Winners and Losers from Final AP Top 25 College Football Poll
The BCS National Championship game has concluded with a seventh straight title landing in the SEC. Alabama is the clear-cut No. 1, but a number of other teams have earned winners and losers marks from the final Associated Press Top 25 Poll.
Teams like Baylor and Arkansas State were left out of the final tally, while Utah State and Texas A&M climbed to heights that no one saw coming to start the year.
Who was ranked too high, and who was too low? Which team should have landed in the poll that missed?
Looking at the final Associated Press Top 25, here are the winners and losers to conclude the 2012 season.
No. 2 Oregon Ducks: Winner
The Oregon Ducks had a lot to prove when they took on Kansas State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Both teams were just one game away from playing each other for the national title, but instead were pushed to a contingency BCS bowl.
Oregon has been the flashy pick for the national title game since the 2010 season when they narrowly lost to Auburn, but the Ducks have yet to find their way to the big game since.
The Ducks finish the season as the No. 2 team in the country, and after the 35-17 win over Kansas State, they are winners in the poll. It is good to see Oregon getting the love it deserves to finish the year.
No.13 Lousiville Cardinals: Loser
The Louisville Cardinals had some hiccups this season with two late-season losses, but they finished the year off on the right foot. The Cardinals destroyed the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl 33-23, but they are still four spots behind the Gators in the final poll.
To be fair, the Gators' losses did come against some very good competition, but they didn’t finish the year better than Louisville.
The SEC controlled the national title game, and has for the past seven seasons. The SEC has controlled it for much of the BCS era. Louisville was one of the few to pick off a conference elite in a BCS game.
The Cardinals deserve their due.
No. 9 Florida Gators: Winner
Speaking of the Gators, those Muschamp-led boys came out like bandits in the final AP poll. The Gators will finish the year with 11 wins and a No. 9 ranking in the Associated Press.
While the Gators were a consistently good team that made it as high as No. 2 earlier this year, they didn’t finish the season as a Top 10 performer. While their loss to Louisville was only by 10, it could have been by 30.
Florida State, Clemson and Louisville all finished the year better than the Gators. Staying in the Top 10 was a big win for this program after the embarrassment that came in New Orleans.
No. 17 Northwestern Wildcats: Loser
The Northwestern Wildcats won their first bowl game since the 1940s by throttling Mississippi State in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.
This team is one of the better squads in the Big Ten, and has a bright future ahead with the athletic two-quarterback system that is being employed. The Wildcats have been in the Top 25 for a few years now, but finishing as low as No. 17 is questionable.
This was a 10-win Big Ten team. In a year when the Big Ten was down, the Wildcats were a bright spot. How they finish this low is confusing. This is a Top 15 squad, in my opinion.
Pat Fitzgerald and his team are losers in the final AP poll.
No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies: Winner
Johnny Manziel put on a show against Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. Manziel led his team to a 41-13 win over the Sooners and broke records along the way.
The Aggies are heading into the 2013 season with a Heisman-winning quarterback leading the offense. They return a ton of talent in the coming year on both sides of the ball, and should contend for the SEC title.
Finishing the season as the No. 5 team in the country is beyond expectations for this squad. The Aggies are set to head into the New Year as one of the top teams in the country. Landing in the Top Five is a perfect place for this team, and a win by the AP voters.
Unranked Baylor Bears: Loser
Baylor received one of the biggest shafts of the year when they were not placed in the Top 25 to finish the 2012 season. The Bears finished as one of the best teams in the Big 12, grabbing a big win over UCLA in the Holiday Bowl.
Four straight losses hurt mid-season, but four straight wins against top talent—including then-No. 1 Kansas State—should have earned this team more respect to close the season.
The Bears will lose a key playmaker in 2013 with the graduation of Nick Florence, but Art Briles has shown that he can reload and produce quality results on offense no matter who is at the helm.
No. 16 Utah State Aggies: Winner
The Aggies from Utah State have been rising into the national college football discussion for two seasons. The Aggies took on Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to conclude this season and won the game 41-15.
They proved a lot with Chuckie Keeton leading an offensive surge, but landing as high as No. 16 to finish the year is a bit of a surprise—especially when it is right above a very deserving Northwestern team.
The Aggies finish the 2012 season ranked higher than traditional powers Nebraska, Michigan and Texas. Look for this team to continue its rise in the next few years as the roster is full of young talent.
Unranked Arkansas State Red Wolves: Loser
Arkansas State finished the year as Sun Belt champions and landed a big win over Kent State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. Kent State finished the year No. 25 in the Associate Press Top 25, but Arkansas State remained unranked.
The Red Wolves didn’t run away with the win over the Golden Flashes, but they earned the win and deserve the Top 25 spot over Kent State.
It is surprising to see this team finish in the Top 25, but after 11 wins, it is understandable why they earned their placement. The Golden Flashes were major winners with their final ranking, but the Red Wolves were left out to dry.