CFN 2012 Final Rankings - Based On Opinion
Posted Jan 12, 2013

Based on who we thought the best teams were, the final 2012 rankings

CFN 2012 Rankings

FINAL - Based on opinion

- 2012 BCS Rankings
- 2012 AP Rankings
- 2012 Coaches' Poll
- Scoreboard & Game Recaps

 - CFN 2012 FINAL Rankings No. 26 to 124
1. Alabama 13-1
Last Week: W, Notre Dame 42-14
Why Alabama Should Be No. 1: The Tide left no doubt about the nation's top-ranked team with Monday night's demolition of the previously-unbeaten Irish. It was the crowning achievement of a season that included wins over Michigan, LSU and Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama's lone blemish came at the hands of one of the nation's hottest teams, Texas A&M.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: This was a more vulnerable team than last year's title edition. That loss to the Aggies came in Tuscaloosa at a time when few gave the visitors a shot of delivering the upset. If not for some poor clock management by the Dawgs in Atlanta, Alabama may not have even qualified for a BCS bowl game.

2. Georgia 12-2
Last Week: W, Nebraska 45-31
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: The Bulldogs' only loss since Oct. 6 came against the national champs in the SEC title game. Georgia had Alabama on the ropes on Dec. 1, driving to the five-yard line before the clock expired in a four-point loss. This team had very few weaknesses, and was flush with next-level talent on both sides of the ball.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Georgia had nagging problems stopping the run down the stretch, which cost them against ‘Bama, and nearly did the same versus the Huskers in the Capital One Bowl. Their other loss, to South Carolina, was a lopsided, 35-7 affair that can't be dismissed because it occurred three months ago. It was one of the worst losses among the top 5 wannabes.

3. Oregon 12-1
Last Week: W, Kansas State 35-17
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: Other than ineligible Ohio State, the Ducks were the nation's only team to go unbeaten in regulation. Their sole loss came against Pac-12 champion Stanford. Oregon recovered to finish with impressive wins, disposing of rival Oregon State, 48-24, in Corvallis, and routing Big 12 champ Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Oregon didn't have to navigate the gauntlet that the SEC teams did. Its regular season schedule was somewhat cushy, the product of playing in an average Pac-12 Conference. Heck, even the Nov. 3 win over USC lost all of its luster as the Trojans slumped to a 7-6 finish.

4. Texas A&M 11-2
Last Week: W, Oklahoma 41-13
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: That Alabama team that put forth such a dominant performance in the BCS National Championship Game? Yeah, the Aggies were the only team to beat the Tide … and did it in Tuscaloosa. A&M lost to Florida and LSU by a combined eight points, and closed out the year as hot as anyone in America. It won its last six games by an average of 22 points per game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Where was the unstoppable attack against the three best defenses on the schedule, Florida, LSU and Alabama? The Aggies averaged almost 50 points in its other 10 games, but came up with just 22 against the Gators, Tigers and Tide, two of which were losses.

5. Notre Dame 12-1
Last Week: L, Alabama 42-14
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: The Irish ran into a buzz saw in the BCS National Championship Game, but there's no shame in losing to the defending champs when Nick Saban has time to prepare. Notre Dame ran the regular season table, surviving a prickly schedule that included games with 10 bowl-eligible opponents.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Might the Irish have been exposed on Monday night? It's one thing to lose to the Crimson Tide, but they were completely dominated on both sides of the ball. The vaunted defense missed a mess of tackles, while yielding 529 total yards and six offensive touchdowns.

6. Stanford 12-2
Last Week: W, Wisconsin 20-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Cardinal closed out the year with eight consecutive wins, capped by its first Rose Bowl triumph in four decades. Its two losses came by only 11 points combined and were on the road, at Washington and at Notre Dame. The D had just one hiccup all year, way back on Oct. 6, and led the country in sacks.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Save for the Nov. 17 upset of Oregon in Eugene, Stanford didn't slay many dragons this season as a member of the Pac-12. Winning the conference required beating UCLA, which got exposed by Baylor in the Holiday Bowl. And the Cardinal didn't even have to face the Big Ten's best in Pasadena. Unbeaten Ohio State was ineligible for the postseason.

7. Florida 11-2
Last Week: L, Louisville 33-23
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Texas A&M. LSU. South Carolina. Florida State. All four won at least 10 games in 2012. All four bowed to the Gators in 2012. Florida was an eight-point loss to No. 2 Georgia away replacing Alabama as Notre Dame's opponent in the national championship game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Florida was way too flighty this season, as evidenced by its lopsided loss to a mediocre Louisville team in the Sugar Bowl. This is the same program that in November, barely escaped 5-7 Missouri, needed a blocked punt in the final seconds to beat Louisiana-Lafayette and managed one offensive touchdown against Jacksonville State.

8. South Carolina 11-2
Last Week: Michigan, 33-28
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Steve Spurrier keeps raising the bar in Columbia, leading the Gamecocks to 11 wins. They finished the season by beating a pair of ranked teams, Clemson in Death Valley and Michigan in the Outback Bowl, and also torched No. 2 Georgia, 35-7. Their losses came versus Florida and LSU, which fell to Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Gamecocks own one of the worst losses among the top 10 teams, a 44-11 beatdown at the hands of Florida, which was dropped a peg by Louisville in the Sugar Bowl. The offense was just 82nd nationally, and would struggle to keep pace with some of the teams ranked ahead of it.

9. Ohio State 12-0
Last Week: Did Not Participate in a Bowl Game
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Buckeyes were the last men standing, the only FBS team that did not suffer a loss in 2012. Had Ohio State been eligible for the postseason, its opponent in the Big Ten Championship Game would have been Nebraska, a team it pounded, 63-38, on Oct. 6. The Buckeyes also knocked off Wisconsin, which wound up representing the league in Pasadena.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Sweeping through a Big Ten slate is not what it used to be. Unlike other schools that are hovering around the top 5, Ohio State doesn't own a victory over a team that was ever threatening for national championship contention. Heck, the Buckeyes never had to face a top 10 team this fall, and were nearly tagged by 3-9 Cal, 4-8 Indiana and 6-6 Purdue.

10. Florida State 12-2
Last Week: W, Northern Illinois 31-10
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The ACC champs tuned out distractions and disposed of plucky Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl. The Sept. 22 win over Clemson took on added value after the Tigers upset LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Seminoles would match up well with plenty of opponents because of their veteran quarterback and second-ranked D.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The schedule was too soft to ascend must higher. The ‘Noles opened the year by playing two FCS teams, and defeated just one team that's currently ranked. Losing to 7-6 NC State, which canned coach Tom O'Brien, has a way of stunting a program's growth.

11. Kansas State 11-2
Last Week: L, Oregon 35-17
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Big 12 champs defeated Oklahoma in Norman and Texas on Dec. 1 to wrap up an improbable BCS bowl berth. The two-touchdown win over Oklahoma State in November looked better as the season wound down and the Cowboys stabilized.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Cats won a league title in a down year for the Big 12. They didn't just lose twice this season; they were badly outclassed in both games with speedy Oregon and Baylor. The Sooners upset lost a little luster after they were lapped by Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, 41-13.

12. Oklahoma10-3
Last Week: L, Texas A&M 41-13
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Sooners got to 10 wins despite playing a very salty schedule. They went 7-3 against bowl teams, with the losses coming against three 11-win opponents that all played in January. Oklahoma hammered rival Texas, 63-21, and wins over Baylor and Oklahoma State were better than originally perceived.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: When the chances were there, Oklahoma failed to perform like a top 10 squad. The Sooners fell at home to Kansas State, lost by 17 in Norman to Notre Dame and were unable to run with the Aggies for all 60 minutes of the Cotton Bowl.

13. Clemson 11-2
Last Week: W, LSU 25-24
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Tigers got the validation win in the Chick-fil-A Bowl that they sorely needed, rallying to defeat LSU, 25-24. The offense is among the most explosive and diverse in America, averaging 41 points a game. Clemson's two losses came against Florida State and South Carolina, which won 23 games combined.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The schedule was tissue-soft, featuring just four teams that won eight games. And Ball State was one of them. Falling at home to rival South Carolina in the regular season finale was a disappointment that put a hard cap on this school's ceiling.

14. LSU 10-3
Last Week: L, Clemson 25-24
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Tigers remain among the elite teams in the game's premier conference. They defeated Texas A&M, keeping Johnny Manziel in check on Oct. 20, and they were within a last-minute drive by ‘Bama from knocking off the eventual national champs.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: In its five toughest games of 2012, LSU went just 2-3. And the Tigers sort of finished with a whimper, barely getting by Ole Miss and Arkansas before falling to Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Losing to the same Clemson team that couldn't get past South Carolina a game earlier really hurts LSU's chances of scaling much higher.

15. Louisville 11-2
Last Week: W, Florida 33-23
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Although the Cardinals won the Big East and 11 games for the first time since 2006, it really didn't get much national respect until shocking Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Louisville had no problems in the Superdome with a team that was on the lip of qualifying for the national championship game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Prior to Jan. 2, Louisville was an ordinary squad playing in a subpar league. The Cardinals struggled with lesser opponents, like Southern Miss and Florida International, and the Nov. 24 loss to Connecticut was an indictment of their ability to excel on a week-in, week-out basis.

16. Oregon State 9-4
Last Week: L, Texas 31-27
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: By jumping out to a 6-0 start, beating Wisconsin, UCLA, Arizona and BYU in the process, the Beavers exceeded all expectations. They were in all but the Oregon game, taking Texas to the wire before losing a fourth quarter lead in the Alamo Bowl.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: By finishing the year 3-4, Oregon State proved to be slightly somewhat overrated compared to its late October ranking. Going back to the middle of the year, the Beavers defeated just one other bowl-eligible team, Arizona State.

17. Wisconsin 8-6
Last Week: L, Stanford 20-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The hard-luck Badgers were painfully close to doing so much more this season. They remarkably lost their games by an average of just four points, including three in overtime. When Wisconsin needed to rise up in order to win the Big Ten, it annihilated Nebraska, 70-31, to earn a third straight Rose Bowl trip.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Six losses are six losses. The worst one occurred on Oct. 27, at home to a mediocre Michigan State team. The Big Ten title game aside, Wisconsin bulked up against suspect competition, with the next most impressive win coming against Utah State on Sept. 15.

18. Nebraska 10-4
Last Week: L, Georgia 45-31
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: During the middle of the season, the Huskers were on a roll, beating Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State. The Legends Division champs lost to four solid opponents, including unbeaten Ohio State and a terrific Georgia squad.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Nebraska played well in the Capital One Bowl, but got absolutely dressed down by the Badgers in the Big Ten Championship Game, 70-31. The loss to the Buckeyes was also an ugly one, 63-38, underscoring the inconsistency of the team's D.

19. Michigan 8-5
Last Game: L, South Carolina 33-28
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Michigan's record doesn't do justice to how well it competed throughout the season. The Wolverines' five losses came against the national championship participants, Alabama and Notre Dame, Legends Division champ Nebraska, unbeaten Ohio State and 11-2 South Carolina. They were up to the challenge against the Gamecocks in the Outback Bowl, falling with 11 seconds left.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Moral victories will get a team only so far in the rankings. The Wolverines were still 0-5 against the toughest teams on the schedule. Their best win came against Northwestern, which is not exactly cutting it in Ann Arbor.

20. Northwestern 10-3
Last Week: W, Mississippi State 34-20
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Wildcats finished strong with a Gator Bowl defeat of Mississippi State, and started better than it seemed at the time. Northwestern's 5-0 mark included wins over Syracuse and Vanderbilt, two programs that would wind up being far more accomplished than expected. In all three of their losses, the Cats led in the fourth quarter.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Northwestern didn't exactly navigate the SEC West in order to reach a 10-win campaign. In fact, against the four best Big Ten teams on the schedule, Penn State, Nebraska, Michigan and Michigan State, it won just a single game.

21. Baylor 8-5
Last Week: W, UCLA 49-26
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Baylor team that blew out UCLA in the Holiday Bowl was a very different ensemble than the one that looked for a while as if it might not qualify for a bonus game. Besides the Bruins, the Bears' season-ending four-game losing streak comprised of wins over then-unbeaten Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The defense was a liability throughout the 2012 season, ranking 119th nationally. The team's four-game losing streak that spliced through the early stages of the season included losses against non-ranked opponents, West Virginia, TCU, Texas and Iowa State, with troubles of their own.

22. Vanderbilt 9-4
Last Week: W, NC State 38-24
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: A novelty no longer, the Commodores were the real deal, especially down the stretch. They'll carry a seven-game winning streak into the 2013 season, along with the confidence of having beaten Auburn, Ole Miss and Tennessee out of the SEC.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The year wasn't exactly littered with statement wins for Vanderbilt. An impressive overall campaign for the ‘Dores? You bet. However, it defeated just a pair of teams that participated in the second season, Ole Miss and NC State.

23. UCLA 9-5
Last Week: L, Baylor 49-26
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Bruins' shockingly good nine-win season was highlighted by upsets of Nebraska and crosstown rival USC. They won a Pac-12 South that was practically handed to the Trojans before the season began, and came within a field goal of beating Stanford on the Farm to earn a Rose Bowl berth.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: UCLA ran out of steam down the stretch, losing its final three games. Even worse, it got shelled by Baylor in a Holiday Bowl that figured to be much closer. Just because it happened back on Oct. 6 doesn't mean the Bruins can escape their 43-17 trouncing at the hands of a Cal team that went 3-9, and fired head coach Jeff Tedford.

24. Penn State 8-4
Last Week: Did Not Participate in a Bowl Game
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Nittany Lions' improbable season ended with eight wins over the final 10 games and a sturdy 6-2 mark in Big Ten play. The high points came in a fourth-quarter rally to defeat 10-3 Northwestern and a season-ending overtime victory against Wisconsin, the Leaders Division rep and 70-31 winner in the league championship game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Losses to Ohio and Virginia still count, even if they occurred in the first two weeks of the campaign There's the win over the Wildcats and the Badgers … and not a whole lot else that belongs on the refrigerator. The Nittany Lions prospered by playing in the Big Ten, and for facing a manageable non-conference schedule.

25. Oklahoma State 8-5
Last Week: W, Purdue 58-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Cowboys overcame injuries and a carousel at quarterback to play their best ball in the second half of the year. They ended up third nationally in scoring, which was good enough to defeat TCU, West Virginia and Texas Tech, and to obliterate Purdue in a one-sided Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: In total, Oklahoma State was an incomplete team. It lacked the defense to complement the offense, while falling to a couple of non-ranked teams, Arizona and Texas. And none of its victims finished the year in the Top 25.

 - CFN FINAL Rankings No. 26 to 124