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The Great CFB Final Power Rankings: 17-32

[lead align=”default”]We’re almost to the end of our Great CFB Final Power Rankings for 2016. These teams today are not the 16 best for ‘16, but the second-best sixteen.[/lead]

Some of the heavy-hitters from this season reside here — and they’re here because they couldn’t remain heavy-hitters all year. Others, like Air Force and Western Kentucky, should be quite pleased with how 2016 unfolded.

The Great CFB Final Power Rankings: 17 to 32

[alert heading=”32. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (Conference USA, 11-3)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]The Conference USA champions and Boca Raton Bowl champions would have been 29th in both the AP and Coaches Poll if they went that far. Eight wins in a row closed their season, which included two narrow losses and a thumping by Alabama.[/alert]

[alert heading=”31. Minnesota Golden Gophers (Big Ten, 9-4)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]In spite of all the turmoil they had at the end of the season, they still beat Wazzu in the Holiday Bowl. They ended up with PJ Fleck as their coach as well, so this might be a net gain.[/alert]

[alert heading=”30. Boise State Broncos (Mountain West, 10-3)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]The Broncos got as high as #13 in the AP Poll but fell out of the rankings entirely with closing losses to Air Force and Baylor, the latter of which was an embarrassment in the Cactus Bowl. It was a good year that could have been better.[/alert]

[alert heading=”29. Nebraska Cornhuskers (Big Ten, 9-4)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]The Huskers overachieved for most of the season, sitting in the top ten for three weeks. Nebraska lost four of its last six but have a lot to which to look forward next season.[/alert]

[alert heading=”28. Air Force Falcons (Mountain West, 10-3)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]Ten wins for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy winners, beating Army and Navy, then Boise State and winning big in the Arizona Bowl. This triple-option service academy was third in rush yardage at 317.38 per game.[/alert]

[alert heading=”27. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Atlantic Coast, 9-4)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]Speaking of the triple-option, here’s Georgia Tech, and they quietly had a great year. Beating Virginia Tech in November opened up the doors to them later defeating Georgia and Kentucky. People openly wondered about Paul Johnson’s job status, but 9-4 seasons tend not to hurt. (They do in some cases, but not this one.)[/alert]

[alert heading=”26. Auburn Tigers (Southeastern, 8-5)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]Gus Malzahn’s job was considered to be in jeopardy, but the Tigers got hot and cracked the top ten by November. They slid back with losses in three of four, including Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. Auburn had one of the best defenses in college football this season.[/alert]

[alert heading=”25. Kansas State Wildcats (Big 12, 9-4)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]Wily old Bill Snyder does it again. K-State’s four losses were only to teams ranked in the top 25 as of the end of the season. Granted, they don’t have any signature wins, but they did win their bowl.[/alert]

[alert heading=”24. Tennessee Volunteers (Southeastern, 9-4)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]It was a rollercoaster in Knoxville for the Vols in 2016. From top ten to finding crazy ways to win, to finding crazy ways to lose, to in and out of the top 25, this team was all over the place. Ultimately, they won the Music City Bowl and are ranked. A happy ending perhaps, but some Vols fans are thinking about big missed opportunities.[/alert]

[alert heading=”23. Utah Utes (Pac-12, 9-4)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]The Utes suffered somewhat during Pac-12 play, but their win over USC looks very good now in hindsight. Utah won the Foster Farms Bowl in a tight game over Indiana.[/alert]

[alert heading=”22. San Diego State Aztecs (Mountain West, 11-3)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]The Aztecs’ loss at South Alabama knocked them out of the AP Poll after one week, as did their later loss to Wyoming. They’re there now, after winning the Mountain West and the Las Vegas Bowl. Donnel Pumphrey was the man of the year at SDSU, rushing for 2,018 yards.[/alert]

[alert heading=”21. Louisville Cardinals (Atlantic Coast, 9-4)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]This team had the Heisman winner, Lamar Jackson, and was a playoff threat until late in the year. Louisville collapsed at the end of the season, starting with their blowout at Houston. This was followed by a loss to Kentucky and a hapless performance against LSU.[/alert]

[alert heading=”20. West Virginia Mountaineers (Big 12, 10-3)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]Three losses to three good teams; no shame in that, except they were all lopsided. WVU’s best win was K-State.[/alert]

[alert heading=”19. Miami Hurricanes (Atlantic Coast, 9-4)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]Mark Richt’s first year at Miami was a successful one. They went from 4-0 to 4-4, and then to 9-4; a great win over West Virginia polished off the year. Quarterback Brad Kaaya had a great season with 3,532 yards and 27 touchdowns.[/alert]

[alert heading=”18. South Florida Bulls (American, 11-2)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]USF finished off the season with a #19 ranking in the AP Poll, coming after a win over South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl. The Bulls had the fourth-best offense in FBS with 43.8 points scored per game.[/alert]

[alert heading=”17. Western Michigan Broncos (Mid-American, 13-1)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]Any way you slice it, this was a great, great season for the Broncos. Wisconsin was a tough draw in the Cotton Bowl, but against all odds, they got there as the undefeated MAC champions.[/alert]

The Great CFB Final Power Rankings: And Finally

Tomorrow, we reveal our top sixteen teams in college football for the 2016 season.

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