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ESPN 2023 College Football Power Rankings after Week 12


The unbeatens at the top of the Power Rankings remained unbeaten after Week 12, but while Georgia, Ohio State and Florida State won handily, Michigan and Washington both eked out wins.

And with “The Game” between Michigan and Ohio State on tap next week, something has to give. Michigan, without suspended coach Jim Harbaugh this week and next, struggled mightily but pulled out the win at Maryland while Ohio State was fine-tuning its game in a rout of Minnesota.

Georgia had its way with Tennessee to remain atop the Power Rankings, Florida State impressed despite losing QB Jordan Travis to injury in the first quarter and Oregon and quarterback Bo Nix can’t be counted out after Saturday’s blowout win.

Here’s how the power rankings play out after Week 12’s results:

Winning streaks aren’t big on Kirby Smart’s radar right now, even tying one that has stood for decades. Georgia romped past Tennessee for a 38-10 victory in Neyland Stadium, tying the SEC record for the longest winning streak. The Dawgs have won 28 in a row, matching Alabama’s record from 1978 to 1980 and 1991 to 1993. Smart said there will be a time to celebrate such accomplishments, but now’s not that time. Either way, his Bulldogs (11-0, 8-0) are playing their best football of the season with back-to-back blowout victories over nationally ranked teams. Quarterback Carson Beck is playing lights out, as well. He was 24-of-30 for 298 yards and three touchdowns against the Vols. — Chris Low

Up next: at Georgia Tech (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

The Wolverines endured more true adversity in the second game of coach Jim Harbaugh’s Big Ten-imposed suspension than the first. They had some key injuries and errors and clung to a one-score lead for most of the second half. But the defense stood tall, as Mike Sainristil continued his All-American-caliber season with two interceptions, and five defenders contributed to the team’s four sacks. Michigan also stood out on special teams, which helped a sluggish offense. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy threw his first interception since Week 3 and likely will need to be much sharper next week against Ohio State. Under challenging circumstances, Michigan recorded its 1,000th win in program history and back-to-back 11-0 starts for the first time since 1901 and 1902. — Adam Rittenberg

Up next: vs. Ohio State (noon ET, FOX)

The Buckeyes cruised past Minnesota 37-3 in their penultimate game of the regular season. Running back TreVeyon Henderson saw success on the ground, rushing for 146 yards and two touchdowns, including a 75-yarder. Quarterback Kyle McCord threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns, but it was the defense that shut down the Gophers. The Buckeyes created two turnovers, including a fumble recovery by JT Tuimoloau that likely would’ve been a touchdown had it not been for his teammate, Jordan Hancock, accidentally running into him. Ohio State was able to take care of business on both sides of the ball and now will take on Michigan on the road in a battle of two undefeated teams. — VanHaaren

Up next: at Michigan (noon ET, FOX)

Despite having won each of their past six games by fewer than 10 points, the Huskies just keep winning. Kalen DeBoer’s team knew it was in for a fight against a tough Oregon State team looking to ruin an undefeated season, but Washington did just enough to pull out a 22-20 win in Corvallis. It was a relative off night for Michael Penix Jr., who completed 13 of his 18 passes and only threw for 162 yards, but his two touchdowns and a rushing touchdown fueled the victory while Washington’s defense did enough to hold the Beavers to 20 points and stop them on a potential winning drive late in the fourth quarter. — Paolo Uggetti

Up next: vs. Washington State (4 p.m. ET, FOX)

The only thing that is top of mind for Florida State right now is the status of quarterback Jordan Travis, who went down with what appeared to be a serious leg injury in the first quarter of a 58-13 win over North Alabama. Travis’ ankle bent awkwardly underneath him at the end of a run, and he had an Aircast placed on his leg before he was carted off, placed in an ambulance and taken to the local hospital. Tate Rodemaker came into the game and threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns, and now the offense will be his for the foreseeable future with College Football Playoff hopes at stake. Florida State finishes at rival Florida, then has Louisville in the ACC championship game. — Andrea Adelson

Up next: at Florida (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Make that five straight convincing victories for the Ducks since their heartbreaker at Husky Stadium. This one, a 49-13 win against Arizona State, put quarterback Bo Nix on display as he bolstered his Heisman Trophy campaign. Nix finished 24-of-29 passing for 404 yards with six touchdown passes. The win sets up a spicy rivalry game next week against Oregon State, which is looking for its first back-to-back 10-win seasons in school history. The Ducks have the look of a team no one would want to see in a bowl game, and if they can play their way into the College Football Playoff, this is a team that is capable of winning it all. — Kyle Bonagura

Up next: vs. Oregon State, Friday (8:30 p.m. ET, FOX)

It was pretty much a guarantee that, even if Texas survived its last conference road trip to Ames with its Big 12 lead intact, the Longhorns wouldn’t enjoy it very much. They most certainly did not. But after they led just 6-3 at halftime and watched Iowa State score twice after they thought they had put the game away, the Horns got a 42-yard field goal from Bert Auburn and a late fourth-down stop to put away a 26-16 win. Quinn Ewers threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns, and C.J. Baxter, starting for the injured Jonathon Brooks, rushed for 117 yards. Texas all but clinched a spot in the Big 12 championship game, but now it needs a home win over Texas Tech to stay alive in the CFP race. — Connelly

Up next: vs. Texas Tech, Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Even if it’s SoCon Saturday, you can still execute well or poorly. Safe to say, Alabama executed rather well in a 66-10 win over Chattanooga. Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide outgained the Mocs by a 234-13 margin in the first quarter to set the tone, and quarterback Jalen Milroe was done by halftime after going 13-for-16 for 197 yards and three touchdowns. Backup Ty Simpson ripped off a 78-yard run to go with 50 passing yards in garbage time, and perhaps best of all, the defense suffered a couple of glitches — a 40-yard touchdown run, a 54-yard pass — that Saban can yell about in film study. Bama has won nine games in a row since the Week 2 loss to Texas, and now it’s off to the Plains for Iron Bowl No. 88. — Connelly

Up next: at Auburn (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Coach Jeff Brohm led his hometown Cardinals to the ACC championship game in his first year as head coach with a 38-31 victory against Miami that showcased more than just their powerful run game. Miami slowed down backs Isaac Guerendo and Jawhar Jordan (still hobbled with injury), so the Cards turned to quarterback Jack Plummer and their tight ends. Nate Kurisky had a team-high five catches for 50 yards and a score, and Joey Gatewood had three catches for 51 yards. Plummer even threw a pass for offensive lineman Trevonte Sylvester on a tackle eligible play. In all, Plummer passed for 308 yards, and the Louisville defense made a crucial stop on fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line with 1:30 left, and then again tackled Xavier Restrepo just short of a goal line on a Miami Hail Mary. — Andrea Adelson

Up next: vs. Kentucky (noon ET, ABC)

It speaks volumes about this Missouri team that on a night in which it couldn’t find its footing for most of the game, it still found a way to beat Florida at home and keep the hope of a 10-win regular season alive. Forget the offensive miscues. Forget the missed assignments on defense. Just when it looked like Florida would pull off the upset — down one, on fourth-and-17 with 38 seconds left — Tigers’ quarterback Brady Cook went to work, hitting Luther Burden III for a 37-yard gain and then finding Mekhi Miller for 11 yards and Mookie Cooper for 16 to set up the winning field goal from Harrison Mevis. Beat Arkansas on the road next week, and the Tigers will have 10 wins and a shot at a New Years Six bowl game. — Alex Scarborough

Up next: at Arkansas, Friday (4 p.m. ET, CBS)

Humbled by the two-time defending national champions last week in Athens, Georgia, Lane Kiffin’s team got back on track with a 35-3 drubbing of UL-Monroe. Quarterback Jaxson Dart (24-of-31 passing for 310 yards and three touchdowns) put his season-low night (112 passing yards) against the Bulldogs behind him in pacing a Rebels offense that racked up 498 total yards. Dayton Wade caught a team-high seven passes for 108 yards and a score, with Jordan Watkins and Caden Prieskorn not too far behind with six receptions apiece. Wade, Prieskorn and Tre Harris all found the end zone through the air as Dart went over the 300-yard passing mark for the fourth time this season. A third victory in four years over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving night would give Ole Miss its second 10-win regular season under Kiffin in four years. — Blake Baumgartner

Up next: at Mississippi State, Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

The Sooners survived a trip to Provo, overcoming the loss of quarterback Dillon Gabriel to what coach Brent Venables said was an upper body injury, and getting a big boost from Billy Bowman Jr., whose third-quarter interception and subsequent 100-yard return for a touchdown gave OU a 24-17 lead. Freshman Jackson Arnold took over after halftime when Gabriel didn’t return, completing 5 of 9 passes for 33 yards and rushing eight times for 24 yards. Gavin Sawchuk had his third straight 100-yard game, rushing for 107 on 14 carries with a 16-yard TD run in the fourth quarter that proved to be the game-clincher in the 31-24 win against BYU. Most importantly, the Sooners stayed alive in the Big 12 race thanks to a defense that forced three turnovers leading to 14 points. — Dave Wilson

Up next: vs. TCU, Friday (noon ET, FOX)

A coordinator change isn’t going to solve Penn State’s offensive woes, although backup quarterback Beau Pribula‘s legs can help, as he recorded a game-high 71 rushing yards and a touchdown against Rutgers. Starter Drew Allar struggled again (6-of-13 passing, 79 yards), but Pribula and Penn State’s run game came through in a low-possession game. Kaytron Allen had his first multi-touchdown performance of the season. The Lions’ defense was stifling again, holding Rutgers to 229 yards and only two field goals. Defensive end Chop Robinson and linebacker Kalen King led the defensive effort, which included three sacks, seven tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and an interception. — Rittenberg

Up next: at Michigan State, Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

Say what you want about the LSU defense — and really, there’s not a lot good to say about that side of the ball — but don’t let it distract from an offense that’s putting up ridiculous numbers and a quarterback who’s on his way to New York as a surefire Heisman Trophy finalist. Jayden Daniels racked up five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) by the time he left the field Saturday night during a blowout win over Georgia State — and that was only for a halftime break. He threw for two more touchdowns and ran for another score in the second half. The Tigers will look to beat Texas A&M at home next Saturday and set up a potential 10-win season. — Scarborough

Up next: vs. Texas A&M (noon ET, ESPN)

Had it not been for a four-turnover performance in September that led to an overtime loss against Mississippi State and a blown 17-point lead against USC, the Wildcats would be in the thick of the College Football Playoff race. The margins between a good and great season can be haunting. Arizona’s 42-18 win against Utah was its fifth straight and perhaps the most convincing of coach Jedd Fisch’s tenure in Tucson. The Wildcats’ rise will surely lead to Fisch’s name being mentioned in openings elsewhere as the coaching carousel continues to spin. Arizona looks destined for the Alamo Bowl, which would be one of the program’s best bowl destinations. — Bonagura

Up next: at Arizona State (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

On paper, the Beavers did enough to hand the Huskies their first loss of the season. They ran the ball well (123 yards and two touchdowns by Damien Martinez) and their defense held an explosive Washington offense to only 22 points and 272 yards. But in the end, two interceptions and zero touchdowns by quarterback DJ Uiagaleilei plus only three points in the final quarter were not going to be enough to pull off the upset. While the Pac-12 title may no longer be a possibility for the Beavers, they get another chance to play spoiler next week against in-state rival Oregon. — Uggetti

Up next: at Oregon, Friday (8:30 p.m. ET, FOX)

Tulane shocked many with its thrilling Cotton Bowl win against USC back in January. The Green Wave are looking to possibly return to the New Year’s Six for a second straight season with a second consecutive 10-win campaign under Willie Fritz now in the books — the first time that’s happened in program history. Quarterback Michael Pratt, who set Tulane’s career passing record with 9,240 yards, found seven different receivers on the way to putting together an efficient afternoon (21-of-28 passing for 252 yards and three TDs) as Tulane beat Florida Atlantic 24-8 to extend its winning streak to nine. Chris Brazzell II was Pratt’s main target, catching a career-high seven passes for a career best-tying 103 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Makhi Hughes (72 rushing yards on 21 carries) — the AAC’s leading rusher coming into Saturday — saw his consecutive 100-yard game streak end at six, while the Green Wave’s defense held the Owls to 32 rushing yards and sacked Daniel Richardson five times. — Baumgartner

Up next: vs. UTSA (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Wake Forest threw everything it could think of at the wall to revive its offense and scare Notre Dame in South Bend. It didn’t work. The Demon Deacons gained 135 yards on two first-half drives, but just 97 yards the rest of the game. Meanwhile, former Wake quarterback Sam Hartman threw for 277 yards and four touchdowns (to four different receivers), and the Irish cruised 45-7. They moved on from the disappointment of their road loss to Clemson and moved to 8-3. With a (very likely) win at Stanford and a bowl victory, they would finish 10-3 — a slight disappointment compared to their top-10 aspirations, but a one-win improvement over Marcus Freeman‘s first season in charge. — Connelly

Up next: at Stanford (7 p.m. ET, PAC12)

The Hawkeyes earned a trip to the Big Ten championship game by winning the West division, but it wasn’t easy. They trailed Illinois 10-9 at halftime and were down 13-9 late in the fourth quarter but scored with 4:43 left on a 30-yard run from Kaleb Johnson. The extra-point attempt was blocked, but Iowa’s defense held off the Fighting Illini to secure the win. It hasn’t been a pretty season offensively for Iowa, but the team has a shot at a conference championship and, if it wins out, would end up with an 11-win season. — VanHaaren

Up next: at Nebraska, Friday (noon ET, CBS)

The Wildcats won their 15th straight in the Sunflower Showdown in Lawrence against Kansas, rallying from 11 points down to pull ahead with about 10 minutes left and holding on down the stretch. Will Howard finished 13-of-24 for 165 yards and two TDs with one interception and ran 15 yards for the go-ahead score early in the fourth quarter, then the defense intercepted KU’s Cole Ballard in the end zone on fourth down with 5:36 left. D.J. Giddens added 102 yards and two touchdowns rushing, helping the Wildcats keep their Big 12 title game chances alive as Iowa State visits next week. — Wilson

Up next: vs. Iowa State

The Liberty train keeps rolling and is now a victory away from the program’s first undefeated regular season in its 50-year history, as coach Jamey Chadwell has picked up where Hugh Freeze left off. The Flames’ offense scored touchdowns on their first five possessions on the way to punishing the UMass Minutemen to the tune of 549 total yards in a 49-25 win. Quarterback Kaidon Salter accounted for 343 total yards (225 passing), four touchdowns (two rushing) and one interception. Salter (118 yards), Quinton Cooley (102 yards) and Billy Lucas (37 yards) all ran for touchdowns as the nation’s top running game churned out 324 yards — the fifth time this season it has eclipsed the 300-yard mark rushing. Safety Preston Hodge’s 62-yard interception return for a score was one of three turnovers Liberty forced, leading to 14 points. — Baumgartner

Up next: at UTEP (3:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)

In a week in which “College GameDay” came to town and the NCAA again denied James Madison’s appeal to become bowl eligible as it continues to make its two-year transition to FBS, Appalachian State ruined the Dukes’ party with a 26-23 overtime upset. The Mountaineers handed the Dukes their first loss of the season on Joey Aguilar’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Kaedin Robinson in OT. Dukes’ quarterback Jordan McCloud, who was sacked five times, did his best to rally his team with their rushing game held to 61 yards. In the fourth quarter, McCloud (27-of-46 passing for 289 yards with a touchdown and an interception) ran for a 6-yard score and then threw an 11-yard TD pass and an ensuing two-point conversion — both to wide receiver Elijah Sarratt (eight receptions for 128 yards and a TD) — to erase James Madison’s 12-point deficit with 57 seconds left in regulation. Sarratt went over the 100-yard receiving mark for the third time in the past four games. — Baumgartner

Up next: at Coastal Carolina (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Mike Gundy’s 19th OSU team is flawed, frustrating … and relentless. After last week’s shocking blowout loss to UCF, the Cowboys went down to Houston and fell behind 23-9 late in the second quarter. But they scored 10 points in the final 90 seconds of the first half, then dominated the second half on the way to a 43-30 win. Alan Bowman threw an early pick-six but finished with 348 passing yards and two touchdowns (to his team), and after rushing for just 38 yards in the first half, the nation’s leading rusher Ollie Gordon II gained for 126 in the second. For all its mistakes, OSU usually ends up finding some pretty good answers. And because of that, it’s one more win away from the Big 12 championship game. — Connelly

Up next: vs. BYU (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

It’s been a forgettable two-week stretch for the Vols, who were blown out 38-10 at home Saturday by Georgia, a week after losing 36-7 on the road to Missouri. Tennessee (7-4, 3-4) had its 14-game home winning streak snapped, and after a 75-yard touchdown run by Jaylen Wright on the first play from scrimmage, the Vols managed just 202 yards the rest of the way. Tennessee has been beset with injuries, had to play two new offensive tackles and was missing starting safety Wesley Walker, who was out with an injury. Tennessee was just 2-of-11 on third down and couldn’t stop Georgia on third down. The Bulldogs were 9-of-13 on third down. The Vols now have lost seven in a row to the Dawgs and 12 of the past 14 in the series. — Low

Up next: vs. Vanderbilt (3:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network)

Toledo found itself down 28-10 to Bowling Green at halftime but outscored the Falcons 22-3 from there to give the Rockets their 10th win. The game was in doubt until the final minutes when Jacquez Stuart took a pass 59 yards for a touchdown that ultimately put Toledo ahead. Toledo quarterback Dequan Finn finished the game with 279 yards and two touchdowns, and running back Peny Boone had 131 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. The win puts Toledo at 10-1 on the season and 7-0 in conference play. — VanHaaren

Up next: at Central Michigan (noon ET, ESPNU)

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