SEC rules for yet another year, with Alabama winning their third national title in four years, beating Notre Dame easily in the BCS championship game. This means it’s now seven straight year of a school from the best conference in College Football winning the grand prize.
Alabama also set an AP record by finishing as the number one team for the ninth time. Utah State is the highest-ranked team from a conference without a BCS automatic qualifying bid, finishing 16th. Oregon, finishing second, matched their highest ever ranking from 2001. Five SEC schools made the top 10, two from the Pac-12 as Stanford joined Oregon. Notre Dame, entering the NCG as the number one ranked team, finished the season at 4th.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide, 13-1 (59 First Place Votes) – Unlike last year, there’s no debate among AP voters about who the best in the nation is. Nick Saban led the Tide to their third national title in four years and became the first team to win back-to-back BCS Championship games after destroying Notre Dame 42-14.
2. Oregon Ducks, 12-1 – The team most people thought would give Alabama the best fight. The Ducks didn’t win the Pac-12 but did make it to the Fiesta Bowl, where they beat Kansas State 35-17.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes, 12-0 – The only team to finish the season undefeated, Ohio State didn’t get to participate in the Bowl games due to their academic probation. I don’t think anyone believes they’re actually the third best team in the nation, but when you don’t lose in an AQ conference, that’s where you end up.
4. Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 12-1 – All the talk about the best defense in the land went out the door after three minutes, giving up an 80 yard opening drive. An incredible season for the Irish, back in national prominence after quite a few “dark” seasons. It didn’t help them in the NC game, losing 14-42.
5. Georgia Bulldogs, 12-2 – What do you get for losing in a conference title game? A boot out of the BCS bowls. Georgia lost by only four points to Alabama, but two SEC losses meant they were relegated to the Captial One Bowl, where they beat Nebraska 45-31.
6. Texas A&M Aggies, 12-2 – Another SEC team that believed it had a shot at a BCS Bowl, but ended up in the Cotton Bowl, another opportunity for Johnny Manziel to show how good he is, beating Oklahoma 41-13.
7. Stanford Cardinal, 12-2 – The Pac-12 champions made it to the Rose Bowl after quite a long wait, and won it for the first time in over 40 years in a hard earned win over Wisconsin, 20-14.
8. South Carolina Gamecocks, 12-2 – Were the slightly better teams in one of the best Bowl games this season, beating Michigan 33-28 in the Outback Bowl.
9. Florida Gators, 11-2 – Talked about deserving a shot at the national title, finishing with only one loss in the regular season. They got into the Sugar Bowl, where they didn’t show up, losing to Louisville 33-23.
10. Florida State Seminoles, 12-2 – Didn’t end up as high as they hoped for earlier this season, but eventually came away with an ACC title and a BCS Bowl game win, something that hasn’t happened in quite a while, beating Northern Illinois 31-10.
11. Clemson Tigers, 11-2 – Their only losses this season came against very good teams (FSU and South Carolina), but they made up for it in a big win over LSU in the Chick-Fil-A bowl, beating the other Tigers 25-24.
12. Kansas State Wildcats, 11-2 – Didn’t have much of a problem winning the Big 12, but were clearly out of their league when facing Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl, losing 35-17 to the Ducks.
13. Louisville Cardinals, 11-2 – The feel-good story of the BCS bowls, causing the only upset we saw in the five games. The Cardinals shared the Big East title and beat Florida 33-23 in the Sugar Bowl.
14. LSU Tigers, 10-3 – In the SEC, it always feels like teams are playing for a national title, and if they fall short they give up on their bowl game. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. They still lost 24-25 to Clemson.
15. Oklahoma Sooners, 10-3 – Every big test the Sooners had this season was too much for them to overcome. In the season finale, they lost 41-13 to Texas A&M.
16. Utah State Aggies, 11-2 – Made quite a leap thanks to their impressive bowl game win over Toldeo, beating them in the Famous Idaho Potato bowl 41-15.
17. Northwestern Wildcats, 10-3 – As good as a season can be for the Wildcats, finishing it with an impressive 34-20 win over Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl.
18. Boise State Broncos, 11-2 – Won in a familiar place, Las Vegas and the MAACO Bowl, beating Washington 28-26.
19. Texas Longhorns, 9-4 – A four loss season in Austin is a major disappointment, but they did end up the season with a win against a quality team like Oregon State, beating them 31-27 in the Alamo Bowl.
20. Oregon State Beavers, 9-4 – A surprising season that sorta fell apart in the final month, culminating in a loss to Oregon in the Civil War and their bowl game to Texas.
21. San Jose State, 11-2 – Capped off a fantastic year with a 29-20 win against Bowling Green in the Military Bowl.
22. Northern Illinois Huskies, 12-2 – Got to a BCS bowl, which is pretty much the best they could dream of, becoming the first MAC team to do it. Lost 31-10 to Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
23. Vanderbilt Commodores, 9-4 – Finished a very impressive season with a 38-24 win against North Carolina State in the Music City Bowl. The question is – what is the ceiling when coaching Vandy?
24. Michigan Wolverines, 8-5 – A season that began with a crushing loss to an SEC school ended with another loss to an SEC team, 33-28 to South Carolina.
25. Nebraska, 10-4 – A good season kinda went sour with the final two games, getting blown out by Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game and losing 45-31 to Georgia in the Capital One Bowl.