks — got the job done. The Panthers are now 9-2 and one more victory away from their first season with double-digit wins since 2009. — Connelly
16. Utah Utes (8-3)
Kyle Whittingham became the winningest coach in school history with what will go down as one of the program’s most emphatic wins in years. Utah’s 38-7 win against Oregon came in dominating fashion and clinched a spot in the Pac-12 title game in Las Vegas on Dec. 3. Tavion Thomas rushed for three touchdowns, Britain Covey had a punt return for a touchdown and Utah controlled the line of scrimmage in what was a vintage Utah performance. The Utes will see out the regular season next week against Colorado before a possible rematch with the Ducks with a Rose Bowl berth on the line. — Bonagura
17. UTSA Roadrunners (11-0)
The Roadrunners’ surprise perfect season was at risk late against the UAB Blazers, but UTSA pulled out a stunning 34-31 win with just three seconds left in the game over the defending Conference USA champs. UTSA QB Frank Harris found TE Oscar Cardenas for the winning score off a tipped pass, which was Harris’ third passing touchdown of the afternoon. The win gave the Roadrunners the West Division crown in C-USA, and they’ll look to secure their perfect regular season next Saturday on the road against North Texas. — Lyles
18. Houston Cougars (10-1)
The Cougars snapped a five-game losing streak to Memphis and went undefeated in conference play for just the second time in their 75-year history. With only UConn remaining, Houston has won 10 straight in an outstanding season marred by only a season-opening loss to Texas Tech in which it blew a 21-7 halftime lead. Corner and All-American kick and punt returner Marcus Jones grabbed two interceptions, giving him five in the past four games, as the Cougars held Memphis to 13 points and allowed the Tigers to convert just 2 of 14 third-down attempts. — Wilson
19. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (9-2)
The last thing Wake Forest wanted to do Saturday was start slowly on the road against Clemson, but that’s exactly what the Demon Deacons did in falling behind 17-3, with quarterback Sam Hartman sacked three times on the first two possessions, in a 48-27 loss to the Tigers. Wake Forest, in losing its first ACC game of the season, last won at Clemson in 1998. The Deacons were unable to protect Hartman, who was sacked seven times, and they couldn’t stop a Clemson running game that produced 333 rushing yards. It was the first time all season that Wake Forest didn’t score at least 35 points. — Low
20. Texas A&M Aggies (8-3)
The Aggies cruised to a dominant 52-3 win over Prairie View A&M on senior day in the last home game of the season, holding the Panthers to 154 yards, including just 7 passing yards on 2-of-12 attempts. Texas A&M led 38-0 at halftime and was able to work several players into the rotation, including Moose Muhammad III, who caught 33-yard and 30-yard touchdown passes from Zach Calzada, while freshman running back Amari Daniels scored his first touchdown and ended with a team-high 70 rushing yards on eight carries. — Wilson
21. Iowa Hawkeyes (9-2)
Style points are in short supply for this Hawkeyes team, but Iowa is finding enough points to keep winning. After a typical slow start, Iowa erased a 10-0 deficit to outscore Illinois 33-13 in the final 48 minutes, 20 seconds. Iowa’s passing numbers again weren’t pretty — Alex Padilla had six completions, 83 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. But Charlie Jones provided a special teams boost, and Iowa’s ball-hawking defense and run game proved to be too much. Tyler Goodson had 132 yards and Gavin Williams added 56, and Iowa sealed the game with its second interception, which Jack Campbell returned 33 yards to the end zone. Iowa’s defense held Illinois to nine first downs and 4 of 16 on third-down-conversion attempts. — Rittenberg
22. San Diego State Aztecs (10-1)
The Aztecs’ 28-20 win against UNLV mostly followed their usual formula. The offense was largely ineffective — both rushing (98 yards) and passing (192 yards) — but it didn’t end up mattering because the defense made key plays (including an interception return for a touchdown) and punter Matt Araiza left UNLV with long fields. In SDSU’s seven Mountain West games this year, it has scored 30-plus points just once — a 31-7 win against New Mexico in the conference opener. — Bonagura
23. Clemson Tigers (8-3)
It was telling that Clemson came into the game favored against a Wake Forest team ranked No. 10 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. The Tigers certainly looked like the better team Saturday in a 48-27 win over the Demon Deacons that was never in doubt. It was Clemson’s 34th straight win at home, as Kobe Pace rushed for a career-high 191 yards and two touchdowns. The Tigers were dominant on defense and made the Demon Deacons one-dimensional on offense. Clemson held Wake Forest to 36 rushing yards, forced three turnovers and sacked Sam Hartman seven times. The Tigers have now won 13 in a row over the Deacons. — Low
24. Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-4)
Mike Leach’s team followed up its win over Auburn with a smooth cruise past Tennessee State, winning 55-10. Will Rogers showed out, completing 28 of his 34 passes for 391 yards and five touchdowns. In the process, he also broke Dak Prescott’s school passing records for yards and touchdowns. The team finished with 600 total yards of offense and allowed just 205 on defense. Saturday’s game was a good warmup for what should be an exciting Egg Bowl against Ole Miss next week. — Lyles
25. NC State Wolfpack (8-3)
After a scoreless first quarter and a half, NC State unleashed 28 points in about six minutes on its way to a 41-17 romp over Syracuse. Devin Leary completed 17 of 24 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns, which, along with two second-quarter return touchdowns, was more than enough for a nasty Wolfpack defense that recorded five sacks among 14 tackles for loss. Dave Doeren’s squad is 8-3, and while the Pack still need help to win their first ACC Atlantic title, the school’s second-ever season of double-digit wins remains a distinct possibility. — Connelly
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