Week 11 of the 2022 college football season is in the books, and the list of College Football Playoff contenders continues to shrink. While Saturday’s slate couldn’t quite match the chaos of the week prior, it still provided a sizable shakeup.
The biggest college football upsets of the day happened in the Pac-12, where No. 6 Oregon and No. 12 UCLA both lost at home. With both teams suffering their second loss of the season, they are likely out of the CFP race entirely. The Pac-12 now has only a single one-loss team remaining, and the conference’s road to the CFP just got a lot harder.
Elsewhere, No. 9 Alabama rebounded from last week’s loss with a gutsy win at No. 11 Ole Miss. Some lower-ranked teams such as NC State, Tulane, Texas, Illinois and Kentucky suffered losses, while others should move up after big wins. It will be interesting to see just how the new rankings look when they drop on Tuesday.
For now, let’s just stick to the best of the best. Let’s look at our rankings for the College Football Playoff top 10 following Week 11’s action.
10. North Carolina Tar Heels (9-1)
It wasn’t pretty, but North Carolina did exactly what it needed to on Saturday. The Tar Heels earned a hard-fought win at Wake Forest to improve to 6-0 in conference play. With the win, the Tar Heels clinched the ACC Coastal division for the first time since 2015.
Drake Maye continued his Heisman campaign with 519 total yards and four total touchdowns on Saturday night. Wide receiver Josh Downs was also fantastic with 11 catches for 154 yards and three touchdowns. The College Football Playoff might be a long shot, but the Tar Heels still have a great chance to win the ACC and make a New Year’s Six bowl game.
9. Alabama Crimson Tide (8-2)
The Crimson Tide earned their best win of the season by upending the Rebels on their home field. It may have been a closer game than expected, and Ole Miss even had a 10-point lead at a couple of points, but a win is a win. Considering Alabama’s road struggles this season, pulling out the win in a hostile environment deserves some credit.
However, the Tide also lost any remaining hopes of winning the SEC West thanks to LSU’s win earlier in the day. Alabama still has a great chance to make a New Year’s Six bowl and could still finish with 11 wins. But with a weak resume and no conference title, Alabama’s College Football Playoff hopes have disappeared.
8. Clemson Tigers (9-1)
In the actual College Football Playoff rankings, Clemson will likely be behind Alabama, as last week’s rankings indicated. However, the Tigers should be ahead because they are still alive in both their conference and the playoff race. In fact, Clemson’s playoff chances got a boost thanks to Oregon’s loss on Saturday night.
Clemson bounced back from last week’s embarrassing loss to Notre Dame by defeating Louisville 31-16 at home. DJ Uiagalelei looked much better this week, but the main story was the Tigers’ run game, as they rushed for 248 yards and three touchdowns. With the ACC Atlantic locked up and games against Miami and South Carolina to close the regular season, the Tigers should cruise into the ACC title game at 11-1 and a shot to make the playoff.
7. USC Trojans (9-1)
In previous weeks, USC had a bad habit of letting inferior teams hang around for too long. The Trojans looked like they solved that habit by crushing lowly Colorado 55-17 on Friday night. Caleb Williams put together another strong game with 268 yards and three touchdowns, and the Trojans outgunned the Buffaloes 531-259.
The real test for the Trojans will be in the coming weeks, as they face UCLA and Notre Dame to close out the regular season. USC should be the favorite in both contests, but these will be two of the toughest games of the season. With the chaos in the Pac-12 on Saturday, the Trojans are now the conference’s last shot at getting into the CFP.
6. LSU Tigers (8-2)
Raiders owner Al Davis famously said, “Just win, baby,” and now LSU is saying the same. The Tigers’ victory against Arkansas on Saturday was the definition of ugly, as both teams had two turnovers and under 300 yards of offense. Jayden Daniels, who had been playing like a Heisman candidate recently, had a miserable day with just 86 passing yards, two turnovers and seven sacks against.
Instead, the Tigers’ defense led them to a victory this time. Linebacker Harold Perkins Jr. had a monster day with four sacks, while linebacker Greg Penn III added three tackles for loss on his own. It may have been ugly, but the Tigers did what they needed to keep their playoff hopes alive.
5. Tennessee Volunteers (9-1)
It took a bit to get going, but Tennessee rebounded from last week’s loss with a 66-24 drubbing of Missouri. The Volunteers reeled off 38 unanswered points to close the game and racked up 724 yards of offense in just 26 minutes of possession time. Hendon Hooker put on a show with 405 yards and four touchdowns in his final game in Knoxville.
With Oregon losing and Ohio State and Michigan on a collision course, the Vols still have a great chance to make the College Football Playoff. With a weak remaining schedule and no division title, they may need a bit of help to get to the final four. If they do get there, though, the Vols will be a tough out for any foe.
4. TCU Horned Frogs (10-0)
TCU’s high-flying offense was very quiet on Saturday night, with a season-low 283 yards and 17 points. The Horned Frogs’ defense more than picked up the slack, though, holding Texas’ offense to just 199 yards and three points. Quinn Ewers (17-of-39 for 171 yards and an interception) and Bijan Robinson (12 carries for 29 yards) both had games to forget against TCU.
The Horned Frogs proved they can win any sort of game with their performance on Saturday. They had won the high-scoring games all season, but now they won an ugly, low-scoring one as well. TCU controls its own destiny to the College Football Playoff, and that versatility makes for a dangerous team.
3. Michigan Wolverines (10-0)
Another week, another dominant performance for Michigan in a 34-3 win over Nebraska. The Wolverines’ defense smothered the Huskers, holding them to just 146 total yards on the day. Blake Corum continued his Heisman campaign with 162 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
As has been the case for weeks now, the Ohio State game on Nov. 26 is all that matters for Michigan. The two Big Ten juggernauts are on a collision course, with the winner going to the College Football Playoff while the loser likely stays home. Before that, though, the Wolverines have one more warmup game against Illinois in Week 12.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes (10-0)
After a lackluster performance the week before, the Buckeyes looked like their usual selves in a 56-14 beatdown of Indiana. The Buckeyes racked up 662 yards of offense, including 340 on the ground. C.J. Stroud also rebounded with 297 yards and five touchdowns through the air.
The big concern for Ohio State is the health of running back Miyan Williams, who left on a cart late in the first half. The Buckeyes were already missing TreVeyon Henderson, and now both of their top backs may be out. They need to hope that they will be back before the Michigan game, or they may be in trouble.
1. Georgia Bulldogs (10-0)
The Bulldogs left no doubt about who the best team in the country was after last week’s decisive win over Tennessee, and Saturday’s 45-19 win over Mississippi State did nothing to change that. After leading by just five at halftime, Georgia outscored Mississippi State 28-7 in the second half to pull away. Stetson Bennett overcame two picks to score four total touchdowns with over 300 total yards on the night.
The Bulldogs close out the regular season with games against Kentucky and Georgia Tech, so they’re basically on cruise control until the SEC Championship. Even if they lose that game, the Bulldogs will still have a great chance to make the College Football Playoff. Georgia has been the most dominant college football team in the country this season, and a second straight national championship is within reach.