Friday, June 9, 2023

College football rankings: Alabama vaults to No. 1, Notre Dame into top five in CBS Sports 130

The final CBS Sports 130 of the regular season has a new top-ranked team after Championship Week

CBS Sports Graphic

A 57-day run as the No. 1 team in the CBS Sports 130 — our comprehensive ranking of every FBS college football team — has come to an end for Georgia. The new team at the top is a program arguably the most familiar with the No. 1 spot in these rankings, Alabama, after the Crimson Tide knocked off the Bulldogs in Atlanta on Saturday to claim the SEC championship. 

The Crimson Tide started the year at No. 1 in the CBS Sports 130 but fell to No. 4 after losing at Texas A&M as a nearly three-touchdown underdog. Alabama moved up and down throughout the top five as it turned in both easy wins against quality opponents (Ole Miss) and head-scratching nail-biters against teams it was favored to beat handily (LSU). Sometimes Alabama would drop, other times it was jumped by another contender after an impressive performance. But from the moment the Aggies upset the Tide, Georgia held the top spot in our rankings. 

We tend to view these Alabama-Georgia matchups like title fights, and so the Crimson Tide had to beat the Bulldogs to take the belt. After doing so, our voters had no problem moving Alabama from No. 4 up to No. 1, jumping over Michigan, Cincinnati and Georgia, which dropped just two spots to No. 3. 

As you might expect, there aren’t a ton of major adjustments in the rankings after Championship Week considering the number of teams inactive, but Utah State and Northern Illinois saw some of the biggest jumps after conference championship wins, and a couple of the conference title game losers did concede spots as we close out the CBS Sports 130 for the regular season. For more on the biggest movers in this week’s rankings, check out the Mover’s Report below the top 25 table. 

We will collect ballots from the experts at CBS Sports and 247Sports again after the bowl season for a final 2021 ranking of every FBS team. In doing so, teams will have a chance to improve or give up positioning, sometimes in dramatic fashion, before we cement our opinions for the season. For now, however, here’s how the entire FBS landscape stacks up from No. 1 all the way to No. 130. 

College football experts from CBS Sports and 247Sports contribute ballots each week, which are averaged together for our rankings. You can see the top 25 below and 26-130 on our rankings page.

1 Alabama 12-1 4
2 Michigan 12-1 2
3 Georgia 12-1 1
4 Cincinnati 13-0 3
5 Notre Dame 11-1 6
6 Ohio State 10-2 7
7 Baylor 11-2 8
8 Oklahoma State 11-2 5
9 Ole Miss

10-2 9
10 Michigan State 10-2 10
11 Utah

10-3 16
12 Pittsburgh 11-2 14
13 Oklahoma 10-2 11
14 BYU

10-2 13
15 Oregon 10-3 12
16 Louisiana 12-1 21
17 NC State 9-3 19
18 Iowa 10-3 17
19 Houston 11-2 18
20 Wake Forest

10-3 15
21 UTSA 12-1 22
22 Clemson 9-3 23
23 Wisconsin 8-4 25
24 Arkansas 8-4 24
25 Texas A&M 8-4 28

Biggest movers 

  • No. 29 Utah State (+18): San Diego State boasted one of the toughest defenses in the Mountain West and had not given up more than 31 points all season until Utah State hung 46 on the Aztecs in a lopsided conference championship game win. Blake Anderson’s success with the Aggies has been one of the great stories of the 2021 season, and now at 10-3 with a conference title, it’s no surprise to see them make the biggest jump of the week in our rankings. 
  • No. 52 Northern Illinois (+11): Like Utah State, Northern Illinois started the year with expectations far below what the Huskies would go on to achieve in 2021. Kent State was only a narrow favorite in the MAC title game, and an NIU win should not have come as a shock, but the victory served as validation for the team’s success. The Huskies won seven games by one score in 2021, but the capper in Detroit against Kent State was never in doubt as NIU jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead and cruised to an 18-point win. 
  • No. 11 Utah (+5): Two resounding wins against Oregon in a three-week span allowed for the Utes to finally move beyond those early-season losses that weighed them down in the rankings. Now Rose Bowl-bound for the first time, Kyle Whittingham and this Utah program have staked their claim as one of the powers in the Pac-12 and a program that anyone — yes, including the new Lincoln Riley-led USC Trojans — must get past if they have conference title desires. 
  • No. 16 Louisiana (+5): It’s tough to beat a team twice in one season, but Louisiana did just that against a good Appalachian State team, sending Billy Napier off to Florida and the all the seniors on this Ragin’ Cajuns team out with a program-affirming win. Both coach and roster management have built Louisiana up over the last couple of years, so to finish the journey with an outright Sun Belt title gives some hardware for the trophy case to represent those efforts. 
  • No. 20 Wake Forest (-5): The Demon Deacons pride themselves on winning the turnover battle, but a flood of interceptions against Pitt broke what was a back-and-forth game wide open in the second half of the ACC Championship Game. A drop in the rankings was predicted, though anything too dramatic seemed unlikely given Wake Forest’s 10-win resume includes a victory against an NC State team our voters value highly. 
  • No. 33 Appalachian State (-6): The level of competition was better for Appalachian State than the first loss to Louisiana, but the pair of results — a combined 65-29 score — indicate a gap between these two teams. The Mountaineers deserve top-30 consideration, especially with how it handled business coming down the stretch of its 10-win regular season, but the defeat dropped them just a couple spots outside that cut line. 
  • No. 27 San Diego State (-7): For a team that prides itself on defense, punting, field position and running the football, a double-digit deficit caused problems for San Diego State. The Aztecs didn’t even reach the end zone until the 46-13 loss was already in hand for Utah State, and an adjustment for that result was necessary considering the performance. 

Check out the rest of the CBS Sports 130: Teams ranked 26-130

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