Notre Dame virtually assured they will remain the #1 team in the Leatherheads College Football Top 16 when the regular season comes to a close this weekend (well, not counting Army-Navy). Their fourth quarter goal-line stand versus the disappointing USC Trojans secured a 22-13 victory, their 12th against zero losses, and a spot in the BCS title game on January 7.
#2 Alabama had an easier time with their rivalry weekend matchup, shutting out longstanding rival Auburn 49-0 and setting up their SEC championship and BCS semi-final showdown with #4 Georgia. The Bulldogs had little difficulty knocking off their interstate “rival” Georgia Tech in a 42-10 victory.
#3 Ohio State finished their undefeated season by holding Michigan scoreless in the second half of a 26-21 win. Unfortunately, the Buckeyes likely have zero chance to win the national championship as they’ll sit out the Big Ten championship and bowl season due to their NCAA probation status.
#5 Oregon staked their too-little-too-late case for inclusion in the BCS title game by proving Oregon State an inferior rival in their 48-24 Civil War triumph. The loss drops Oregon State out of the Leatherheads Top 16, but the Beavers’ season remains one of the biggest surprises in major college football this year.
Speaking of “too little too late,” #6 Florida outscored then #8 Florida State 24-6 in the 4th quarter of their battle for Sunshine State supremacy. The 37-26 Gators win is their fourth this season versus teams in the Leatherheads Top 16, but their one loss–to #4 Georgia–remains their season-defining moment, costing them a shot at Alabama in the SEC championship and a chance to play in the BCS title game. At #13 following the loss, FSU ranks the worst of those four impressive victories.
In other action, Texas A&M climbs from #9 to #7 on the strength of a 59-29 win over Missouri; LSU jumps from #10 to #9 after a too-close-for-comfort 20-13 decision versus Arkansas; Stanford earns a spot in our top 10 and in the Pac-12 championship with an impressive 35-17 defeat of UCLA; South Carolina (up from #13 to #11) practically swaps places with Clemson (down from #11 to #15) with their 27-17 road victory over the Tigers; #12 Oklahoma pulled out a 51-48 overtime win over Oklahoma State; and #14 Nebraska advanced to the Big Ten title game–versus a Wisconsin team who finished 4-4 in the conference, but is the benefactor of Ohio State and Penn State being on probation–with a 13-7 squeaker over Iowa.
Last, but certainly not least, 11-1 Kent State joins the ranks of the Leatherheads Top 16, but will have to defeat Northern Illinois in Friday night’s Mid-American Conference championship, as the 11-1 Huskies sit poised to wrest that spot away from the Golden Flashes.
While most of college football’s eyes will be focused on Alabama-Georgia in the SEC championship in Atlanta, there’s still a lot of important action this weekend, heading into bowl season. Other games not previously mentioned that could affect the poll’s standings include Texas at #8 Kansas State, #12 Oklahoma at TCU, and #13 Florida State vs. Georgia Tech in the ACC championship.
|1||Notre Dame (10)||12-0||175||1|
|3||Ohio State (1)||12-0||148||3|
Others receiving votes: Northern Illinois – 3, Oregon State – 3, Boise State – 1, Michigan – 1, UCLA - 1, Utah State – 1.