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Post-Week 11 College Football Playoff Power Rankings

Shaq Lawson, Clemson
College football is a notoriously crazy sport, but as we closed Week 11, we were finally gaining a clearer view on the College Football Playoff. Sure, the final couple weeks of this year are going to be insane (particularly in the Big 12), but it appears we have a strong group of teams vying for a Playoff berth. Here is where the Playoff pictures stands after an interesting eleventh week of the 2015-2016 season:

The Four

1 Clemson Tigers
The Tigers, who have topped the College Football Playoff rankings each of the past two weeks, were far from dominant against Syracuse this past weekend. Even so, they still managed to pull ahead and notch another victory to improve to a flawless 10-0 on the year. Overall, Clemson's resume is as strong and impressive as any in the nation, hence the No. 1 ranking. Notre Dame continuing to win only helps Clemson (who managed to beat the Irish by 2) and if Florida State were to win out, which would mean beating Florida, it would only further help out the Tigers. Another thing that could help strengthen Clemson's claim to the No. 1 spot: the play of North Carolina. The Tar Heels are on an absolute tear and are likely to come out of the ACC Coastal 11-1. Beating them in the ACC Championship game will just add yet another big win to Clemson and Dabo Swinney's resume.

2 Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama heard the questions about their program, loud and clear. Was the Alabama "dynasty" under Nick Saban finally coming to an end? Was their reign of terror over college football coming to an inevitable close? Well, not yet. The Tide have beat up on their two biggest competitors in the SEC West over the past two weeks, pummeling LSU and Leonard Fournette, and blowing out Mississippi State. Alabama's defense, led by a number of future NFL contributors (Reggie Ragland, A'Shawn Robinson, Eddie Jackson, to name a few) has been absolutely insane since a mysteriously poor night against Ole Miss earlier in the year. Though, just as important has been the play of Alabama's offense, particularly Derrick Henry, who has played his way into the forefront of the Heisman conversation. This team is staring to look like the typical Alabama team: a well-built, powerful team with a stud back and a scary defense. For the rest of the nation, that is a very, very bad thing.

3 Ohio State Buckeyes
J.T. Barrett's arrest weeks ago for operating while intoxicated could very well have derailed Ohio State's Playoff hopes. Instead, the Buckeyes managed to win with Cardale Jones under center once more, and played superb in Barrett's return to action this week (he served just a one week suspension). Along with Barrett, running back Ezekiel Elliott has put up insane numbers lately and has pushed himself into serious Heisman conversation, while the Buckeyes have been stout defensively. Up next? A huge meeting with Michigan State, that could well decide the Big Ten East and could completely change the Playoff outlook for the Big Ten.

4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Even with injuries galore, Notre Dame is still in great position to make their first ever Playoff appearance. Their lone loss on the year is a close road loss to the nation's top team, and they have built themselves a strong resume. The Irish own wins over Texas, Georgia Tech and a suddenly relevant Navy team. They could round out their reason in a big way against Stanford, which looked like a possible Playoff play-in game before the Cardinal went out and lost this past week to Oregon. Even so, the Playoff Committee has to respect a team that has had so much success even with injuries to their starting quarterback, running back and more.

Next Four Out

Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Big 12 race has changed completely on it's head these past couple weeks, and it will continue to be interesting down the stretch. Not only did Oklahoma beat Baylor this past week, Oklahoma State responded well after their upset of TCU two weeks ago. That leaves the Cowboys as the lone undefeated in the conference, and likely the best hope for a Playoff berth for the Big 12, which of course missed out on the Playoff altogether last year. Mason Rudolph and J.W. Walsh lead one of the nation's most exciting offenses, but the big reason for the rise of Oklahoma State this season has been a strong defense, led by stud defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. That defense will have to play well in these next two weeks, which include meetings with Baylor and Oklahoma. The good news is that both those games are going to be in Stillwater. If Oklahoma State manages to win out, there should be no doubt they are in.

Iowa Hawkeyes
The Hawkeyes remain perhaps the most intriguing team in the thick of the Playoff race. They have yet to lose on the year, but don't exactly have a resume stocked with huge wins. Victories against Wisconsin, Pittsburgh and Northwestern are solid, but they pale in comparison to some other teams in the Playoff hunt. Even so, Iowa should win out (although a Friday night battle with Nebraska could be tough) until they reach a Big Ten Championship game. Depending on what happens there, they could come out as the top team from inside the conference. With a smart, methodical offense, led by stud back Jordan Canzeri, Iowa very well could surprise some people down the stretch.

Oklahoma Sooners
Entering the year, there was some serious questions about the state of the Oklahoma program. The Sooners were coming off an 8-5 year, and had a number of issues on their team. All they've done is respond with a 9-1 start to the year, which now includes victories over Tennessee and Baylor. Sure, the Sooners' loss to Texas earlier in the year hurts, but they looked like the vastly superior team against Baylor this past week. Star quarterback Baker Mayfield has entrenched himself in the Heisman conversation, and the defense looked wonderful against the Bears. Much like Oklahoma State, that defense will have to play well down the stretch as dates with TCU and State could very well push the Sooners into the Playoff if they can win out.

Florida Gators
Very quietly, Florida just keeps on winning. Sure, it is hard to really know what you are getting out of the Gators. They first came on the scene with a last second victory against Tennessee that they followed up by dominating an Ole Miss team that we now recognize as clearly overrated. Their shutdown defense, headed by future NFL cornerback Vernon Hargreaves has been terrific but the offense has slumped down the stretch. That has led to some scary close meetings with teams they have no business losing to (Vandy!). Though, still with just one loss, the Gators could be an intriguing player down the stretch. If they beat Florida State in the regular season finale, they could add a strong victory to their resume. Then, a win over Alabama in the SEC Championship Game could possibly even push them into the Playoff.

Others in the Mix
Stanford Cardinal
Michigan State Spartans
North Carolina Tar Heels
Michigan Wolverines
Baylor Bears
TCU Horned Frogs
Houston Cougars

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