AP College Football Poll 2020-21: Final Top 25 Rankings After CFP Championship

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 12, 2021

Alabama head coach Nick Saban and offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood hold the trophy after their win against Ohio State in an NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Alabama won 52-24. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

A college football season unlike any other because of the coronavirus pandemic ended with a familiar result: Alabama winning the national championship game to finish atop the Associated Press' Top 25 poll.

The Crimson Tide, who scored a dominant 52-24 victory over Ohio State in the title game Monday night to complete a perfect 13-0 campaign, extended their record with an 11th No. 1 finish in the final poll, per Ralph D. Russo of the AP.

"We set this as a goal, to potentially be the greatest team to ever play," Bama quarterback Mac Jones said. "I think we made a valid statement in winning the national championship tonight."

Here's a look at the complete poll:

1. Alabama (all 61 first-place votes)
2. Ohio State
3. Clemson
4. Texas A&M
5. Notre Dame
6. Oklahoma
7. Georgia
8. Cincinnati
9. Iowa State
10. Northwestern
11. Brigham Young
12. Indiana
13. Florida
14. Coastal Carolina
15. Louisiana-Lafayette
16. Iowa
17. Liberty
18. North Carolina
19. Texas
20. Oklahoma State
21. USC
22. Miami (Fla.)
23. Ball State
24. San Jose State
25. Buffalo

              

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Alabama looked unstoppable for the entire season. It outscored opponents by an eye-popping 630-252 margin despite playing 11 straight games against SEC opponents followed by the College Football Playoff, where it defeated Notre Dame and the Buckeyes.

Jones finished the title game with 464 passing yards and five touchdowns. Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith was on track for a potentially record-setting performance with 12 catches for 215 yards and three first-half scores before leaving with a finger injury.

"Heaven knows what he would have done if he played the whole game," Alabama coach Nick Saban told reporters after Smith was named the championship game's offensive MVP.

It marked the record seventh national championship for Saban and the sixth since he arrived to the Tide in 2007 and transformed the storied program back into a powerhouse.

Although it was once again Alabama at the top, the rest of the final AP poll spotlighted smaller schools that enjoyed terrific seasons.

Eight programs from outside the Power Five conferences finished in the Top 25, led by Cincinnati at No. 8. The Sun Belt (Coastal Carolina and Louisiana-Lafayette) and MAC (Ball State and Buffalo) each finished with two teams in the final rankings.

Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell called for the expansion of the playoffs to at least eight teams, and potentially as many as 16, so teams like his have a realistic path to the CFP.

"We need to give a team like Cincinnati an opportunity to be in the playoffs, [and that's] the only way we're going to do that," Fickell said. "Everybody earns an opportunity to be in the playoffs. Sometimes the chips don't fall where they fall. You get your nonconference games canceled, you aren't probably going to have an opportunity."

A playoff expansion may eventually occur in college football, but it didn't matter how many teams qualified for this year's postseason because nobody was stopping Alabama.