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College Football Rankings: B/R’s Top 25 After Week 13

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    In a two-day weekend feast of football over the Thanksgiving holiday, two contenders found famine while the cream of the crop regained its footing.

    Perhaps the biggest news, though, was Ohio State’s game against Illinois getting canceled, putting the Buckeyes’ chances of qualifying for the Big Ten Championship Game in peril. With coach Ryan Day’s team needing to play every one of its remaining games, things get even more interesting in the playoff picture.

    Two teams that withdrew themselves for consideration, however, were Northwestern and Oregon, who lost embarrassing games to unranked teams Michigan State and Oregon State, respectively. 

    Alabama dominated Auburn in the Iron Bowl, Notre Dame muddied up the game in a win over North Carolina and its explosive offense, and Clemson looked dominant again in Trevor Lawrence’s return. 

    Iowa State’s huge win over Texas was noteworthy, and the two non-Bama SEC contenders—Texas A&M and Florida—took care of business, too. There was definitely a lot going on this weekend.

    B/R’s five-man panel of expertsDavid Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller, Joel Reuter and Brad Shepard—waded through the turkey gravy, battled the Thanksgiving food hangover and ranked the teams. Each submitted a Top 25 ballot with a first-place vote counting for 25 points, followed by 24 points for second, etc.

    B/R Post-Week 13 Top 25

    1. Alabama (Last week: 1)
    2. Notre Dame (2)
    3. Ohio State (3)
    4. Clemson (4)
    5. Cincinnati (5)
    6. Florida (6)
    7. BYU (7)
    8. Texas A&M (8)
    9. Indiana (10)
    10. Coastal Carolina (12)
    11. Miami (11)
    12. Marshall (13)
    13. Iowa State (17)
    14. Oklahoma (15)
    15. Georgia (16)
    16. Northwestern (9)
    17. Wisconsin (18)
    18. Louisiana (20)
    19. USC (19)
    20. Tulsa (23)
    21. Oklahoma State (25)
    22. Liberty (22)
    23. Colorado (NR)
    24. Nevada (NR)
    25. Buffalo (NR)

    Others receiving votes: Washington

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    Robert Willett/Associated Press

    Test after rugged test have stood in front of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and each week, coach Brian Kelly’s team has risen to the challenge.

    It may not be the sexiest team, but No. 2 Notre Dame is ranked there for a reason, and it showed why yet again on Friday in a 31-17 win over a high-octane North Carolina Tar Heels team.

    The 19th-ranked Heels have endured their own defensive struggles this year, so it’s not particularly surprising that the Irish found their footing eventually in a two-touchdown win. What was unexpected is exactly how they did it. Most expected a shootout that never materialized.

    Minus perhaps its best player in safety Kyle Hamilton, who was ejected for targeting, the Irish stymied a Heels offense that has been among the nation’s most explosive. They hounded UNC quarterback Sam Howell throughout the game, sacking him six times.

    Though the Tar Heels averaged 40.2 points and 533.9 yards per game heading into Friday, they finished with just 298 total yards against the Irish. Remarkably, the dynamic running back duo of Javonte Williams and Michael Carter mustered just 85 rushing yards combined.

    For the Irish, Ian Book was again majestic with the game on the line, finishing with 279 passing yards, 48 rushing yards and a score. Though running back Kyren Williams continued his outstanding season, Book continued to make everybody around him better.

    Pitted against North Carolina’s electric receivers, Notre Dame’s Javon McKinley (six catches, 135 yards) was the best pass-catcher on the field in Chapel Hill. Freshman tight end Michael Mayer and wideout Ben Skowronek made huge plays, too.

    The win keeps Kelly’s team on track for another matchup with Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, and the Irish continued to prove they have what it takes to compete for the title. This was a battle on the road in which they allowed touchdowns on UNC’s first two drives and just three points the rest of the way.

    Notre Dame turned it into a slugfest, and that’s why it won. This team continues to prove it’s one of the nation’s best.

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    Amanda Loman/Associated Press

    Remember when the Oregon Ducks sometimes dominated games with their sheer speed and aggressive defense, quarterback Justin Herbert led an explosive offensive attack, and coach Mario Cristobal’s team was the class of the Pac-12?

    On Friday night, 2019 seemed like a long time ago.

    Sure, the Ducks had to replace a ton of talent, but it was shocking to see how vulnerable they were during a 41-38 upset loss to rival Oregon State in the game that used to be known as the Civil War. The conference’s hopes for the College Football Playoff took a lethal bullet in Corvallis, too.

    The Ducks blew a 12-point lead late and looked about as bad as you can doing it. The defense was atrocious, allowing Jermar Jefferson to put up a rivalry record 226 rushing yards. Tristan Gebbia threw for 263 more yards in a fog so thick it was hard to see the game.

    After the third quarter, things unraveled. The Beavers responded with an epic 16-play, 92-yard drive. Then Tyler Shough threw an interception into double coverage, and the Beavers took the lead two plays later, only to hand it right back by allowing an Oregon score.

    But after forcing a Beavers turnover on downs, Cristobal’s awful clock management and electing to pass on third down led to a three-and-out that took just 23 seconds off the clock.

    The Beavers marched down and scored the game-winning touchdown despite some awful officiating that looked like it cost them a score and blatantly missed an Oregon offsides on 3rd-and-goal that could have proved pivotal.

    Backup quarterback Chance Nolan replaced an injured Gebbia before 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line and sneaked his way in for the go-ahead score.

    Once the fog lifted, the No. 15-ranked Ducks faced their first loss. The big picture isn’t pretty for the Pac-12, either. The conference’s outside chance is on life support.

    In a 48-hour span, three of the league’s unbeaten programs lost (Oregon) and saw a game canceled due to COVID-19 (USC-Colorado), though the Buffaloes were able to scramble to schedule San Diego State on Saturday in an impromptu game.

    It’s an anything-flies scenario during this COVID-stricken college football season, but the Ducks were grounded Friday night. Any hopes they had to make it to the Final Four are cooked.

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

    Maybe you’ll pay attention now. Perhaps you’ll search your schedule for the remainder of the year and record Buffalo Bulls games. At the very least, seek out his statistics and recall his name when you hear it called in an upcoming NFL draft.

    His name is Jaret Patterson, and he’s the best player on the MAC’s best team. But he isn’t just the top player in an afterthought conference; he’s also one of the best players in all of college football, regardless of league.

    Patterson proved that (again) on Saturday in a 70-41 win over previously unbeaten Kent State, one of the other top contenders in the MAC.

    The 5’9″, 195-pound junior finished with 36 carries for 409 yards and tied a college football single-game record with eight rushing touchdowns. He finished just 18 yards shy of the single-game FBS record held by former Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine, who set it in 2014. 

    Patterson’s eight scores tied former Illinois running back Howard Griffith’s record set in 1990 against Southern Illinois. 

    With the Golden Flashes having zero answer for Patterson or any of Buffalo’s defense the entire day, it’s likely he’d have set both single-game records had Buffalo coach Lance Leipold not taken him out on his team’s last drive with more than two minutes left in the game. That disappointed everybody who caught wind history was being made.

    It’s a shame Leipold didn’t let it happen, because it would have brought plenty of positive attention to a league and program that can use any publicity it can get. Patterson’s performance will provide a dose, but it could have been even better, and some will surely question the coach’s decision.

    Removing Patterson from the game does nothing to diminish the amazing performance, though. The Maryland native was impressive last year, but his name was still absent from a lot of preseason lists. It will be included on the postseason awards shortlist, especially after Saturday.

    Head coach Sean Lewis and Kent State came into the matchup with Buffalo undefeated, so this was a huge game for the MAC standings and expected to be a close shootout. Instead, Patterson routinely flashed by the Flashes on his way to a historic performance. Buffalo may need to be ranked after this week.

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    If you’re looking for some late-season excitement in the Week 14 slate, you won’t find it with a look at the schedule.

    A deeper glance will prove there may not be a lot of marquee matchups, but there are plenty of chances for updates.

    Next week features only two games between ranked opponents, with No. 5 Texas A&M heading to No. 22 Auburn and No. 12 Indiana heading to Camp Randall to take on 16th-ranked Wisconsin.

    Both of those games should be fun to watch, and with Ohio State’s concerns about qualifying for the Big Ten Championship Game, the latter matchup could have title ramifications. The Hoosiers stand to benefit if the Buckeyes can’t get in, and the Badgers are battling in the West.

    Don’t sleep on several showdowns that could get dicey, though. 

    Northwestern’s trip to Minnesota to take on a Golden Gophers team that is rapidly improving could prove a major test, especially considering the Wildcats aren’t going to wow you offensively. With defense being P.J. Fleck’s team’s biggest weakness, that could be one to watch.

    Washington State will travel to USC to play a Trojans team that is the Pac-12’s best remaining outside hope to make the College Football Playoff. Miami traveling to Wake Forest to take on a high-octane Demon Deacons offense could get interesting, too.

    West Virginia traveling to Iowa State could get dicey as well.

    There aren’t a lot of must-sees on paper, but upsets happen every week, as Oregon State proved Friday night against Oregon. Get ready for it to happen again, because these are some good potential candidates.

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