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SALT LAKE CITY — The 2019 football season officially ended Monday night after LSU beat Clemson to claim its fourth-ever college football national championship. And with the season coming to a close, the final national rankings were released following the game.
Utah, which lost its two postseason games to Oregon and Texas after an 11-1 regular season campaign, stayed in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, but fell to No. 16. The Utes dropped four spots from their previous spot of No. 12, which is where the team was ranked ahead of the Alamo Bowl.
The end-of-season honor is the first time since the 2016 season Utah has been ranked at the end of the year, in which Utah finished No. 23. It’s also the sixth time in 15 seasons that Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham finished the season ranked. As a result, Whittingham earned a $100,000 bonus, according to his latest contract.
The Utes, which jumped up as high as No. 5 in the College Football Playoff and AP Poll ahead of their conference championship game, were joined in the rankings from the Pac-12 by No. 5 Oregon as the only other team in the conference ranked. The Ducks, who defeated Wisconsin 28-27 in the Rose Bowl, finished the season ranked as the top team from the conference with a 12-2 record.
Oregon is projected to be the favorite to come out of the Pac-12 in 2020 and will replenish its talent with the current No. 13 recruiting class, including the nation’s No. 4 overall prospect Justin Flowe, according to 247 Sports.
Utah, which lost a bevy of talent to graduation and the NFL draft process — particularly on the defensive side of the ball — will be in the mix for the South Division, but the team will likely have an uphill climb to repeat as division champs in 2020. Utah currently sits at No. 34 in the recruiting rankings but signed its highest-rated class in December. The class included four-star cornerback Clark Phillips III, who has already enrolled at Utah.
AP voters* selected LSU as their No. 1 team to close out the season following its 42-25 win over Clemson. LSU started at No. 6 in the preseason rankings before eventually claiming the No. 1 spot in Week 10. LSU continued to rotate in and out of the top spot with Ohio State until the Tigers were given the top spot ahead of bowl season.
Clemson opened up the season at No. 1 in the preseason rankings before eventually dropping as low as No. 5 in Week 11. Clemson built its way back up to No. 3 after its drop but couldn't overtake either LSU or Ohio State, despite an undefeated season until the final game. Clemson, though, finished the season with a No. 2 ranking with a 14-1 record.
Behind the national championship teams in the rankings is No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Georgia and No. 5 Oregon. Ohio State narrowly lost to Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal game, and Georgia defeated Baylor in the Sugar Bowl.
If you can’t see the full AP poll below, click here.
\Editor’s note: The author of this article is one of 62 sports writers and broadcasters from around the country who votes weekly in the AP Top 25.*