AP College Football Poll 2021: Top 25 Rankings After Championship Games

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 5, 2021

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 04: Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) reacts after winning the AAC Championship game against the Houston Cougars and the Cincinnati Bearcats on December 4, 2021, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While attention has turned to the College Football Playoff committee's rankings after the completion of the regular season and conference title games, the Associated Press also released its final poll before the bowls on Sunday.

Here is a look at the latest AP Poll:

1. Alabama

2. Michigan

3. Georgia

4. Cincinnati

5. Notre Dame

6. Baylor

7. Ohio State

8. Ole Miss

9. Oklahoma State

10. Utah

11. Michigan State

12. BYU

13. Pittsburgh

14. Oklahoma

15. Oregon

16. Louisiana-Lafayette

17. Iowa 

18. North Carolina State

19. Clemson

20. Wake Forest

21. Houston 

22. Arkansas

23. Texas A&M

24. UTSA

25. Kentucky

While there was plenty of consternation about where teams would be ranked throughout the season, the race to a four-team playoff field largely worked itself out.

Baylor's thrilling victory over Oklahoma State in Saturday's Big 12 title game meant the league didn't have a single team finish with fewer than two losses.

The same can be said for the ACC and Pac-12, which opened the door for the SEC to send multiple teams and undefeated Cincinnati to make history as the first Group of Five team to make the CFP. The Bearcats put an exclamation point on their 13-0 campaign with a 35-20 victory over Houston in Saturday's American Athletic Conference title matchup. That, along with Baylor's win over Oklahoma State meant Cincinnati didn't have to sweat the SEC showdown between Georgia and Alabama.

It turns out that was an extremely fortunate development for Luke Fickell's squad.

Alabama handled previously undefeated Georgia with relative ease in a 41-24 victory that served as a reminder that the Crimson Tide should never be doubted, even though they looked vulnerable by their elevated standards a number of times this season.

That all but ensured there would be two SEC entrants in the four-team field, and with Michigan grabbing one of the spots thanks to its Big Ten Championship Game victory over Iowa, it could have created a legitimate debate between Cincinnati and a one-loss Oklahoma State squad for the final spot in the field had the Cowboys not lost to Baylor.

Perhaps no team heads into the postseason with as much momentum as the Wolverines, who finished their regular season with their first win over archrival Ohio State in a decade and then crushed Iowa by 39 points in the conference title game.

Whether Jim Harbaugh's team will be able to maintain that momentum in a playoff field featuring two teams from the SEC remains to be seen, but he removed plenty of questions about his tenure as his alma mater's head coach by finally beating Ohio State and putting the team in position to reach the CFP.