The final 2017 CFN Rankings – based on opinion and what happened on the field.
Unlike the CFN Final Season Rankings – based solely on wins, schedules, and what the teams did on the field – these are the final rankings based partly on opinion, mostly on facts, and trying to piece this whole crazy thing together now that it’s all done.
The CFN Preseason Rankings was how good we thought the team was before the season.
Based on eye-test, opinions, and on head-to-head matchups as much as possible …
Contact CFN @ColFootballNews
2017 CFN Final Rankings: Based On Opinion
130 UTEP (0-12)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 116
The Miners finished the season as the only winless team and only came within single digits in one game.
129 Rice (1-11)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 124
The Owls came up with one win on the season – against UTEP. Only two of the 11 losses were by fewer than 11 points.
128 Charlotte (1-11)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 127
The 49ers came up with a clunker, with only a 25-24 win over UAB coming between them and a winless season.
127 Ball State (2-10)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 108
The Cardinals were able to beat UAB in the second week of the season, and that was it for the FBS wins, They closed with nine straight losses with all of them by 11 points or more.
126 Kent State (2-10)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 125
The offense only managed 153 points on the season and didn’t score more than 23 points against any other FBS team.
125 Coastal Carolina (3-9)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 129
After a whole slew of ugly losses after starting out with a win over UMass, the Chanticleers ended strong with wins over Idaho and Georgia Southern to give the ranking a final boost.
124 Texas State (2-10)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 128
The Bobcats managed to beat Coastal Carolina for their only FBS win of the year, and then they lost their final three games. They managed just 207 points.
123 Bowling Green (2-10)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 107
Just when it seemed like the Falcons were going to figure something out with an improved offense, the defense continued to go in the tank in the last three losses. The D allowed 456 points on the year.
122 San Jose State (2-11)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 115
A horrible rebuilding and reworking season at least ended with a pop, shocking Wyoming with a 20-17 win. However, The 11 wins over the other FBS teams were all blowouts.
121 Hawaii (3-9)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 104
It wasn’t the season the program was supposed to have, with wins over UMass and San Jose State the only FBS bright spot. Seven of the nine losses were by double digits.
120 Georgia Southern (2-10)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 106
The late coaching change helped the Eagles come up with two late wins over South Alabama and Louisiana-Lafayette to put a nice spin on an uggo of a campaign.
119 Kansas (1-11)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 87
The Jayhawks lost to Kansas State by ten. That was as close as they came to any FBS team, getting destroyed by Oklahoma, Ohio, Central Michigan, and everyone in between. Baylor’s only win was a 38-9 layup over KU.
118 New Mexico (3-9)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 86
Awful, the Lobos lost their last seven games after a promising 3-2 start. The team could never find a positive identity.
117 Louisiana (5-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 122
The Ragin’ Cajuns could never seem to get their season started. Losing three of their last four – including a 34-24 clunker to Georgia Southern – kept them from going bowling.
116 BYU (4-9)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 58
The offense only managed 222 points on the season. As bad as things were, they at least won three of their last five games and became more competitive.
115 ULM (4-8)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 113
The Warhawks pulled off a stunner over Appalachian State, but that was an aberration, losing six of their last seven games. The D was a hot mess over the second half of the season.
114 South Alabama (4-8)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 118
USA was good enough to shock Troy and Arkansas State, but flaky enough to get blown away by Georgia Southern 52-0. The Jaguars lost four of their final five games.
113 Idaho (4-8)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 110
It was a rough year with a whole bunch of awful losses, but winning at Georgia State to close things out saved it from being a total disaster.
112 Old Dominion (5-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 109
The Monarchs closed well with three straight wins after a brutal 1-6 start, but they couldn’t beat Middle Tennessee to get bowl eligible. However, the win over FIU was it for the decent moments.
111 Miami Univ. (5-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 105
The RedHawks couldn’t get the season going, but they won three of their last five games. Flaky, they lost to horrible Bowling Green and Kent State teams, but they were competitive late.
110 Massachusetts (4-8)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 126
As good as a 4-8 team can get, the Minutemen started out 0-6 but won four of their last six games. It was a losing season, but it was an entertaining one.
109 Tulsa (2-10)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 69
The Golden Hurricane defense never showed up. There was a win over Louisiana-Lafayette early, a 45-17 stunner over Houston, and that was it. However, five of the losses were by seven points or fewer.
108 Connecticut (3-9)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 106
The win over Temple in the middle of the season was an aberration, and the follow-up victory over Tulsa wasn’t any big deal. The Huskies couldn’t do much of anything defensively the rest of the way.
107 Cincinnati (4-8)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 66
Luke Fickell’s team had the excuse of losing to all good teams that would end up going bowling – and then it lost to East Carolina by four touchdowns. It’s going to take a while to build this up to AAC title snuff.
106 East Carolina (3-9)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 89
The Pirates were able to sprinkle in a few wins over BYU and Cincinnati to keep the season from being truly miserable. And then they lost to Memphis 70-13 to close things out. ECU allowed 540 points on the year.
105 Western Kentucky (6-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 63
An uneven season, the Hilltoppers lost five of their last six games including a blowout at FIU and a Cure Bowl to Georgia State. All passing game, no running game – it wasn’t enough to deal with the better teams.
104 Georgia State (7-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 121
Painfully mediocre all season long, the Panthers closed strong winning four of their last six games including a bowl victory over WKU. Considering this was a building – not just a rebuilding – year, it was terrific.
103 Oregon State (1-11)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 64
The Beavers lost their coach, they lost their quarterback, they choked away sure-thing win over Stanford, and they went winless against FBS teams. Other than that, everything was great.
102 Baylor (1-11)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 40
The Bears beat Kansas and pushed Oklahoma late. That was it in terms of the positives in a season that was supposed to be rough, but was inexcusably miserable. There were enough pieces there for Matt Rhule to have done a whole lot more.
101 Utah State (6-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 98
The Aggies fought hard to get to six wins and bowl eligibility, but they didn’t beat anyone with a pulse. They were hardly embarrassing in their losses, but they struggled in close conference games.
100 UNLV (5-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 94
The Rebels started with the embarrassing loss to Howard, and closed well with three wins in a four game stretch, but just when it came time to come up with a huge win to get bowl eligible, they turtled in an inexplicable loss to Nevada.
99 Nevada (3-9)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 91
With the win over UNLV to close the season – and with wins in two of the last three games – there was hope at the end of Jay Norvell’s first season. The first nine parts of it were lousy.
98 Colorado State (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 56
The Rams should’ve been better. The best win – Utah State? Ugh. They didn’t do enough defensively, they gagged away a loss to Boise State, and they got run over by Marshall in the New Mexico Bowl. They were hardly embarrassing, but they just didn’t beat anyone.
97 Middle Tennessee (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 85
The Blue Raiders won four of their last five games, including a strong Camellia Bowl victory over Arkansas State. Once QB Brent Stockstill returned, this was a different team.
96 Marshall (8-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 101
Pulling off a win over Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl was enough to overcome a miserable end to the regular season, losing four of the last five games before going bowling.
95 UTSA (6-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 114
The Roadrunners should’ve been bowling with a defense that gave up just 187 points on the year. However, they lost three of their last four games. On the year, they beat five awful teams and Marshall.
94 New Mexico State (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 123
It was a magical final season in the Sun Belt winning four of the last five games and getting to a bowl game, winning it in overtime over Utah State. There were a few misfires, but a winning season in Las Cruces? Amazing.
93 Arkansas State (7-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 99
For all of the good things the Red Wolves did, they beat a whole lot of awful teams. When it came time to step up, they failed in losses to Troy and Middle Tennessee to close.
92 Louisiana Tech (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 74
The 51-10 bowl win over SMU changed the narrative a bit. The Bulldogs beat NO ONE other than WKU over the first 12 games, but they closed with three straight wins. The team showed a good fight.
91 Buffalo (6-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 120
The Bulls beat a whole lot of bad teams, but they also took down Ohio in the regular season finale to close out a run of three straight wins. They should’ve been bowling, especially considering they beat Florida Atlantic along the way.
90 UAB (8-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 130
The magical rebirth of a season might have ended with a thud of a Bahamas Bowl loss, but eight wins for a program that took a few years off? Fantastic.
89 Illinois (2-10)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 65
After a 2-0 start and an 0-10 finish, it was a youth movement that needs to pay off in 2018. The offense was pathetic, failing to score more than 14 points in each of the last six games.
88 Southern Miss (8-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 84
It was a stronger season than it’ll get credit for. The Golden Eagles won six games in eight to get bowl eligible – and then came the date against a fired up Florida State.
87 Tulane (5-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 102
The Green Wave played well late in the season, battling hard in close losses and beating Houston and Army on the year. They might have come short on a bowl game, but they battled well and were entertaining.
86 FIU (8-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 100
Don’t let the blowout loss to Temple in the Gasparilla Bowl sour the great first season under Butch Davis. There were a lot of bumslayer wins, but eight wins are eight wins.
85 SMU (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 101
There might have been a coaching loss before the bowl game, but the Mustangs lost four of their last five games and rarely showed a lick of defense all season long. For all the offensive fun, the D gave up points way too easily.
84 Eastern Michigan (5-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 117
So, SO frustrating. the Eagles invented ways to lose close games, dripping six in a row by a total of 19 points. However, they win three of their last four and came up with a win over Rutgers early.
83 Western Michigan (6-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 77
The Broncos pushed USC, weren’t bad against Michigan State, and lost three MAC games by a touchdown or less, but they dropped three of their last four games to miss out on a bowl appearance. The problem? The best win was over Buffalo.
82 Temple (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 81
It might have been a step back after taking down the American Athletic in 2016, but the Owls kept fighting to get to a bowl, winning three of the last four games to get to the post-season, and then crushing FIU for a winning campaign.
81 Akron (7-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 119
The Zips got there. It might have been a horrible finish – losing to Ohio in the MAC Championship and to Florida Atlantic in the Boca Raton by a combined score of 95-31, but it was still a successful season.
80 Rutgers (4-8)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 75
The Scarlet Knights had a few decent moments, but they lost four of their last five games, dropping the last three by a combined score of 116-13. The O scored more than 17 points just three times – all wins.
79 Tennessee (4-8)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 28
The Vols were embarrassing, losing seven of their last eight games including a particularly painful stretch of three games with just 16 points. There were still chances to turn the season around late, but instead, the defense got worse.
78 Air Force (5-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 82
The Falcons just couldn’t get the season going. Other than to New Mexico, there weren’t any big whiffs, but there weren’t any great wins, either. The defense just wasn’t good enough.
77 Nebraska (4-8)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 41
Just when it seemed like it might have been a case of a team that couldn’t catch a break, the second half of the season happened. The Huskers allowed 54 points or more in four of their last six games and in each of the last three.
76 Minnesota (5-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 37
P.J. Fleck’s team didn’t have any offense. The Gophers managed ten points or fewer in four of the last five games, losing to Northwestern and Wisconsin by a combined score of 70-0 in the last two. The future might be bright, but it was a tough run.
75 Indiana (5-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 43
It was a year of lost opportunities. The Hoosiers beat Virginia on the road, and they battled hard in various losses, but they needed one win over Purdue to go bowling, and they couldn’t get it.
74 Maryland (4-8)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 48
It would’ve been interesting to have seen what the team could’ve done with a healthy quarterback. The Terps might have beaten Texas, and they started out 3-1, but they lost seven of their last eight games and weren’t even close in the last three defeats.
73 Northern Illinois (8-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 95
The Huskies came up with a win over Nebraska, a whole slew of victories over mediocre MAC teams, and that was it. They couldn’t get by the better teams – losing several close games – and then came the clunker to Duke in the Quick Lane Bowl.
72 Ohio (9-4)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 92
So, so disappointing, the Bobcats should’ve been in the MAC Championship. One loss to Akron ended that. They blew away UAB, and they destroyed Toledo, but there were too many puzzling brain cramps.
71 Wyoming (8-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 90
The defense was amazing, the offense often good enough, and it was an eight-win season with a bowl victory. Considering how much the O struggled at times, it wasn’t a bad follow-up to a great 2016.
70 Central Michigan (8-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 64
Forgetting about the eight turnovers given up in the bowl loss to Wyoming, it was a strong second half of the season winning six of the last seven games. There were rough spots early, but beating Ohio, Western Michigan and Northern Illinois made it a nice year.
69 Arkansas (4-8)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 30
The Hogs had one fun moment in a 39-38 win at Ole Miss, and that was it – nothing else worked. Coastal Carolina and Florida A&M were the only two teams on the schedule that didn’t go bowling, but Arkansas went 2-8 against all of the good teams.
68 Vanderbilt (5-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 57
After a nice 3-0 start and a win over Kansas State, the Commodores popped off about Alabama, Alabama went Alabama, and that was about it losing seven of the last nine games.
67 Toledo (11-2)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 73
The Rockets won the MAC title, and they pushed Miami for a little bit, but they also beat a whole slew of bad teams to build up to the 11-win season. The 34-0 loss to Appalachian State in the Dollar General Bowl was totally inexcusable.
66 Appalachian State (8-4)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 78
The Mountaineers were surprisingly mediocre for a stretch with losses to UMass and ULM, but they closed out with a bang, including a 34-0 Dollar General Bowl whacking of MAC champion Toledo.
65 Virginia (6-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 71
Everything that was so much fun early – with a road win at Boise State and victories over Georgia Tech and Duke – all went away losing the last four games. From the second half against Miami on, the team went into the tank – the offense didn’t score against Virginia Tech or in the clunker bowl loss to Navy.
64 Florida (4-8)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 13
Other than a miraculous play against Tennessee, there wasn’t much to get fired up about. They lost close games to LSU and Texas A&M, and everything snowballed from there, losing six of their last seven games.
63 Houston (7-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 61
The Cougars were close to doing something big, but four of the five wins were by a touchdown or less. The offense might not have been explosive, but it was effective enough to beat Navy and USF. However, it also didn’t show up in an inexplicable loss to Tulsa.
62 Florida Atlantic (11-3)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 97
There might not have been any special wins, but for a program that hasn’t had a whole lot of fun, getting on the Lane train was a blast. The offense was dominant, the points were flying, and the team won ten straight games after a 1-3 start with a C-USA title and a bowl victory.
61 Pitt (5-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 39
The Panthers might have clunked too many times, and they lost too many winnable games, but they rose up to beat Miami in a win better than any bowl they could’ve gone to. That gave the program hope for 2018 – it actually can win big games.
60 Syracuse (4-8)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 53
Syracuse was the only team to beat Clemson before Alabama took care of business in the CFP, but that was it – the Orange lost their last five games from here. There weren’t any bad losses in a BRUTAL schedule against ten bowl teams.
59 North Carolina (3-9)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 44
The Tar Heels closed out strong winning two of their last three games, including a stunner at Pitt that kept the Panthers out of a bowl game. However, there were just enough clunkers along the way – Cal, Virginia, Duke – to knock down the ranking.
58 Missouri (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 36
Great against bad teams, bad against good teams, Mizzou managed to overcome a 1-5 start once the schedule eased up. The Tigers didn’t beat at team that went bowling and were exposed by Texas in the Texas Bowl.
57 Kentucky (7-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 42
Great start, bad finish. The Wildcats were one play away against Florida from starting 6-0, and they struggled late losing four of their last five games, including the bowl game to Northwestern.
56 Ole Miss (6-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 49
With nothing to play for, the Rebels put up a good fight all season long, closing out with a win over Mississippi State. They won three of their last four games after going through a rough stretch losing five games in six.
55 California (5-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 55
The Bears lost four of their last five games and missed out on going bowling, but Justin Wilcox’s first season was a solid one. They beat North Carolina, Ole Miss and Washington State, but they stumbled too much late.
54 Colorado (5-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 52
A painfully inconsistent season after starting out 3-0, the Buffs lost seven of their last nine games and couldn’t do anything to come up with a season-changing win. Needing just one more victory to go bowling, they lost their last three games.
53 Oregon (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 25
For all of the good things the team did when QB Justin Herbert was healthy, it all came apart in the Las Vegas Bowl loss to Boise State. The wins over Arizona and Utah were a bit overblown, and the blowout losses to UCLA and Washington State were ugly.
52 UCLA (6-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 32
The Bruins couldn’t play any defense – giving up 476 points – and couldn’t get the season going with no rhythm after a 2-0 start. They were able to hang with USC, but they were blown away by Utah and Arizona, finishing 6-0 at home, and 0-7 away from Pasadena.
51 Arizona (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 62
For all the fun of Khalil Tate, and for all the positive moments – like the win over Washington State – the Wildcats lost four of their last five games including the Foster Farms Bowl to Purdue.
50 Arizona State (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 47
Even though the Sun Devils won three of their last four regular season games, it wasn’t enough to keep head coach Todd Graham. The wins over Utah and Arizona were good, the win over Washington was great, but it wasn’t enough.
49 Texas Tech (6-7)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 50
The Red Raiders beat Texas. That was it, that was the moment, that was what the season was all about, since that made them bowl eligible – and it was a win over fricking Texas. Beating Arizona State wasn’t bad, either.
48 Georgia Tech (5-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 38
All the Yellow Jackets needed to do was win one extra game and they would’ve been bowling – they couldn’t get by Virginia or Duke, losing four of their last five. They might have beaten Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, but there were too many slips.
47 Purdue (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 67
The first year under Jeff Brohm, realistically, couldn’t have gone any better. They might have lost to Rutgers and Nebraska, but they played Wisconsin and Louisville tough, they won four of their last five games, they beat Indiana, and they beat Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl.
46 Florida State (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 2
A disastrous season considering the expectations, the team could’ve given up, and didn’t. The Noles needed to close strong, and they did, winning five of their last six games and their last four, beating Florida and taking down Southern Miss in the Independence Bowl.
45 USF (10-2)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 60
11 points. The Bulls lost to Houston and UCF by 11 points, and that was all that stood between them and, possibly, doing what that team in Orlando did. Beating Texas Tech in the Birmingham Bowl gave the season some legitimacy.
44 Memphis (10-3)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 72
There aren’t any amazing wins, but the three losses came to Iowa State by one in the Liberty Bowl, and to UCF twice – that’s not bad. The offense put up 592 points with big performances over UCLA and Navy along the way.
43 Texas A&M (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 34
The Aggie defense died at the end, but outside of the collapse to UCLA to start the season, the other four losses – Alabama, Mississippi State, Auburn, LSU and Wake Forest – weren’t awful. Losing four of the last six, though, hurt.
42 Duke (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 76
The Blue Devils started 4-0, lost six in a row, and won the final three. Just when it seemed like all was lost, they came up with three nice wins over Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, and Northern Illinois to finish with a winning season.
41 Louisville (8-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 18
The team just wasn’t very good. Lamar Jackson was amazing, but the rest of the team wasn’t that great. The Cardinal won four of their last five regular season games before the clunker to Mississippi State in the TaxSlayer.
40 Navy (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 88
The Midshipmen lost six of their last seven regular season games, they lost to Army, and they couldn’t seem to win a close game, but they blew out Virginia in the Military Bowl and rocked Florida Atlantic to start the season.
39 San Diego State (10-3)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 57
A strong team and a great season crashed late with a loss to Army in the Armed Forces Bowl. There was an early win over Stanford, and beating Northern Illinois was solid, but there were a whole lot of bad wins along the way. Losing to Fresno State and Boise State defined the season.
38 Army (10-3)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 96
That’s how you close a season. The Knights won eight of their last nine games, beat Navy, won the Armed Forces Bowl over San Diego State, and came up with the program’s best year since 1996.
37 North Texas (9-4)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 112
It was a much, much stronger season than you might think. After starting out 1-2, the Mean Green lost twice to Florida Atlantic, and lost to Troy in the New Orleans Bowl, and that was it. They beat Army and UAB as part of a run of eight wins in ten games.
36 Troy (11-2)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 79
The Trojans might have inexcusably lost to South Alabama at home, but they also beat LSU, a good North Texas team, and took a piece of the Sun Belt title. It was an efficient, strong season – there’s no sneering at 11 wins.
35 Iowa State (8-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 68
The Cyclones became a massive story with wins over Oklahoma and TCU, and they showed how real they really were with a Liberty Bowl win over a high-powered Memphis team. Even the five losses were close – four were by a total of 15 points.
34 Kansas State (8-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 24
The Wildcats closed strong, winning five of their last six games including a thriller at Oklahoma State, a fight against Iowa State, and the Cactus Bowl over UCLA. The Vanderbilt loss was inexcusable, but it was early in the season.
33 West Virginia (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 29
It would’ve been a different season had QB Will Grier stayed healthy, but the Mountaineers closed out with a thud, losing their last three games. They managed to get by Kansas State and Iowa State, but they couldn’t get by the top teams on the slate.
32 Utah (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 33
It was a rocky year, but the Utes won three of their last five games including the must-win over Colorado to get bowling, and West Virginia in the Heart of Dallas. There was a tough midseason, but it was still a winning campaign.
31 Fresno State (10-4)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 103
One of the season’s best surprises, the Bulldogs won five of their last six games with the only loss coming to Boise State in the Mountain West Championship. There was a bad loss to UNLV, bu the other two losses? At Alabama and Washington.
30 Boise State (11-3)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 54
The destruction of Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl put a nice cap on a terrific season. Blow off the loss to Fresno State – that didn’t matter with a rematch the week after in the Mountain West Championship – with wins over San Diego State and Wyoming as a part of the fun of a run of nine wins in the final ten games.
29 Texas (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 12
The talent was there to do more, but winning three of the last four, easily beating Missouri in the Texas Bowl, and getting by Iowa State and Kansas State was good. However, losing to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU isn’t okay if you’re the Texas head coach. Tom Herman can’t go 7-6 in Year Two.
28 Boston College (7-6)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 59
At least the team was relevant. Considering it started out 2-4 and didn’t look good in the win over NIU, that’s important. The Eagles beat Louisville and Florida State as part of a run of five wins in the final six regular season games before losing to Iowa in the Pinstripe.
27 Iowa (8-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 22
55-24. That win over Ohio State was the key to the college football season. If that goes the other way, Alabama isn’t in the College Football Playoff. The Hawkeyes might have struggled offensively, but they beat Iowa State, Boston College … and Ohio State.
26 NC State (9-4)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 20
The Wolfpack someone lost to South Carolina to start the season, didn’t show up against Notre Dame, and were solid against just about everyone else. There wasn’t any one great win, but there were a whole lot of good ones.
2017 CFN Final Top 25
25 Wake Forest (8-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 70
The team was a whole lot of fun with an offense that put up 64 points on Syracuse and 55 on Texas A&M to close with three wins in the final four games. the Demon Deacons were able to overcome a bad run of four losses in five weeks in the midseason.
24 Washington State (9-4)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 26
The season should’ve been better. The Cougars were good enough to beat USC, Stanford and Boise State, and just Washington State enough to get blown out by Washington and Michigan State to close. That blowout loss to Cal didn’t help.
23 Michigan (8-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 21
Really, Michigan? The total collapse to South Carolina meant a three-game losing streak to close things out, and it also meant that the early win over Purdue was the only victory over a team that went bowling.
22 Virginia Tech (9-4)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 23
The Hokies were okay, but couldn’t quite come up with that one big win to make the season special. The back-to-back losses to Miami and Georgia Tech on the road were rough, and the best win of the season turned out to be the opener against West Virginia.
21 South Carolina (9-4)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 45
The team that never seemed like it was good enough to beat anyone who was all that great, managed to beat NC State to start the season, Michigan in the outback to end it, and with victories over Tennessee, and Florida along the way. That’s a plus in any year for USC.
20 LSU (9-4)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 17
The Tigers were good enough to beat Auburn, flaky enough to lose at home to Troy, good enough to get by most of the mediocre teams, strange enough to get blown out by Mississippi State, good enough to push Alabama, and in the end, just off enough to lose on one big play to Notre Dame in the Citrus.
19 Northwestern (10-3)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 35
The Wildcats didn’t look in any way like they were going to come up with a good season after starting 1-3 with double-digit losses to Duke, Wisconsin and Penn State. And then they couldn’t lose, winning eight straight with wins over Iowa, Michigan State, and in the Music City Bowl over Kentucky along the way.
18 Mississippi State (9-4)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 46
The Bulldogs lost to Georgia, Auburn, and Alabama, and they lost to Ole Miss after star QB Nick Fitzgerald breaking his leg. The team overcame that, and the loss of head coach Dan Mullen, to beat Louisville in the TaxSlayer.
17 Washington (10-3)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 6
The program continued to show it was good enough to win a lot of games against a lot of okay teams, but not good enough to beat the superstars. The best win? Washington State or Fresno State. That’s fine, but UW was outclassed by Stanford and Penn State.
16 Oklahoma State (10-3)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 16
So, so close to doing big things, OSU lost to Oklahoma in the wild 62-52 shootout, dropped games at home to TCU and Kansas State, and took care of everyone else. The defense came through against Texas and West Virginia, and the offense did its part against everyone else.
15 Miami (10-3)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 11
It was a whole lot of fun up until December. The loss to Pitt didn’t matter, but getting blown out by Clemson in the ACC Championship and stomped on by Wisconsin in the Orange killed the party. Blowing away Notre Dame and beating Virginia Tech on the way to a 10-0 start showed what the future might look like.
14 Stanford (9-5)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 14
It was a strange season. The Cardinal were good enough to beat Notre Dame, blowout Oregon, and get by Washington on the way to the Pac-12 Championship, but they struggled against USC in both games, and collapsed to TCU in the Alamo.
13 USC (11-3)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 10
It was a Pac-12 Championship season, there were good enough moments to think it might be possible to get to the College Football Playoff. But a blowout loss to Notre Dame ended that, and the 24-7 loss to Ohio State in the Cotton proved just how above-average the team was.
12 TCU (11-3)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 19
Oklahoma was the one problem TCU couldn’t overcome. The 14-7 loss to Iowa State was weird – the Horned Frogs blew several big opportunities – and took down everyone else, beating Texas and Kansas State easily, and rallying back to beat Stanford in the Alamo.
11 Penn State (11-2)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 9
There but for a few points, the Nittany Lions would’ve been in the Big Ten Championship, and possibly, the College Football Playoff. They lost to Ohio State and Michigan State on the road by a combined total of four points. They didn’t beat anyone else who was all that great until the Fiesta Bowl vs. Washington.
10 Michigan State (10-3)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 31
Losing at Notre Dame in September was acceptable, and losing to Northwestern in overtime wasn’t that bad. The blowout to Ohio State? Fine – the Buckeyes really were good. The Spartans beat everyone else, including Michigan, Penn State and Washington State.
9 Notre Dame (10-3)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 27
The Irish might have lost their stuff against Miami, and they struggled against Stanford late on the road, but they were still good enough to blowout Michigan State, Boston College and USC. Beating LSU proved just how good this team really was – just two of the 13 games were against teams that didn’t go bowling.
8 Auburn (10-4)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 15
The Tigers found a groove late in the season with dominant wins over Georgia and Alabama, but they wore down. They didn’t look the same in the SEC Championship loss to the Bulldogs, and were lethargic against UCF in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl until it was too late. Even so, it was a strong season – they were one win away from going to the College Football Playoff.
7 Clemson (12-2)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 4
Terrific at the end of the season when it all kicked in, and great in September against a nasty schedule, it was a great year with a third straight ACC Championship – don’t let the beatdown by Alabama gloss over that. However, that loss at Syracuse looks a whole lot worse in the final analysis.
6 UCF (13-0)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 80
They did it. They became the only team in college football to finish unbeaten, and they managed to beat the Auburn team that beat Alabama and Georgia, but the wins over Memphis – the second time around – and USF were way too close.
5 Wisconsin (13-1)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 8
But the schedule? It wasn’t a killer, but the Badgers were able to blowout Florida Atlantic, roll through Iowa, beat Michigan, and come within one stalled drive of winning the Big Ten title. Beating Miami in the Orange Bowl proved just how good they really were.
4 Ohio State (12-2)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 3
The 55-24 loss to Iowa will be the defining moment that everyone will remember, but the Buckeyes won the Big Ten Championship, They blew out USC in the Cotton Bowl. They got by Penn State, and Michigan State, and Michigan. This probably was one of the four best teams in college football … who also happened to lose to Iowa by 31 points.
3 Oklahoma (12-2)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 5
It would’ve been SO much fun to have seen Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma go against Alabama for all the marbles. However, the Sooners managed to beat Ohio State in Columbus, came back to beat Texas, beat Oklahoma State in an epic shootout, took over TCU twice for the Big 12 title, and did almost everything right in a thriller of a Rose Bowl loss to Georgia. Throw in the Mayfield Heisman, and it was a fantastic run in Lincoln Riley’s first season.
2 Georgia (13-2)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 7
There but for a few plays late against Alabama, this is the national champion. Don’t forget, the Dawgs beat Notre Dame in South Bend. They won the SEC Championship. They beat Oklahoma in an all-timer of a Rose Bowl. And yeah, they got to the national championship. That’s pretty, pretty good.
1 Alabama (13-1)
CFN Preseason Ranking: 1
Yeah, they didn’t have the regular season resume to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff. Yeah, they don’t get in if Wisconsin scores late against Ohio State. Yeah, they lost to Auburn by 12 and didn’t look all that great over the second half of the season. Yeah, UCF went unbeaten and beat the team that beat Alabama. Yeah, Ohio State probably deserved the spot more.
Yeah … the Crimson Tide destroyed Clemson and beat Georgia to win the College Football Playoff National Championship. None of that other stuff matters now.