SALT LAKE CITY — The 2019 college football season has come and gone in what feels like a blink of an eye.
Heisman winner Joe Burrow led the LSU Tigers to a 42-25 victory over Clemson in the national championship game Monday to claim the program’s first title since the 2007 season, and fourth overall.
With its win, LSU claims the honor as the No. 1 team, and Clemson as the No. 2 team, in my final Associated Press Top 25 ballot to close out the 2019 college football season — that was the easy part. The rest of my ballot got a little more complicated.
For my final ballot of the year, I tried to take the whole season into account while also factoring in how a team did in the postseason. As entertaining as bowl season can be, it’s not the deciding factor for me in how I rank teams; though, it’s a good indicator of the direction of the program at the end of the season.
The following is a one-sentence take on each team:
3. Ohio State: A fantastic team that couldn’t convert in the red zone against Clemson, and it cost them a national championship opportunity.
4. Oregon: A team that matured as the season progressed and was unfairly dropped low in the rankings after its loss to Arizona State — likely should have been a playoff team.
5. Georgia: Had some bumps along the way, but a solid SEC program that continues to be on the outside looking in of the College Football Playoff.
6. Florida: The Gators’ only losses of the season came to LSU and Georgia — teams better than them — but the future is bright for the program, and they could be a favorite for the playoff next season.
7. Alabama: The Crimson Tide are still a solid team but didn’t quite have what it took to be one of the top programs in the country, though there’s no doubt they’ll be near the top next season.
8. Penn State: James Franklin instilled a winning culture at Penn State and appears close to turning the corner to being a playoff contender.
9. Oklahoma: The playoff exit was less than desirable for the Sooners, but Lincoln Riley continues to produce high-quality teams.
10. Minnesota: A program on the rise but just short of being enough — guess they’ll have to row the boat a little longer.
11. Iowa: Inconsistently awesome, but what a ride it was — particularly in its final win of the season against USC.
12. Wisconsin: The biggest flaw for the Badgers is that they had to play Ohio State twice — oh, and they lost to Illinois — but a solid team nonetheless.
13. Notre Dame: A middle-of-the-road program that was capable of winning big games, but not quite good enough to really contend with the upper programs.
14. Baylor: From 1-11 to 11-1 in the regular season, Baylor’s rise was fun to watch and cheer for, but the program still has some work to do — and it’s not going to get any easier with Matt Rhule out as head coach.
15. Auburn: A program that teams couldn’t overlook each week, but not quite consistent enough to really challenge for a top ranking.
16. Memphis: A dangerous Group of Five team that ran into a better Penn State team at the end.
17. Utah: A College Football Playoff contender that didn’t show up in the postseason — that Oregon loss was hard to overcome.
18. Navy: The Midshipmen felt like one of the most underrated teams in the country this season, but they finished strong despite the decks being stacked against them in recruiting.
19. Cincinnati: Another dangerous Group of Five team that lost to Memphis twice, and to Ohio State, but otherwise a solid team.
20. Michigan: A good-but-not-great team that couldn’t beat better teams.
21. Appalachian State: A one-loss team that was good enough to lose its head coach to a bigger program, but its schedule wasn’t comparable to other teams around it in the rankings.
22. Air Force: Another team that flew (avoid the pun) under the radar this season but did well given its recruiting possibilities.
23. Boise State: The Broncos had a season that didn’t seem to sizzle, and the program felt mediocre despite its overall success.
24. UCF: It’s not the “national championship” of years past, but the Knights had a decent season and finished strong.
25. Texas: The Longhorns didn't have the season they hoped for — injuries didn't help — but finished strong with a blowout win over Utah in its bowl game.