No game was supposed to top last year’s championship—Deshaun Watson led the Clemson Tigers on one of the greatest game-winning drives of all time and scored with one second left.
No game was supposed to top this year’s Rose Bowl—a back-and-forth contest that resulted in the playoffs’ first-ever overtime, and the highest-scoring Rose Bowl ever.
And yet, the National Championship topped them both—Nick Saban pulls the trigger to bring in a freshman quarterback for an excellent second half, the Tide miss the game-winning field goal, and after a 16-yard sack in overtime, Tua Tagovailoa throws a 41-yard bomb to win the game.
We’re going to miss you, college football. With the season coming to a close, here’s each team finished up in our final power rankings.
- Alabama Crimson Tide (13-1)
At some point, it just becomes unfair—whether or not the Tide deserved their playoff spot, they are national champions for the fifth time in nine years as Nick Saban continues to build his dynasty. And don’t think they’re going anywhere—after backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s second half performance, Alabama is set up well for the next few years.
- Georgia Bulldogs (13-2)
The state of Georgia just can’t catch a break—first the 25-point blown lead Super Bowl debacle, now a 13-point national championship collapse. But with the number one recruiting class in the nation, the Dawgs will be back.
- Oklahoma Sooners (12-2)
If the Sooners had any semblance of a defense, they would’ve played for the title game on Monday night. But after giving up 54 to Georgia in a Rose Bowl classic, it’s clear Lincoln Riley still has work to do.
- Ohio State Buckeyes (12-2)
All the Buckeyes had to do was show up and put up a fight versus the Hawkeyes—if they had, the top of these power rankings would look very different. It was a successful season for Ohio State, winning the Big Ten and stomping USC in the Cotton Bowl, but they have bigger aspirations next season.
- Clemson Tigers (12-2)
Kelly Bryant didn’t need to be Deshaun Watson in the playoff, but he had to produce a better showing than he did in the Sugar Bowl. The Tigers will be in good shape next season, reloading with talent and developing their quarterback.
- Wisconsin Badgers (13-1)
In Wisconsin’s first thirteen-win season, the Badgers defeated Miami in their first-ever Orange Bowl. Hornibrook looked unstoppable, and the receiving core has officially come to life. With momentum heading into next season, the Badgers are in great shape.
- Central Florida Knights (13-0)
Should the Knights have been given a playoff spot? Possibly, and most certainly in an 8-team playoff. But using the reasoning that “Auburn beat Alabama and Georgia and we beat Auburn” to declare yourselves national champions is flawed. Nonetheless, the Knights had a fantastic season and will look to continue their success next year.
- Penn State Nittany Lions (11-2)
The Nittany Lions finished strong, and are poised for another strong season next year even without top prospect Saquon Barkley. A win in the Fiesta Bowl propels them into 2018.
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-3)
From national title contenders to embarrassed in Miami to a Citrus Bowl win over LSU, it was an up-and-down season for the Irish, their best since the 2012 season.
- Michigan State Spartans (10-3)
Four teams in the top ten from the conference that was left out of the playoff? It’s the effect of a successful bowl season—the Big Ten was 7-1, including Michigan State’s domination of Washington State in the Holiday Bowl.
- TCU Horned Frogs (11-3)
The Horned Frogs have won three of their past four bowl games, including a wild finish in the Alamo Bowl against Stanford. Gary Patterson has turned this program around, and will continue to do so in the future.
- Auburn Tigers (10-4)
It’s hard to drop the team that beat both title game participants too far, but for an Auburn team that many believe would be the first two-loss team to reach the playoff, they disappointed at the end of the year. And four losses is four losses.
- USC Trojans (11-3)
The “is Darnold staying for his junior year?” question has been put to rest—he’s not. It was the right time for him to leave, even though he performed less-than-extraordinarily at USC. The Trojans have lost two out of three bowl games under Clay Helton.
- Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-3)
The Mason Rudolph era is over at Oklahoma State, but he will leave as the school’s all-time leading passer and will make some NFL team very happy. The torch passes to freshman Spencer Sanders in 2018.
- Northwestern Wildcats (10-3)
Northwestern gets its second 10-win season in three years, and gave at least an ounce of credibility to a depleted Big Ten West. Look for the Wildcats to compete with Wisconsin again in 2018.
- Washington Huskies (10-3)
The Huskies are set up well for the future—with Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason transferring, Washington will get one more year with Jake Browning and hopefully have a smooth transition with Eason.
- Miami Hurricanes (10-3)
Power rankings are based on how teams are performing week to week, and the Hurricanes have been sloping downward since their loss to Pittsburgh. Despite the rough ending, it was Miami’s first 10-win season since 2003, so while they’re not officially “back”, Mark Richt is leading this team in the right direction.
- Mississippi State Bulldogs (9-4)
The Bulldogs finished fourth in the SEC West with a 9-4 record after a bowl win against Louisville—look for that record to improve next season with Nick Fitzgerald returning for his senior season.
- Stanford Cardinal (9-5)
Five losses in the power rankings? With wins over Washington and Notre Dame and a division crown, we’ll give it to them. After a narrow loss to the Trojans in the PAC 12 Championship, the Cardinal lost another heartbreaker in the Alamo Bowl. Bryce Love has yet to declare for the NFL draft.
- LSU Tigers (9-4)
Ed Orgeron has his work cut out for him when it comes to turning LSU back into a national powerhouse—after a Citrus Bowl loss to Notre Dame, running back Derrius Guice declared for the draft.
- Boise State Broncos (11-3)
Junior quarterback Brett Rypien should return for his senior season, and a Las Vegas Bowl win over Oregon gives the Broncos momentum heading into 2018.
- South Florida Bulls (10-2)
The Bulls were a fourth quarter-collapse away from ending UCF’s perfect season, but a win over Texas Tech in the Birmingham Bowl gets them to double digit wins on the season. They will have to find a way to replace Quinton Flowers next season.
- North Carolina State Wolfpack (9-4)
Moments away from taking down Clemson and earning a spot in the ACC Championship, call it a successful season for the Wolfpack after a dominating win in the Sun Bowl.
- South Carolina Gamecocks (9-4)
The lone team to beat the Big Ten in bowl season, South Carolina finished second in the SEC East, and will look to challenge Georgia in 2018.
- Washington State Cougars (9-4)
The PAC 12 was disgraceful in bowl season, finishing 1-8, and the Cougars’ loss was the worst of the bunch. Yes, Luke Falk was absent, but changes must be made heading into next season, as Falk will be in the NFL draft.
Stats courtesy of ESPN