This week’s Rahl Reviews Top 25 Rankings is a landmark edition for two reasons. These are our final rankings before Bowl Season kicks off. Our final top 25 for the year will be released immediately following the National Championship. Also, these rankings feature the debut of Brandon Wamsley’s contributions to Rahl Reviews & Rahl Bets! Welcome to the team!
As always, contact the Rahl Reviews sports staff on Twitter (@RahlBets) to give us any feedback or suggestions that you may have regarding our Top 25! We look forward to hearing your remarks! Enjoy!
-BH = Brock Hartley
-BW = Brandon Wamsley
1. ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (11-0) CFP RANK: 1
Alabama is once again the SEC Champion and hold the #1 spot in the CFP Rankings. QB Mac Jones made his final case for the Heisman trophy in the SEC title game, and it was a solid one. He outdueled his Florida counterpart and Heisman competition, Kyle Trask by throwing for 418 yards and 5 TDs, compared to Trask’s 408 yards and 3 TDs. Unlike Trask, Jones did add a pick to his stat line. He did get the win, however, which is more important. WR Devonta Smith also made his final push for the Heisman with a whopping 15 receptions for 184 yards and 2 TDs. While Smith is a lock for the Biletnikoff Award (best WR in the nation), he may be a bit of a dark horse for the Heisman, as a WR has not won the award since 1991. The Tide now look ahead to their playoff game against #4 Notre Dame.
BOWL GAME: 1/1 vs #4 Notre Dame (CFP Semi-final: Rose Bowl)
2. CLEMSON TIGERS (10-1) CFP RANK: 2
I posed the question of what kind of difference QB Trevor Lawrence would make in this rematch, and while he was not the only player who missed the first meeting in South Bend, he was by far the biggest difference maker. After losing to Notre Dame in the regular season, Clemson absolutely throttled them in the ACC Championship Game. Lawrence would throw for 322 yards and 2 TDs, while also adding a rushing TD, on the way to a 34-10 victory over the Irish. This was Clemson’s 6th straight conference title. They will now play in the playoff for a 6th straight year when they take on #3 Ohio State.
BOWL GAME: 1/1 vs #3 Ohio State (CFP Semi-final: Sugar Bowl)
3. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (6-0) CFP RANK: 3
It took them a little while to get going, but the Buckeyes took their 4th straight Big Ten title on Saturday when they defeated #14 Northwestern. The Buckeyes trailed 10-6 with 3 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, a position they do not often find themselves in, but Ryan Day’s squad would go on to score 16 2nd half points on their way to a 22-10 win. Transfer RB Trey Sermon had a career-game as he rattled off 331 yards and 2 TDs. They will now try to get past #2 Clemson in the National Semifinal.
BOWL GAME: 1/1 vs #2 Clemson (CFP Semi-final: Sugar Bowl)
4. NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (10-1) CFP RANK: 4
The Irish just could not keep up with a Clemson team who had revenge on their minds. With a chance to win the ACC Championship, Notre Dame fell flat. They were smothered on offense and could not limit the explosiveness of QB Trevor Lawrence and RB Travis Etienne. After getting thrashed by Clemson, Notre Dame faces an arguably tougher test when they meet #1 Alabama in the playoff.
BOWL GAME: 1/1 vs #1 Alabama (CFP Semi-final: Rose Bowl)
5. TEXAS A&M AGGIES (8-1) CFP RANK: 5
Head coach Jimbo Fisher said Saturday that his team is one of the top 4 in the country. The Selection Committee did not agree. The Aggies remain at #5 in the CFP Rankings. They will now face #14 North Carolina in the Orange Bowl.
BOWL GAME: 1/2 vs #14 North Carolina (Orange Bowl)
6. CINCINNATI BEARCATS (9-0) CFP RANK: 8
The discounted Bearcats only moved up 1 spot in the Selection Committee’s rankings after winning the AAC. Cincinnati did receive an NY6 bid and will try to demonstrate that the Committee made a mistake not putting them in the playoff when they face #11 Georgia in the Peach Bowl.
BOWL GAME: 1/1 vs #11 Georgia (Peach Bowl)
7. OKLAHOMA SOONERS (8-2) CFP RANK: 6
Winning the Big 12 gave the Sooners a nice bump up in the rankings. The Sooners and QB Spencer Rattler will look to finish his first season as a starter in winning fashion against #10 Florida.
BOWL GAME: 12/30 vs #10 Florida (Cotton Bowl)
8. INDIANA HOOSIERS (6-1) CFP RANK: 11
Indiana will once again be playing football in January. A surprising, momentum building season for the Hoosiers will come to an end when they take on Lane Kiffin’s Mississippi team in the Outback Bowl.
BOWL GAME: 1/2 vs Mississippi (Outback Bowl)
9. COASTAL CAROLINA CHANTICLEERS (11-0) CFP RANK: 12
Snub. City. I don’t even know where to begin. The Chanticleers were overlooked by the Selection Committee every step of the way. They may be the best G5 team in the country. They certainly have better wins than Cincinnati. Yet the undefeated Chanticleers weren’t even granted an NY6 bowl. The truly sickening part is that three 3-loss teams will be playing in NY6 games (Iowa State, Florida, North Carolina). It gets worse. Coastal Carolina and Iowa State had a common opponent this year. They both played Louisiana. The results of those games? Coastal Carolina won by 3 on the road. Iowa State lost by 17 at home. Yet Iowa State will be playing in the Fiesta Bowl, while Coastal will be playing the Cure Bowl… against Liberty. They couldn’t even give Coastal the opportunity to defeat another respectable P5 team. Disgusting.
BOWL GAME: 12/26 vs #23 Liberty (Cure Bowl)
10. FLORIDA GATORS (8-3) CFP RANK: 7
Florida kept the SEC title game a little closer than many anticipated. They were a few big plays away from being SEC Champions. It was an admirable performance. The Gators now look ahead to the Cotton Bowl where they will face #7 Oklahoma.
BOWL GAME: 12/30 vs #7 Oklahoma (Cotton Bowl)
11. GEORGIA BULLDOGS (7-2) CFP RANK: 9
Georgia received an opponent that most P5 teams would not want. They will face #6 Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl. You may be wondering why I believe that Georgia would not want this matchup. The answer is that Georgia may feel like there isn’t much to gain whether they win or lose. If they lose, they will be jeered at for losing to a G5 school. If they win, the rhetoric will be “So what? They only played a G5 team”. That seems like a lose-lose scenario for the Dawgs.
BOWL GAME: 1/1 vs #6 Cincinnati (Peach Bowl)
12. IOWA STATE CYCLONES (8-3) CFP RANK: 10
The Cyclones failed to once again beat Oklahoma, falling to the Sooners in the Big 12 Championship Game. The loss does not appear to have been too costly, as Iowa State still received an NY6 berth. There will be much debate over this, as Iowa State got the nod over Coastal Carolina, even though the Cyclones lost to Louisiana by 17 while Coastal defeated them by 3. Nevertheless, QB Brock Purdy will look to possibly close his collegiate career with a Fiesta Bowl victory.
BOWL GAME: 1/2 vs #25 Oregon (Fiesta Bowl)
13. BYU COUGARS (10-1) CFP RANK: 16
After a week of rest the BYU Cougars get to head to Boca Raton to play the UCF Knights in the
ROOFCLAIM.COM Boca Raton Bowl Tuesday night. The Cougars will try to end their impressive
season in a fitting manner with a Bowl game victory.
BOWL GAME: 12/22 vs UCF (Boca Raton Bowl)
14. NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS (8-3) CFP RANK: 13
The Tar Heels put together a very nice campaign in 2020 overall. Some nice wins to go along
with a couple disappointing losses. Even though expectations were quite high at the begging of
the year, the UNC program can’t be disappointed with the season. They will have the
opportunity to really make it a fantastic year with a shot to win a New Year’s Six Bowl. The Tar
Heels will get to head to Miami to play in the Orange Bowl.
BOWL GAME: 1/2 vs #5 Texas A&M (Orange Bowl)
15. MIAMI HURRICANES (8-2) CFP RANK: 18
The Hurricanes/Yellow Jackets game was destined for failure it seems. Positive COVID-19 tests
inside the Miami program forced a postponement earlier in the season. Then positive tests
inside the Georgia Tech program forced the final cancellation of a game that was previously
scheduled for this past Saturday. This means the embarrassing blowout defeat at the hands of
North Carolina will remain fresh in the Hurricanes’ minds as they head into their Bowl matchup
with Oklahoma State.
BOWL GAME: 12/29 vs. #22 Oklahoma State (Cheez-IT Bowl)
16. NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS (6-2) CFP RANK: 14
This was a successful season for the Wildcats. While they may not have won the Big Ten, they won a lot of respect for their program. Nobody expected Northwestern to be in Indianapolis competing for a conference title, but they did exactly that. They were even leading #3 Ohio State with 18 minutes left, which is not an easy feat. This season will undoubtedly be used as a building block to try and remain competitive in the Big Ten in the future.
BOWL GAME: 1/1 vs Auburn (Citrus Bowl)
17. IOWA HOWKEYES (6-2) CFP RANK: 15
In case you’re not catching on yet, Coronavirus has had quite an impact on the final week of the
season in College Football. Iowa was unable to avoid the wave of mass cancellations this
weekend when their game with Michigan was cancelled due to positive tests on the Wolverines
side. Iowa finishes the regular season with a nice 6-game win streak and will look to make it a
7th straight W when they head to Nashville to take on Missouri.
BOWL GAME: 12/30 vs. Missouri (Music City Bowl)
18. LOUISIANA RAGIN’ CAJUNS (9-1) CFP RANK: 19
Unfortunately, the Ragin’ Cajuns won’t get a shot at redemption after their Sun Belt title game
against Coastal Carolina was cancelled after a positive COVID-19 test result in the Chanticleers
program. None the less, Louisiana was awarded as Co-Champions of the Sun Belt Conference
after their impressive 1-loss season in which their only loss was a narrow 3-point defeat (30-27)
to Coastal Carolina earlier in the year. Louisiana will look to put the finishing touch on their
season when they take on UTSA in the First Responder Bowl.
BOWL GAME: 12/26 vs. UTSA (First Responder Bowl)
19. SAN JOSE STATE SPARTANS (7-0) CFP RANK: 22
The Spartans made a splash on Saturday, winning the Mountain West Conference by defeating Boise State 34-20. This was a monumental win for San Jose State, not only was this their first MWC title, but it was also their first victory over Boise State. The Spartans were 0-14 against the Broncos going into the game.
BOWL GAME: 12/31 vs Ball State (Arizona Bowl)
20. USC TROJANS (5-1) CFP RANK: 17
The Trojans suffered a loss in the PAC-12 Championship to an Oregon team who was lucky to be there. USC’s opponent would have been the Washington Huskies, but COVID issues kept Washington from participating in the conference championship. Oregon was sent in their place as the runner-up in the North Division. The Trojans performance on Friday night was filled with mistakes. They turned the ball over 3 times and racked up 98 penalty yards, often giving Oregon a very short field to work with. This loss basically forces the PAC-12 to recuse themselves from any future arguments about whether or not they deserved a playoff spot.
BOWL GAME: NONE (Opted Out)
21. TEXAS LONGHORNS (6-3) CFP RANK: 20
The Longhorns have gotten plenty of rest enjoying a long layoff before even knowing their bowl
game. Thankfully, the Big 12 title game was not one of the many contests affected by COVID-19
this week, meaning Texas would not be needed in any fill in role. The Longhorns will try to finish
an up-and-down season on a high note when they play Colorado in the Alamo Bowl.
BOWL GAME: 12/29 vs Colorado (Alamo Bowl)
22. OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS (7-3) CFP RANK: 21
The Cowboys will have to try to find some offense without their biggest weapon for bowl
season. As mentioned in last week’s rankings Chuba Hubbard will be sitting out the remainder of
the year to prepare for the NFL Draft. This means the Oklahoma State offense will have to find
other methods to score against the Hurricane defense when they head to Arizona to play the
BOWL GAME: 12/29 vs #15 Miami (Cheez-IT Bowl)
23. LIBERTY FLAMES (9-1) CFP RANK: N/R
Liberty’s extensive downtime will come to an end when they take on #9 Coastal Carolina in the Cure Bowl. You can expect a strong performance from this team, as there is a distinct possibility that this will be Hugh Freeze’s last game as head coach.
BOWL GAME: 12/26 vs #9 Coastal Carolina (Cure Bowl)
24. NORTH CAROLINA STATE WOLFPACK (8-3) CFP RANK: 23
NC State has put together a very nice season overall, and gets to finish the season as the 24th
ranked team in our final Top 25 of the season. With some nice wins over a grueling schedule
the Wolfpack have seen plenty of tough games this season. They will look to add one last
victory to their season when they head to Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl.
BOWL GAME: 1/2 vs Kentucky (Gator Bowl)
25. OREGON DUCKS (4-2) CFP RANK: 25
They have only played 6 games, but the Ducks have been one of the most perplexing teams this season. After starting the season 3-0, they suffered 2 consecutive bad losses (Oregon State, California). The talent is there for this team, but that hasn’t exactly culminated in the type of performances you would expect from a roster like theirs. After Washington had to bow out of the PAC-12 Championship, Oregon was the next man up, and they took advantage. The Ducks won the PAC-12 Championship, snatching it from #13 USC. Furthermore, they did so convincingly. They took the lead only 29 seconds into the game and never let it go.