Avenging its SEC Championship Game loss and claiming the program’s first national championship in 41 years, Georgia has finally reached the top of the mountain and finished the season No. 1 in the college football rankings. The CBS Sports 130, a comprehensive ranking of every FBS team, has the Bulldogs back in the top spot for its final rankings of the 2021 season. Georgia checks in just ahead of the rest of the College Football Playoff field: Alabama at No. 2, Michigan at No. 3 and Cincinnati at No. 4.
This update of the CBS Sports 130 is our final ranking of the season but also the first since the beginning of the bowl season. So while the entire 130 has not been in action, there have plenty of bowl results that influenced how our voters view the top teams in the country.
Most of the top 10 remained close with some minor reshuffling, but Notre Dame’s drop from No. 5 to No. 8 and Ole Miss‘ fall from No. 9 to No. 12 stand out as notable adjustments. Ohio State, Baylor and Oklahoma State all moved up after bowl wins but only by a spot due to the logjam at the top with the CFP participants.
A Bob Stoops-led effort helped Oklahoma move up three spots to join the top 10 after beating Oregon in the Alamo Bowl, and the trio of Houston, Wake Forest and Clemson all surged up at least five spots after bowl wins against Power Five opponents. Some of that movement came courtesy of losses by teams previously inside the top 20, but our voters didn’t overreact too much to those bowl defeats and still awarded merit thanks to the entire body of work on the season.
For some of the bigger movements within the entire CBS Sports 130, check out the Mover’s Report after the top 25 table below.
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.
- No. 36 UAB (+13): Facing a top-15 team as a touchdown underdog, UAB jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead against BYU and held on for a three-point win in the Independence Bowl to finish 9-4. It’s the fifth straight season the Blazers have received a bowl bid and the third time in the last three complete (i.e. non-pandemic) seasons the program has finished with at least nine wins.
- No. 45 UCF (+11): Voters could have factored in Florida’s extenuating circumstances in the Gasparilla Bowl and still been impressed with the Knights’ win against an in-state foe, the program’s first against the Gators in football.
- No. 55 South Carolina (+9): A border war matchup with North Carolina in the Charlotte-based Duke’s Mayo Bowl was the perfect opportunity for bragging rights, and South Carolina has them all after soundly defeating the Tar Heels as double-digit underdogs.
- No. 19 Kentucky (+7): The Citrus Bowl was one piece of a great slate of New Year’s Day bowl games. Wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson’s heroics carried the Wildcats offense in a low-scoring win and cemented a classic bowl victory for Mark Stoops’ program against Iowa.
- No. 16 Clemson (+6): A defense that was solid all year showed up to help the Tigers beat Iowa State in the Cheez-It Bowl to finish 10-3. There was no CFP finale like we’re used to seeing, but five straight wins to close the year, coupled with this quality victory in the bowl game, prompted one final boost in the rankings.
- No. 25 Iowa (-7): Where there was a boost for Kentucky after the Citrus Bowl win, there’s a similar drop for the Hawkeyes after the loss. From a rankings perspective, Iowa has carried a high floor for most of the season thanks to its 6-0 start, but two postseason losses have prompted a slide here in the final balloting.
- No. 22 BYU (-8): The Cougars were in a tricky spot in the rankings because so many of their best wins came early in the season. Those victories and a double-digit win count are worthy of a top-25 profile, but the loss to UAB and postseason wins elsewhere contributed to a relatively dramatic drop.
- No. 46 Mississippi State (-10): The Bulldogs were a no-show in the 34-7 Liberty Bowl loss to a Texas Tech team that has led by an interim coach (Sonny Cumbie) who had accepted a head coaching job elsewhere (Louisiana Tech). Mississippi State has arguably the toughest profile to rank at the end of the season, carrying wins against NC State, Kentucky and Texas A&M … but also holding six losses and just one victory against an FBS opponent since the start of November.
Check out the rest of the CBS Sports 130: Teams ranked 26-130