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Our AP top 25 final rankings: Who rose, who fell and what matters in Florida

No teams from Florida made our final ballot, but two teams with Florida ties did.
Georgia's Devonte Wyatt hits Alabama's Bryce Young as he throws during the first half of the College Football Playoff championship game Monday night in Indianapolis.
Georgia's Devonte Wyatt hits Alabama's Bryce Young as he throws during the first half of the College Football Playoff championship game Monday night in Indianapolis. [ DARRON CUMMINGS | Associated Press ]
Published Jan. 11

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.

Related: What does it take to recruit like Alabama and Georgia? ‘Total commitment.’

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.

Billy Napier won the Sun Belt title at Louisiana Lafayette this season before taking over the Gators.
Billy Napier won the Sun Belt title at Louisiana Lafayette this season before taking over the Gators. [ MATTHEW HINTON | AP (2021) ]

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:

1. Georgia

2. Alabama

3. Michigan

4. Cincinnati

5. Ohio State

6. Baylor

7. Oklahoma State

8. Notre Dame

9. Mississippi

10. Michigan State

11. Utah

12. Pitt

13. Oklahoma

14. Clemson

15. Wake Forest

16. North Carolina State

17. BYU

18. Oregon

19. Houston

20. San Diego State

21. Arkansas

22. Wisconsin

23. Texas A&M

24. Kentucky

25. Louisiana

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