Final AP poll before bowl games places Alabama just ahead of Buckeyes

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As the meetings to determine the fourth and final spot in the College Football Playoff are underway, the Associated Press voters have made their decision. For whatever that is worth, the AP Top 25 following conference championship Saturday has placed Alabama at No. 4 just ahead of Big Ten champion Ohio State.

While the AP and coaches poll do not always indicate how the selection committee will operate, it is still worth monitoring as you try to guess how this will all shake out. There was little dispute over No. 1 in the AP poll with Clemson receiving 43 first-place votes to stay on top ahead of No. 2 Oklahoma (18 first-place votes). SEC champion Georgia bumped up three spots but did not receive any first-place votes.

In the last three seasons, 11 of the 12 teams ranked in the AP’s end-of-the-regular season top 25 following conference championship games have been selected to play in the playoff. Only No. 4 Baylor in 2014 missed out on the playoff, with No. 5 Ohio State getting the nod from the committee.

The Buckeyes moved up three spots and are ranked just ahead of No. 6 Wisconsin, with the Badgers falling three spots.No. 7 Auburn also fell three spots, and Pac-12 champion USC moved up three spots to No. 8. The Trojans moved ahead of idle Penn State, who stayed firm at No. 9. AAC champion UCF, on the strength of an undefeated season, cracked the top 10 at No. 10, just ahead of No. 11 Miami.

Here is the full top 25 from the AP as we head to the bowl season:

  1. Clemson (43 first-place votes)
  2. Oklahoma (18)
  3. Georgia
  4. Alabama
  5. Ohio State
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Auburn
  8. USC
  9. Penn State
  10. UCF
  11. Miami
  12. Washington
  13. TCU
  14. Notre Dame
  15. Stanford
  16. LSU
  17. Oklahoma State
  18. Michigan State
  19. Memphis
  20. Northwestern
  21. Washington State
  22. Virginia Tech
  23. USF
  24. Mississippi State
  25. Boise State