The College Football Playoff is set, bringing forth cheers from Tuscaloosa, Ala., and jeers from Columbus, Ohio.
That makes the final Associated Press college football poll something of an afterthought, but we still read through the final in-season AP Top 25 poll of the year and made the following changes:
First teams out: N.C. State (No. 26), San Diego State (No. 27) and Louisville (No. 29)
25. Boise State
24. Mississippi State
23. South Florida
22. Washington State (-1)
21. Virginia Tech (+1)
Boise State cracks the Top 25 after knocking off Fresno State in the Mountain West title game. Memphis lands at No. 19 after narrowly missing out on the AAC title against Central Florida. We still like Virginia Tech’s body of work a little better than Washington State’s, despite our soft spot for Cougars coach Mike Leach.
18. Stanford (-3)
17. Michigan State (+1)
16. Oklahoma State (+1)
15. LSU (+1)
We have a tough time rating four-loss Stanford ahead of LSU, Oklahoma State and Michigan State. It is worth pointing out, however, that the Cardinal lost three games by a field goal this season — including the Pac-12 Championship Game against USC.
14. Notre Dame
10. Penn State (-1)
Not much to argue with in this section, aside from bumping Penn State down a notch in favor of UCF. Miami’s once-glorious season truly came undone in the ACC Championship Game — a fate shared by TCU in the Big 12 Championship Game against Oklahoma.
9. UCF (+1)
8. Wisconsin (-2)
7. Auburn (+1)
6. USC (+2)
Here’s where we start rearranging the furniture. Southern Cal has one of those nasty blowout losses on its ledger, but otherwise makes as good a claim as anyone to being near the top of the rankings. That no-show against Notre Dame really hurt, though. Auburn ran out of steam in the SEC Championship Game, and its fans must wonder what might have been if the Tigers would have held on to that 20-point lead against LSU. Wisconsin couldn’t complete its Cinderella run against Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, and we enjoy Central Florida’s games so much that we’ve decided to move the Knights, soft schedule and all, into the ninth spot.
5. Ohio State
The top 5 of the poll mirrors the top 5 in the College Football Playoff standings, and we don’t have any issue with the order. Ohio State’s 31-point loss to Iowa serves as a disqualifier for the Buckeyes, despite their win in the Big Ten Championship Game. Say what you will about comparisons between the resumes of Alabama and Ohio State, but the Crimson Tide aren’t losing by that many to anyone, anywhere.
Oklahoma and Georgia took care of business in conference title games to earn their spots in the top 4 while Clemson thumped Miami to stake its claim to the No. 1 overall seed.