Projected Top 25 College Football Playoff rankings after Week 12: No. 20-16
20. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Many wondered how Mike Gundy’s team would respond after getting their doors blown off by UCF a week ago. And it looked as if Oklahoma State might just implode as they trailed Houston on the road early on Saturday. Ollie Gordon II and Alan Bowman got things rolling in the second half, outscoring the Cougars 24-7 in the final two frames, to pick up the 43-30 win. The Pokes are still the favorites to make it to Arlington for the Big 12 Championship Game, but they’ll have to get past BYU next week in Stillwater to secure that spot.
19. Kansas State Wildcats
Even though neither Jalon Daniels nor Jason Bean were able to go for rival Kansas, the Kansas State Wildcats got into a war with their Big 12 rivals on Saturday night. They trailed by 11 points early in the second half, but Will Howard, DJ Giddens and the K-State defense stepped up hugely to close out the game on a 14-0 run and secure the 31-27 win. The Wildcats have an outside shot at playing for a Big 12 title and this win keeps that dream intact.
18. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
In all honesty, it feels like the collective consciousness of college football that doesn’t reside in South Bend has all but forgotten about Notre Dame at this point. But the Irish were back in action on Saturday, taking on an ailing Wake Forest team. Sam Hartman diced them up for 277 yards and four touchdowns while the defense was suffocating, leading to a resounding 45-7 win. The Irish are another team still in the mix for a New Year’s Six game, but they’ll have to handle Stanford on the road next week to remain in the mix.
17. Arizona Wildcats
Doubt them if you dare, but Jedd Fisch’s Arizona Wildcats are absolutely cooking right now, which Utah found out the hard way in Tucscon on Saturday. Arizona jumped all over the Utes to build a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter and never looked back. Noah Fifita continues to look like a star after taking over at quarterback midseason and now the Wildcats are lurking for a New Year’s Six bid as they’re on track to finish the regular season at 9-3.
16. Iowa Hawkeyes
It’s never pretty for Iowa and making this a Top 20 team based on the eye test still doesn’t feel right. But even without Cooper DeJean on Saturday as they hosted an Illinois team that had been rolling on offense, Kirk Ferentz’s team and Phil Parker’s defense found a way to win, 15-13, in Iowa City. They’ll finish up the regular season next week in Lincoln, but they could cause real chaos in two weeks in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game against either Michigan or Ohio State – but don’t hold your breath on that one.