With not a lot of action in Week 12, I decided to hold off on posting the newest edition of the Rahl Reviews Top 25 CFB Rankings until this week. It just so happens that this week coincides with the Selection Committee’s initial Top 25 College Football Playoff Rankings. Considering that those rankings are the ones that matter, meaning they will dictate the 4-team playoff field, I have decided to include them next to each team’s record to keep you better informed. Visit the Rahl Bets Twitter account (@RahlBets) to give us any feedback you may have regarding our rankings! Enjoy!
1. ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (7-0) CFP RANK: 1
The Tide are rollin’ alright. Rollin’ right over mediocre SEC teams like Kentucky. After an unscheduled bye week, Alabama had a week off to rest and recuperate… and it looks like it paid dividends. Handing out a 63-3 shellacking to Kentucky is more than enough to keep Alabama in the top spot of my rankings.
THIS WEEK: vs #22 Auburn
LINES: Alabama -24.5 / 62.5
2. NOTRE DAME (8-0) CFP RANK: 2
After a bye this week, Notre Dame will be going into Chapel Hill on Friday to take on North Carolina’s high-powered offense led by QB Sam Howell. A Friday game on the road vs a high-scoring team like the Tar Heels could be the textbook definition of a trap game, so Irish fans beware. I expect a lot of points to be scored in this game. The question is whether or not both teams will be scoring them. The Irish should be able to move the ball well vs a sluggish UNC defense. Notre Dame needs to limit Howell’s production on offense, however, if they want to avoid an upset on their road to Charlotte.
THIS WEEK: at #19 North Carolina (11/27)
LINES: Notre Dame -5.5 / 67.5
3. OHIO STATE (4-0) CFP RANK: 4
The Buckeyes’ matchup vs Indiana wound up being in a brighter national spotlight than anyone would have thought at the beginning of the season. With both teams ranked, this was most likely one of Ohio State’s biggest obstacles of the season. It wasn’t too surprising that they prevailed at home, however, as they came into the game as a 20-point favorite. Early on it looked like they completely overmatched Indiana. The Hoosiers made it close in the 2nd half, though it wasn’t enough vs a Buckeyes squad with National Championship ambitions.
THIS WEEK: at Illinois
LINES: Ohio State -28 / 70.5
4. CLEMSON TIGERS (7-1) CFP RANK: 3
Clemson had sort of an odd weekend. They made the trip to Tallahassee. They were ready to play. Trevor Lawrence was back and raring to go. A positive COVID-19 test from a Clemson offensive lineman gave Florida State other ideas, however. The game was postponed early this morning, with the positive test being cited as the reason. FSU didn’t feel the risk/reward warranted risking an outbreak. Then again, playing the game wouldn’t have yielded much reward at all, as Clemson was a 35-point favorite who most likely would have imposed their will on an inferior ‘Noles squad.
THIS WEEK: vs Pittsburgh
LINES: Clemson -24 / 55
5. TEXAS A&M AGGIES (5-1) CFP RANK: 5
After postponing another SEC matchup due to COVID-19, the Aggies should be rested when they take on LSU at Kyle Field. Ever since the gas got thrown onto this rivalry game back in 2012 when Texas A&M joined the SEC, this has generally been regarded as a highly anticipated matchup. While the strong feelings will still be there for the fans of these programs, this game doesn’t have the large implications on the national stage that many thought it would before the season started. They are still there, but only for Texas A&M, as they are hoping to stay in playoff contention. The Aggies will try to avoid an upset against an inconsistent LSU squad who is trying to play the role of spoiler against their rivals to the west.
THIS WEEK: vs LSU
LINES: Texas A&M -14.5 / 63
6. FLORIDA GATORS (6-1) CFP RANK: 6
The loss to Texas A&M is looming larger and larger as the Gators keep picking up impressive wins behind the Heisman caliber performances of QB Kyle Trask. This Gators team is so impressive that anything less than a playoff berth will most likely be considered a disappointment. They will most likely have to run the gauntlet, however, all the way through the SEC Championship game as it is not likely that a 2-loss team would receive a berth. There is no doubt in my mind that they are able to do that but to do so they would most likely have to take down Bama in Atlanta, which is no simple task.
THIS WEEK: vs Kentucky
LINES: Florida -23 / 60.5
7. CINCINNATI BEARCATS (8-0) CFP RANK: 7
While playing the statistics and intentionally not scoring on their final drive, the Bearcats received a slight scare when their 4th down snap was briefly fumbled. It didn’t cost them, however, as they were able to secure a victory on the road against a respectable UCF team. This keeps the Bearcats in the playoff hunt, but one has to wonder if not scoring was a mistake, as a 10-point victory looks better on paper than a 3-point victory. It’s quite possible that they may need those style points down the road if they remain undefeated and find themselves in a situation where their resumé is being reviewed by the Selection Committee.
THIS WEEK: at Temple
LINES: Cincinnati -36 / 52
8. BYU COUGARS (9-0) CFP RANK: 14
It’s a shame that this 2020 BYU team couldn’t play their original schedule. With P5 teams on their initial slate of games, that would have boosted their odds of making the CFP immensely had they gone undefeated. There’s no guarantee they would have done that, but odds are they would have because this team is legit. Behind their hard-throwing QB Zach Wilson, who has forced his way into the Heisman conversation with stellar numbers, BYU is just running through everyone in their path. Alongside Cincinnati, who is also undefeated, the Cougars are making as strong of a case as any for the College Football Playoff to expand to 8 teams. There’s a very real possibility that these guys go undefeated and miss the playoffs. That would be a gut-wrenching blow to this team and college football fans in general.
THIS WEEK: BYE
9. MIAMI HURRICANES (7-1) CFP RANK: 10
The ‘Canes won’t play again until December 5th when they travel to take on Wake Forest. It’s a frustrating time for Miami, who has only lost 1 game (@ Clemson), as they are currently doing some scoreboard watching in hopes that Clemson or Notre Dame stumbles. This would create a path for Miami to make a run at a spot in Charlotte to play for the ACC title and potentially a playoff spot.
THIS WEEK: PPD
10. OREGON DUCKS (3-0) CFP RANK: 15
The Ducks secured a 3-point victory over UCLA on Saturday, which may be somewhat disappointing for a team that was a 17-point favorite. The win keeps them undefeated and hopeful to be in playoff contention in December, but the Ducks are also a team that falls into the category of programs that need to be adding on style points to help plead their case to the Selection Committee.
THIS WEEK: at Oregon State (11/27)
LINES: Oregon -13.5 / 64
11. NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS (5-0) CFP RANK: 8
The Wildcats are back! After beating 4 unranked foes, Northwestern proved they deserve their ranked status by taking down a top-10 Wisconsin team who rolled into Evanston, Illinois on a wave of momentum. The Badgers were rolling with new QB Graham Mertz at the helm. The levees held against that wave, as a staunch Northwestern defense clamped down and held Wisconsin to only 7 points.
THIS WEEK: at Michigan State
LINES: Northwestern -13.5 / 41.5
12. GEORGIA BULLDOGS (5-2) CFP RANK: 9
Uhhh…. where was JT Daniels for the Alabama & Florida games? After the performance he had Saturday, it feels like Kirby Smart may have made a huge mistake by not giving him time in 2 games where the combined stat line from the QB position looked like this: 27-69 for 381 yards, 4 TDs and 6 INTs. After throwing for 400 yards and 4 TDs vs Mississippi State, I find it hard to believe that Daniels wouldn’t have made those games at least a little bit more competitive. He will be a player to watch moving forward.
THIS WEEK: at South Carolina
LINES: Georgia -21.5 / 49.5
13. INDIANA HOOSIERS (4-1) CFP RANK: 12
I think the Hoosiers are for real. It feels a little odd to say that after a loss, but the key point here is who they lost to and how they lost to them. Nobody expected Indiana to be ranked this season. Certainly not in the top 10. While they finally dropped a game, it’s hard to fault them. They played on the road vs an Ohio State team who could very well be crowned the National Champion at year’s end. More importantly, when Ohio State pulled away from them, Indiana didn’t just lay down and die. They cut a 28-point 3rd quarter deficit to just 7, with a chance to tie it in the 4th quarter. While it’s an L in the record books, it feels like a win considering they hung around with a team who was a 20-point favorite.
THIS WEEK: vs Maryland
LINES: Indiana -11.5 / 62.5
14. WISCONSIN BADGERS (2-1) CFP RANK: 16
This loss to Northwestern had to be heart-breaking for Badgers fans. It appeared that they were on the track to Indianapolis after finally finding a QB who can sling it, which opened up the playbook for an offense who typically relies on the run game too heavily. I’m not sure what exactly happened to them in Evanston. The Wildcats defense is top tier, but I don’t think anyone expected them to hold an offense who has scored 40+ in both of their games in check like they did. Maybe there was also a bit of a let-down from the Michigan game. This was a bad loss for Wisconsin, as they now need a lot of outside help if they want to play for the Big Ten title.
THIS WEEK: PPD
15. IOWA STATE (6-2) CFP RANK: 13
This was a statement game from Iowa State. Kansas State is no slouch this year, so posting a 45-0 shutout against them got my attention. Iowa State now finds themselves alone at the top of the Big 12 standings, controlling their own destiny in regard to making it to the conference title game. Their biggest obstacle? A showdown vs the Texas Longhorns this week. The Cyclones will be going into Austin to play the #17 Longhorns on Friday. Texas is a good team, so it’s hard to call this a trap game for Iowa State, but it has all the makings of one for a team who is 2 wins away from claiming the regular-season Big 12 title.
THIS WEEK: at #17 Texas (11/27)
LINES: Iowa State +1 / 56.5
16. OKLAHOMA SOONERS (6-2) CFP RANK: 11
A highly anticipated Bedlam matchup was a one-sided affair – and the Sooners were the team on the right side. By jumping out to an early 21-point lead a little over 8 minutes into the game, this edition of Bedlam felt like it was over before it started. Oklahoma was overpowering in all aspects of the game. This could wind up being the game that vaults QB Spencer Rattler to that next level, as he threw for 301 yards and 4 TDs. A confidence booster, I’m sure, as he did so against the #14 team in the country.
THIS WEEK: at West Virginia
LINES: Oklahoma -10.5 / 55
17. USC TROJANS (3-0) CFP RANK: 18
It took a few weeks, but USC was finally able to post a decisive victory when they defeated Utah 33-17 in Salt Lake City. Although QB Kedon Slovis suffered some mistakes, he was able to throw for 264 yards and 2 TDs on 24 completions. He added 1 interception to his stat line, which consisted of 35 passing attempts. The defense stole the show, however, by allowing only 17 points, in large part due to the 5 turnovers they forced.
THIS WEEK: vs Colorado
LINES: USC -11.5 / 64.5
18. COASTAL CAROLINA CHANTICLEERS (8-0) CFP RANK: 20
Another week and the Chants keep on truckin’. This week they were able to vanquish an Appalachian State team who had only 1 loss prior to the matchup. Coastal Carolina is now in the home stretch of their schedule as they make a push for an NY6 bowl.
THIS WEEK: at Texas State
LINES: Coastal Carolina -17 / 58
19. MARSHALL THUNDERING HERD (7-0) CFP RANK: 21
With their game vs Charlotte being postponed, Marshall won’t be on the field for a while, as they have a bye this week. While a bye week is good for rest and recuperation, it probably isn’t what Marshall needs as they have been blowing out opponents. They will be off until December 5th, which may hurt their chances at an NY6 bid as it takes them out of the spotlight for multiple weeks. You can expect Marshall to come back guns blazing considering the Herd need to make themselves heard.
THIS WEEK: BYE
20. AUBURN TIGERS (5-2) CFP RANK: 22
After dropping 2 of their first 4 games, the Tigers are picking up steam at the right time, as they are now looking ahead to the Iron Bowl this week. After dispatching Tennessee 30-17, the Tigers will need to keep it up when they roll into Tuscaloosa on Saturday. With both teams scoring at least 30 points in their past 3 games, containment on defense will most likely be a point of focus for both teams leading up to the 85th meeting of these in-state rivals. I believe Auburn has the ability to limit QB Mac Jones’ damage, but they will still need to see QB Bo Nix play with some consistency when he goes up against possibly the toughest defense he will face all year.
THIS WEEK: at #1 Alabama
LINES: Auburn +24.5 / 62.5
21. TEXAS LONGHORNS (5-2) CFP RANK: 17
Texas is there, lurking, in the Big 12 standings, like a tiger stalking its prey. They will have an opportunity to pounce this Friday when they take on the Iowa State Cyclones. The Longhorns will likely be the favorite in this game and a win would leave Texas, Iowa State, Oklahoma & Oklahoma State all with 2 losses in conference play. Texas would have head-to-head victories over both Iowa State and Oklahoma State, setting the stage for a possible Red River rematch in the conference title game.
THIS WEEK: vs #13 Iowa State (11/27)
LINES: Texas -1 / 56.5
22. NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS (6-2) CFP RANK: 19
UNC’s bye week came at an opportune time, giving the Tar Heels an extra week to prepare to host #2 Notre Dame. This has all the makings of a trap game, so it’s quite disappointing that there are attendance restrictions this season because of COVID-19 protocols, as it surely would have been a raucous atmosphere. More importantly, it would have given the Tar Heels that much more of an advantage, which would have been key for a defense that needs all the help it can get. QB Sam Howell already has experience against top-5 opponents, playing Clemson to a closely contested contest last season, losing by only 1 point. He also has 2 wins against ranked opponents this season, so the stage is set for him and coach Mack Brown to make a statement for the UNC football program. The challenge will be to limit a potent Notre Dame offense.
THIS WEEK: vs #2 Notre Dame (11/27)
LINES: North Carolina +5.5 / 67.5
23. OKLAHOMA STATE (5-2) CFP RANK: 23
You could feel the air getting sucked out of Oklahoma State’s season in this game. A game that was expected to produce fireworks ended up being a showcasing of their rival’s superiority. After being pounced on early, conceding the first 21 points, the Cowboys hinted at a possible 2nd half comeback when they went into the locker rooms at halftime only down 14. Things went downhill again from there, however, as they would not score again. In the 3rd & 4th quarters Oklahoma State was outplayed, outcoached and outclassed in a game that could have given them the inside track to a berth in the Big 12 Championship game. After such a lackluster performance, you must wonder just how hot the seat is getting under head coach Mike Gundy.
THIS WEEK: vs Texas Tech
LINES: Oklahoma State -11 / 55
24. TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANES (5-1) CFP RANK: 25
Tulsa is a team that could make a huge jump in the rankings and possibly into an NY6 spot. They need to hit all green lights though. They need to keep winning. They also need Cincinnati to keep winning. They may need a couple of teams in front of them to drop games. Then, most importantly, they would need to beat an undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats team. That’s a lot to happen. It’s not impossible though. This would give Tulsa a resumé that boasts 3 wins against ranked teams, including a victory over a top-10 team. Even if that doesn’t happen, Tulsa’s 2 wins against ranked opponents is a good building block for next season.
THIS WEEK: PPD
25. LOUISIANA RAGIN’ CAJUNS (7-1) CFP RANK: N/R
A 3-point loss to Coastal Carolina is Louisiana’s only blunder. The loss looks better each week as Coastal continues to roll through opponents. In the first game of their season, Louisiana defeated a ranked opponent in Iowa State. They held the #21 spot in the AP poll going into their game vs the Chanticleers. It’s hard not to wonder what the Cajuns situation would be right now had they not fallen to Coastal. Louisiana is a talented team whose play is serving as a great ambassador for the Sun Belt Conference.