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NCAA POWER-25 FINAL RANKINGS 2015

The regular season is finished and after the first 6-7 teams, the rankings get really dicey as you could make an argument for any of a number of teams for each slot. When compiling these rankings I tried to take the entirely of the season into consideration.

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Computer Hope Heisman Trophy winner. National Champions! It was a banner year for the Tide as they rolled through the competition en route to Nick Saban’s 5th national championship, his 4th at Alabama. It’s amazing that every recruiting class Saban has brought in to Tuscaloosa has had the opportunity to be a part of a national championship team. You can make a good argument this was the weakest of Saban’s national title teams statistically. That says a lot. Alabama is nothing short of a machine at this point that is virtually unstoppable regardless of personnel.
#2 Computer Hope They came THIS CLOSE to winning a national championship but I think Clemson proved to everyone that they belonged on the field with Alabama and put every doubt to rest that they were the #2 team in the nation in losing to the Tide 45-40. Deshaun Watson played out of his mind, but the incredible onsides kick recovered by Alabama essentially gave momentum to Alabama & Clemson’s defense couldn’t quite stop the Tide. Dabo Swinney proved his among the nation’s elite & Watson should enter 2016 as the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy.
#3 Computer Hope Oh what might have been had the Buckeyes gave the ball to Ezekiel Elliott as many times against Michigan State as they did against Notre Dame. Ohio St. had no issues putting away the Irish as Elliott racked up 149 yards & 4TD. Ohio St. led 28-7 late in the 2nd quarter & were never really challenged in the Fiesta Bowl. Based on the playoff outcomes, it seems as if Alabama & Clemson are clearly the two best teams in the nation but Ohio St. finished 12-1 & have to be in the discussion. It would have been interesting seeing Elliott run on Bama.
#4 Computer Hope It’s worth mentioning that Iowa is a tremendous football team & Stanford curb stomped the Hawkeyes like they were nothing more than a bottom feeding Mountain West school! It was 35-0 before halftime & 38-0 late in the 3rd quarter! Christian McCaffery was outstanding as usual, but that Stanford defense!!?? GOOD GRIEF! Stanford recorded 7 sacks! That was the highest total Stanford had all season & the most they’ve had in a single game since 2013. The opening season loss to Northwestern killed Stanford this year. This was a playoff team.
#5 Computer Hope It wouldn’t have been consistent with the season long theme if Notre Dame didn’t lose yet another superstar player in the bowl game. This time it was All-American LB Jaylon Smith who essentially missed the Fiesta Bowl after hurting his knee! The Irish never quit & made it respectable against Ohio St. although they couldn’t stop Ezekiel Elliott. Notre Dame finished 10-3 but you’ll notice their 3 losses were to Clemson (14-1), Ohio St. (12-1) & Stanford (12-2) & the losses to Clemson & Stanford were by a combined 4 points with both being road games.
#6 Computer Hope TCU beating Oregon, West Virginia beating Arizona St. & Baylor upending North Carolina gave the Big 12 more credence so Oklahoma losing to Clemson 37-17 in the semifinals doesn’t seem all that bad now that we saw with Deshaun Watson did to the Alabama defense. As good as Oklahoma was, they never saw an offense that had runners like Watson & Wayne Gallman. Both shredded the Oklahoma defense for a combined 295 yards & 3TD! Oklahoma also hadn’t seen a defense with guys like Kevin Dodd & Ben Boulware. Still a great season.
#7 Computer Hope I did not see a 38-0 loss to Alabama coming! The Spartans defense seemingly turned a corner against Maryland late in the season & Sparty put up great efforts in wins over Ohio St., Penn St. & Iowa to cap a Big 10 championship! Not a ton of star power on the roster, but Mark Dantonio comes from the Nick Saban tree & many thought Alabama would have a hard time against Michigan State. That didn’t happen & it actually calls into question how competent the Big 10 was as a conference this season. The Spartans are in for quite a rebuild in 2016.
#8 Computer Hope A terrible way to end the season, Iowa started the season 12-0 but lost their last 2 games to Michigan St. & Stanford which muddied an otherwise historic season in Iowa City. It’s tough to gauge how good Iowa was this year given their schedule. At their best I think Iowa is a top-10 team which is why I have them here and it’s hard to penalize them for losing to Michigan St. (Big 10 champions) & Stanford (Pac 12 champions). Would have been cool to see them beat a legit Big 10 East squad, but teams go 12-0 for a reason. Luck & schedule are definite factors.
#9 Computer Hope Forget the loss to UConn. Houston finished the season 13-1 with wins over Louisville, Florida State, Temple, Navy, Cincinnati and Memphis. You can argue Houston could have been the 2nd best team in the ACC behind Clemson & I wouldn’t complain. HC Tom Herman did an outstanding job in his 1st year as HC & Houston was lucky he stayed on as Herman was attached to several high profile jobs this offseason. The offense improved by 10PPG this season & the defense stayed rock solid. Since 2003, Houston has won 104 games. That’s 8 wins/year.
#10 Computer Hope Ole Miss had no problems destroying a 10-2 Oklahoma St. team in the Sugar Bowl 48-20. The Rebels got out to a 34-6 lead at halftime & it didn’t even matter that the defense was playing with All-American DT Robert Nkemdiche or LB Denzel Nkemdiche. QB Chad Kelly picked a part OK State’s pass defense for 300+yds/4TD while the Cowboys secondary had no answers for Laquon Treadwell & Cody Core. Ole Miss owned the best win of the season taking down Alabama in Tuscaloosa, but losses to Memphis, Florida & Arkansas boggle the mind.
#11 Computer Hope HC Gary Patterson did his best job to date as TCU battled injuries & oddities all year and still wound up 11-2 with a bowl win over an extremely hot Oregon team. TCU played out of their minds in the 2nd half of the Alamo Bowl! Down 31-0 at halftime, TCU outscored Oregon 31-0 in the 2nd half & then used 3OT to finally beat the Ducks 47-41! This was the worst defensive team Patterson has had at TCU since 2004 when the Frogs went 5-6. This year they finished 11-2 which is a miracle. The 30-29 loss to Oklahoma probably kept TCU out of the playoffs.
#12 Computer Hope The loss to Ohio St. was bad, but the Buckeyes probably should have been playing for a national championship while Jim Harbaugh was in his first year. Florida wasn’t the Florida we saw earlier in the year when Will Grier was under center, but HAMMERING the Gators 41-7 is impressive no matter the state of the program in Gainesville. Michigan can argue being 12-1. They beat Utah if they played later in the season & the fluke loss to Michigan St. never should have happened. Michigan improved by 5 wins to 10-3 but Harbaugh is just getting started.
#13 Computer Hope An unfortunate injury to QB Vernon Adams probably cost Oregon the Alamo Bowl. The 31-0 lead that evaporated in the 2nd half is inexcusable even if you are playing a backup QB, but crazy things sometimes happen in college football & it’s not like you didn’t face one of the best coaches in the game in Gary Patterson. Vernon Adams & injuries went hand in hand with Oregon losses this season. Adams was hurt in 3 of Oregon’s 4 losses. At worst Oregon’s 9-4 season should be 11-2, but Adams’ injury issues probably cost Oregon the Pac 12 title in ’15.
#14 Computer Hope In the same way Stanford hammered Iowa, Tennessee beat a solid 10-2 Northwestern team like they were nothing more than a has been FCS school looking for a payday by playing one of the big boys! Tennessee’s 9-4 record includes 2 losses to playoff teams (Alabama & Oklahoma) by a combined 12 points. They also lost to SEC East champion Florida by 1 point & Arkansas by 4. Tennessee’s “best case” record for 2015 is 13-0! By season’s end you could have made a strong case for them being a top-10 team. Ranking them 14th seems entirely too low.
#15 Computer Hope Another Big 10 team that is hard to figure. I keep viewing Wisconsin in a light that has them playing with RB Corey Clement, but Clement played in just 4 games this season so it seems like Wisconsin is more of a team without him than with him. The bowl win over USC pushed Wisconsin to 10-3 with their losses coming to Alabama (14-1), Iowa (12-2) & Northwestern (10-3). The losses to Iowa & N’Western were by a combined 10 points. You have to think that with Clement suiting up, Wisconsin might have went 13-1 & gotten into the playoff picture.
#16 Computer Hope Baylor put on an INSANE rushing clinic against North Carolina in the Russell Athletic Bowl as the Bears beat the Tar Heels 49-38! Baylor beat the 11-2 Heels without starting QB Seth Russell, without starting RB Shock Linwood & without stud #1 WR Corey Coleman! Instead, Devin Chafin ran for 161 yards & Johnny Jefferson ran for 299 yards & 3TD! That isn’t at typo! Jefferson was one yard shy of rushing for 300 yards! Baylor racked up 645 rushing yards! It has to make you wonder how Baylor would have done if they weren’t hit by injuries to Russell.
#17 Computer Hope Kansas St. was no match for the Razorbacks in the Liberty Bowl as Arkansas cruised to a 45-23 win. Arkansas was BRUTALLY efficient as QB Brandon Allen missed on just 6 passes while RB Alex Collins cruised, rushing for 185 yards & 3TD on 23 attempts. Arkansas racked up 300+ more yards then K-State & had 17 more first downs. Arkansas went 7-2 in their last 9 & like Tennessee, were much better than their final 8-5 record would indicate. By season’s end this was the 2nd best team in the SEC West, but they have a significant rebuild for the 2016 season.
#18 Computer Hope Drawing Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl was a dream come true for Les Miles & LSU. A team that certainly can’t spell defense let alone play it, LSU ran Lenoard Fournette early & often en route to the RB racking up 212 rushing yards & 4TD! Fournette would tack on a 5th TD through the air as LSU beat the Red Raiders 56-27. LSU finished 9-3 & would have been 10-3 if their season opener against McNeese St. didn’t get canceled, but LSU has to get better. I think LSU should have kept Miles & they did, but he’s still arguably the worst coach in the SEC West.
#19 Computer Hope It couldn’t have gone any better for Mississippi St. to end the season. The Bulldogs drew NC State in the Belk Bowl, a game they easily won 51-28. It was also a bowl that allowed senior QB Dak Prescott to shine one more time as the QB threw for 380 yards & 4TD & ran for another 47 yards. Prescott accounted for 39 TD this season & leaves as Mississippi St.’s all time leading passer with 9,376 yards. Adding a cherry on top is HC Dan Mullen sticking around Starkville despite a plethora of head coach openings around the nation! He’s 55-35 at MS State.
#20 Computer Hope Like Iowa, North Carolina had a rough last 2 games falling to Clemson in ACC Championship & then to Baylor in the bowl game. On the other hand, UNC hadn’t won this many games since Mack Brown coached the Tar Heels back in 1997! UNC also improved their scoring defense by 14.5 points & improved by 5 wins! The schedule was a bit soft but winning 11 games is winning 11 games & Carolina won 11 straight. Larry Fedora is building something nice in Chapel Hill & UNC has a window here to crash the playoff party if they can upend Clemson or FSU.
#21 Computer Hope Navy destroyed Pittsburgh in the Military Bowl as QB Keenan Reynolds dominated for one last time, rushing for 144 yards & 3TD against a decent Panthers defense en route to Navy beating Pitt 44-28. Navy finishes with a tremendous 11-2 record with their only losses coming against Notre Dame (10-3) & Houston (13-1). I have the Irish ranked #5 & the Cougars ranked #9 so you could make an argument that the Middies could be a top-10 team. At least top-15! Also exciting was HC Ken Niumatalolo staying at Navy. He’s been outstanding here.
#22 Computer Hope It was an all around ugly year for Northwestern, but you can’t let the horrible performance against Tennessee color the entire season for you. When Northwestern lost, it lost BIG and it lost UGLY, but that covers the fact that Northwestern also won 10 games including wins over Stanford, Duke, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Penn State. Keep in mind that Northwestern had 10 wins combined in 2013 & 2014, and the last time Northwestern won 10 games in the regular season was 1995 when Northwestern won the Big 10! This was an AMAZING year in Evanston.
#23 Computer Hope After starting the year 10-0, Oklahoma St. lost their last 3 games against Oklahoma, Baylor & Ole Miss. It’s hard to bang on the Cowboys for those losses. I have both Oklahoma & Ole Miss in my top-10 & Baylor might well have been a playoff team had Seth Russell not suffered a season ending injury. Mike Gundy did and continues to do a helluva job in Stillwater. I picked Oklahoma St. to be the 6th best team in the Big XII, but they were in a tremendous spot at 10-0 with home games left against Baylor & Oklahoma. They’ll contend again in 2016.
#24 Computer Hope In a decidedly off year for the Seminoles, Florida St. still managed to go 10-3 and finish with a defense that ranked 9th in scoring defense and a RB in Dalvin Cook who rushed for 1691 yards & 19TD while averaging 7.4ypc! Cook had to have been the most overlooked RB in the country. The 10-3 record is a bit misleading really. The Georgia Tech loss was a fluke & losing to Houston seemed like a formality as Florida St. clearly had no interest in the game. FSU is 37-4 in the last 3 years with a national title. It’s safe to say that Florida St. is back.
#25 Computer Hope I was hoping Western Kentucky drew better in their bowl game, but they had South Florida in Miami Beach Bowl & dispatched the Bulls 45-35. It was an incredible year for the Hilltoppers as HC Jeff Brohm guided WKU to a 12-2 record including a CUSA championship & a bowl victory. QB Brandon Doughty passed for over 5,000 yards & leaves Bowling Green, KY as Western’s all time leading passer with almost 13,000 yards! WR Taywan Taylor also became Western’s all time leading receiver! Would have been cool to see them in a bigger bowl.

DROPPING OUT

FLORIDA GATORS (previously #19): Opened 10-1 but lost their last 3 games to Alabama, Florida St. & Michigan. Florida’s other loss was a road loss to LSU which makes me think I was a bit hard on the Gators. On the other hand this was a different team without Will Grier & if I have FSU at #24, then it’s hard to see how the Gators crack the top-25. I wouldn’t worry too much about Florida. Jim McElwain is going to win a championship in Gainesville. I’d be shocked if it didn’t happen.

USC TROJANS (previously #24): A crazy season for USC, the Trojans would have liked to have beaten Wisconsin in the Holiday Bowl, but despite the insanity surrounding the program with the Steve Sarkisian mess, USC still managed to win the Pac 12 South. USC loses QB Cody Kessler which will be hard to overcome but the talent is far from short.

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January 18, 2016 - Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas, Baylor, Clemson, Final Rankings, Florida, Florida St., Houston, Iowa, LSU, Michigan, Michigan St., Mississippi, Mississippi St., Navy, NCAA, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Oregon, Power 25, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee, USC, Western Kentucky, Wisconsin

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