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Ranking 133 college football teams after Week 13: Conference title clashes will tell all

The 2023 season comes down to conference championship weekend. We could have the simplest and most impressive College Football Playoff field in the 10-year history of the event, we could have complete chaos or we could have something in between, with a little bit of last-minute drama.

Michigan’s win against Ohio State moves the Wolverines up to No. 2 in this week’s rankings and leaves four undefeated Power 5 teams entering the weekend. If Georgia, Michigan, Washington and Florida State win, it’s an easy selection. But the SEC, Pac-12 and ACC games could be very competitive and see undefeated teams lose, giving the committee its hardest decisions since 2014.

Oregon still likely has the strongest case among one-loss teams. The Ducks were the top-ranked one-loss team by the committee last week, and if they beat Washington, they’ll avenge their only loss of the season. Oregon entered the week as a 9.5-point favorite on BetMGM. An Alabama win against Georgia would create the most chaos, but can you put the Crimson Tide ahead of a Texas team that won in Tuscaloosa?

It’s impossible to predict what the results will be and what the committee will do. Let’s just appreciate the most consequential conference championship weekend we’ve had in a long time.

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Behind the AP Top 25 ballot: Oregon-Washington making Pac-12 history and more takeaways

The regular season has come to a close, meaning teams with losing seasons have essentially locked in their final positions in these rankings, pending some small moves due to bowl games. But there can still be a lot of change in the upper half. Here is this week’s Athletic 133.

1-10

The only question in the top nine was where to place Ohio State, even though it may be ultimately irrelevant to the Playoff picture with the other one-loss teams playing in championship games. Here, the Buckeyes fall a few spots but remain as the top one-loss team because they have two good wins (Penn State, Notre Dame) plus a one-score loss to the No. 2 team. Oregon has dominated opponents in victory but has no wins over current top-20 teams and a one-score loss to No. 3 Washington. Texas beat Alabama and has a one-score loss to Oklahoma but doesn’t have a second top-25 win. Alabama, of course, lost to Texas and still has an ugly performance against USF on the resume to go with some good wins (Ole Miss, LSU).

All of those teams could jump Ohio State (and get into the CFP) if they win their conference championship games, and they’ll still likely finish in New Year’s Six games if they lose. Do I think Ohio State would beat those teams right now? Perhaps not. But we try to emphasize resume and head-to-head in these rankings.

The No. 9 and 10 spots are important for NY6 purposes. Ole Miss actually jumps Missouri here because of its wins against LSU and Tulane (though the Green Wave were playing with their backup QB). While Missouri played Georgia close, its best win was either Tennessee, Kansas State or Memphis, none of which are in my top 25, and the Tigers also lost to LSU, whom Ole Miss beat.

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Emerson: Georgia’s three-peat hopes depend on beating familiar nemesis

11-25

Rank Team Record Prev

11

10-2

14

12

10-2

12

13

9-3

13

14

9-3

15

15

10-2

9

16

9-3

17

17

11-1

20

18

12-0

22

19

11-1

21

20

9-3

18

21

8-4

16

22

9-3

23

23

10-2

24

24

11-1

25

25

10-2

26

Oklahoma slides up to No. 11 after beating TCU. Although No. 12 Penn State has better losses (Ohio State, Michigan), the Sooners have better wins (Texas, SMU, greater margin of victory against West Virginia), and it’s possible Oklahoma could get up to No. 10 if Texas wins the Big 12 and SMU wins the AAC. Louisville slides down to No. 15 after losing to Kentucky, one spot ahead of Notre Dame due to their head-to-head result.

Tulane beat UTSA and remains the top Group of 5 team at No. 17, ahead of a clash with No. 25 SMU. Liberty is 12-0, and the early-season win against now-10-win New Mexico State is a quality win. James Madison is 11-1 and going bowling, but it’s not eligible for the New Year’s Six. The big question is whether the CFP committee would put a two-loss AAC champion SMU over a potentially 13-0 Liberty.

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Sampson: Notre Dame’s largely successful season can’t represent a peak

26-50

Not much change in this group. Kansas State drops out of the top 25 after a loss to Iowa State. New Mexico State is up to No. 31 after beating Jacksonville State to move to 10-3. Kentucky’s win against Louisville moves the Wildcats up to No. 43, while No. 48 Northwestern and No. 49 Maryland move into the top 25 after wins against Illinois and Rutgers, respectively. Northwestern has the head-to-head over the Terps. No. 45 Iowa State beat Kansas State but stays behind 9-3 Ohio due to their head-to-head result. Appalachian State whipped Georgia Southern 55-27 to move up to No. 50 with five consecutive wins to close the regular season.

51-75

Georgia Tech slides up to No. 51 after battling Georgia to an eight-point loss. Cal jumps up to No. 55 after beating UCLA but remains behind Auburn due to the head-to-head. Fresno State drops to No. 61 after ending its regular season with losses to New Mexico and San Diego State, but the Bulldogs stay ahead of Boise State thanks to their head-to-head win. San Jose State moves up to No. 70 after beating UNLV and closing its regular season with six consecutive wins.

76-100

Colorado ended its season losing eight of its last nine games after a 3-0 start, and Deion Sanders’ group sits at No. 79. Bowling Green rises to No. 83 after beating Western Michigan and winning five of its last six games, with the lone loss against Toledo. No. 87 USF got to 6-6 after beating Charlotte 48-14, and Alex Golesh put together one of the most impressive seasons for a first-year coach this season. Old Dominion beat Georgia State at the buzzer to finish 6-6 and move up to No. 88. The Monarchs played 10 one-score games this season. Utah State beat New Mexico in double-overtime and Louisiana beat ULM, as both got to bowl eligibility.

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Feldman’s candidates to replace Dana Holgorsen at Houston

101-133

No. 103 Northern Illinois and No. 106 Eastern Michigan both won to get to bowl eligibility, but EMU remains behind Western Michigan and Central Michigan due to losses against both. Vanderbilt finishes as the lowest-ranked Power 5 team at No. 114; Baylor is the next closest at No. 109. Sam Houston closed its season with a walk-off field goal against Middle Tennessee, winning three of its last four games after an 0-8 start. UConn won its final two games against Sacred Heart and UMass to move up to No. 120. Tulsa’s win against East Carolina sees the Golden Hurricane finish at No. 125 and the Pirates finish at No. 128. Kent State finishes as No. 133, having gone 0-11 against FBS competition.

The Athletic 133 Rankings series is part of a partnership with AllState.

The Athletic maintains full editorial independence. Partners have no control over or input into the reporting or editing process and do not review stories before publication.

(Photo: Steph Chambers / Getty Images)