The College Football Playoff is set up and the final regular season AP poll is out.
Surprisingly, after 13 weeks of football, the top four teams were quite clear. That made filling out the top part of my ballot easy. The rest was easy this week, too, because there weren’t a lot of games.
With that, here’s the ballot I submitted to the AP this week for the Top 25:
1. Clemson (13-0; Last week: 1) – The Tigers are the obvious No. 1 going into the postseason. They’re the only undefeated team and take the top spot into the CFP.
2. Alabama (12-1; LW: 2) – It’s tough to argue with Alabama’s resume. The Tide is 10-1 against bowl eligible teams and 3-1 against teams in the current CFP Top 25.
3. Oklahoma (11-1; LW: 3) – Sooners will go into the playoff at No. 4, and I debated moving Michigan State here. Both teams have a similar profile – 9-0 against bowl eligible teams, 4-0 against current CFP Top 25 and both have a loss against a 5-7 team. I just think Oklahoma is a bit better right now.
4. Michigan State (12-1; LW: 5) – The Spartans were impressive in their final, game-winning drive to beat Iowa in the Big Ten title game. They’ll be a tough out in the playoff.
5. Stanford (11-2; LW: 7) – The Cardinal have two losses, but the Pac-12 champs get this spot over Iowa not only because they won their conference, but because of their 8-2 record against bowl teams.
6. Iowa (12-1; LW: 4) – The Hawkeyes don’t have the same resume as other teams. They’ve only played five bowl teams (going 4-1). Still, they’re a legit top-5 or 6 team and proved it by nearly taking the Big Ten title.
7. Ohio State (11-1; LW: 6) – Too many unimpressive wins and a late loss cost the Buckeyes a chance to defend their national title.
8. Notre Dame (10-2; LW: 9) – Irish also lost a chance at the title late in the season, with a loss to Stanford in the regular season finale. Notre Dame vs. Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl will be fun to watch.
9. Florida State (10-2; LW: 10) – Great regular season for the Seminoles, who take a three-game winning streak into the postseason.
10. Houston (12-1; LW: 11) – I’ve got the Cougars higher than most voters, but with a 12-1 record and the American Athletic Conference title, they deserve it. Houston is 6-1 against bowl teams and 2-0 against teams in the CFP Top 25.
11. North Carolina (11-2; LW: 8) – The Tar Heels had a great season and gave Clemson a battle last week in the ACC title game, but they really only played one great team this year, and lost the game.
12. TCU (10-2; LW: 12) – Tough end of the season for the Horned Frogs, who battled injuries and lost a pair of big games to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
13. Northwestern (10-2; LW: 14) – Wildcats had a two-game losing streak in the middle of the season, but started and ended the regular season with five-game winning streaks.
14. Mississippi (9-3; LW: 15) – Solid season for the Rebels, who finished strong with wins against LSU and Mississippi State.
15. Oregon (9-3; LW: 16) – The Ducks played we well as anybody during the last half of the season, winning the last six, including at Stanford and against USC.
16. Baylor (9-3; LW: 13) – The Bears could handle one quarterback injury, but three proved to be too much. It would have been nice to see this team with a healthy Seth Russell this season. Without him, they lost three of their last four.
17. Oklahoma State (10-2; LW: 18) – Great start for the Cowboys, who were sitting at 10-0 at one point. They lost to Baylor and Oklahoma in the last two.
18. Michigan (9-3; LW: 19) – A really nice season for Michigan in Jim Harbaugh’s first season.
19. LSU (8-3; LW: 20) – Three-game skid late in the year cost the Tigers a chance at the national title, and nearly cost coach Les Miles his job.
20. Florida (10-3; LW: 18) – Coach Jim McElwain did a great job in his first season at Florida, but he’s gotta fix that offense. Gators lost their last two.
21. Wisconsin (9-3; LW: 23) – Yet another good season for the Badgers, but they didn’t beat anyone of significance this season. Wisconsin was the only team among the 39 who got AP votes this week that didn’t beat a bowl team (0-3).
22. Temple (10-3; LW: 21) – Owls lost the AAC title game to Houston, but had a great regular season.
23. Navy (9-2; LW: 24) – Midshipmen are 5-2 against bowl teams this year and this week they have a chance to get to 10 wins if they can beat Army.
24. Utah (9-3; LW: 25) – The wounded Utes sputtered to the finish, but still put together a great season.
25. Western Kentucky (11-2; LW: unranked) – The Hilltoppers don’t have a great win to their name – and did lose to Indiana early in the year – but an 11-win conference champ deserves some top 25 recognition.
Southern California (8-5; LW: 22) – There were a lot of times this year when the Trojans looked like a Top 25 team. They never figured out Stanford, though, which beat them twice in relatively easy fashion.
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at email@example.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.