CFN 2012 Final Season Rankings - No. 30-48
Posted Jan 15, 2013

Which teams had the best seasons? Here's CFN's final ranking based on who earned it on the field.

CFN 2012 Season Rankings

Rankings No. 30 to 48

2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011

2012 CFN Final Season Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-29 | Rankings 30-48 | Rankings 49-67
- Rankings 68-86Rankings 87-105The Bottom 19 
- ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | C-USA | Ind
- MAC | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt | WAC

- Based On Opinion ... CFN 2012 FINAL Rankings, Top  25

The Formula's Components: 
1. Wins. - If you win, everything else falls into place. Each win counts as 1.
2. Quality Wins - The number of wins over teams that finished with a winning record. Each win counts as 1.
3. Elite Wins - The number of wins over teams that finished with two losses or fewer. Each win counts as 1 with a road win over an Elite team getting an extra 0.5. Also counting as 1 is a road win over a team that finished with three losses or fewer (but the extra 0.5 isn't added). A win over a team that finishes with three losses in a bowl game counts as one.
4. Bad Loss - The number of losses to teams that finished with three wins or fewer or a loss to a FCS (DI-AA) team. Each loss counts as minus-1. Take away an additional 0.5 for a Bad Loss at home.
5. Bad Win - The number of wins to teams that finished with three wins or fewer, or a win over a D-IAA team. Each win counts as minus 0.25. 
6. Elite Loss - The number of losses to teams that finished with two losses or fewer. Each loss counts as 0.25.
7. Point Differential - Points for minus points against divided by 100. 
8. Winning Percentage - To take losses into account, winning percentage is in the mix. Total wins is the tie-breaker followed by winning percentage.

NOTE: This is based on who had the best season. This isn't a ranking of who the best teams were.

48. Syracuse (8-5) 2012 CFN Score: 11.80

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 30
2011 Final Season Ranking: 76
2011 CFN Final Score: 6.65
2010 Final Season Ranking: 42
2010 CFN Score: 11.24
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 67
2009 Final Season Ranking: 79
2009 Final Score: 5.42
2008 Final Season Ranking: 104
2008 Final Score: 2.75
Key Stat: The Orange were 17th in the nation and first in the Big East in total offense.

Before bailing for the Buffalo Bills, Doug Marrone cranked up an offense that was too stagnant in 2011. The Orange bombed away, but the points weren't always flowing in tough losses to Minnesota and Rutgers early on. However, the team put it all together winning six of its last seven games, highlighted by a blowout over Louisville, and finishing up with a Pinstripe victory over West Virginia. Now it'll be up to new head man Scott Schafer to lead the way into life in the ACC.

47. Penn State (8-4) 2012 CFN Score: 11.87

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 58
2011 Final Season Ranking: 28
2011 CFN Final Score: 13.77
2010 Final Season Ranking: T48
2010 CFN Score: 10.65 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 15
2009 Final Score: 16.76
2008 Final Season Ranking: 10
2008 Final Score: 19.29
Key Stat: Penn State was 16th in the nation in scoring defense.

Lost in the gushing over the record the depleted team was able to put together was that there weren't many truly impressive wins. Closing out with a thrilling overtime victory over Wisconsin and beating Northwestern were the only wins of note, but considering there was some thought that the Nittany Lions would've been lucky to win four games, and considering the circumstances, 8-4 was still amazing no matter what the schedule.

46. TCU (7-6)  2012 CFN Score: 12.03

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 24
2011 Final Season Ranking: 9
2011 CFN Final Score: 20.87
2010 Final Season Ranking: 2
2010 CFN Score: 24.60 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 5
2009 Final Score: 22.99
2008 Final Season Ranking: 8
2008 Final Score: 19.50
Key Stat: TCU was tenth in the nation against the run.

Considering all of the drama and controversy in the offseason, and despite the loss of starting quarterback Casey Pachall early on, TCU came up with a decent first year in the Big 12. Starting out 4-0 was a big help, and despite a three overtime loss to Texas Tech and struggles against Oklahoma State and Kansas State, the Horned Frogs managed to blowout Baylor, beat West Virginia in double overtime and got by Texas on Thanksgiving to earn their way to a bowl. The 17-16 bowl loss to Michigan State was a disappointment, but if the team could get past all the problems and come up with a seven-win season, now the sky is the limit.

45. Michigan (8-5) 2012 CFN Score: 12.42

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 10
2011 Final Season Ranking: 7
2011 CFN Final Score: 21.67
2010 Final Season Ranking: 50
2010 CFN Score: 10.47 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 82
2009 Final Score: 4.91
2008 Final Season Ranking: 97
2008 Final Score: 3.21
Key Stat: The Wolverines were fifth in the nation in pass defense.

The final record might have been 8-5, there might have been a loss to Ohio State, and there might have been a last-second bowl loss to South Carolina, but there's a general sense that this is a powder keg about to blow. Brady Hoke has a whopper of a recruiting class coming in, and it's going to need to step up to come up with the big wins. The schedule was brutal, facing the two BCS championship combatants - Alabama and Notre Dame - to go along with Nebraska, OSU and South Carolina, but the best win came in overtime on a prayer against Northwestern and it took a last second kick to get by Michigan State.

44. Louisiana-Lafayette (9-4) 2012 CFN Score: 12.65

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 96
2011 Final Season Ranking: 42
2011 CFN Final Score: 11.01
2010 Final Season Ranking: 107
2010 CFN Score: -0.01 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 92
2009 Final Score: 3.77
2008 Final Season Ranking: 75
2008 Final Score: 6.18
Key Stat: ULL was 13th in the nation in sacks allowed.

Could the Ragin' Cajuns come up with a second straight big season? After closing out with four straight wins, a bowl victory over East Carolina, and a 9-4 record for the second season in a row, the answer is a resounding yes. The offense led the Sun Belt and the defense was among the best in the conference in both sacks and tackles for loss. There was a stunning loss to North Texas and a blowout loss to Oklahoma State, but ULL should've beaten Florida in Gainesville, breaking down on special teams in the final moments.

43. Ball State (9-4) 2012 CFN Score: 12.65

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 114
2011 Final Season Ranking: 83
2011 CFN Final Score: 5.38
2010 Final Season Ranking: 109
2010 CFN Score: -0.68
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 103
2009 Final Season Ranking: 116
2009 Final Score: -1.91
2008 Final Season Ranking: 18
2008 Final Score: 16.38
Key Stat: The Cardinals finished 114th in the nation in tackles for loss and 106th against the run.

The Cardinals didn't play any defense, but the MAC's second-ranked offense made up for it against a stunning number of decent teams. September wins over Indiana and South Florida gave the team credibility, and close battles with Kent State and Northern Illinois were the last two losses before going on a six-game winning streak to close out the regular season. Being outclassed by UCF in the bowl doesn't take away from the strong campaign.

42. Wisconsin (8-6) 2012 CFN Score: 12.78

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 8
2011 Final Season Ranking: 12
2011 CFN Final Score: 20.24
2010 Final Season Ranking: 13
2010 CFN Score: 19.07
2009 Final Season Ranking: 19
2009 Final Score: 15.32
2008 Final Season Ranking: 60
2008 Final Score: 8.66
Key Stat: The Badgers were 15th in the nation in total defense.

It was a better year than the 8-6 record might indicate with all six losses coming by a touchdown or less with three overtime defeats. Even though the offense didn't work as well as expected, and despite the return of Barry Alvarez to the sidelines after the departure of Bret Bielema to Arkansas, blowing away Nebraska 70-31 to win a second straight Big Ten championship game and going to a third Rose Bowl in a row was still impressive. However, the Badgers did lose to Stanford and six losses were six losses. Now it's up to Gary Andersen to try to make it four trips to Pasadena in a row.

41. Toledo (9-4) 2012 CFN Score: 12.85

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 78
2011 Final Season Ranking: 27
2011 CFN Final Score: 13.81
2010 Final Season Ranking: 68
2010 CFN Score: 7.54
2009 Final Season Ranking: 91
2009 Final Score: 3.96
2008 Final Season Ranking: 107
2008 Final Score: 1.67
Key Stat: Toledo was 116th in the nation in pass defense.

The Rockets did just fine with Tim Beckman taking off to Illinois. Matt Campbell led the team to eight straight wins over a heartbreaking overtime loss at Arizona to start the season. Close losses to Ball State and Northern Illinois ruined the MAC title hopes, and the blowout loss to Utah State was a disaster, but it was still a strong year thanks to wins over Cincinnati and Bowling Green.

40. Rutgers (9-4)  2012 CFN Score: 12.89

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 44
2011 Final Season Ranking: 36
2011 CFN Final Score: 12.24
2010 Final Season Ranking: 73
2010 CFN Score: 6.40
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 37
2009 Final Season Ranking: 32
2009 Final Score: 13.36
2008 Final Season Ranking: 38
2008 Final Score: 12.69
Key Stat: The Scarlet Knights were fourth in the nation in scoring defense.

Everything was there for the taking. Despite a braincramp against Kent State, the Scarlet Knights managed to to 9-1 and just needed one more win in Big East play to get to the BCS. Instead, they didn't show up against Pitt and lost at home in what turned out to be the Big East title game against Louisville. A loss, along with an overtime defeat against Virginia Tech in the bowl, meant a three-game losing streak to end the year, wasting all the positives over the first ten games.

39. Vanderbilt (9-4) 2012 CFN Score: 12.91

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 51
2011 Final Season Ranking: 73
2011 CFN Final Score: 7.12
2010 Final Season Ranking: 111
2010 CFN Score: -1.04
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 64
2009 Final Season Ranking: 106
2009 Final Score: 1.08
2008 Final Season Ranking: 43
2008 Final Score: 11.48
Key Stat: Vandy was sixth in the nation in pass efficiency defense.

James Franklin was right. One of the hottest head coaches in college football, Franklin has been a true believer from the start, and he proved that it really was possible to win at Vanderbilt, helped by a strong pass defense that was able to keep scores low and an offense that found ways to get by. After a rocky 2-4 start, everything came into place as the schedule eased up, winning the final seven games of the season including a convincing bowl victory over NC State. Five of the last six wins were by double digits.

38. BYU (10-3) 2012 CFN Score: 13.03

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 28
2011 Final Season Ranking: 32
2011 CFN Final Score: 12.03
2010 Final Season Ranking: 54
2010 CFN Score: 9.63 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 11
2009 Final Score: 18.16
2008 Final Season Ranking: 33
2008 Final Score: 13.87
Key Stat: The Cougars finished third in the nation in total defense.

Life as an independent was better than the 8-5 record might make it appear. Five losses might not seem acceptable, but one came in a strange rivalry date against Utah; one came in a 7-6 loss at Boise State; one came against a good Oregon State team; one came in a 17-14 heartbreaker to Notre Dame; and one came in a 20-14 fight with a terrific San Jose State team. With a win over a great Utah State squad and a dominant bowl victory over San Diego State, the Cougars and their tremendous defense, weren't that bad.

37. Louisiana Tech (9-3)  2012 CFN Score: 13.06

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 83
2011 Final Season Ranking: 48
2011 CFN Final Score: 10.02
2010 Final Season Ranking: 86
2010 CFN Score: 4.70 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 89
2009 Final Score: 4.24
2008 Final Season Ranking: 63
2008 Final Score: 7.99
Key Stat: Tech was first in the nation in total offense and scoring offense, and dead last in total defense.

It was almost a good season. Tech almost beat Texas A&M, but didn't finish up the upset in a wild 59-57 loss. Tech almost won the WAC, but lost at home to Utah State in overtime, and it almost beat San Jose State in the regular season finale. Worst of all, there was almost a trip to a bowl game, but was shut out after a misunderstanding - to be politically correct - with the Independence Bowl. The near misses didn't matter for Sonny Dykes, who parlayed the big year with a bigger gig taking over the Cal Bears, but Skip Holtz, despite the problems at USF, isn't a bad replacement.

36. Michigan State (7-6) 2012 CFN Score: 13.27

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 7
2011 Final Season Ranking: 18
2011 CFN Final Score: 17.31
2010 Final Season Ranking: 11
2010 CFN Score: 17.56 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 66
2009 Final Score: 8.15
2008 Final Season Ranking: 28
2008 Final Score: 14.83
Key Stat: MSU was fourth in the nation in total defense.

Great year by running back Le'Veon Bell - check. Tremendous season by the defense - check. Good special teams - check. Passing game - unchecked. The offense struggled to score in clutch moments, but the defense was able to keep the season alive. Outside of the 20-3 loss to Notre Dame, the Spartans managed to lose in brutally painful fashion to Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska and Northwestern by a grand total of 13 points - losing each one by four points or fewer. However, there were some close victories on the right side, too, slipping past Indiana, coming back to beating Wisconsin in overtime, and finishing up with a strong win over TCU in the bowl.

35. Fresno State (9-4) 2012 CFN Score: 13.27

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 68
2011 Final Season Ranking: 98
2011 CFN Final Score: 2.70
2010 Final Season Ranking: 57
2010 CFN Score: 9.24
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 68
2009 Final Season Ranking: 54
2009 Final Score: 9.83
2008 Final Season Ranking: 65
2008 Final Score: 7.60
Key Stat: Fresno State was 116th in the nation in turnover margin in 2011 and seventh in 2012.

Tim DeRuyter did a tremendous job in his first year at the helm - one blowout loss to SMU in the Hawaii Bowl aside - taking the offense to a high level with Derek Carr at the helm while doing a great job with a defense that finished second in the nation against the pass. The Bulldogs were competitive early against Oregon and came close in tight losses to Tulsa and Boise State, but blowout wins over Nevada and Air Force, along with a win over San Diego State, bought a piece of the Mountain West title. Keeping in the Fresno State tradition, the team beat a BCS team, blasting Colorado 69-14.

34. San Diego State (9-4) 2012 CFN Score: 13.54

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 89
2011 Final Season Ranking: 49
2011 CFN Final Score: 9.69
2010 Final Season Ranking: 36
2010 CFN Score: 12.12
2009 Final Season Ranking: 96
2009 Final Score: 2.97
2008 Final Season Ranking: 111
2008 Final Score: -0.98
Key Stat: The Aztecs were 103rd in the nation in passing.

Somewhat quietly, San Diego State had a great year considering it was supposed to be a rebuilding campaign. The team not only kept Boise State out of the BCS, but it managed to win a piece of the Mountain West title while winning the final seven games of the regular season. The bowl loss to BYU put a damper on the fun - the offense failed to do much of anything in the 23-6 loss - but it was still a positive campaign to prove that the program has staying power.

33. Arizona (8-5) 2012 CFN Score: 13.99

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 57
2011 Final Season Ranking: 93
2011 CFN Final Score: 3.27
2010 Final Season Ranking: 40
2010 CFN Score: 11.51
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 30
2009 Final Season Ranking: 22
2009 Final Score: 14.82
2008 Final Season Ranking: 37
2008 Final Score: 12.86
Key Stat: The Wildcats finished seventh in the nation in total offense and had the third-worst defense in the country.

Rich Rodriguez stepped in and instantly changed around the program. While the offense finished seventh in the nation, the defense never produced getting ripped apart at will. A great win over USC was quickly forgotten about with a 66-10 loss to UCLA, but there were just enough nice victories, including a thrilling bowl win over Nevada, to overcome the inconsistencies. The program is on a major upswing as long as RichRod can fix the D.

32. North Carolina (8-4)   2012 CFN Score: 14.21

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 23
2011 Final Season Ranking: 46
2011 CFN Final Score: 10.45
2010 Final Season Ranking: 53
2010 CFN Score: 9.64
2009 Final Season Ranking: 31
2009 Final Score: 13.49
2008 Final Season Ranking: 26
2008 Final Score: 15.22
Key Stat: The Tar Heels were eighth in the nation in scoring.

Even though the Tar Heels weren't eligible to shoot for anything, and they merely played 12 exhibition games, they still turned in a nice year winning seven of their final nine games and losing three of four games by five points or fewer. The offense under Larry Fedora was explosive, finishing eighth in the nation, and the defense was among the most aggressive in the country, finishing third in tackles for loss. However, the best wins came against mediocre Virginia Tech, Miami and NC State teams. To be fair, UNC didn't have a shot to show what it could do against Florida State or Clemson.

31. UCF (10-4) 2012 CFN Score: 6.22

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 80
2011 Final Season Ranking: 14.58
2011 CFN Final Score: 6.22
2010 Final Season Ranking: 32
2010 CFN Score: 13.13
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 85
2009 Final Season Ranking: 53
2009 Final Score: 10.34
2008 Final Season Ranking: 98
2008 Final Score: 3.18
Key Stat: UCF finished 16th in the nation in turnover margin.

The Knights got through a rocky season with the NCAA to be eligible for both the Conference USA title and a bowl game, and while they lost the first to Tulsa, they won the second against Ball State for a solid ten-win campaign. It took two overtimes to beat a Southern Miss team that went winless, but close losses to Ohio State and Missouri along with the two losses to the Golden Hurricane were all acceptable. However, there were way too many wins over bad teams.

30. UCLA (9-5) 2012 CFN Score: 14.60

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 39
2011 Final Season Ranking: 75
2011 CFN Final Score: 6.77
2010 Final Season Ranking: 90
2010 CFN Score: 3.36 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 59
2009 Final Score: 9.39
2008 Final Season Ranking: 101
2008 Final Score: 2.97
Key Stat: UCLA was 112th in the nation in sacks.

Jim Mora Jr. took over what Rick Neuheisel started and ran with it. Finally - FINALLY - the Bruins had an offense, and it showed early with a tone-setting win over Nebraska. There were a stunning misstep with a 43-17 loss to California, but the Bruins were able to rise above it by winning five straight, including a 66-10 blasting of Arizona and a convincing victory over USC. Closing out with two losses to Stanford and a disaster against Baylor in the bowl don't dismiss just how strong the turnaround season was. Going to the Pac-12 title game for a second year in a row - this time on pure merit - was a huge step forward.