CFN 2012 Final Season Rankings - No. 11-29
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. 11 to 29

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.

29. Oklahoma State (8-51) 2012 CFN Score: 14.64
2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 12
2011 Final Season Ranking: 2
2011 CFN Final Score: 25.52
2010 Final Season Ranking: 8
2010 CFN Score: 20.67 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 34
2009 Final Score: 13.06
2008 Final Season Ranking: 30
2008 Final Score: 14.34
Key Stat: The Cowboys finished the year third in the nation in scoring offense. 

Considering the massive overhaul of talent - and losing QB Brandon Weeden and WR Justin Blackmon - going 8-5 wasn't that bad with wins over West Virginia, Texas Tech and TCU. The losses to Texas and Oklahoma were close, and the Cowboys put up a battle on the road against Kansas State. The 58-14 stomping of Purdue in the bowl was a good finish for a young team that's on the rise.

28. Cincinnati (10-3) 2012 CFN Score: 15.07

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 54
2011 Final Season Ranking: 25
2011 CFN Final Score: 14.29
2010 Final Season Ranking: 75
2010 CFN Score: 6.22
2009 Final Season Ranking: 6
2009 Final Score: 22.44
2008 Final Season Ranking: 21
2008 Final Score: 16.09
Key Stat: UC was 14th in the nation in scoring defense.

The Bearcats had some rough patches and they lost head coach Butch Jones to Tennessee, but closing out with five wins in the final six games and getting past Duke in the bowl made it a strong year. The three losses were all by a touchdown or less, including an overtime defeat to Louisville, but the only real win of note was early on against Virginia Tech. Now it'll be up to Tommy Tuberville to keep the production going.

27. Northwestern (10-3) 2012 CFN Score: 15.21

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 63
2011 Final Season Ranking: 84
2011 CFN Final Score: 5.12
2010 Final Season Ranking: 64
2010 CFN Score: 11.56
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 53
2009 Final Season Ranking: 47
2009 Final Score: 11.56
2008 Final Season Ranking: 49
2008 Final Score: 10.74
Key Stat: Northwestern was 114th in the nation in sacks allowed in 2011 and 22nd in 2012.

The Wildcats might have gone to a few Rose Bowls and might have a few Big Ten titles under their belts, but this could still have been considered one of the greatest years in the program's history. It could've been truly special had the secondary not blown it late against Nebraska and Michigan, but ten wins and a bowl victory over Mississippi State are a really big deal for a school that's used to coming close, but not being able to get over the hump. Beating Syracuse and Vanderbilt early were terrific - the Cats were 2-0 against the SEC.

26. Kent State (11-3) 2012 CFN Score: 15.24

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 88
2011 Final Season Ranking: 89
2011 CFN Final Score: 4.31
2010 Final Season Ranking: 82
2010 CFN Score: 5.48
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 90
2009 Final Season Ranking: 87
2009 Final Score: 4.29
2008 Final Season Ranking: 96
2008 Final Score: 3.36
Key Stat: KSU was 4th in the nation in turnover margin.

The greatest season in Kent State football history could've been so much better. A double overtime loss to NIU not only kept the Golden Flashes from winning the MAC title; it kept them out of the BCS. Losing to Arkansas State in the bowl game didn't help ease the pain, but it was still a great year with win after win over a slew of bad teams - and a shocking 35-23 victory over Rutgers. Head coach Darrell Hazell is off to Purdue, but many of the pieces are still in place to come up with another strong year.

25. Tulsa (8-5)  2012 CFN Score: 15.34

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 75
2011 Final Season Ranking: 39
2011 CFN Final Score: 11.62
2010 Final Season Ranking: 28
2010 CFN Score: 14.71
2009 Final Season Ranking: 54
2009 Final Score: 4.65
2008 Final Season Ranking: 17
2008 Final Score: 16.49
Key Stat: Tulsa was third in the nation in sacks and fifth in tackles for loss.

Once again, Tulsa came up with a strong season that failed to get much national attention. The Golden Hurricane started out the season with a loss at Iowa State, and lost to a bad Arkansas team, but despite a loss to SMU, they managed to beat UCF in overtime to win the league title and got revenge against the Cyclones in a convincing bowl victory. The defense was good and the offense occasionally great on the way to 11 wins.

24. Texas (9-4) 2012 CFN Score: 15.53

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 5
2011 Final Season Ranking: 35
2011 CFN Final Score: 12.43
2010 Final Season Ranking: 65
2010 CFN Score: 7.68 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 4
2009 Final Score: 24.09
2008 Final Season Ranking: 3
2008 Final Score: 25.24
Key Stat: Texas was sixth in the nation in tackles for loss.

Even with a tough loss to West Virginia and a 63-21 embarrassment to Oklahoma, Texas still was in the hunt late in the season for at least a piece of the Big 12 title and a possible at-large spot in the BCS. Instead, the wildly inconsistent Longhorns needed a miracle finish to get by lowly Kansas and barely showed up in a Thanksgiving loss to TCU before an 18-point loss to Kansas State. A bowl win over Oregon State helped go into the offseason on a high note, but the team had too much talent to be 9-4.

23. Oregon State (9-4) 2012 CFN Score: 15.99

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 60
2011 Final Season Ranking: 102
2011 CFN Final Score: 2.17
2010 Final Season Ranking: 67
2010 CFN Score: 7.63
2009 Final Season Ranking: 37
2009 Final Score: 12.46
2008 Final Season Ranking: 23
2008 Final Score: 15.41
Key Stat: Oregon State was 27th in the nation in turnover margin and third in the Pac-12 in most defensive categories.

After a down 2011, the Beavers came roaring back with six straight wins to start the season including nice ones over Wisconsin, UCLA and Arizona. How close was this to being a truly special year? OSU lost to Washington and Stanford on the road by a total of seven points before getting blown out by Oregon. The bowl loss to Texas doesn't diminish a great year.

22. Baylor (8-5) 2012 CFN Score: 16.06

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 50
2011 Final Season Ranking: 16
2011 CFN Final Score: 17.57
2010 Final Season Ranking: 58
2010 CFN Score: 8.88 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 85
2009 Final Score: 4.55
2008 Final Season Ranking: 92
2008 Final Score: 4.17
Key Stat: The Bears were 2nd in the nation in total offense for the second year in a row.

The offense kept on rolling without a problem despite the loss of RG3. Nick Florence finished second in the nation in total offense and the team finished second in yards and fourth in scoring. The defense, though, was the second-worst in the nation and was a big problem in losses to West Virginia, TCU and Texas. But things started to change around as RB Lache Seastrunk started to become a bigger part of the attack on the way to five wins over the final six games including a blowout over UCLA in the bowl and a season-changing win over Kansas State.

21. Louisville (11-2) 2012 CFN Score: 16.56

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 38
2011 Final Season Ranking: 47
2011 CFN Final Score: 10.28
2010 Final Season Ranking: 43
2010 CFN Score: 11.20 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 86
2009 Final Score: 4.35
2008 Final Season Ranking: 94
2008 Final Score: 3.80
Key Stat: The Cardinals finished next-to-last in the nation in punting.

The 11-2 season with the Sugar Bowl win over Florida was tremendous, but it might have just been the beginning. The Cardinals struggled way too much through the regular season, winning six games by a touchdown or less including a near-miss against a miserable FIU team and a 21-17 victory over a Southern Miss team that finished winless. There was the blowout loss to Syracuse and the inexcusable home overtime loss to Connecticut, but no one will remember those thanks to the impressive thumping of the Gators to close things out.

20. Arkansas State (10-3) 2012 CFN Score: 16.59

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 95
2011 Final Season Ranking: 26
2011 CFN Final Score: 14.04
2010 Final Season Ranking: 101
2010 CFN Score: 3.51
2009 Final Season Ranking: 95
2009 Final Score: 3.51
2008 Final Season Ranking: 64
2008 Final Score: 7.64
Key Stat: ASU finished dead last in the nation in punting.

The one season under Gus Malzahn was a strong one, getting past a 2-3 start to roll over the Sun Belt, including a 45-0 win over Middle Tennessee in the key game, winning seven straight after dropping the opener to Western Kentucky on the way to a title. The team might have lost Malzahn to Auburn, but it got by just fine without him in the bowl victory over Kent State.

18. Oklahoma (10-3)   2012 CFN Score: 18.42

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 4
2011 Final Season Ranking: 8
2011 CFN Final Score: 21.04
2010 Final Season Ranking: 4
2010 CFN Score: 23.52 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 35
2009 Final Score: 13.02
2008 Final Season Ranking: 2
2008 Final Score: 25.59
Key Stat: OU finished 12th in the nation in total offense. 

The Sooners still came up with a ten-win season; a fact that got lost in the three high-profile losses. This season, losing to Kansas State, Notre Dame and Texas A&M isn't anything to get into a twist over, but Oklahoma is supposed to be able to beat the big boys on a regular basis, especially at home and in bowl games. Blasting Texas 63-21 and getting by Oklahoma State helped on the way to sharing a piece of the Big 12 title, but the Cotton Bowl blowout to the Aggies will make this a bit of a rocky offseason.

17. Clemson (11-2)  2012 CFN Score: 18.70

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 20
2011 Final Season Ranking: 20
2011 CFN Final Score: 16.56
2010 Final Season Ranking: 59
2010 CFN Score: 8.64 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 24
2009 Final Score: 14.64
2008 Final Season Ranking: 45
2008 Final Score: 11.31
Key Stat: Clemson was sixth in the nation in scoring.

Ah, sweet redemption. After spending a year trying to get over the horrendous loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl, Clemson came up with a great final drive to beat LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl to show that yeah, the program really can hang in the big games with the big boys. However, double-digit losses to Florida State and South Carolina dropped down the season ranking - the second best win of the year came against NC State.

16. Nebraska (10-4)  2012 CFN Score: 18.72

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 33
2011 Final Season Ranking: 22
2011 CFN Final Score: 15.19
2010 Final Season Ranking: 16
2010 CFN Score: 17.60 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 17
2009 Final Score: 15.77
2008 Final Season Ranking: 35
2008 Final Score: 13.58
Key Stat: The Huskers were fourth in the nation in pass defense.

If it's possible to erase the 70-31 ugliness of the Big Ten championship loss to Wisconsin, and if it's possible to get over getting bombed on by Aaron Murray and Georgia in the Capital One Bowl loss, it really was a great year. With the thrilling win over Northwestern, the strong performance against Michigan, and with several great comebacks, the Huskers showed they're going to be major players in the Big Ten for a long time. Now it's time for the defense to rock again; the team went 10-0 when allowing 28 points or fewer and 0-4 when allowing more.

15. Northern Illinois (12-2)   2012 CFN Score: 19.23

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 81
2011 Final Season Ranking: 23
2011 CFN Final Score: 14.29
2010 Final Season Ranking: 25
2010 CFN Score: 14.96 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 68
2009 Final Score: 7.45
2008 Final Season Ranking: 74
2008 Final Score: 6.26
Key Stat: NIU finished 17th in the nation in sacks and 14th in tackles for loss.

After finally getting over the hump and winning the MAC title in 2011, NIU took things to a whole other level, blowing through the regular season - after losing to Iowa in the final seconds to open things up - with a two overtime victory over Kent State to give the MAC a BCS berth. The loss to Florida State might have been ugly and the Huskies might have been totally outclassed, but the season still showed the potential for the league's best program. Now life will have to go on without Dave Doeren, who took the NC State head coaching job. Assistant Rod Carey will take over full time.

14. San Jose State (11-2) 2012 CFN Score: 19.35

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 100
2011 Final Season Ranking: 90
2011 CFN Final Score: 4.22
2010 Final Season Ranking: 94
2010 CFN Score: -3-34
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 105
2009 Final Season Ranking: 113
2009 Final Score: -0.57
2008 Final Season Ranking: 82
2008 Final Score: 5.15
Key Stat: The Spartans were sixth in the nation in passing and third in passing efficiency.

San Jose State was the only FBS team without an FBS win in 2010, and two years later it was 11-2 with a seven-game winning streak and a bowl victory over Bowling Green to close things out. The blowout home loss to Utah State hurt, but the Opening Day 20-17 loss to Stanford was more impressive in hindsight than it seemed at the time. The passing game was incredible and the pass rush among the best in college football as the Spartans blew out bad WAC team after bad WAC team. On the down side, the great win meant the loss of head coach Mike MacIntyre to Colorado.

13. LSU (13-1) 2012 CFN Score: 19.36

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 2
2011 Final Season Ranking: 1
2011 CFN Final Score: 29.60
2010 Final Season Ranking: 12
2010 CFN Score: 19.09
2009 Final Season Ranking: 27
2009 Final Score: 14.06
2008 Final Season Ranking: 40
2008 Final Score: 12.25
Key Stat: The Tigers were fifth in the nation in turnover margin.
This wasn't the 2011 team, but it still came within a last gasp Alabama touchdown drive of playing for the SEC championship and a shot at the national title. With Clemson also pulling out a win with a scoring drive in the final seconds, and with a 14-6 loss at Florida, the Tigers weren't that far off from being truly special. Beating South Carolina and Texas A&M in back-to-back weeks after the slugfest in Gainesville proved the team could play with anyone in the nation, but that wasn't really in question. 

12. Utah State (11-2) 2012 CFN Score: 19.89

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 101
2011 Final Season Ranking: 62
2011 CFN Final Score: 8.28
2010 Final Season Ranking: 89
2010 CFN Score: 3.92
2009 Final Season Ranking: 93
2009 Final Score: 3.74
2008 Final Season Ranking: 106
2008 Final Score: 1.97
Key Stat: The Aggies were seventh in the nation in scoring defense.

It was a truly special season for a team that was supposed to be undergoing a major overhaul. Head coach Gary Andersen cranked up the defense that led the WAC in almost every key category thanks to a terrific pass rush and great play from the secondary. The offense wasn't too bad, either. The Aggies should've beaten Wisconsin - missing a makeable field goal in the final seconds - and came close to beating BYU in a 6-3 defeat. Now Andersen is off to Madison, taking over the Wisconsin head coaching job, leaving Matt Wells to take over.

11. Georgia (12-2)  2012 CFN Score: 19.90

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 9
2011 Final Season Ranking: 21
2011 CFN Final Score: 15.56
2010 Final Season Ranking: 69
2010 CFN Score: 7.26
2009 Final Season Ranking: 30
2009 Final Score: 13.76
2008 Final Season Ranking: 14
2008 Final Score: 16.92
Key Stat: The Dawgs finished second in the nation in passing efficiency.

Unfortunately, the season will be remembered more for what didn't happen than for what did. Five yards away from playing for the national title, Georgia just missed against Alabama but went on to bomb away on Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl to close out what would normally be considered a phenomenal year. The win over Florida was among the best by any team all season long, but until the win over the Huskers, that was about it. The only other wins of note came against Vanderbilt and Tennessee, getting blown away by South Carolina and missing LSU and Texas A&M from the West.