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College football Power Rankings for championship week

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Oklahoma holds off Iowa State's comeback bid to win sixth straight Big 12 title (1:59)

Spencer Rattler throws and runs for a touchdown, while Brock Purdy tosses a costly interception late to help the Sooners hang on for the 27-21 win. (1:59)

No, it's not a rerun of past seasons or past Power Rankings.

Right there at the top of ESPN's Week 16 Power Rankings, the final rankings heading into the postseason, are the same two teams that have combined to win four of the past five national championships.

Alabama is No. 1 and Clemson No. 2, and they're on track to potentially meet in the national championship game for the fourth time in the past six years.

The Group of 5/independent teams are also well represented this week in the top 15 of the Power Rankings, with Cincinnati (No. 6), Coastal Carolina (No. 7), BYU (No. 11) and Louisiana (No. 14) earning spots.


1. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0)

Alabama's offensive machine just kept rolling along Saturday with the trio of Mac Jones, Najee Harris and DeVonta Smith carving up Florida in a 52-46 SEC championship game victory. But there is the question of that Alabama defense, which has proved to be vulnerable more than once this season. It's true that not many teams in the country, if any, can score with the Crimson Tide, but they need to shore up some things on defense heading into the playoff.


2. Clemson Tigers (10-1)

Not that there was ever any real doubt, but Clemson is without question a different football team with Trevor Lawrence. The Tigers, led by Lawrence's 322 passing yards, 90 rushing yards and three total touchdowns, cruised past Notre Dame for a 34-10 victory Saturday in the ACC championship game. Lawrence missed the first game against the Irish, who won 47-40 in two overtimes, and his return to the lineup has been a reminder that the Tigers are as good as anybody when he's on the field.


3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-1)

The Fighting Irish were playing with house money Saturday in the ACC championship game after beating Clemson earlier this season, so the loss itself wasn't a fatal blow to their College Football Playoff chances. But the way Notre Dame lost -- a 34-10 beatdown -- was eye-opening. The Irish were never in the game and gave up 541 total yards in losing for the first time after 16 straight wins going back to last season.


4. Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0)

Trey Sermon romped his way to a school-record 331 rushing yards Saturday, and Ohio State just might have secured its spot in the College Football Playoff despite being short-handed. The Buckeyes were playing without multiple starters, including receiver Chris Olave, and overcame an early deficit to beat Northwestern 22-10 for a fourth consecutive Big Ten championship.


5. Texas A&M Aggies (8-1)

The Aggies won their seventh straight game Saturday, with their only loss this season coming to Alabama, but will it be enough to convince the College Football Playoff selection committee? Not long after Texas A&M's 34-13 victory over Tennessee, coach Jimbo Fisher was lobbying for his Aggies to get that fourth playoff spot. They've been especially good lately on defense and have held five of their past six opponents to 20 or fewer points.


6. Cincinnati Bearcats (9-0)

The layoff took its toll on Cincinnati, which hadn't played since Nov. 21. But the Bearcats showed their mettle in overcoming 12 penalties and two lost fumbles Saturday to beat Tulsa 27-24 in the AAC championship game. Cincinnati won it on Cole Smith's 34-yard field goal as time expired. The Bearcats remain unbeaten but will likely be left out of the College Football Playoff.


7. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (11-0)

Coastal Carolina finished the regular season unbeaten after having its Sun Belt Conference championship game matchup with Louisiana canceled because of COVID-19 issues within the Chanticleers' program. The Sun Belt will recognize Coastal Carolina and Louisiana as co-champions. The Chanticleers beat the Ragin' Cajuns earlier this season and will now wait to see whether they receive a New Year's Six bowl bid.


8. Indiana Hoosiers (6-1)

For the second straight week, Indiana had its Old Oaken Bucket matchup with Purdue canceled because of COVID-19 issues at both schools. The Hoosiers, whose only loss was to Ohio State by a touchdown, will now look toward the bowl season to put a cap on their best season in decades.


9. Georgia Bulldogs (7-2)

The Bulldogs' game with Vanderbilt on Saturday was canceled after the Commodores' roster fell below minimum requirements set by the SEC's COVID-19 protocols. Georgia had looked for another opponent to play on Senior Day but was unsuccessful. One of the lingering questions this season in Athens will be what would have happened had JT Daniels been the quarterback from the outset.


10. Oklahoma Sooners (8-2)

The Sooners extended their Big 12 stranglehold Saturday with their sixth straight league title in a 27-21 win over Iowa State in the Big 12 championship game. Oklahoma had to hold on after building a 24-7 halftime lead and was able to avenge a 37-30 loss to Iowa State earlier this season. The Sooners have been one of the country's most improved teams after starting the season 1-2.


11. BYU Cougars (10-1)

The Cougars were a yard away this year from an unbeaten regular season. Their only loss was a 22-17 setback at Coastal Carolina (a game that was put together in two days) when receiver Dax Milne was stopped just short of the goal line on the final play of the game. BYU is set to face UCF on Tuesday in the RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl.


12. Iowa Hawkeyes (6-2)

The Hawkeyes' strong close to the regular season ended with a disappointing cancellation Saturday of the Michigan game due to COVID-19 cases within the Wolverines' program. And on Friday, Iowa announced that coach Kirk Ferentz had tested positive for COVID-19. The Hawkeyes opened 0-2 this season but won five of their final six games by two scores or more.


13. North Carolina Tar Heels (8-3)

The Tar Heels ended their regular season a week ago in grand fashion with a 62-26 trouncing of Miami, giving Mack Brown seven ACC wins in his second season back at North Carolina. Michael Carter and Javonte Williams each rushed for more than 1,100 yards for the Tar Heels, who led the ACC with an average of 249.1 rushing yards per game.


14. Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns (9-1)

The Ragin' Cajuns were hoping to get another shot at Coastal Carolina in the Sun Belt Conference championship game, but COVID-19 issues within the Chanticleers' program caused Saturday's game to be canceled. Louisiana will share the Sun Belt title with Coastal Carolina and has won 20 games over the past two seasons under Billy Napier, including a 31-14 thumping of Iowa State to open the 2020 season.


15. Florida Gators (8-3)

There will be a lot of "what ifs" for the Gators when they look back on this season. They fought back time and time again Saturday before losing 52-46 to Alabama in the SEC championship game. Florida lost three games this season and scored 34 or more points in all three of those losses. The Gators simply didn't get enough defensive stops when they needed them.


16. Northwestern Wildcats (6-2)

Northwestern was right there with Ohio State for most of Saturday's game and led 10-6 at the half, but the Wildcats were hurt by three second-half turnovers and lost a tough 22-10 decision to the Buckeyes in the Big Ten championship game. The loss will sting in Evanston, Illinois, but winning six Big Ten games at Northwestern is never anything to take for granted.


17. Oregon Ducks (4-2)

Had it not been for Washington's COVID-19 problems, Oregon wouldn't even have been in the Pac-12 championship game. But the Ducks took full advantage of that break and held off USC 31-24 to win their second straight Pac-12 title. Oregon's defense intercepted USC quarterback Kedon Slovis three times and the Ducks will now represent the Pac-12 in a New Year's Six bowl.


18. USC Trojans (5-1)

The Trojans have been a comeback team all season, but they couldn't dig their way out of a two-touchdown hole Friday and fell 31-24 to Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game. USC turned the ball over three times, including a costly fourth-quarter interception by Kedon Slovis. It was USC's fourth loss to Oregon in their past five meetings, and the previously unbeaten Trojans lost out on their quest for a New Year's Six bowl berth.


19. San Jose State Spartans (7-0)

San Jose State has been one of the best turnaround stories in college football this season. The Spartans wrapped up an unbeaten regular season Saturday with a 34-20 victory over Boise State in the Mountain West Conference championship game. Nick Starkel passed for 453 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Spartans, who last had a winning season in 2012.


20. Iowa State Cyclones (8-2)

The Cyclones were looking for their first conference championship since 1912, when they shared the Missouri Valley Conference title with Nebraska, and they made a late charge at Oklahoma on Saturday. But a 24-7 deficit was too much to overcome, and Iowa State lost 27-21 to Oklahoma in its first Big 12 championship game appearance.


21. Miami Hurricanes (8-2)

The Hurricanes would have loved another chance to play this weekend after getting routed 62-26 by North Carolina a week ago, which turned out to be their regular-season finale. The Georgia Tech game scheduled for Saturday had already been canceled because of COVID-19 cases within the Yellow Jackets' program. Miami had won five straight games until the UNC blowout.


22. NC State Wolfpack (8-3)

North Carolina State's regular season ended on Dec. 5 with a 23-13 victory over Georgia Tech, the Wolfpack's fourth straight win. Included in that stretch was a win over previously unbeaten Liberty. It was a nice bounce-back season for the Wolfpack after a 4-8 season a year ago in which they lost their last six games.


23. Liberty Flames (9-1)

Liberty is itching to play again after its Dec. 5 showdown with Coastal Carolina was canceled when the Flames had to pause team activities because of COVID-19 issues. Hugh Freeze's club beat two ACC teams this season (Syracuse and Virginia Tech) and hopes to get a shot at a 10th win in a bowl game.


24. Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-3)

The Cowboys started 4-0 this season, including a 24-21 win over Iowa State on Oct. 24, and appeared to be a serious contender for the Big 12 championship. But then they lost three of their next five games. The 29-22 loss to TCU two weeks ago was especially disappointing after Oklahoma State led 16-7 at the half.


25. Army Black Knights (9-2)

Jeff Monken's Black Knights took home the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy with a 10-7 win over Air Force on Saturday. That's a week after shutting out Navy 15-0. Army closed the regular season by winning seven of its last eight games, and in five of those seven wins, the Black Knights' defense held opponents to 16 or fewer points.