Georgia finishes No. 1 in final USA TODAY Sports AFCA coaches poll of season
After a 41-year wait, Georgia takes its place atop the final USA TODAY Sports AFCA coaches poll, putting the capper on the Bulldogs’ championship season that was a long time coming for the school’s devoted fans.
The Bulldogs are the unsurprising unanimous choice at No. 1 after finally getting over the hump against nemesis Alabama in a memorable championship game. The Crimson Tide settle for a second-place finish, but Alabama does extend its streak of ending in the top 10 to 11 consecutive seasons.
The other College Football Playoff semifinalists hold down the next two spots. Michigan winds up its Big Ten championship season at No. 3, its highest finish since the national championship season of 1997 and first top-five finish since 1999. Cincinnati achieves its best end-of-season placement at No. 4 after cracking the playoff glass ceiling.
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The voting was close for the No. 5 spot. Rose Bowl winner Ohio State edged out Big 12 and Sugar Bowl champion Baylor by four poll points. Fiesta Bowl champ Oklahoma State ends at No. 7, followed by Peach Bowl victor Michigan State. Notre Dame concludes at No. 9, and Oklahoma wraps up its seventh consecutive top 10 campaign.
Mississippi slips three places to No. 11. Utah drops just one notch to No. 12 after coming up just short in the Rose Bowl, though the Utes and No. 21 Oregon are the only Pac-12 schools to appear in the poll after a rough postseason for the league.
Four ACC squads finish in the top 20, headed by league champ Pittsburgh at No. 13. No. 14 Wake Forest has its highest ever final ranking, while No. 16 Clemson sees its streak of six consecutive top-10 finishes come to an end. North Carolina State winds up at No. 19 after bowl opponent UCLA had to withdraw.
No. 24 Utah State is the lone new team to crack the final rankings after the bowls. Texas San Antonio falls out.