SALT LAKE CITY — Rivalry week, the final week of the regular season, didn’t disappoint.
The premier matchup over the weekend featured then-No. 5 Alabama traveling to Jordan-Hare Stadium to take on then-No. 15 Auburn in the Iron Bowl. And though the Crimson Tide’s College Football Playoff hopes were already on thin ice, their chances are all but lost after suffering its second defeat of the season.
Meanwhile, Auburn helped out teams like Utah and Oklahoma (and Baylor) in the playoff race to essentially knock the Crimson Tide out of contention in a year where Alabama had a mediocre strength of schedule. Should the results remain, Alabama would miss out on the playoff for the first time since college football made the switch.
Conversely, Ohio State took care of business in convincing fashion and toppled rival Michigan for its eighth consecutive win over the Wolverines, which prompted me to move them back up to No. 1. The Buckeyes are playing like the best team in the country and have no real weakness. Michigan looked to combat Ohio State early, but once the Buckeyes settled in, it was game over.
Rising: Auburn, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Wisconsin claimed a big win over Minnesota to silence the “Row the Boat” crowd. The Badgers haven’t been perfect this season, but they showed out when it mattered most. Minnesota had been a “darling” of college football after defeating Penn State, but the Golden Gophers ran out of juice in the end.
Falling: Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota
Minnesota hasn’t had a great resume this season, so it’s not entirely unusual the Gophers lost to Wisconsin. Records aren’t all equal, and I’ve felt all season PJ Fleck’s group has been a little overrated. The program is in solid hands and trending upward, no doubt, but the Gophers haven’t quite put it all together just yet.
Added: Air Force, Navy, Virginia
Former BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall snapped a 15-straight Virginia Tech winning streak as his Cavaliers “upset” the Hokies to claim the Coastal Division of the ACC. The Cavaliers have been in and out of the Top 25 this season, but they finally have the pieces to be worthy of ending the regular season ranked. Virginia will now be forced to matchup with Clemson — a team nobody wants to play.
Dropped out: Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech
Teams in consideration: Hawaii, Kansas State, SMU
As always, hit me up on Twitter (@JFurKSL) if you have any questions about my ballot.