2023 College Football Power Rankings: Final Four

25. Liberty Flames (13-0) ▲NR

Last Week: Defeated New Mexico State, 49-35
Up Next: vs. Oregon

The Liberty Flames capped an undefeated regular season with a two-touchdown victory over New Mexico State in the CUSA Championship Game. Quarterback Kaidon Salter was sensational for the Flames. In addition to throwing for 319 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Salter rushed for 165 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries. As a result of the win, Liberty earned a trip to the Fiesta Bowl to take on Oregon. It was a controversial decision, but the Flames will have an opportunity to prove themselves against a very good Ducks team.

24. Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-4) ▼4

Last Week: Lost to Texas, 49-21
Up Next: 
vs. Texas A&M

A victory Saturday afternoon was never within reach for the Cowboys. Facing a determined Texas team, Oklahoma State fell behind by two touchdowns seven minutes into the game. A 21-7 deficit after the first quarter quickly snowballed into a three-touchdown deficit at the half. The Pokes didn’t test Texas at any point but will have a chance to take down another Texas program — A&M — in the Texas Bowl.

23. NC State Wolfpack (9-3) ▲1

Last Week: N/A
Up Next: vs. Kansas State

Hats off to the Wolfpack — one of the hottest teams in the nation to end the season. The team began the year with a 4-3 record, and two of its losses weren’t particularly close. First, the Pack lost to Notre Dame by three touchdowns. A few weeks later, Louisville defeated NC State by three points — once again, the loss occurred at home. Following a narrow win over Marshall, the team lost by 21 to Duke. The Pack haven’t lost since that game and finished the year with an emphatic victory over the rival North Carolina Tar Heels. In the victory, Brennan Armstrong threw for 334 yards and three touchdowns — two of which went to Kevin Concepcion (7/131/2).

22. Kansas Jayhawks (8-4) ▲1

Last Week: N/A
Up Next: vs. UNLV

For the first time in 15 years, the Kansas Jayhawks have eight victories in one season. Lance Leipold is a fantastic coach and it is only a matter of time before he is leading a big-time program. The Jayhawks played much of the season without their star quarterback and were only a handful of plays away from winning 10 games. Backup QB Jason Bean returned to the field against Cincinnati, and he was terrific. In addition to throwing for 250 yards and two scores, Bean rushed for 90 yards and two TDs.

21. Utah Utes (8-4) ▲1

Last Week: N/A
Up Next: vs. Northwestern

The Utes reign as Pac-12 champions is over after two years. The program entered the season with high but realistic expectations due to the uncertainty surrounding QB Cam Rising. The star suffered a devastating injury in last year’s Rose Bowl and was unable to return to the field in 2023. However, Rising has announced that he will return for one final season in 2024. The Utes will be headed to the Big 12 and should be primed to compete for the conference title immediately.

20. Tulane Green Wave (11-2) ▼2

Last Week: Lost to SMU, 26-14
Up Next: vs. Virginia Tech

Tulane suffered a rough ending to its pre-bowl season. First, the Green Wave lost to SMU, 26-14, and lost an opportunity to play a New Year’s Six bowl for the second year in a row. Then, head coach Willie Fritz opted to leave town in favor of leading the Houston Cougars. Fritz led Tulane to a bowl five of the last six seasons, and his team went 23-4 the past two years. It will be tough to replace Fritz in the immediate future.

19. Iowa Hawkeyes (10-3) ⭤ 19

Last Week: Lost to Michigan, 26-0
Up Next: vs. Tennessee

Well, that game went exactly as expected. For the second time in three years, Iowa won the Big Ten West and earned a chance to play Michigan for the Big Ten Championship. In 2021, Michigan smacked Iowa, 42-3. On Saturday, the Wolverines blanked Iowa for a 26-0 win. Iowa’s defense is very good, and its offense is absolutely putrid — that is nothing new. Let’s see what the Hawkeyes can do against Tennessee.

18. SMU Mustangs (11-2) ▲2

Last Week: Defeated Tulane, 26-14
Up Next: vs. Boston College

SMU is not happy at the moment. The Mustangs defeated Tulane, 26-14, to win the AAC — but they were undervalued by the CFP Committee (more on that group later) and failed to secure a New Year’s Six bid. SMU beat a ranked Tulane, and its two losses came against Big 12 teams — Oklahoma and TCU, respectively. The Mustangs did more than enough to earn a trip to the Fiesta Bowl over Liberty. Alas, the Committee didn’t think that was the case.

17. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-3) ⭤ 17

Last Week: N/A
Up Next: vs. Oregon State

Notre Dame may not be thrilled finishing the regular season with three losses, but at least it can enjoy dominant victories over both USC and Stanford. The Irish closed out the season with a 33-point thrashing of the rival Cardinal. On a night in which Sam Hartman only attempted 14 passes (140 yards, two TD), Audric Estime was utterly unstoppable. The tailback gashed Stanford’s defense for 238 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries. Notre Dame trailed, 13-7, entering the second quarter, but outscored Stanford 42-3 over the next 30 minutes.

16. Oregon State Beavers (8-4) ⭤ 16

Last Week: N/A
Up Next: vs. Notre Dame

Don’t let Saturday’s loss to Oregon fool you — the Beavers are a very good football team. Oregon State began the year 8-2, with both of its losses coming on the road and by three points. A two-point loss to undefeated Washington preceded the loss to Oregon. So, three of OSU’s losses came against teams currently in the top-15 (Arizona, Washington, Oregon) — with the latter two both being in the top-5. Of course, the biggest news to come out of Corvallis this weekend was the departure of head coach Jonathan Smith. The longtime Beav opted to take over at Michigan State.

15. Oklahoma Sooners (10-2) ⭤ 15

Last Week: N/A
Up Next: vs. Arizona

The Sooners won’t be departing the Big 12 in the manner they had hoped. Oklahoma improved in Year 2 under Brent Venables, but it failed to reach the Big 12 Championship Game due to its loss to Oklahoma State. OU won three-straight games following back-to-back losses to Kansas and OK State, respectively, and capped off the regular season with an offensive explosion against TCU. En route to scoring 69 points, Dillon Gabriel threw for 400 yards and tailback Gavin Sawchuk rushed for 130 yards and three TDs.

14. Louisville Cardinals (10-3) ⭤ 14

Last Week: Lost to Florida State, 16-6
Up Next: vs. USC

Louisville’s loss to Kentucky two weeks ago ended any outside shot of reaching the College Football Playoff, but last Saturday’s loss to Florida State will still sting for a while. The Cardinals’ potent offense was manhandled by the Seminoles all night. Jack Plummer finished with a horrible stat line — 14-of-36 for 111 yards and one interception — and his offense generated a mere 188 total yards. Plummer was sacked seven times, and the Cardinals were stopped for a loss 14 times overall.

13. Arizona Wildcats (9-3) ⭤ 13

Last Week: N/A
Up Next: vs. Oklahoma

Jedd Fisch’s Arizona Wildcats won their ninth game of the year on Saturday — giving the program its second nine-win season since 1998. The Wildcats went 1-11 in Fisch’s first season (2021). It has been a truly remarkable turnaround for the program, and the team should only get better in the coming years. Arizona won six in a row to end the year, and its three losses came by seven points or less — 31-24 (OT) @ Mississippi State, 31-24 vs. Washington, 43-41 (3OT) @ USC.

12. LSU Tigers (9-3) ⭤ 12

Last Week: N/A
Up Next: vs. Wisconsin

LSU wrapped up its regular season with a 42-30 win over Texas A&M. All three of LSU’s losses came against teams currently ranked in the top-12 — Florida State, Ole Miss, Alabama. Of course, the star of the season was quarterback Jayden Daniels. The former Arizona State Sun Devil took his game to a new level with the Tigers, and he will certainly be a Heisman finalist. Overall, Daniels finished the season with 3,812 passing yards, 1,134 rushing yards, and 50 total touchdowns. It is a shame Daniels didn’t have a better defense behind him to help his cause.

11. Ole Miss Rebels (10-2) ⭤ 11

Last Week: N/A
Up Next: vs. Penn State

Ole Miss is close to competing with the SEC’s best, but not close enough. The Rebels finished conference play with a 6-2 mark, but their two losses came against the two-best teams — Alabama and Georgia. Ole Miss’ offense was shut down by the Crimson Tide, and the team was dominated in all phases by Georgia. Lane Kiffin has certainly boosted the program during his tenure, but there is still work to be done if he hopes to knock off the elite teams.

10. Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2) ⭤ 10

Last Week: N/A
Up Next: vs. Ole Miss

Penn State and Ole Miss are in a similar spot — good, but not good enough. The Nittany Lions wrapped up their regular season with an easy win over Michigan State. The program has had no trouble beating up on the mid-to-lower level teams in the Big Ten, but it is not quite on the same level as Michigan or Ohio State. Penn State’s offense struggled against both the Wolverines and Buckeyes — scoring 15 and 12 points, respectively — and scored 27 points or more in its 10 wins.

9. Missouri Tigers (10-2) ⭤ 9

Last Week: N/A
Up Next: vs. Ohio State

Missouri had some very successful seasons under Gary Pinkel — twice finishing in the top-5 — but it had just two winning seasons since 2017. So, Mizzou fans must be thrilled with the team this year. The Tigers won 10 games for the first time since 2014 and knocked off the likes of Kansas State, Tennessee and Florida. Additionally, the Tigers were competitive in losses to LSU and Georgia. Missouri’s win over Arkansas last Saturday should result in a New Year’s Six berth.

8. Florida State Seminoles (13-0) ⭤ 8

Last Week: Defeated Louisville, 16-6
Up Next: vs. Georgia

The Seminoles were screwed by the College Football Playoff Committee. Despite winning the ACC and finishing 13-0, Florida State became the first undefeated Power 5 team to be left out of the CFP. Florida State manhandled LSU to begin the year, toppled Clemson on the road, beat Florida — at The Swamp — with its backup QB, and defeated Louisville in the ACC Championship Game with its third-string QB. Still, FSU dropped from No. 4 to No. 5 in the final rankings. The Seminoles are justifiably furious with the decision.

7. Oregon Ducks (11-2) ▼3

Last Week: Lost to Washington, 34-31
Up Next: vs. Liberty

Oregon fell short of reaching the College Football Playoff after losing to Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Ducks went 11-0 against all teams not named Washington but dropped both games to the Huskies. Oregon was dominated early and found itself down 20-3 as the first half neared its end. Then, the Ducks rallied to score 21-straight points to take a 24-20 lead into the fourth quarter. Ultimately, Oregon was outplayed by Washington in the final frame and came up three points short. 11 wins, two three-point losses to Washington.

6. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1) ▼1

Last Week: N/A
Up Next: vs. Missouri

The Buckeyes reached the College Football Playoff in 2022 despite losing to Michigan, but they will not repeat that feat this season. Ohio State was far more competitive in ‘The Game’ this year, but it still lost for the third year in a row. Ryan Day is 38-3 in Big Ten play as head coach of the Buckeyes — and fans are still fuming because he is 0-3 against the Wolverines.

5. Georgia Bulldogs (12-1) ▼3

Last Week: Lost to Alabama, 27-24
Up Next: vs. Florida State

The two-time defending National Champions saw their reign come to an end in the SEC Championship Game. The Bulldogs entered the weekend as the No. 1 team in the nation, but they fell to No. 6 in the final CFP rankings and will now settle for an Orange Bowl matchup with Florida State. In the loss to Alabama, Georgia shot itself in the foot. A missed field goal was followed by an Alabama touchdown to push the Tide’s lead to 17-7. Trailing 17-10 late in the third quarter, Georgia fumbled on its 11-yard line — leading to Alabama extending its lead to 10 points. The Bulldogs scored back-to-back touchdowns on their last two drives, but the defense was unable to stop Bama to give the offense one last chance to win the game.

4. Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1) ▲3

Last Week: Defeated Georgia, 27-24
Up Next: vs. Michigan

Congratulations, Alabama. The Tide knocked off the back-to-back champs to win the SEC Championship and clinch a spot in the College Football Playoff. Alabama played well, but its inclusion in the CFP has angered many people across the country. The Tide were given the No. 4 spot in the field at Florida State’s expense. The Committee often mentions it looks at, “what teams have done lately.” Florida State won at Florida with its backup QB and defeated Louisville with its third-string QB. Alabama needed a miracle to defeat a bad Auburn team…but the Committee seemingly forgot about that.

3. Texas Longhorns (12-1) ▲3

Last Week: Defeated Oklahoma State, 49-21
Up Next: vs. Washington

The Longhorns took care of business against Oklahoma State and left no doubt in the Committee’s minds. With a possible trip to the College Football Playoff at stake, the Longhorns hit the gas early against the Cowboys and raced out to a 21-7 lead through one quarter of play. Shortly before halftime, Quinn Ewers found Jaydon Blue for his fourth touchdown pass of the half and extended Texas’ lead to 35-14. Keilan Robinson’s second rushing score of the second half pushed Texas’ lead to 49-14. Now, the Longhorns will prepare to play Washington in the Sugar Bowl.

2. Washington Huskies (13-0) ▲1

Last Week: Defeated Oregon, 34-31
Up Next: vs. Texas

Washington heard the haters and it set out to prove a point in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Despite beating Oregon in the regular season, the Huskies entered the Pac-12 Championship as 9.5-point underdogs. UW came out angry and built a 20-3 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. The Ducks fought back and claimed a lead, 24-20, entering the fourth quarter, but UW owned the fourth. Dillon Johnson’s second rushing score of the night gave UW a 27-24 lead early in the quarter, and Michael Penix Jr. orchestrated a great TD-drive to put UW up 10 with a little over two minutes to go. Following a quick score from Oregon, Penix iced the game with two first downs to end the game.

1. Michigan Wolverines (13-0) ⭤ 1

Last Week: Defeated Iowa, 26-0
Up Next: vs. Alabama

Michigan won the Big Ten Championship Game with ease to reach its third College Football Playoff in a row. The Wolverines had zero trouble taking down Iowa’s flightless offense. Overall, Michigan held Iowa to seven first downs and 155 total yards. While Michigan’s offense struggled, as well, it did more than enough to help win the game. Next, the Wolverines will take on Alabama at the Rose Bowl for an opportunity to play for the National Championship.