The Final 2011 CFN Rankings
Posted Jan 13, 2012

The CFN Final Rankings of every team ... The Top 25

CFN 2011 Rankings

Final - Opinion

- 2011 AP Rankings
- 2011 Coaches' Poll
- Scoreboard & Game Recap
- 2011 Preseason Rankings

CFN Rankings Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6
Week 7  | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13

2011 CFN Final Season Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-25 | Rankings 26-50
- Rankings 51-75 | Rankings 76-100The Bottom 20

- CFN 2011 FINAL Rankings, No. 26-120   

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1. Alabama 12-1
Last Week: W, LSU 21-0

Why Alabama Should Be No. 1: On the season's grandest stage, the Crimson Tide was nearly pitch-perfect in the Superdome, handing then-unbeaten LSU its only loss of the year, 21-0. Alabama's only defeat came in overtime to the Tigers, and its suffocating, top-ranked defense yielded a measly eight points and 183 yards a game.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Tide's path to the BCS National Championship Game wasn't nearly as rocky or difficult as, oh, LSU's. Heck, ‘Bama didn't even win its division, let alone the Southeastern Conference. It played just three games against teams that finished the year ranked, losing one to the Tigers in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 5.

2. LSU 13-1
Last Week: L, Alabama 21-0

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Tigers fashioned what was arguably the best regular season of the BCS era, beating eight ranked teams, seven by double-digits. Included in the haul were three opponents that went on to win BCS bowl games, Oregon, West Virginia and Alabama, and SEC heavyweights Arkansas and Georgia. Only one school, the top-ranked Tide, came within a dozen points of defeating LSU in 2011.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: There are big-game losses, and then there are the kinds of defeats that leave a program and its fan base in a three-month funk. The Tigers suffered the latter in Monday's 21-0 BCS National Championship Game collapse to Alabama. LSU managed just 92 total yards and five first downs in a feeble effort that ended any talk about a possible split national championship.

3. Oklahoma State 12-1
Last Game: W, Stanford 41-38

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Go ahead and label 2011 the best in the history of Oklahoma State football. The high-flying Cowboys captured the Big 12 championship, their first league title since 1978, before going on to beat one-loss Stanford in a Fiesta Bowl thriller, 41-38. As a prelude to Glendale, they hammered rival Oklahoma in a Bedlam blowout.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: One word: Ames. There were no moral victories in the Cowboys lone loss to Iowa State on Nov. 18. The Cyclones were a marginal program in 2011 that slipped below .500 after falling to Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl. Of the late-season contenders for New Orleans, no one suffered a more egregious loss than Okie State.

4. Oregon 12-2
Last Game: W, Wisconsin 45-38

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: After falling short in the opener in Arlington, Tex., the Ducks came on like gangbusters, winning 12 of the next 13 games, with the Pac-12 Championship Game and the Rose Bowl serving as exclamation points. Oregon's only losses came against LSU and USC, two of the country's top 5 programs.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Oregon was in the hunt for another shot at LSU in the BCS National Championship before inexplicably losing at home to the Trojans, 38-35, on Nov. 19. The D had a predictably tough time overcoming a handful of graduations, yielding at least 30 points in four of the final five games.

5. USC 10-2
Last Game: W, UCLA 50-0

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Take away the NCAA sanctions, and the Trojans, not UCLA, would have faced Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game as the South Division champ. Heck, Troy had already beaten the Ducks in Eugene, so the Rose Bowl might have been its postseason destination. Few schools were hotter in the second half than USC and its Matt Barkley-inspired passing game.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: All of the games count no matter when they occur. While the triple-overtime loss to Stanford was forgivable, getting thumped by Arizona State, 43-22, on Sept. 24 was not. The Sun Devils may have been dangerous at the time, but they wound up a 6-7 team that canned its coach.

6. Wisconsin 11-3
Last Game: L, Oregon 45-38

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Big Ten champs may have lost three times in 2011, but they were also just 17 points away from running the table. Not only were the high-powered Badgers rarely threatened in their wins, but their losses came on a pair of desperation, late-game heaves, and a close call with No. 4 Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Losing to Michigan State and Oregon in nail-biters? Fine. Dropping a game to Ohio State, even at the Horseshoe? Not so much. Sure, it's the Buckeyes in Columbus at night, but it also came against a mediocre squad that won just once more to finish below .500.

7. Arkansas 11-2
Last Game: W, Kansas State 29-16

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Hogs' only two losses of the year came against the nation's top two teams, Alabama and LSU. Otherwise, they were perfect, slapping 44 points on a defensively stout South Carolina team, and nearly doubling up No. 11 Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Hey, there's no shame in dropping a game to the Crimson Tide or the Tigers, but Arkansas failed to even put up a fight against the Goliaths. The Razorbacks proved to not be SEC title-worthy against the West Division's honchos, getting lapped by a combined score of 79-31. The slate wasn't exactly flush with marquee wins, especially since Texas A&M and Auburn ended up being overrated.

8. Stanford 11-2
Last Week: L, Oklahoma State 41-38

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: For the second straight year, the Cardinal was invited to a BCS bowl game, winning 11 times, and coming within a victory of representing the North Division in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game. Stanford was the last team to slap a loss on red-hot USC, and only came up short versus a pair of top 5 opponents, Oregon and Oklahoma State.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The game with the Trojans aside, Stanford was light on quality wins, beating just one program—Troy—that finished the season ranked. Failing to beat the Ducks was deflating on myriad levels since it occurred in Northern California, blocked the Cardinal from winning the Pac-12 and was lopsided after halftime.

9. Oklahoma 10-3
Last Game: W, Iowa 31-14

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Before dispatching of Iowa in the Insight Bowl, the Sooners knocked off three ranked teams during the season, No. 5 Florida State in Tallahassee, No. 11 Texas in the Cotton Bowl and No. 10 Kansas State in Manhattan by 41 points. Oklahoma was hamstrung by injuries, namely to leading rusher Dominique Whaley and top receiver Ryan Broyles.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: One of 2011's biggest underachievers, Oklahoma digressed from national championship contender to a third-place tie in the Big 12. It's up for debate whether gagging at home to Texas Tech or losing by 34 in Bedlam was a more damning loss for head coach Bob Stoops.

10. Michigan State 11-3
Last Game: W, Georgia 33-30

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The first-ever champs of the Big Ten's Legends Division boast three outstanding wins from the 2011 season. The Spartans peaked with back-to-back regular season victories over eventual league champion Wisconsin and Michigan, before capping the year with a come-from-behind defeat of Georgia in the Outback Bowl in triple-overtime.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Michigan State didn't just bow to Notre Dame and Nebraska on the road during the regular season; it was outclassed in both games, losing by a combined score of 55-16 . The offense failed to show up in either one-sided affair, producing just a single touchdown. Oh, and the Huskers loss got worse as Big Red slumped to a 2-3 finish.

11. Georgia 10-4
Last Game: L, 33-30 Michigan State

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Bulldogs battled back from an 0-2 start to win 10 consecutive games, and earn a spot in the SEC title game. Six of those victories were by two touchdowns or more, highlighted by a 45-7 demolition of Auburn on Nov. 12 that stamped Georgia as one of the country's hottest teams.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: When the competition improved, Georgia too often had a habit of wilting. It went just 2-4 versus ranked teams, getting exposed as overrated in season-ending losses to LSU in the SEC Championship Game and Michigan State in the Outback Bowl.

12. Michigan 11-2
Last Game: W, Virginia Tech 23-20

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Wolverines fans couldn't have scripted a much better debut for Brady Hoke, who became the school's first head coach since 2003 to beat rival Ohio State. Along the way, Michigan also notched key wins against Notre Dame, Nebraska and Virginia Tech in overtime in the Sugar Bowl.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Michigan only played away from the Big House four times during the regular season, losing in East Lansing and Iowa City. The fall schedule wasn't particularly prickly this fall, featuring just a pair of opponents prior to the postseason that were ranked at the time of their matchups.

13. Kansas State 10-3
Last Game: L, Arkansas 29-16

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Wildcats were one of this season's biggest surprises, winning 10 times in a year that six or seven was where the bar had been set. Behind the running of QB Collin Klein, they picked up notable victories along the way, beating Miami and Texas on the road, and Baylor, Missouri and Texas A&M in Manhattan. All three of Kansas State's defeats were to top 10 programs.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: A lack of stoppers on defense was the downfall of the Wildcats, which split their final six games. They were outclassed by Oklahoma on Oct. 29, 58-17, and didn't play particularly well versus the Hogs in the Cotton Bowl.

14. South Carolina 11-2
Last Game: W, Nebraska 30-13

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Using a suffocating defense, the Gamecocks overcame the season-ending injury to RB Marcus Lattimore to win 11 games for the first time in school history. The final two victories, over ranked opponents from Clemson and Nebraska, were both blowouts by no fewer than 17 points.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Gamecocks were aided by playing one of the SEC's softest schedules, a slate that didn't included games with Alabama or LSU. They failed to maintain their grip on the East Division, losing to Arkansas and an average Auburn team in Columbia.

15. Nebraska 9-4
Last Game: L, South Carolina 30-13

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Huskers darn near won the Legends Division in their maiden voyage as a member of the Big Ten. The program copped four important conference wins after Oct. 8, getting past Ohio State, league-winning Michigan State, Penn State in Happy Valley and Iowa.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: All four of Nebraska's losses cast doubt on the stability of the 2011 team; it was roughed up by Wisconsin, 48-17, gagged at home to Northwestern, bowed to Michigan, 45-17, and ran out of gas versus South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.

16. West Virginia 10-3
Last Game: W, Clemson 70-33

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Mountaineers endured through the tumult of a late offseason coaching change, capping a 10-win season and a share of the Big East title with a historic Orange Bowl obliteration of Clemson. West Virginia finished the season on a tear, raising the bar for 2012.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The fact this team had to share the Big East with two other schools was testament to its inconsistency. While the non-conference loss to LSU was understandable, losing at Syracuse, 49-23, and at home to Louisville, 38-35, put a ceiling on West Virginia's upward mobility.

17. Clemson 10-4
Last Game: L, West Virginia 70-33

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Tigers blew past modest preseason expectations, winning their first ACC championship in two decades. Clemson soared up the rankings with a three-game winning streak over Auburn, Florida State and Virginia Tech, its first of two blowouts over the Hokies.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Clemson was unable to handle prosperity down the stretch, losing four of their final six games, all by at least two touchdowns. The Tigers set new standards for postseason futility with their 70-33 Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia.

18. Virginia Tech 11-3
Last Game: L, Michigan 23-20

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: From the beginning of October until the end of November, the Hokies were one of the nation's hottest teams, winning seven straight to capture the ACC Coastal. Fueled by the running of David Wilson, and the play of the defense, Tech earned a Sugar Bowl berth for the fourth since 1995.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Virginia Tech won 11 times, but not once over a team that finished the season ranked. Nada. The Hokies' two blowout losses to Clemson look even worse today, after the Tigers got hammered by West Virginia in the Orange Bowl, 70-33.

19. Baylor 10-3
Last Game: W, Washington 67-56

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Bears traveled the final two months of the season without a blemish, matching a school record by winning 10 games. Fueled by the heroics of Heisman-winning QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor scored no fewer than 42 points in notable defeats of TCU, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington in the Alamo Bowl.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The defense was laughable in all but the Stephen F. Austin game, finishing the year ranked 116th in the country. While the Bears succumbed to three quality opponents, in two of those games, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State, they failed to be competitive.

20. TCU 11-2
Last Game: W, Louisiana Tech 31-24

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: In a supposed rebuilding year, all the Horned Frogs did was win 11 games for the fourth consecutive year. Their signature moment came on Nov. 12, a win over No. 5 Boise State that snapped the Broncos' 65-game home winning streak in the regular season, and padlocked the Mountain West title.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: While there was no shame in dropping the opener to Baylor and eventual Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, the Oct. 1 loss to SMU haunted TCU all year. The Frogs failed to hold serve in Fort Worth against a Mustangs team that struggled from that point forward.

21. Boise State 12-1
Last Game: W, Arizona State 56-24

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Save for one hiccup, a one-point loss to ranked TCU, the Broncos coasted through their schedule by an average score of 44-18. In their two games with opponents from major conferences, they handled Georgia in the Georgia Dome, 35-21, and Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl, 56-24. For all the talk about Boise's schedule, it went 8-1 versus teams that played in bowls.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The loss to the Horned Frogs occurred in Boise, and not against a vintage Gary Patterson team. Oh, and it also prevented the Broncos from winning the Mountain West Conference in its first year in the league.

22. Missouri 8-5
Last Game: W, North Carolina 41-24
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Using a first-time starter behind center in the face of a rugged schedule, Mizzou got better as the season unfold. The Tigers regrouped from a slow start to go 5-1 down the stretch, including wins over Texas A&M, Texas and North Carolina in the Independence Bowl.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Okay, so four of Missouri's five losses came to ranked teams, but five losses are still five losses. Plus, that first defeat, to Arizona State on Sept 9, got increasingly worse as the Sun Devils unraveled into a sub-.500 squad.

23. Southern Miss 12-2
Last Game: W, Nevada 24-17

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Golden Eagles won a school-record 12 games in 2011, highlighted by a stunning Dec. 3 upset of Houston for the Conference USA championship. The team also handled WAC champion Louisiana Tech and upstart Virginia in Charlottesville in non-conference play.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Yeah, Southern Miss fell just twice, but both were real head-scratchers. On Sept. 10, the Eagles bowed to middling Marshall, and two months later, they somehow became one of UAB's three victims of the fall.

24. Texas 8-5
Last Game: W, Cal 21-10

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Despite employing a bunch of youngsters on both sides of the ball, the Longhorns still managed to win eight games. They finished the final month of the season strong, rallying to beat rival Texas A&M at Kyle Field, and knocking off Cal in the Holiday Bowl.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: While quality wins were scarce for the offensively challenged ‘Horns, one-sided losses were a little too common. Of Texas' five defeats, four were by double-digits, including a 55-17 mauling at the hands of Oklahoma and a 48-24 dress down by Baylor.

25. Houston 13-1
Last Game: W, Penn State 30-14

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Cougars were one of just five teams nationally to have suffered no more than a single loss, capping the year with a statement blowout of Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl. Behind the passing of Case Keenum, the attack led the country with 599 yards and 49 points a game.

Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Beating the Nittany Lions was terrific, but it was too little, too late. The Cougars spent much of the fall cruising through a weak schedule littered with the likes of Rice, UAB and Tulane. And when a BCS bowl berth hung in the balance, they got rocked by Southern Miss in the Conference USA title game, 49-28.

- CFN 2011 Final Rankings, No. 26-120 

2011 CFN Final Season Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-25 | Rankings 26-50
- Rankings 51-75 | Rankings 76-100The Bottom 20


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