Perfect Alabama finishes No. 1 in AP Top 25 for 11th time

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Alabama has finished the season No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the 11th time, extending its record by finishing with the program’s first perfect season since 2009.

The Crimson Tide was a unanimous No. 1 in the final poll, getting 61 first-place votes, after beating Ohio State 52-24 in the College Football Playoff championship game Monday night.

Alabama started this season in a pandemic No. 2, jumped to No. 1 in early November and finished as major college football’s only undefeated team.

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

The Buckeyes were second, followed by Clemson at No. 3 and Texas A&M in fourth, finally passing Notre Dame for the Aggies’ best finish in the AP poll since it won the national title in 1939. The Fighting Irish made the playoff but slipped to No. 4 after losing to Alabama in the semifinals.

For the Crimson Tide, it is the sixth national title under coach Nick Saban in the last 12 seasons. No other team has won more than two during that time. With 11 titles overall – Paul ”Bear” Bryant was coach for the other five – Alabama has three more than Notre Dame in second with eight.

Big 12 champion Oklahoma finished sixth, Georgia seventh and Cincinnati was eighth.

The Tide, Aggies and Bulldogs give the Southeastern Conference three teams in the top seven. The SEC finished 7-2 in the bowls, counting Alabama’s national championship victory.

Iowa State was No. 9 and Northwestern finished out the top 10.

The Big 12 finished with a perfect record in five bowl games. Oklahoma and Iowa State were joined by No. 19 Texas and No. 20 Oklahoma State in the final rankings from that conference.

The ACC’s postseason was a dud at 0-6. Clemson, Notre Dame, No. 14 North Carolina and No. 22 Miami gave the ACC four ranked teams.

The odd season in a pandemic put a spotlight on teams outside the Power Five conferences as never before and the final poll treated the upstarts well.

Cincinnati, the American Athletic Conference champ, was one of eight non-Power Five teams to make the final rankings.

Independent BYU finished No. 11, the Cougars’ best final ranking since they finished the 1995 season fifth.

Sun Belt rivals Coastal Carolina and Louisiana-Lafayette were Nos. 14 and 15, respectively. That conference had never finished with two ranked teams. Liberty, another independent, was 17th.

Rounding out the bottom of the poll was No. 23 Ball State, the Mid-American Conference champ, No. 24 San Jose, the champ of the Mountain West, and No. 25 Buffalo, another MAC school.

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