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2018 College Football Rankings: AP Top 25 Poll, CFP Rankings, Coaches Poll, Vegas Ratings

Dec 02, 2018 12:02 PM EST
  • College football rankings will reach their most important form on Sunday after conference championship games finished Saturday.
  • We're comparing the College Football Playoff rankings before the four-team field is announced, the AP Top 25 Poll, our Vegas-style power ratings and the Coaches Poll to see how different groups and voters value each team.

UPDATE: Alabama will play Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff semifinals, while Clemson will meet Notre Dame.


College football rankings, for better or worse, are mostly meaningless until this weekend. That’s when they help decide the College Football Playoff and other New Year’s Six bowls. Throughout the season, rankings are mostly used as a measuring stick.

Still, we at The Action Network have always found it interesting to see how different groups of voters and ratings systems value the top teams in the nation.

We’re comparing the AP Top 25 Poll, Coaches Poll, College Football Playoff rankings and our Vegas-style betting power ratings to see how each quantifies the nation’s best teams.

2018 College Football Rankings

Our oddsmaker-style power ratings, like S&P+ or ESPN FPI, are meant to be predictive and not based on wins and losses. That’s why you’ll see a four-loss Mississippi State so high, and UCF at No. 55 after it lost quarterback McKenzie Milton for the season.

Here are the rankings after championship weekend. We’ll add each poll as it’s released on Sunday. Oklahoma got the fourth College Football Playoff spot, beating out Georgia and Ohio State.

And here were the rankings entering conference championship weekend.

Comparing AP Top 25 Poll, CFP Rankings, Vegas Ratings

Alabama

  • CFP: 1
  • AP Poll: 1
  • Vegas: 1

Entering Week 14: I believe, like a lot of people, that Alabama will get in the College Football Playoff even with a loss to Georgia this weekend.

Nick Saban has the undisputed No. 1 team in the country right now. The Tide have won every game by 20-plus points. They’re the rightful national title favorites until further notice.

Clemson

  • CFP: 2
  • AP Poll: 2
  • Vegas: 2

Entering Week 14: Clemson is a huge favorite over Pitt in the ACC Championship Game and should easily slide into one of the top two spots in the College Football Playoff with a win. With a loss, the Tigers should still get in.

Notre Dame

  • CFP: 3
  • AP Poll: 3
  • Vegas: 6

Entering Week 14: Congrats to the Irish, who will go to the College Football Playoff for the first time. They’re still slightly overrated based on our power ratings, but they’ve been a much better team with quarterback Ian Book under center.

Georgia

  • CFP: 4
  • AP Poll: 4
  • Vegas: 3

Entering Week 14: Georgia’s best chance of reaching the playoff is by beating Alabama, but with losses by Oklahoma and Ohio State, I think the Dawgs can still get in.

Oklahoma

  • CFP: 5
  • AP Poll: 5
  • Vegas: 4

Entering Week 14: Oklahoma is No. 5 in the CFP rankings right now and most believe it will get in with a win over Texas. Trouble is, coach Tom Herman and the Longhorns have an affinity for pulling upsets as big underdogs.

Ohio State

  • CFP: 6
  • AP Poll: 6
  • Vegas: 7

Entering Week 14: Ohio State is back from the dead after stomping Michigan last week, though it will still probably need help to reach the College Football Playoff — i.e. an Oklahoma loss.

Michigan

  • CFP: 7
  • AP Poll: 8
  • Vegas: 4

Entering Week 14: Michigan looked horrific last week against Ohio State, but its body of work is still pretty impressive, and there isn’t a two-loss Power 5 team that has a better résumé. The Wolverines will stay in the top 10 and reach a New Year’s Six bowl.

UCF

  • CFP: 8
  • AP Poll: 7
  • Vegas: 55

Entering Week 14: With quarterback McKenzie Milton suffering a season-ending leg injury, the Knights plummeted to No. 55 in our power ratings. The Knights will reach a second straight New Year’s Six bowl with a win over Memphis on Saturday.

Florida

  • CFP: 9
  • AP Poll: 11
  • Vegas: 12

Entering Week 14: The Gators are pretty much locked into a New Year’s Six bowl after coming in at No. 9 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.

LSU

  • CFP: 10
  • AP Poll: 12
  • Vegas: 11

Entering Week 14: I think AP Poll voters woke up to the shock and horror of LSU’s loss to Texas A&M and gave the Tigers a little bit of a pass. If you value LSU any less after last Saturday, you didn’t value it that much in the first place.

Washington

  • CFP: 11
  • AP Poll: 10
  • Vegas: 10

After Week 14: The Huskies are heading to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2000 after hanging on to beat Utah 10-3 on Friday night. It wasn’t a perfect season for Washington, but it ended strong.

Penn State

  • CFP: 12
  • AP Poll: 14
  • Vegas: 17

Entering Week 14: The Nittany Lions took care of business against Maryland, but their résumé still isn’t all that impressive. They lost to the three best teams they played and were at home when they beat Iowa.

Fortunately, the College Football Playoff committee ranked Penn State No. 12, so it should be in decent shape for a NY6 Bowl.

In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year without Saquon Barkley, offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead and so many key defensive pieces gone, Penn State might win another 10 games and should be even better next season.

Washington State

  • CFP: 13
  • AP Poll: 12
  • Vegas: 19

Entering Week 14: Wazzu played itself out of the Rose Bowl by falling to Washington at home last week.

Texas

  • CFP: 14
  • AP Poll: 9
  • Vegas: 18

Entering Week 14: A second Red River Showdown is just glorious. To hell with anyone who wants to do away with conference championship games.

Kentucky

  • CFP: 15
  • AP Poll: 16
  • Vegas: 40

Entering Week 14: Kentucky wrapped up an excellent regular season with a rout of rival Louisville. The Cats won’t get a New Year’s Six bowl, but they could head to the Citrus Bowl, the top game for SEC teams.

West Virginia

  • CFP: 16
  • AP Poll: 15
  • Vegas: 9

The Mountaineers lost their past two games by a combined seven points, eliminating them from Big 12 Championship Game and NY6 contention after the playoff committee dropped WVU to No. 16 last week.

Utah

  • CFP: 17
  • AP Poll: 17
  • Vegas: 13

After Week 14: Utah couldn’t muster much of anything on offense against Washington on Friday night and fell just short of a Pac-12 title.

Mississippi State

  • CFP: 18
  • AP Poll: 20
  • Vegas: 8

Entering Week 14: The College Football Playoff committee has always liked the Bulldogs more than AP Poll voters (and our ratings like them the most), but they’ll head to a middling SEC bowl after a few disappointing losses.

Texas A&M

  • CFP: 19
  • AP Poll: 22
  • Vegas: 15

Entering Week 14: AP Poll voters love to vault big programs back into the top 25 after big wins, which Texas A&M somehow got on Saturday by beating No. 7 LSU in dramatic fashion.

Syracuse

  • CFP: 20
  • AP Poll: 18
  • Vegas: 32

Entering Week 14: Dino Babers will be a hot commodity over the next two coaching searches after vaulting Syracuse into the Top 25. The Orange hadn’t even won a game in November in three years.

Northwestern

  • CFP: 21
  • AP Poll: 21
  • Vegas: 44

Entering Week 14: Northwestern hasn’t been to a Rose Bowl since the 1995 season, when now-coach Pat Fitzgerald led the Wildcats to a Big Ten title as a linebacker.

Boise State

  • CFP: 22
  • AP Poll: 19
  • Vegas: 34

Entering Week 14: Boise’s win over Utah State could get the Broncos into a New Year’s Six bowl if they can beat Fresno State and Memphis beats UCF.

Iowa State

  • CFP: 23
  • AP Poll: 24
  • Vegas: 22

Entering Week 14: Matt Campbell should be a hot name in the coaching carousel this month, but there probably won’t be a good enough job open for him to jump to. He might bide his time for another year.

Missouri

  • CFP: 24
  • AP Poll: NR
  • Vegas: 14

Entering Week 14: Mizzou finished the season strong with four straight wins, and the defense ended up top 40 in S&P+ to accompany Drew Lock and an excellent offense.

Fresno State

  • CFP: 25
  • AP Poll: 25
  • Vegas: 41

Entering Week 14: Could Fresno get to a New Year’s Six bowl with a win over Boise State and a Memphis win over UCF? It looks that way right now.

Credit:

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Trevor Lawrence and Kirby Smart

Follow Steve Petrella on Twitter
@steve_petrella

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