We are down to a handful of College Football Playoff contenders. Whether Ohio State is one of them entering conference championship week s up for debate. The Buckeyes suffered one of their worst losses to Michigan in series history. They gotand were smoked with big plays. But who are you going to put in the top four if there is chaos at the top?
That's another way of saying Ohio State is a loss (or two) away from sneaking back into the playoff. Nobody said it was easy or made sense. But consider: If USC, currently 11-1, loses to Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game, who else would slide into the top four? At that point, the Buckeyes would be the only one-loss team in the country competing (in the room) against a two-loss USC that dropped its title game.
TCU could become one of those one-loss teams if it falls to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game. And our CFP expert Jerry Palm already believes the Horned Frogs are in the four-team field win or lose. Actually, the top three might be in regardless considering Georgia and Michigan are also undefeated.
Anyway, it's been a joy to shoot the Power Rankings at you each Monday. Let's take a look At the end of the regular season, it's time for some quick observations before we return following the CFP for our postseason Power Rankings.
Let's take a look at the final Power Rankings of the regular season.
|There's a story either way in the SEC Championship Game. Either Georgia wins as expected or the SEC champion (a three-loss LSU) is left out of the BCS/CFP for the first time since 2004.||--||15-0|
|Omen time: The last time Michigan finished 12-0 was 1997, the last time it won a national championship. For all those Michigan haters who call them elitists, consider the Wolverines were grittier and tougher at The Shoe.||2||13-1|
|The last time the Horned Frogs beat Iowa State this bad (62-14), TCU won by 52 in 2014 and dropped from third to sixth in the final CFP Rankings. Look it up, kids. Now one win away from first national championship shot since 1939.||--||13-2|
|Caleb Williams dropped a Heisman Trophy pose during a performance that just about wrapped up the award. Four more touchdowns against Notre Dame give him 44 for the season. Only a loss to Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game could derail Williams' trophy chances.||1||11-3|
|How bad was it? So bad that on one series, the Buckeyes faced a first-and-35. So bad C.J. Stroud will leave school without so much as a division title. The hurt will last until the next time Ohio State beats Michigan. Hoping like hell for a USC loss this week.||3||11-2|
|The Volunteers took their South Carolina frustrations out on Vanderbilt. Thirty players left the program when Josh Heupel transitioned as coach. Those who remained celebrated the first 10-win regular season since 2003.||3||11-2|
|It's hard to believe Bryce Young will leave school without winning a national title as a starter. Forget about sneaking in the back door of the playoff.||3||11-2|
|Is there a more dangerous team in a conference championship? The Wildcats finished fast winning three of their last four while allowing only 61 points. Beware TCU. The 'Cats are playing with house money. Win or lose, they are all but locked into the Sugar Bowl.||3||10-4|
|The Pac-12 Championship Game matchup was decided by the teams in the Apple Cup, neither of which who could actually play in the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Huskies prevailed for their first 10-win season since 2018.||3||11-2|
|A CFP run is out. An SEC title is not. Overall, a successful first regular season for Brian Kelly ended with a throttling at Texas A&M. The Tigers can become the SEC's first three-loss champion since 2001 (also LSU).||4||10-4|
|Entire civilizations have risen and fallen since the last time Tulane beat a ranked team, 1984. How Orwellian. So is this, Big Brother: The Green Wave will host the AAC title game after beating Cincinnati.||3||12-2|
|The turnovers. The comeback. The disappointment. Gone are the home win streak, a shot at the playoff and the air of invincibility that surrounded the Tigers. What a yawn of an ACC Championship Game.||5||11-3|
|Shane Beamer for president. Not of the University of South Carolina but of the whole dang country. First time in program history back-to-back wins over top 10 teams. The ceiling just got a lot higher for Beamer Ball.||7||8-5|
|The only smudges on a 10-win season were losses by a combined 37 points to Michigan and Ohio State. Make you feel any better? A major bowl looms.||1||11-2|
|Mike Norvell ended with as many SEC wins as Jimbo Fisher (both two). The future is bright and full of Florida taunting after the highest-scoring game (83 points) in the history of the rivalry.||3||10-3|
|The last three possessions ended with the Ducks failing to convert fourth downs against Oregon State. They led by 17 at Reser Stadium and somehow let it slip away. It cost Oregon a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game.||8||10-3|
|A bounce-back regular season ended with nine wins but fell short of raised expectations. Four players ran for at least 59 yards in a 300-yard performance against Cal. Where was that against USC?||2||9-4|
|It's a Las Vegas rematch as the Utes get a chance to sweep USC, wreck the Pac-12's playoff plans and keep their place as the league's best program. You don't agree? How about four Pac-12 title games in five years for the Utes?||1||10-4|
|Could Mike Leach have afforded a third straight Egg Bowl loss? The last two Bulldogs coach to achieve that distinction either resigned or were fired. Mississippi State heads for its 13th straight bowl.||NR||9-4|
|A rematch for the aged, I mean ages. The combined ages of the two AAC title game coaches is 119: Willie Fritz (62), Gus Malzahn (57). The winner most likely goes to the Cotton Bowl.||1||9-5|
|Jonathan Smith is a national coach of the year candidate after a Civil War win over Oregon. The nine wins are tied for the Beavers' most since 2006.||2||10-3|
|Season 1 for Marcus Freeman has to be deemed a success. After a debilitating 0-2 start, the Fighting Irish lost only to Stanford and USC while winning five in a row in the middle.||6||9-4|
|The Roadrunners sprinted toward the Conference USA title game by scoring the last 20 points against UTEP. A field goal with four seconds left made it 22 combined wins over the last two seasons.||2||11-3|
|If you had to use four quarterbacks this season, you'd be upset, too. Dave Doeren's postgame assertions after beating North Carolina were worth it. "They don't like us; we hate them," Doeren said. "We're blue collar; they're elitist. Their coaches talk down to us; they talk behind our backs in recruiting."||NR||8-5|
|A second consecutive New Year's Six bowl run fell short ... by a field goal to Tulane. The loss snapped a 32-game home winning streak for the Bearcats. Next stop, Big 12 (after the bowl game).||6||9-4|
Out: Ole Miss, North Carolina