Buckeyes Finish 3rd In AP Poll

By Jeff Rapp, January 8th, 2019

Ohio State fans couldn’t hide their disappointment with the 2018 season when they learned the Buckeyes missed out on the College Football Playoff and, in fact, checked in at No. 6 in the final CFP rankings behind Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and No. 5 Georgia.

They may take some solace in how the final stage of the campaign unfolded.

The Buckeyes got a consolation matchup with No. 9 Washington in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day and posted a 28-23 win in the sendoff for head coach Urban Meyer. Later that evening, Georgia lost to Texas, 28-21 in the Sugar Bowl.

Both those games took place after ‘Bama disposed of the Sooners and Clemson bombed the Fighting Irish in the CFP semifinals on Dec. 29. On Jan. 7, Clemson destroyed the top-seeded Crimson Tide, 44-16, to capture the national championship.

The next day, voters in The Associated Press poll followed protocol and placed Clemson at No. 1 and runner-up Alabama at No. 2. The Tigers (15-0) finished atop the AP poll for the third time in school history and garnered all 61 first-place votes. Meanwhile, Alabama (14-1) missed out on a chance to become just the third team to go wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the country.

The Tide did extend its streak of top-five appearances to 54 weeks, one short of Miami (Fla.)’s record set from Oct. 8, 2000-Oct. 26, 2003.

Ohio State (13-1) may not have kept up with Clemson if such a matchup would have occurred but the Buckeyes did enough down the stretch in wins over Michigan, Northwestern and Washington to merit a final ranking of third.

Oklahoma (12-2) ended up staying put at No. 4, Notre Dame (12-1) fell to No. 5, LSU (10-3) was sixth and Southeastern Conference rivals Florida (11-3) and Georgia (10-3) were tied for seventh.

Rounding out the top 10 was Texas (10-4) and Washington State (11-2). Coach Tom Herman led the Longhorns to the their best final ranking since 2009, when they finished second after losing to Alabama in the BCS championship game. Washington State finished as the highest-ranked Pac-12 team for the first time in the history of the conference.

Also noteworthy: UCF (12-1) finished 11th after having its 25-game winning streak snapped in the Fiesta Bowl by LSU, No. 12 Kentucky (10-3) finished with its highest ranking since 1977 and No. 19 Army (11-2) finished ranked for the first time since 1996 and had its best final ranking since 1958 when it was No. 3.

The Big Ten finished with four other ranked teams behind Ohio State: Michigan (10-3) at No. 14, Penn State (9-4) at No. 17, Northwestern (9-5) at No. 21 and Iowa (9-4) at No. 25. NU became the first team to start the season 1-3 and finished ranked since Miami (Fla.) did it in 1995.

A conference-by-conference breakdown of ranked teams follows:

SEC — 6 teams (2, 7, 7, 8, 12, 16)
Big Ten — 5 (3, 14, 17, 21, 25)
Big 12 — 3 (4, 9, 20)
Mountain West — 3 (18, 22, 23)
ACC — 2 (1, 15)
American — 2 (11, 24)
Pac-12 — 2 (10, 13)
Independent — 2 (5, 19)