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SALT LAKE CITY — It was not the season Utah expected to have, but it was a success nonetheless as the team reached the Rose Bowl in back-to-back seasons.
The Utes entered the season as the seventh-ranked team in the country in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll and found itself in the same spot going into its second straight Rose Bowl appearance. But for the second year, Utah fell short in a postseason game and dropped in the final rankings.
In the end, Utah dropped to No. 10 in the AP Top 25 after its 35-21 loss to Penn State in Pasadena. It's a three-spot drop in the rankings and two spots higher than where the Utes finished last season at No. 12.
It's the fourth time Utah has finished inside the top 10 of the final AP poll — all but one came under Kyle Whittingham's tenure as head coach.
The Utes were one of six teams from the Pac-12 to appear in the final rankings — the most of any conference in the country — and were the second-highest ranked team from the conference. Ahead of the Utes is No. 8 Washington, who finished the season strong and was arguably the best team at the end of the season in the Pac-12.
Behind Utah in the rankings is No. 12 USC, No. 15 Oregon, No. 17 Oregon State and No. 21 UCLA. The two L.A. schools had double digit leads in their respective bowl games before losing in the waning minutes.
At the top of the rankings is two-time national champion Georgia, who rolled to a dominant victory over No. 2 TCU in the title game on Monday. The Horned Frogs moved up one spot in the rankings despite a blowout loss to the Bulldogs.
Rounding out the top five in the rankings is No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Ohio State and No. 5 Alabama. Both Michigan and Ohio State appeared in the College Football Playoff semifinals games but fell short in the end.