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How Week 12’s top-25 games changed the New Year’s picture

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Keeping track of top-25 results, with postseason notes on each game as it goes final.

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Texas John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports

Below, we’re keeping track of each top-25 game’s impact, both before and after final scores, mostly paying attention to CFP committee business, not highlights and stuff.

Remember the things the committee has mostly demonstrated it rewards: wins over final top-25 teams, wins over bowl teams, road wins, dominant wins, weirdly excusable losses, being Alabama, and not being a mid-major. It does not care what your opponent’s ranking was at kickoff.

All times ET. All days Saturday, unless noted. Final scores in bold.

Probably important

Games in which the winning team should have a high-quality victory by season’s end or games that will decide a Power 5 division race. Or: really meaningful upsets.

  • No. 3 Notre Dame 36, No. 12 Syracuse 3: Notre Dame’s now 60 minutes away from the Playoff, adding a really nice performance against a good offense today.
  • Oklahoma State 45, No. 9 West Virginia 41: The Big 12’s down to just one Playoff contender.
  • No. 10 Ohio State 52, Maryland 51 in overtime: Up here because of the hideous final score, which is actually kind to the Buckeyes. This game should be held against them by the committee.
  • No. 15 Texas 24, No. 16 Iowa State 10: The Horns just need to beat Kansas next week in order to clinch a Big 12 title shot, likely a Red River rematch.

Maybe important

Games in which the winner should have something to show for it, such as at least a win over a decent bowl team.

  • No. 2 Clemson 35, Duke 6: A nice win for Clemson. That’s fine.
  • No. 8 Washington State 69, Arizona 28: Zona’s a potential bowl team, this is a nice win, and the Cougs should probably move up a spot or so. But the Pac-12 North championship Apple Cup next week is all that really matters.
  • No. 17 Kentucky 34, Middle Tennessee 23: UK’s almost certainly out of the NY6 race, but a bid to a nice game like the Citrus Bowl is still up for grabs. Keep the win-loss record shiny.
  • No. 19 Utah 30, Colorado 7: Thanks to this and Oregon beating Arizona State, the wounded Utes are your Pac-12 South champs for the first time.
  • Florida State 22, No. 20 Boston College 21: FSU’s nation-leading bowl streak ain’t dead yet.
  • No. 22 Northwestern 24, Minnesota 14: The Big Ten should root for Northwestern to show up at the conference title game with a top-20 ranking, which still isn’t exactly guaranteed.
  • Pitt 34, Wake Forest 13: Pitt just won the ACC Coastal lol.

Important for the Group of 5 race

Since the committee’s showed for years that non-power teams have a REALLY long path to the Playoff, let’s have a separate section for the race to be the top-ranked mid-major champ.

  • No. 11 UCF 38, No. 24 Cincinnati 13: UCF wins the AAC East and will remain favored to make the NY6 again. Also, if UCF doesn’t jump Ohio State in this week’s rankings, it’s time to hop back on the UCF Is Being Screwed wagon, a wagon I haven’t been on since last season. It’s a very specific wagon.
  • No. 23 Utah State 29, Colorado State 24: A narrow survival against a bad team won’t impress the committee, but the MWC isn’t out of the NY6 race just yet.
  • No. 25 Boise State 45, New Mexico 14: Good on the committee for ranking a two-loss non-power. Boise-Utah State will decide the division.
  • Ohio 52, Buffalo 17: The MAC’s now out of one-loss teams, FWIW.
  • Houston 48, Tulane 17: Thanks to Memphis, Houston now has the outright AAC West lead, but ...
  • Memphis 28, SMU 18: ... Memphis hosts Houston next week for the division title.
  • Texas A&M 41, UAB 20: The #RankUAB train ends, and Conference USA is out of one-loss teams. It doesn’t matter much.

Probably not important

The committee tries not to care much about your wins over FCS teams or teams that finish with bad records, though you can get some credit for winning on the road or really laying it to folks. So for the ranked teams here: just don’t lose!