NCF Nation: power rankings 14
2. Pittsburgh (9-2, 5-1): A 10-win regular season now hangs on whether the Panthers can defeat Cincinnati at home. If not, a 9-3 mark will seem kind of disappointing.
3. West Virginia (8-3, 4-2): Speaking of 10-win campaigns, the Mountaineers have a chance to get there by beating Rutgers and then winning a bowl game. Funny how one big win can change the outlook of an entire season.
4. Connecticut (6-5, 2-4): If the Huskies beat South Florida at home, they'll finish with the exact same record they had last year in the regular season. Yet I think this UConn team is better than last year's, even though they lost four NFL draft picks off the 2008 squad.
5. Rutgers (8-3, 3-3): Can the Scarlet Knights break through and actually beat West Virginia at home? This seems like one of their best chances, and it would be the highlight of their season so far.
6. South Florida (7-4, 3-3): Throw out the wins over two FCS teams and Western Kentucky, and the Bulls are 4-4 against opponents who could fog a mirror. And half of those victories came against Syracuse and Louisville.
7. Louisville (4-8, 1-6): Looking back, there were two games the Cardinals easily could have won -- at Kentucky and at West Virginia. But they also could have easily lost games against Southern Miss and Syracuse. In the end, 4-8 seems about right.
8. Syracuse (4-8, 1-6): A 4-8 record got Steve Kragthorpe fired but represents slight progress for Doug Marrone. The Orange seem better positioned going forward in the immediate future than the Cardinals, who will go through another coaching transition next year.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
In the end, the SEC featured two of the best teams in the country, another team that was playing as well as anybody at season's end, a bunch of teams that had disappointing finishes and a handful of teams that were pretty bad for much of the season. If you like offense, this wasn't the year to watch the SEC. Some of the offensive performances in this league set the game back 50 years. Here's a look at the updated SEC power rankings heading into Saturday's SEC Championship Game between Alabama and Florida:
1. Alabama: The Crimson Tide (12-0, 8-0 SEC) have been perfect, and that's good enough to keep the top spot coming out of the regular season. So what if they're a 10-point underdog to Florida. They've been good enough to win 12 straight games and flattened Auburn, 36-0, last weekend.
2. Florida: Even in the mud and the rain, the Gators (11-1, 7-1 SEC) looked dominant in a 45-15 win on the road at Florida State that was really more lopsided than the final score suggests. They've been the best team in the country the last two months. Now it's time to go prove it.
3. Ole Miss: The third spot was a hard one this week. But it simply got down to the fact that the Rebels (8-4, 5-3 SEC) are the third-best team in the league right now. They've won five in a row, own a win at Florida and lost in the final minutes at Alabama. Nobody else behind them in the SEC can match that resume.
4. Georgia: The Bulldogs (9-3, 6-2 SEC) were the preseason No. 1 team in the country. Heading into the bowls, they're not even in the top 3 of their own conference. The offense did its part and was fun to watch. But the defense was a disaster, culminating with Saturday's 45-42 loss to Georgia Tech, which shredded the poor-tackling Bulldogs for 409 rushing yards.
5. LSU: Believe it or not, the Tigers (7-5, 3-5 SEC) were even worse on defense than Georgia and became the first consensus national champion in 65 years (Ohio State in 1943) to follow up a national title with a losing conference record the next year. LSU gave up at least 30 points in each of its last three games.
6. South Carolina: Talk about closing with a whimper. The Gamecocks (7-5, 4-4 SEC) were routed 56-6 by Florida and then no-showed at Clemson last weekend in a 31-14 loss. South Carolina's only quality win all season was at Ole Miss. Otherwise, it was the kind of mediocre season USC fans have become accustomed to.
7. Vanderbilt: The Commodores (6-6, 4-4 SEC) probably have an argument to be in the top half of the conference, especially since they beat South Carolina in the second week. But they were so bad, particularly offensively, the last half of the season that seventh is about right. They wound up losing six of their last seven games.
8. Tennessee: The Vols (5-7, 3-5 SEC) were so disappointing this season that longtime coach Phillip Fulmer was sent packing, although they did rebound with wins over Vanderbilt and Kentucky to end the season. It was the worst offense Tennessee has put on the field in more than 30 years.
9. Kentucky: The Wildcats (6-6, 2-6 SEC) loaded up early in the season with wins over the likes of Norfolk State, Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky. Their defense kept them in a lot of games, but injuries took a toll as the season progressed. They ended up losing four of their last five games.
10. Auburn: The Tigers' ugly performance in their season-ending 36-0 loss to Alabama knocked them down a spot or two. It was a nightmarish season for a team picked by many to win the West and a team that opened the season in the top 10. The Tigers (5-7, 2-6 SEC) lost six of their last seven games, and the only win in that stretch was over Tennessee-Martin.
11. Arkansas: The final record for the Hogs (5-7, 2-6 SEC) wasn't anything to get excited about, but the future sure is. They were a much better team during the second half of the season and lost a bunch of close games. All those young players making most of the plays in the 31-30 win over LSU last Friday will be back next season.
12. Mississippi State: Coming off such a high from a year ago, the Bulldogs (4-8, 2-6 SEC) bottomed out this season, and Sylvester Croom was let go on Saturday, a day after a humiliating 45-0 loss to rival Ole Miss. It was a struggle the whole way offensively for the Bulldogs, and they just never got any better.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
1. Oklahoma -- Advancing to the championship after the most controversial regular-season BCS poll in Big 12 history pushed them for a shot at a history-making three-peat.
2. Texas -- Near certainty to be playing in a BCS game despite disappointments on Sunday.
4. Oklahoma State -- Explosive effort by Zac Robinson makes some wonder why he wasn't used as more of running threat throughout the season.
5. Missouri -- Defensive collapses in Border War aren't a good sign as Tigers prepare for potent Oklahoma unit.
7. Nebraska -- Cornhuskers overcame wacky coaching decisions to earn eighth victory and likely head into New Year's Day bowl.
8. Colorado -- Made some unexpected big plays against Nebraska, but just didn't have the offensive attack to stick with the Cornhuskers and earn a bowl trip.
9. Baylor -- Three close losses to Connecticut, Missouri and Texas Tech are biggest reason that the Bears aren't going bowling.
10. Kansas State -- Snyder needs to hit the ground running in recruiting and putting together a strong staff.
11. Texas A&M -- Aggies showed moxie in Texas loss but, like all season, simply didn't have the weapons to stick with the Longhorns.
12. Iowa State -- Could staff changes be looming after disappointing second season for Gene Chizik?
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Sorting out the Pac-10 pecking order after 14 weeks.
Two changes: Oregon and Oregon State switch places as do Arizona State and idle Stanford.
1. USC: No one has ever done to Notre Dame what USC has done to Notre Dame the past two seasons. It's been men vs. toddlers. Anybody want to bankroll a $20 million game pitting Florida vs. USC on Jan. 9? I've got a crisp $5 bill that I'd contribute.
2. Oregon: If the Ducks had the offense they showcased against the Beavers all season, they would be playing in a BCS bowl game. A Holiday Bowl matchup vs. a top-shelf Big 12 team figures to be very interesting, with Oregon getting an opportunity to deliver the college football nation -- which has tweaked the Pac-10 much of the season -- a tasty cup of shut up.
3. Oregon State: That was a tough one in Reser. And it's fair to wonder what might have happened if running back Jacquizz Rodgers had been healthy. But the reality is this season exceeded nearly everyone's expectations for the Beavers, and a win in the Sun Bowl would surely vault them back into the final Top 25 rankings for a third consecutive season.
4. California: The Bears are in an interesting bowl situation. The Emerald Bowl really wants them for the local angle, but a matchup with a mid-level ACC team isn't terribly attractive. And the Las Vegas Bowl probably shouldn't be fired up about trading its No. 4 conference pick for No. 5 Arizona if the Wildcats lose to Arizona State. And, gosh, a Cal-TCU Vegas Bowl would be an outstanding matchup. Moreover, players like to travel for bowl games, and Vegas is more fun than staying at home. Might the Bears root for the Sun Devils this weekend?
5. Arizona: One man's opinion: Arizona needs to beat Arizona State to stamp success on this season.
6. Arizona State: One man's opinion: Arizona State needs to beat Arizona -- and earn bowl eligibility -- to stamp (relative) success on this season.
7. Stanford: The Cardinal's next victory comes on Feb. 4 when it signs a highly rated recruiting class.
8. UCLA: Arizona State's defense scored 28 points against the Bruins. That doesn't bode well for the offense's prospects vs. the USC defense. Of course, nutty things can happen in rivalry games. Just don't bet on it.
9. Washington State: Cougars showed some admirable fight at Hawaii, but this program's chief concern is restocking talent.
10. Washington: The visit to Cal is going to be a dreary, pointless affair. The Huskies need to hire a coach ASAP and get him on the recruiting trail.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Considering all but two teams finished either 5-3 or 4-4 in the ACC, there really is very little difference between them, but one team separated itself from the rest this weekend. There was no change at the top from last week, which means one team has finally proven itself to consistently be good. Here are the final regular-season power rankings:
1. Georgia Tech (9-3, 5-3 ACC) -- The Yellow Jackets beat a ranked SEC rival on the road. Any questions? The only other team in the ACC to finish the regular season with nine wins was ...
2. Boston College (9-3, 5-3) -- There was never any question about the Eagles' defense, but backup quarterback Dominique Davis proved effective in his first game as starter.
3. Florida State (8-4, 5-3) -- Oh come on. What did you THINK was going to happen against Florida? That loss can't take away from the fact the Seminoles are one of the best teams in the league.
4. NC State (6-6, 4-4) -- Sorry, Hokie fans, but the Wolfpack is hot right now, finishing the season with four straight wins, including a win over Miami -- something Virginia Tech didn't do.
5. Virginia Tech (8-4, 5-3) -- The Hokies deserve credit for beating rival Virginia and winning the Coastal Division. They played hard and never quit.
6. Clemson (7-5, 4-4) -- This team, you might remember, was 1-3 in the ACC last month. The Tigers won their way to a bowl game, and they won Dabo Swinney the head coaching job. All with a win over rival South Carolina. Not bad for a day's work.
7. North Carolina (8-4, 4-4) -- The Tar Heels move up this week after a near flawless performance from quarterback T.J. Yates, which is exactly what they needed heading into bowl selection time.
8. Miami (7-5, 4-4) -- The Hurricanes had a chance to redeem themselves from their embarrassing loss to Georgia Tech, but couldn't stop Russell Wilson and NC State. Still, it was a much better season than a year ago.
9. Wake Forest (7-5, 4-4) -- The Demon Deacons will go out on a respectable note, notching a win over SEC opponent Vanderbilt and stating their case to earn one of the ACC's nine guaranteed bowl berths.
10. Maryland (7-5, 4-4) -- After back-to-back losses to end the season, it's hard to believe the Terps held the Atlantic Division in their hands a few weeks ago. Boise, anyone?
11. Virginia (5-7, 3-5) -- The Cavaliers tried everything -- including Vic Hall at quarterback -- and still failed to go to a bowl game twice in the past three years. They beat themselves again with turnovers.
12. Duke (4-8, 1-7) -- The progress is there, you just can't see it in the league standings or the power rankings. David Cutcliffe did an admirable job in his first season and Duke fans should be excited about next year.
1. Cincinnati (10-2, 6-1): The league's outright champion is ranked No. 13 and heading to the BCS. Who else could lay claim to this spot?
2. Pittsburgh (8-3, 4-2): The West Virginia win was huge for the Panthers, who could have easily finished 7-5 had they lost. Now Pitt has a chance to go 9-3 if it can get a tough road win at Connecticut this week. This could be a preseason Top 15 team next year.
3. Rutgers (6-5, 4-2): Had the Scarlet Knights managed to find four more points in their game at Cincinnati earlier this season, they'd be playing for the league title this week. As it is, they're playing as well as anyone over the past month.
4. West Virginia (7-4, 4-2): The Mountaineers have lost four games in a season for the first time since 2004. If they lose this week to South Florida, they will equal their loss total for 2005, 2006 and 2007 combined.
5. Connecticut (7-4, 3-3): The Huskies have beaten Pittsburgh three of the past four years and would love to make it four out of five on Senior Day.
6. South Florida (7-4, 2-4): An eight-win regular season would look a lot better on paper and soothe some of the Bulls' disappointment over this year's collapse. They'll have to beat Pat White in his final home game to get there.
7. Louisville (5-6, 1-5): Last year, the Cardinals rallied from 18 down to beat Rutgers and salvage a 6-6 season. They'll look to score a road upset over the same team this year for another 6-6 finish.
8. Syracuse (3-9, 1-6): According to NCAA statistics, Syracuse played the eighth-toughest schedule in the FBS this season. The Orange went out with a whimper last weekend at Cincinnati and now will wait to find out who their next coach will be.
It's the beginning of December, two conferences are in the books and bowls are starting to select their pairings. But there's still a lot up for grabs in the non-BCS, including a possible BCS spot.
1. Utah: The Utes are holding tight to the top non-BCS spot and have put themselves out of any controversy over a BCS bid. The only question for them will be Tempe or New Orleans?
2. Boise State: The Broncos completed their third undefeated regular-season campaign in the past five seasons. They've had a miraculous run. Unfortunately, they might not get rewarded for it.
3. Ball State: The Cardinals completed an undefeated regular season by beating Western Michigan and now have one more obstacle -- the MAC championship. Like Boise State, Ball State won't be rewarded with a BCS bowl for its efforts.
4. TCU: Beware of the Horned Frog. TCU has crept up the non-BCS standings to put itself into a position to be eligible for a BCS bid. Not sure it will happen with two losses even though those losses are to Nos. 2 and 6 in the BCS standings.
5. BYU: I don't know if you can call a 10-win season disappointing, but it certainly wasn't the year the Cougars expected. They probably end up in Las Vegas -- again. Luckily, they bring a lot of guys back next year.
6. Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane slipped up in the middle of the year and aren't the same team that started the season, but they still won the C-USA West title and will play East Carolina for the conference championship.
7. Rice: The Owls did everything they could to grab the Conference USA West title, but a late field goal by Tulsa spoiled their efforts. Still, the Owls are one of the hottest teams heading into bowl season.
8. Western Michigan: Although they didn't look it last week, the Broncos are still one of the best teams in the MAC. I honestly thought they'd give Ball State a better game, but they're still the second-best team in the conference.
9. Houston: The Cougars had the C-USA title wrapped up but couldn't get past rival Rice. They also lost the Bayou Bucket in the process. Not a good weekend for the Cougars, but they're still one of the better non-BCS teams.
10. East Carolina: Similar to Tulsa, the Pirates didn't have the season it looked like they were going to have but they rebounded nicely to win C-USA East. Their win over UTEP put the West on notice that the Pirates can score when needed.