Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/16/14
The National Championship is half set, but will Notre Dame face off against the Alabama Crimson Tide or the Georgia Bulldogs? (left to right: AP/ Dill, Ledger-Enquirer/ Cabell)   Tailgater Top 25 Rankings, Week 13 Though a handful of games remain, the regular season is essentially over.  Two teams weathered their schedules and finished with perfect results– Notre Dame, which will be playing for the National Championship, and Ohio State.  The Buckeyes’ season is well and truly over, as they are inelgible for the Big Ten Championship and a bowl game, but of the two 12-0 campaigns their was probably a bit better.  Ohio State enjoyed a favorable schedule and a weak Big Ten, and could well have fallen to Purdue and/or Michigan State if a couple of plays had gone differently.  However, the Irish needed their trademark luck to get through 2012 unscathed. A blown call awarded Notre Dame a 20-13 win over Stanford in overtime; in fact, the game should have been 20-19 pending an extra point attempt.  Then against Pitt, the Irish saw so many unforced errors by the Panthers that they barely needed to take the field to win.  Given enough time, Pittsburgh would almost certainly have beaten itself literally in addition to proverbially.  A missed field goal on a very makeable kick was the most glaring example, but beyond that flub, the Irish did nothing to actually win the game.  Like OSU, Notre Dame also stumbled badly against Purdue, eking out a 20-17 win.  And of course, BYU nearly pulled off the upset in South Bend. So forgive me if I’m not all that sanguine about ND’s chances in the title game.  Whether they play Alabama or Georgia, they’re likely to be beaten relatively easily.  If not throttled.  Still, 12-0 is 12-0 and they obviously deserve credit for winning the close ones and getting crucial road victories in Norman and Los Angeles. Speaking of Norman and the Oklahoma Sooners, if a coach decided to actually preach defense in the Big 12, it seems like his program would have quite an advantage as that league seems to only play on one side of the ball.  Kansas State has a week 14 matchup against Texas, and if successful, the Wildcats will go to the BCS. Other BCS slots: Stanford or UCLA from the Pac 12 (if week 13 was any indication, the Cardinal will be Rose Bowling), Nebraska or a five-loss Wisconsin team from the Big Ten (pathetic), Florida State or .500 Georgia Tech from the ACC (also pathetic), and some clowns from the Big East, whomever they may be.  Looking at the likely winners of these decided contests, it’s safe to say that the at-large teams will be, on the whole, superior to the automatic qualifiers. Here are our updated college football rankings for week 13. Zach Bigalke John Mitchell Matt Strobl 1. Notre Dame 2. Ohio State 3. Oregon 4. Alabama 5. Georgia 6. Kansas State 7. Stanford 8. Texas A&M 9. Kent State 10. Florida 11. Northern Illinois 12. Oklahoma 13. Nebraska 14. LSU 15. Utah State 16. Northwestern 17. Boise State 18. Florida State 19. Oregon State 20. UCLA 21. Rutgers 22. South Carolina 23. Louisville 24. Clemson 25. San Jose State 1. Notre Dame 2. Alabama 3. Ohio State 4. Georgia 5. Florida 6. Oregon 7. Kansas State 8. LSU 9. Stanford 10. Texas A&M 11. South Carolina 12. Florida State 13. Oklahoma 14.Nebraska 15. Clemson 16. UCLA 17. Oregon State 18. Kent State 19. Utah State 20. Northern Illinois 21. Northwestern 22.Michigan 23. Vanderbilt 24. Texas 25. San Jose State 1. Ohio State 2. Alabama 3. Notre Dame 4. Oregon 5. Georgia 6. Kansas State 7. Florida 8. LSU 9. Texas A&M 10. Stanford 11. South Carolina 12. Florida State 13. Clemson 14. Nebraska  15. Kent State 16. Oklahoma 17. Oregon State 18. UCLA  19. Utah State 20. San Jose State 21. Northern Illinois 22. Oklahoma State 23. Vanderbilt  24. Michigan 25. Northwestern Bigalke: 1-10: My top six didn’t alter from last week’s ballot. Notre Dame and Ohio State stay 1-2 after becoming the only two teams in 2012 to finish the regular season undefeated. Oregon’s win over an 8-2 rival was way more impressive than Alabama beating 3-8 Auburn, keeping the Ducks at #3. On the same note, Stanford’s win over UCLA was more impressive than A&M beating Mizzou… thus the Cardinal moved up to #7, with the Aggies now #8. Losses by ACC leaders Florida State and Clemson knocked the league from the top ten, giving Kent State and Florida the last two slots on my ballot.   11-20: Northern Illinois will have its shot against Kent State next Friday for the MAC championship and heads up the middle ten of my ballot. Former Big 8 rivals Oklahoma and Nebraska are #12 and #13, followed by LSU; all three survived flat outings on Thanksgiving weekend. Utah State claimed the final WAC championship outright. Northwestern is the second-best (eligible) team in the Big Ten, and Boise State is still flirting with the BCS despite two losses. Dropping to 18-20 were three losers from Saturday — Florida State, Oregon State and UCLA all fell to higher-ranked foes.   21-25: Oh, Big East… it’s like you WANT a BCS Buster to emerge from the non-AQ leagues this year. Both Rutgers (#21) and Louisville (#23) fell to teams that had no business beating them on Saturday. Slotted in between is South Carolina, who knocked off Clemson in the ACC/SEC showdown for the Palmetto State and became the sixth SEC team on this ballot. Clemson dropped to #24 after the loss. Claiming the final spot is San Jose State, long an also-ran but a ten-win team this season as they prepare to head to the Mountain West next season.   Mitchell: 1-10: A small change at the top this week with Alabama jumping Ohio State for the #2 spot. Yes, the Buckeyes are undefeated, but I believe Alabama’s resume is better and a one loss SEC Champion should be ahead of the best Big Ten team this year, in my mind. That means that Georgia, sitting at 4th, would jump to 2 if they beat Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Florida jumps Oregon for the #5 spot this week after going on the road and knocking off Florida State. The Gators arguably have the best resume of any one loss team with wins over Texas A&M, LSU, South Carolina, and Florida State. No disrespect to Oregon, who I really like, but the best win on their resume is over Oregon State. Stanford moves into the Top-10 after another impressive performance, bookended by two more SEC teams in LSU and Texas A&M.   11-20: South Carolina beat Clemson with their backup QB, and now they are right on the edge of the Top-10. Florida State only falls to 12 more because of there being no other worthy teams, not for anything they have done. Same thing goes for Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Clemson. UCLA and Oregon State are at 16 and 17. The Bruins get another crack at Stanford this week with the Rose Bowl on the line. Kent State sits at 18th, and are looking good for a berth in the BCS if UCLA and Texas lose next week despite the fact that 2-10 Kentucky beat them by 33. Utah State and Northern Illinois round out the Top-20 with outside hopes of busting the BCS.   21-25:I have zero Big East teams this week after bad performances from Louisville and Rutgers against alsorans UConn and Pittsburgh. I rewarded both Northwestern and Vanderbilt for nice seasons. The Wildcats finished 9-3, and James Franklin led the Commodores to an 8-4 mark that included six consecutive victories to end the regular season. Texas stays in at 24, beating out Oklahoma State due to the head-to-head performance. San Jose State rounds out the Top-25 after knocking off Louisiana Tech, who I thought at one time was the best non-AQ team in the country.   Strobl: 1-10: Notre Dame survives a Max Wittek-led USC team to secure a title berth, but will the Irish face Alabama or Georgia?  Either way, I just can’t bring myself to rank Notre Dame first.  Not with the season the Irish have put together.  I struggled with the question of Bama versus Ohio State; the Buckeyes certainly aren’t best team in the country, but the Tide do have that loss…in the end, I went with the homer pick, because what else does OSU have this year if not my vote?  The best of the rest include UGA and Florida, LSU, A&M, and Stanford, along with one-loss Oregon and Kansas State still in the BCS mix as an at large and Big 12 Champion rep, respectively.   11-20: South Carolina misses my top 10 by the thinnest of margins, but that win over Clemson was certainly impressive.  The Tigers, meanwhile, continue their string of disappointing finishes but remain solidly in the middle of my rankings.  Florida State fell to Florida; the Seminoles offense was exposed, and this time they couldn’t squeak out a win over a weaker opponent.  Nebraska ended on a high note and gets Wisconsin to determine a Rose Bowl berth.  Oklahoma survived Bedlam somehow, but needed overtime to do it and still can’t play defense.  Oregon State and UCLA lost, but could only fall so far given the big picture.  And congratulations to a pair of WAC teams looking better every week; Utah State and San Jose State are worthy of their spots.   21-25: I struggled with whether or not to include a number of teams.  Rutger, Boise State, and Penn State in particular deserved a lot of consideration.  But I couldn’t decide which of those to exclude and therefore left them all out.  Rutgers and Boise State lack a signature win and PSU losses to Ohio and UVA, though early in the year, still hurt the Lions.  I do think it’s worth noting Penn State’s 8-4 finish, given the problems that the team faced.  In the end, I went with Northwestern despite the overtime loss to Michigan because that win against Vandy looks strong among Big Ten teams’ non-conference victories.  I also included Vanderbilt because, aside from the road loss in Evanston, the Commodores fell only to South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.  All top 10 teams in my book. 

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