With Monday’s College Football Playoff national championship game over, it’s time to reveal my final Associated Press top 25 ballot.
As a general rule, I tried not to put too much stock into bowl games compared to what happened during the regular season. That’s because there are so many weird circumstances (opt outs, coronavirus spikes, coaching departures) that influenced the exhibition games and weren’t as much of a factor in the bulk of the season.
There were, however, some exceptions. BYU tumbled from 10th to 17th in my rankings after losing to Alabama Birmingham. There weren’t enough mitigating factors to excuse that one. The same goes for Iowa’s loss to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl. I had probably undervalued the 10-3 Wildcats and overvalued the 10-4 Hawkeyes (who were unimpressive down the stretch). That’s why Iowa fell from 18th to unranked and Kentucky took the Hawkeyes’ spot.
Michigan fans should thank Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ impressive win over Utah without a handful of top players led me to put Ohio State at fifth in my rankings. Feeling even stronger about Ohio State’s excellence was also a determining factor for why I put Michigan at No. 3 ahead of the other CFP semifinalist, Cincinnati.
Notre Dame dropped three spots to eighth on my ballot after collapsing against Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. Utah stayed 11th for taking the Buckeyes down to the wire in a fantastic Rose Bowl.
No Florida teams made my ballot, but two teams of particular interest in the Sunshine State did. Oregon came it at No. 18 (down four spots) after an uninspiring performance against Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl. Maybe the Ducks can pin that on the loss of coach Mario Cristobal to Miami.
Louisiana came in at No. 25 (also down four spots) after needing a fourth-quarter rally to beat Marshall. Still, finishing 13-1 is a great accomplishment for the Ragin’ Cajuns and a sign that new Gators coach Billy Napier knows how to build a program.
Army, Minnesota and the Hawkeyes were among the other teams I considered on my ballot.
Here’s my final AP top 25 ballot of the season:
5. Ohio State
7. Oklahoma State
8. Notre Dame
10. Michigan State
15. Wake Forest
16. North Carolina State
20. San Diego State
23. Texas A&M
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