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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Weekly Rankings

P.S.R. 1-120: Week 13 Re-Ranking

With the weekend in the books, here’s a look at how the country ranks — using the original rankings as the starting point, with the season’s results as rationale for any movement. The top 25 teams land a one-sentence breakdown. The rest? Not so much. Part of the perks of being one of the best. Think your team is too low? Feel another team deserves more credit, less credit? Let’s hear it below. It’s a delicate ranking process, but with mere weeks left in the regular season, things are growing clearer.

The Top 25

1. L.S.U. (11-0, 7-0)
A split ensures a trip to the B.C.S. National Championship Game.
2. Alabama (10-1, 6-1)
The one state that watched Saturday’s events with glee: Alabama.
3. Arkansas (10-1, 6-1)
The Razorbacks might finish in this spot and still be left out.
4. Houston (11-0, 7-0)
One of two undefeated teams left standing.
5. Stanford (10-1, 8-1)
A Rose Bowl trip is a fine consolation for the Cardinal.
6. U.S.C. (9-2, 6-2)
Seems as if the Trojans could be anyone right now.
7. Boise State (9-1, 4-1)
Could the Broncos still return to B.C.S. play?
8. Virginia Tech (10-1, 6-1)
Not a strong 10-1, but regardless: 10-1 is 10-1.
9. Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1)
A loss that will never, ever be forgotten.
10. Oregon (9-2, 7-1)
Another team that coughed away its title chances.
11. Oklahoma (8-2, 5-2)
Forget Jan. 9: Sooners are just playing for January — period.
12. Kansas State (9-2, 6-2)
Again, don’t forget to pay your respects to the great Bill Snyder.
13. South Carolina (9-2, 6-2)
For the first time, Gamecocks beat Florida in back-to-back years.
14. T.C.U. (9-2, 6-0)
T.C.U. clinches one last Mountain West championship.
15. Georgia (9-2, 7-1)
The Bulldogs hunkered down and took home the SEC East.
16. Michigan State (9-2, 6-1)
The Spartans book their trip to Indianapolis…
17. Wisconsin (9-2, 5-2)
…While the Badgers need one more win for a rematch.
18. Michigan (9-2, 5-2)
Complete and utter domination over the Cornhuskers.
19. Clemson (9-2, 6-2)
Not a good result, even if it means little in the big picture.
20. Penn State (9-2, 6-1)
Penn State posts a Paterno-free win for first time in decades.
21. Baylor (7-3, 4-3)
Has Baylor ever had a win quite this good?
22. Notre Dame (8-3, 0-0)
Don’t look now, but the Irish could earn a B.C.S. berth.
23. Virginia (8-3, 5-2)
Mike London is working miracles in Charlottesville.
24. Tulsa (8-3, 7-0)
Tulsa could make another B.C.S. dent by beating Houston.
25. West Virginia (7-3, 3-2)
Will W.V.U. rise up and take control of the Big East?

The Rest

26. Nebraska (8-3, 4-3)
27. Georgia Tech (8-3, 5-3)
28. Auburn (7-4, 4-3)
29. Iowa (7-4, 4-3)
30. Northern Illinois (8-3, 6-1)
31. Southern Mississippi (9-2, 5-2)
32. Florida State (7-4, 5-3)
33. Arkansas State (9-2, 7-0)
34. Rutgers (8-3, 4-2)
35. Cincinnati (7-3, 3-2)
36. Missouri (6-5, 4-4)
37. Iowa State (6-4, 3-4)
38. Utah (7-4, 4-4)
39. Louisiana Tech (7-4, 5-1)
40. B.Y.U. (8-3, 0-0)
41. Wake Forest (6-5, 5-3)
42. Texas A&M (6-5, 4-4)
43. Texas (6-4, 3-4)
44. Ohio State (6-5, 3-4)
45. Miami (Fla.) (6-5, 3-4)
46. Toledo (7-4, 6-1)
47. Florida (6-5, 3-5)
48. Northwestern (6-5, 3-4)
49. N.C. State (6-5, 3-4)
50. Ohio (8-3, 5-2)
51. Louisville (6-5, 4-2)
52. U.C.L.A. (6-5, 5-3)
53. Pittsburgh (5-5, 3-2)
54. Washington (6-5, 4-4)
55. California (6-5, 3-5)
56. Arizona State (6-5, 4-4)
57. S.M.U. (6-5, 4-3)
58. Vanderbilt (5-6, 1-6)
59. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-3, 6-2)
60. Nevada (6-4, 4-1)
61. Wyoming (7-3, 4-1)
62. Illinois (6-5, 2-5)
63. North Carolina (6-5, 2-5)
64. San Diego State (6-4, 3-3)
65. Temple (7-4, 4-3)
66. Air Force (6-5, 2-4)
67. Tennessee (5-6, 1-6)
68. Ball State (6-5, 4-3)
69. Mississippi State (5-6, 1-6)
70. Purdue (5-6, 3-4)
71. Florida International (7-4, 4-3)
72. Western Michigan (6-5, 4-3)
73. Western Kentucky (6-5, 6-1)
74. Texas Tech (5-6, 2-6)
75. South Florida (5-5, 1-4)
76. Utah State (5-5, 3-2)
77. Eastern Michigan (6-5, 4-3)
78. Syracuse (5-5, 1-4)
79. Marshall (5-6, 4-3)
80. East Carolina (5-6, 4-3)
81. Navy (4-7, 0-0)
82. Connecticut (4-6, 2-3)
83. Washington State (4-7, 2-6)
84. Oregon State (3-8, 3-5)
85. Miami (Ohio) (4-7, 3-4)
86. UTEP (5-6, 3-5)
87. Kent State (5-6, 4-3)
88. U.C.F. (4-7, 2-5)
89. North Texas (4-7, 3-4)
90. Kentucky (4-7, 1-6)
91. Rice (4-6, 3-4)
92. Fresno State (4-7, 3-3)
93. Arizona (3-8, 2-7)
94. San Jose State (4-7, 2-4)
95. Duke (3-8, 1-6)
96. Bowling Green (4-7, 2-5)
97. Hawaii (5-6, 3-4)
98. New Mexico State (4-7, 2-4)
99. Boston College (3-8, 2-5)
100. Maryland (3-8, 1-6)
101. Army (3-8, 0-0)
102. Colorado (2-10, 1-7)
103. La.-Monroe (3-8, 2-5)
104. Troy (3-7, 2-4)
105. U.A.B. (3-8, 3-4)
106. Minnesota (2-9, 1-6)
107. Colorado State (3-7, 1-5)
108. Idaho (2-9, 1-5)
109. Mississippi (2-9, 0-7)
110. Buffalo (3-8, 2-5)
111. Central Michigan (3-9, 2-6)
112. Kansas (2-9, 0-7)
113. Middle Tennessee (2-8, 1-5)
114. Indiana (1-10, 0-7)
115. U.N.L.V. (2-8, 1-4)
116. Tulane (2-10, 1-7)
117. Memphis (2-9, 1-6)
118. New Mexico (1-10, 1-5)
119. Akron (1-10, 0-6)
120. Florida Atlantic (0-10, 0-7)

Three noteworthy jumps

Rutgers 17 spots (No. 51 to No. 34)
N.C. State 17 spots (No. 66 to No. 49)
Louisiana Tech 16 spots (No. 55 to No. 39)

Three noteworthy tumbles

Texas 15 spots (No. 28 to No. 43)
Washington 15 spots (No. 39 to No. 54)
Southern Mississippi 10 spots (No. 21 to No. 31)

Previous rankings

Week 12 rankings L.S.U., No. 1
Week 11 rankings L.S.U., No. 1
Week 10 rankings Alabama, No. 1
Week 9 rankings Alabama, No. 1
Week 8 rankings Alabama, No. 1
Week 7 rankings Alabama, No. 1
Week 6 rankings Alabama, No. 1
Week 5 rankings Alabama, No. 1
Week 4 rankings Alabama, No. 1
Week 3 rankings Alabama, No. 1
Week 2 rankings Alabama, No. 1
The preseason list is on the right sidebar.

You can also follow Paul Myerberg and Pre-Snap Read on Twitter.

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  1. Rick says:

    So let me get this straight. Alabama loses to LSU at home, they then have to play Miss State, a DII team and a 7-4 Auburn team to get to the national championship while LSU has to play #3 Arkansas and a red hot Georgia team to reach the same game. How is this fair?

  2. roo says:

    i think you’re being way too hard on oklahoma state this week, paul. in fact i’m not sure they have a much worse claim for the number 3 spot than arkansas does based on resumes.

  3. Andrew says:

    Stanford lost to Oregon, therefore they need OSU to upset Oregon in Eugene in order for them to play in the Pac-12 Championship and earn a Rosebowl Bid. Most likely they will get picked up for at large like the Fiesta Bowl.

  4. Michael says:

    Wonderful, fantastic rankings. Love the placement of Houston and Boise State, glad to see the oklahomas where they are but could see them lower- iowa state and texas tech are rough places to lose, right?

    As an aside, i’ve been surprised with the lack of coverage here during the regular season. I found out about PSR this offseason, and was pleased that there was so much college football coverage, pretty much every day, throughout the entire spring and summer. That said, the regular season has been comparatively weak, I was expecting a lot more updates and analysis. Just, throwing that out there.

  5. Burnt Orange says:

    What do you want Michael ? A weekly re ranking of all 120 teams each week? Name one other CFB writer that does that alone.

    How about a weekly list of coaches on the hot seat?

    Weekly Heisman update?

    Weekly BCS projections?

    Weekly Top Ten keys to watch each week?

    How about more articles about the Penn State scandal in three days than Sports Illustrated generates in a week?

    And endless information about things like the Arkansas State, Ball State and Eastern Michigan coaching situation.

    One of the best pieces about what the essence of Nebraska football that you will ever read.

    I could go on for days. Then mix in opinionated, largely, insightful,commentary from guys like – well I will not try to list them because I will leave someone out – but guys that really know the game.

    All without an editor, much of a budget I suspect. Don’t mean to jump you but I read two newspapers in a top ten market and Paul destroys them in terms of college football coverage.

  6. Kris says:

    In a week when the Ags and Horns will have very little to agree on, Burnt Orange and I agree again….PRE-SNAP READ DOES IT BETTER THAN ANYONE OUT THERE!

    I would just add that Paul’s claim to be “unbiased” is spot-on….along with all other claims in the “ABOUT” section (see above, right column) It is refreshing, too, to find commenters who rise above the sophomoric name-calling & trash-talking found on most other fan blogs.

    Yep, this football-lovin’ mom is THANKFUL for Pre-Snap read and is (wink, wink) REALLY hoping Paul’s ranking this week of A&M and UT proves correct on Thanksgiving Day! Either way…


  7. David says:

    Well, I do have one complaint. I’ve been watching a lot of Big Ten football this year. It’s one of the best top-to-bottom leagues I’ve ever seen. There are a bunch of 2-loss teams, not because they’re bad, but because everyone (but Minnesota and Indiana) is pretty dern good. So the thing that’s bugging me is seeing all the Big Ten teams so low (the top four clustered from 16-20). Perhaps you’re just hedging your bets until you actually see how it shakes out, but I would definitely have that cluster up a little higher. That’s just me, though.

  8. Scott says:


    It’s fair, Rick, and only fair, because Boise, OSU, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Stanford all lost. If one of those teams takes care of business, there’s no argument. As it stands, who would you put in?

  9. Hokieshibe says:

    I think Arkansas is a little overrated, personally. Outside of LSU and Bama, the SEC is pretty thin this year (granted LSU and Bama are amazing). If Ark beats one them, fine give them that spot, but until then, they really haven’t done all that much (in my opinion).

    Same goes for Stanford. You’ve beaten one good team all year (USC), and got clobbered by Oregon. Don’t think they’re too much better than VT. Not saying VT is too low here. Just that Stanford and Ark are too high.

  10. Dave says:

    @ Scott –

    Houston, if they go 13-0. Undefeated is undefeated, I don’t care what conference you play in. If it was easy to do, more teams would do it.

  11. Woodysc says:

    Looking at their wins and losses, its hard to understand an 8 spot gap between Oklahoma and Clemson. Ok’s best win is against presnap’s #12 team; Clem’s is vs the #8 team. Ok’s worst loss is against #74 (and at home) while for Clemson its on the road at #49.

  12. Rick says:

    @ Scott

    That is true and im not questioning the validity of Alabamas position; im questioning the system. The only reason why Alabama is there is because of pre-season rankings. Look at their schedule, they have 1 very good win (Arkansas) and 1 good win (Penn State). We really dont know how good Alabama is because their non-coference schedule is embarrasing aside from Penn State and they’ve played the dregs of the SEC (and there are a lot of those this year). Why should LSU have to play them again when they already beat them on thier turf?

    Who would I put in there? to be honest I dont know, no one really deserves it and based on pre season rankings Alabama is the default choice so they might as well go for it but the entire system is absurd and totally frustrating.

  13. BobJ says:

    Personally, I think Oklahoma State should still be in the title picture. It has five wins against B.C.S. teams with a winning record, and both Alabama and Arkansas have just three (to this point in the season). OSU also played a much harder pre-conference schedule, and played it much better, than either of the two As.

  14. Scott says:


    You can’t honestly say that under this system Houston deserves to go to the national championship for going undefeated on a Conference USA schedule. Keenum’s numbers are great, but their schedule makes Boise’s look like the AFC North.


    I don’t disagree with you. If I were an LSU fan I wouldn’t be happy about it at all, and as an Alabama fan, I said before the game that a rematch wouldn’t be fair to the other teams. With no one really left standing, I’ve obviously changed my tune, and I hope the voters share your sentiments and express their frustrations at the system rather than Alabama, who simply hasn’t been challenged this season outside of the LSU game and has without question the most dominant defense in the country.

    Alabama and the SEC may be helped by reputation this year, but the “weak non-conference schedule” argument is a slippery slope when trying to isolate Alabama. Here are the non-conference schedules of the one-loss contenders:

    Alabama: Kent State, @Penn State, North Texas, Georgia Southern
    Arkansas: Missouri State, New Mexico, Troy, Texas A&M
    Oklahoma State: Louisiana-Lafayette, Arizona, @Tulsa
    Stanford: San Jose State, Duke, @Notre Dame
    Virginia Tech: Appalachian State, East Carolina, Arkansas State, @Marshall

    Though it doesn’t compare to, say, LSU’s, you can’t use non-conference scheduling to penalize Alabama when no other contender has one any stronger (including Oklahoma State, BobJ). How do we know how good Oklahoma State is when they didn’t play a ranked non-conference opponent and fell to a 21-point underdog? (Roughly equivalent to Alabama losing at Vanderbilt.) How do we know how good Virginia Tech is when they lost at home by 20 and didn’t remotely try to prove anything in non-conference?

    Everyone’s frustrated with the system. This doesn’t make it any more fair for LSU to likely have to play one more game than Alabama, but I’m trying to find an argument that says that LSU and Alabama aren’t the two best teams in the country, and based on resume, I can’t find one.

  15. bayzing says:


    So glad to see that UTAH is now ranked where they should be… ahead of a BYU team they destroyed 54 – 10 back in September.

    Paul: If there was one thing I wanted to make sure I got right this week, that was it. Should not have had Utes behind Cougars once they got back above .500.

  16. DMK says:

    People think Bama is one of the top two teams because people watch football and know what good teams look like.

  17. Shadrach says:

    An LSU Alabama rematch is soon upon us. The first game was two continental plates crashing together, ending one epoch and announcing another. People get ready, Year of 2012 comes upon us January 9. With this initiation, can Apocalypse 2012 be anything but a foregone conclusion? Sell your houses, empty your bank accounts, take your wives and lovers to Paris and your children to Disneyland.

  18. Dave says:


    You can make any number of arguments as to why ‘Bama might be the # 2 team in the country, but the one thing you can’t do is argue that they are better than LSU, because that has already been decided (at ‘Bama’s home field, no less).

    So why play again to find out what we already know? Given that sorting out 1-loss teams is inherently subjective, I’d rather go with a team that MIGHT actually be better than LSU, than one which we know for certain is NOT.

    As for Houston, record trumps strength of schedule every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Notice how most years there ISN’T an undefeated team coming out of each conference? That’s cause it’s hard to do, and any team that does it deserves a chance to prove on the field that they are the best team in the land. You cannot penalize the Houston players for doing everything they can possibly do.

    Look, if there were two undefeated teams from stronger conferences, Houston gets left out in the cold, like TCU last year. Nobody disputes that. But given that there are not, if they go 13-0 (and they will have had to beat some pretty good teams to do so), it’s not fair to leave them out.

    Otherwise, just reduce the FBS to the AQ teams and stop pretending.

  19. Shadrach says:

    @ Dave

    LOL. After the LSU-Alabama game, I still think Alabama is better than LSU. With just 1 of the 3 missed field goals in regulation time and Alabama wins.

    But of course your position is that the best team always wins and there’s no arguing.

  20. MSUlaxer27 says:

    Definitely no Big Ten love here. MSU lost on the road to your #22 and #26 ranked teams. UW lost on the road (on hail mary’s) to #16 and #44. Yet both are behind an OU team that lost at home to #74 (a team with a losing record) and on the road to #21.

    In addition, I can buy the argument that the SEC West is the strongest in country by far. The SEC East though? UGA skipped the big boys from the west and South Carolina has only played one ranked (AP/Coaches) team who they lost to. Yet both are ranked ahead of any B1G team. Comparatively the SECe has two teams in the top 15 (your ranking) and no other team higher than 47. The B1Glegends has 2 in the top 20, 4 in the top 30. Our 5th team (NU) comes in just one spot behind UF (SECe 3rd team). Maybe they will settle out after this last week of the regular season, but I can’t see how you have Carolina and UGA over MSU,PSU or UW.

    I can understand why you might rank them this way after last years New Year’s Day massacre. Hopefully a better showing in the bowls this year will change some perceptions.

  21. Scott says:


    You’re trying to prove a point separate from what the BCS sets out to prove. The point of the BCS isn’t to prove who is better than No. 1. It’s to prove who are 1-2. “Making any number of arguments that Alabama is No. 2″ is all I have to do here. Arguing that Alabama isn’t better than LSU is irrelevant. That’s not the BCS’s job to prove. If you can look at the big picture and argue that Alabama is No. 2, regardless of the loss to LSU, that’s all it takes to say they deserve to go. That’s just the nature of the system we have.

    As for Houston…

    “You cannot penalize the Houston players for doing everything they can possibly do.”

    Going to a BCS bowl isn’t a penalty for a Conference USA team. And if record trumped strength of schedule every time, then why the rush for so many schools to get into BCS conferences? Heck, if winning every game was all that mattered, Boise should go back to the WAC and keep beating up on Idaho and La Tech every year. The movement of smaller schools to beef up their conference resumes runs counter to what you’re arguing.

    Houston is undefeated and that’s great. But using them as an example of how hard it is to go undefeated is a lot weaker in my opinion than using them instead to prove how easy it would be to go undefeated with a non-BCS conference schedule.

    Here are the records for every team Houston has beaten:

    6-5, 4-7, 7-4, 3-8, 5-6, 5-6, 5-6, 4-7, 3-8, 2-10, 6-5. A whopping 50-72. Where in there are the “pretty good” teams they’ve beaten to get to 11-0? Come on. We’re watering down expectations because Houston is an outlier like Boise, and people always like the token non-BCS team every year.

    If you want a sport and a system that lets you play schedules like that, win them all by 30, and then get into the title game, then fine. I’ll write a letter to the Alabama athletic department requesting they move to Conference USA or the WAC and start raking in titles.

  22. Dave says:

    @ Shadrach –

    We could spend years adjusting records to reflect who SHOULD have won each game ever played. The only thing that matters in the end is who did. My least favorite post-game quote is, “I don’t think the better team won out there today.” Yes, it did. “Better” is subjective – winning is not.

    @ Scott –

    Glad you brought up Boise, because their two Fiesta Bowl wins (and TCU’s Rose Bowl and Utah’s Sugar and Orange Bowl) over the last decade or so make the most compelling argument for why the best team in a given year might not necessarily reside in a BCS conference.

    All these teams play in the FBS. I don’t see any by-law that says only teams from 6 of the conferences are eligible to become the FBS champion.

    As for that letter, the reason it would get ignored is that the Alabama athletic department knows that if it left the SEC, it would get less money, less exposure, fewer 5-star recruits, etc. All of which would make it harder to win out, regardless of what conference they played in. So while ‘Bama would probably win a title or two that way, it’s not a recipe for long-term success. Eventually, they’d have to learn how to do more with less – in other words, how to do what teams from non-AQ conferences are currently doing.

  23. Scott says:


    There’s no rule of course that says non-BCS conference teams can’t go to the championship, but the standard for them to get there is much higher than it is for a major conference team, as it should be. Without taking any chances in non-conference, Houston did nothing to prove it deserved to go to the national championship. With a Conference USA schedule, they needed to schedule a Top 15 major conference team. The closest they got was UCLA. Boise did it with Georgia and TCU did it with Baylor, and both went on the road. Houston didn’t. Their hardest road game so far has been Louisiana Tech.

    Of course the best team can come from anywhere. The NCAA Tournament proves that every year. But without sounding like an elitist SEC fan, this system requires a different standard to get to the championship beyond proving you’re “worth a shot,” like the NCAA Tournament selection committee and Houston believe. Houston knew its schedule would be its deficiency and to this point they have played one team with fewer than five losses. That resume, to me, puts them in the BCS but not in the championship.

    It’s not a great scenario for non-AQ teams, and a playoff or plus-one may change it going forward, but Houston hasn’t done enough to overcome their schedule, and that’s not just my opinion. There’s a reason they are eighth in the BCS.

  24. Dave says:

    @ Scott –

    Obviously, the standard for a non-AQ team IS much higher – they have to go undefeated, whereas a team like LSU or ‘Bama can afford to drop a game and still be in the national title conversation. Everyone knew that Boise had to run the table, and they didn’t, and that is why you don’t hear any crying from Kellen Moore and Co. about rankings these days.

    What you are talking about, however, is not a higher standard – it is an IMPOSSIBLE standard. In other words, by your logic, with Houston’s schedule this year, it wouldn’t have mattered if they fielded the greatest team of all time and went unbeaten, un-tied and un-scored upon; they still would get no title shot. That’s just plain wrong – you don’t punish players for things beyond their control, like strength of schedule.

    Anyway, it’s all premature – Houston has to beat a good Tulsa team and then win the Conf. USA title game before the debate can really begin. If they do, I promise you they’ll be higher than 8th in the BCS.

  25. Scott says:


    All I’m asking is that they play a ranked team, sometime, at some point in the season. Is that impossible?

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