Today, we have the final college football power rankings before this weekend’s big games. We’ll be adding in a bonus ranking of the best trash-talkers from each conference (we ranked them top to bottom) because you know how much those people love making predictions and then backing them up with their fists!
The “college football rankings cfp” is a ranking of college football teams by their expected performance in the upcoming season. These rankings are published by various organizations, such as ESPN, CBS Sports, and USA Today.
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The Georgia Bulldogs ended a 41-year national title drought Monday night, bringing the college football season to a close.
Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs defeated Alabama 33-18 in the College Football Playoff championship game, reclaiming first place in the final power rankings of the season. Georgia’s rout was only one of the bowl season’s highlights, and it had an influence on the final rankings.
Oklahoma State beat Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl after rallying from a 21-point hole, while Ohio State beat Utah in one of the most thrilling Rose Bowls in recent memory. With Bob Stoops at the helm, Oklahoma won a bowl game, Michigan State won one without Kenneth Walker III, and Baylor improved from a two-win club in 2020 to a 12-win Sugar Bowl winner in 2021.
The bowl season caused a lot of rearranging in the power rankings, and now that the season is over, it’s time to discover where the greatest teams in college football fell in the final rankings.
The Bulldogs finally put an end to 41 years of agony by beating Alabama in the CFP National Championship, 33-18. Georgia has not won a national championship since January 1, 1981, but considering what Kirby Smart has accomplished in his six seasons at his alma university, it shouldn’t have to wait that long. Georgia will have to replace many key players, including linebacker Nakobe Dean, defensive tackles Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt, and offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer, who are all expected to leave for the NFL. Other players with significant future choices to make include quarterback Stetson Bennett, tailback James Cook, and receiver George Pickens. For the time being, the Bulldogs will be content with ending an agonizing drought. Schlabach, Mark
Despite the defeat, the dynasty is not doomed. Not with quarterback Bryce Young and outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr., Nick Saban’s two finest players, returning next season. Not when the schedule seems to be as manageable as it appears to be with a sub-.500 score. Texas is the out-of-conference favorite, with LSU in transition under a new coaching staff and Tennessee and Vanderbilt in the Eastern Division. Georgia would have to wait until the SEC championship game for a rematch. Although leading rusher Brian Robinson Jr. is leaving for the NFL, the arrival of former Georgia Tech running back Jahmyr Gibbs could offer depth to an already strong backfield. It will be difficult to replace the output of receivers James Williams and John Metchie III if they go pro, but there is a lot of new potential at the position, notably freshman Ja’Corey Brooks, who emerged late in the season. Alex Scarborough’s remark
After an ugly season in 2020, the Wolverines bounced back and surprised a lot of people. Under new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, the defense thrived, producing Heisman runner-up defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and edge rusher David Ojabo, both of whom are expected to be first-round choices in the 2017 draft. On offense, Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum formed a formidable combo that led Michigan to a victory against Ohio State. The offense wasn’t one-dimensional, however, and it improved dramatically under offensive coordinator Josh Gattis even from the start of the season. That offense was key in Michigan’s first Big Ten title since 2004. After the season, Jim Harbaugh said that the program is only getting started. In 2022, the coaches will have a lot of talent to replace, but Ann Arbor seems to be more stable than it has been in a long time. Tom VanHaaren (Tom VanHaaren)
The Rose Bowl demonstrated why the Buckeyes didn’t win the Big Ten, why they might have been a compelling CFP contender, and why they could be a national championship contender in 2022. The defense remained generally awful in the first half, while Utah’s offense built up yards and scores, resulting in a balanced performance (237 pass yards, 226 rush yards). Despite the fact that Ohio State improved in the second half, new coordinator Jim Knowles still has a lot of work to do. Even without receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, a slight boost should be enough to compliment an attack that lit up Utah. Quarterback C.J. Stroud capped off a remarkable season with a bowl-record 573 passing yards and six touchdowns, while wide receiver Jaxon Smith-347 Njigba’s receiving yards might stand for a long time. As the Buckeyes pursue a national title in 2022, Stroud, Smith-Njigba, and running back TreVey Henderson might constitute the nation’s best triple threat. Adam Rittenberg’s remark
No one will quickly forget Cincinnati’s achievement in 2021 as the first Group of 5 team to qualify for the College Football Playoff. Although the loss to Alabama in the CFP Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic was not what anyone in Cincinnati had hoped for, it is important to put things in perspective: a 13-1 season (the best in school history), a second straight conference championship, a playoff berth, and Luke Fickell earning Coach of the Year honors. The framework has been laid, but in 2022, the Bearcats will be a different squad, with veterans Desmond Ridder, Jerome Ford, Ahmad Gardner, Coby Bryant, and others moving on. Andrea Adelson’s remark
While the Big 12 could be just as tight and competitive next fall, Dave Aranda’s Bears broke through with a Big 12 title, a Sugar Bowl victory, and the school’s first 12-win season in 2021, and while the Big 12 could be just as tight and competitive next fall, Baylor is well-stocked for further contention. After battling injuries, quarterback Gerry Bohanon should return to finish a respectable 35th in Total QBR, and, perhaps more significantly, both the offensive and defensive lines will be loaded with experience. Four starters on the offensive line, as well as the whole two-deep on the defensive line, are expected to return. Gabe Hall provides them with a seasoned pass-rusher. The secondary will be remodeled, which might cause problems, but Baylor will have plenty of depth and star power. Bill Connelly’s quote
A very seasoned Cowboys squad came within inches of capturing the Big 12 title, but Baylor stopped them on fourth down just shy of the goal line. Mike Gundy, on the other hand, recently finished one of the best seasons in Ohio State history with a Fiesta Bowl win against Notre Dame. Along with uber-productive talents like linebackers Malcolm Rodriguez (more than 400 career tackles) and Devin Harper, he loses defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and one of the nation’s stingiest units to Ohio State. Quarterback Spencer Sanders is back as one of the most exciting athletes in the nation. With 496 total yards against Notre Dame, he looked unstoppable, but he threw seven interceptions in two games versus Baylor. Gundy has a history of selecting off-the-radar coordinators (such as Knowles) and has yet to name a successor. This year, though, proved that the Cowboys can never be counted out. They’ve won 10 or more games seven times in Gundy’s 17 seasons. A 12-2 record, a victory over the feared Sooners in a rivalry game, and a 21-point comeback against Notre Dame are all reasons to rejoice. Dave Wilson is an author.
The Irish only lost one game during the regular season, against Cincinnati, who qualified for the College Football Playoff. After coach Brian Kelly left for LSU, defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman took over as the team’s new coach. In 2022, the new coaches will have to replace several key players, including quarterback Jack Coan, running back Kyron Williams, and safety Kyle Hamilton. Freeman, on the other hand, is returning quite a bit, with defensive end Isaiah Foskey just declaring his return to the school. Freeman should have a nice core of quality and experienced players returning in 2022, together with younger players and the excellent newcomers he has lined up. As a result, Freeman should have a good opportunity to succeed in his first full season as coach. Tom VanHaaren (Tom VanHaaren)
After winning just two games in 2020, the Spartans went on to win 11 games this season. Coach Mel Tucker made excellent use of the transfer portal to quickly address shortages and discovered a few gems, including running back Kenneth Walker III. In running yards per game, the Spartans improved from 123rd in 2020 to 53rd in 2021. The staff devised a new plan for coaches on how to swiftly rebuild a roster using the transfer portal, but it wasn’t simply transfers that contributed to the team’s victory. Payton Thorne, the quarterback, came into his own and had a fantastic season, ranking 23rd in total throw yards. Tucker has laid a good foundation for the Spartans, who will need to strengthen up the secondary on defense and replace Walker’s productivity at running back. They should have similar success in 2022 since he recruited excellent players in recruitment and the portal. — VanHaaren, Tom
Since coming in 2011, the Utes had established themselves as one of the most consistent performers in the Pac-12, but a conference championship had eluded them until this year. The Utes beat Oregon twice down the stretch, including in the first conference championship game to be staged in Las Vegas, thanks to an early-season quarterback swap to Cameron Rising. The season came to a close with a 48-45 defeat to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, one of the most memorable games in the Granddaddy’s illustrious history. Above all, the season will be a test of the players’ capacity to pay tribute to Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe’s memories. Kyle Bonagura (Kyle Bonagura)
Lane Kiffin’s second year at Oxford went off without a hitch. For the first time in school history, the Rebels finished with a 10-win regular season and a trip to the Sugar Bowl. It landed Kiffin a new deal (along with many other high-profile coaches in the sport) to stay with the school, with an annual salary of almost $7.5 million. After quarterback Matt Corral sustained an injury in the first quarter of the Sugar Bowl versus Baylor, which they eventually lost, the season didn’t conclude the way they expected it to. Ole Miss won’t be the same in 2022 without Corral, but with Kiffin at the helm, the program is likely to be as solid as ever. Harry Lyles Jr., Harry Lyles Jr., Harry Lyles Jr., Harry
Except for the fact that it was 2021, a season that finished with Bob Stoops celebrating a bowl win seemed like a typical year for the Sooners. Spencer Rattler, the Sooners’ preseason Heisman Trophy favorite as quarterback, was benched and moved to South Carolina. With a spectacular rally against Texas in Dallas, his substitute, Caleb Williams, became an instant sensation. The Sooners, on the other hand, lost to Baylor and Oklahoma State, their first Bedlam losses since 2014, and Lincoln Riley left for USC. On the plus side, there is a lot of excitement about the return of new coach Brent Venables, and despite some major defections to the Trojans, OU was able to put together a strong recruiting class. The bad news is that Williams, like Mario Williams, another top WR prospect, got through the portal and is shopping about. UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel was signed by Venables and new offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby. But, beyond than that, we have no idea what to anticipate – or who will be playing – with the Sooners right now. Norman has entered a new age. Dave Wilson is an author.
The follow-up will be difficult, but after a thrilling comeback in 2021, Pat Narduzzi’s Panthers should still have much to give in the future. For the first season in 40 years, the Panthers won 11 games and earned their first ACC championship since entering the league in 2013. They lose star quarterback Kenny Pickett and offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, but Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison was a sophomore, USC quarterback transfer Kedon Slovis is coming to town, and the pass rush should still be top-notch with the likely return of tackle Calijah Kancey and end Deslin Alexandre while the team awaits the stay-or-go-pro decision of star end Habakkuk Baldonado. Narduzzi has gradually constructed a program that is rich in athleticism and attitude, and the Panthers of 2022 should have enough of both. Bill Connelly’s quote
The Demon Deacons opened 2021 with the motto “Good to great,” but they ended up doing more than that, putting together a historic season that ended with 11 wins — just the second team in program history to win double-digit games. They capped it off in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl after finding a replacement opponent in Rutgers after Texas A&M bowed out with coronavirus issues. Sam Hartman had 50 total touchdowns, just the third quarterback in ACC history to reach that mark. Hartman will be back in 2022, along with a new defensive coordinator in Brad Lambert. But the expectations will be higher after such a successful season. — Andrea Adelson
For most of the season, the Tigers struggled to establish offensive consistency and were limited to less than 20 points in regulation in six of their 13 games. Next season, all eyes will be on the quarterback position and rising junior DJ Uiagalelei, as well as a restructured Clemson coaching staff. Under Dabo Swinney, staff stability has been a priority, but he lost offensive coordinator Tony Elliott to Virginia and defensive coordinator Brent Venables to Oklahoma. Swinney promoted from within to fill both roles, with quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter taking over for Elliott and senior defensive assistant Wes Goodwin taking over for Venables. The Tigers finished the 2021 season on a six-game winning run, ensuring their tenth straight season with at least ten victories. Chris Low (c)
The Wolfpack traveled to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl, hoping to win their 10th game for just the second time in school history, but the game was postponed only hours before start due to coronavirus concerns at UCLA. Even though the NCAA did not call the game a forfeit, NC State took things into its own hands and elected to credit the game as a 10th victory in its official record books. As a result, the 2021 season will always be marked with an asterisk for that reason alone. Apart from that, NC State had a great season, winning games against Clemson, Florida State, and North Carolina — and the Wolfpack might be even stronger in 2022 with players like quarterback Devin Leary, linebackers Drake Thomas and Isaiah Moore, and All-ACC defensive end Cory Durden returning. — Adelson, Andrea
Kentucky has only won ten games once in the 60 years prior to Mark Stoops’ arrival. In the last four years, the Wildcats have done so twice. In 2022, quarterback Will Levis and standout running back Chris Rodriguez are projected to return, but new starters everywhere else will likely decide UK’s ability to play up to rising expectations next autumn. Attrition will impact the offensive and defensive lines, as talents such as receiver Wan’Dale Robinson and safety Yusuf Corker have declared for the draft. Of course, Stoops has dealt with upheaval before, and the squad, outside of Georgia, has as strong an identity as anybody in the SEC East. If there is a drop-off, it will most likely be gentle. Bill Connelly’s quote
With Michael Desormeaux being promoted from offensive coordinator, the Ragin’ Cajuns finished the Billy Napier era with a 13-1 record and a power transfer as flawless as a college football school could have. In Desormeaux’s debut game, they beat future Sun Belt opponent Marshall 36-21 in the New Orleans Bowl to finish the season. Running backs Montrell Johnson and Emani Bailey, right guard O’Cyrus Torrence, and cornerback Mekhi Garner have all entered the transfer portal for next season. Of course, members of Napier’s coaching staff accompanied him to Florida. However, after three straight (and the school’s only) seasons of 10-plus victories, Napier departed the institution in good shape. Harry Lyles Jr., Harry Lyles Jr., Harry Lyles Jr., Harry
The Cougars have regional bragging rights after going 5-0 versus the Pac-12, including a victory with rival Utah, the Pac-12 champion. The season ended on a sad note, though, with a defeat to UAB in the Independence Bowl. Tyler Allgeier’s 1,606 running yards was third in the USA, and he had the most rushing touchdowns with 23. The future of BYU football has never been brighter, with coach Kalani Sitake signed to a long-term deal and a guaranteed spot in the Big 12. Kyle Bonagura (Kyle Bonagura)
In 2021, the Cougars were one of college football’s finest comeback jobs. Dana Holgorsen led the Cougars to a 12-2 record in his second season as head coach in 2020, despite being 3-5. While his offenses are well-known, his defense, directed by first-year coordinator Doug Belk, was one of the most formidable in the nation. Despite falling to Cincinnati in the AAC championship game, they defeated Auburn 17-13 in the Birmingham Bowl. The effect of Holgorsen’s program’s transfer to the Big 12 in 2023 is one of the most important things to observe. Harry Lyles Jr., Harry Lyles Jr., Harry Lyles Jr., Harry
This season in Eugene, things will look a lot different, but considering the transformation the program has gone through in the last month or two, it is well positioned to continue its success. The Ducks made one thing plain when they hired Georgia’s Dan Lanning to replace Mario Cristobal: they intended to build on what Cristobal had established, not alter it. Oregon’s recruitment should not suffer as a result of Lanning’s arrival from Georgia, where he brought with him coaches from all throughout the sport, including the NFL. It’ll be interesting to watch how Lanning manages all of the extra duties that come with being a first-time head coach, as well as how he’ll transition his SEC background to a Pac-12 club after losing Kayvon Thibodeaux to the NFL. So far, there have been ominous indicators. In addition to the hires Lanning has made to complete out his staff, Oregon has received a commitment from Auburn quarterback Bo Nix. The match is unusual at first appearance, but after the Ducks failed to find consistent quarterback performance this season, Nix’s approach could provide a much-needed boost. Paolo Uggetti (Paolo Uggetti)
Sam Pittman has done an incredible job of turning around an Arkansas program that was on the verge of collapse when he arrived. The Hogs won the Outback Bowl 24-10 against Penn State to finish a nine-win season. They lost by a score to Alabama and by a point to Ole Miss in a wild 52-51 game in which Arkansas tried for the victory but failed to convert a 2-point conversion at the end. So a nine-win season was on the verge of becoming even better, and Pittman has assembled a staff that should keep the Hogs relevant in the SEC West Division, which remains one of the hardest in college football. Chris Low (c)
Following a 1-3 start, Paul Chryst’s Badgers rallied to finish 9-4 and win the Las Vegas Bowl, and they did it in true Wisconsin fashion. After allowing 26 points per game in the first four games, the Badgers calmed down and allowed 12 points per game from then on. Freshman rushing back Braelon Allen burst for 1,268 yards, 1,219 of which came during Wisconsin’s 8-1 finish. They’re waiting on a few stay-or-go decisions from players who were listed as seniors this year, but Allen’s return provides them a focal point, and the Badgers identity, which has stayed so consistent and won so many games over the last three decades, will be very much intact in 2022. Bill Connelly’s quote
The Hawkeyes’ season, which saw them ascend to No. 2 nationally, ended in frustration and further doubts about the program’s future, particularly on offense. In the Citrus Bowl, Iowa’s rejuvenated run game, spearheaded by Gavin Williams and Leshon Williams, drove the team to a fourth-quarter lead. However, an injury to All-America center Tyler Linderbaum and Iowa’s choice not to go for a game-winning fourth-and-1 gave Kentucky a chance to comeback. Iowa’s usually tough defense crumbled against Wan’Dale Robinson, and Spencer Petras’ third interception sealed the Hawkeyes’ fate. The team’s defensive and special teams prospects remain bright, but without considerably improved quarterback performance in 2022, Iowa will struggle to advance as a program. Adam Rittenberg’s remark
After a roller-coaster of a season in which the highly touted Aggies lost four games but beat Alabama, Jimbo Fisher loaded up with the best recruiting class in Texas A&M history. Fisher has a talented roster, but there is another year of uncertainty at quarterback, a year after losing starter Haynes King to injury and his replacement, Zach Calzada, who had the game of his life against the Tide and then transferred to Auburn after the season. LSU transfer Max Johnson enters the mix along with King and coveted recruit Conner Weigman. Defensive coordinator Mike Elko landed a head-coaching gig at Duke, and Fisher replaced him with D.J. Durkin from Ole Miss. The Aggies will be highly ranked again next season, with a defense that could be among the country’s best. But the offense was inconsistent, and the hope is they have the pieces to finally unleash some of their skill weapons. — Dave Wilson
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The “2021 college football rankings projections” is a blog that provides the final college football power rankings for the upcoming season.
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