Wednesday, January 13, 2016

At season's end: Alabama #1, Clemson #2, and Houston #8

The 2015 college football season came to its conclusion Monday night, as Alabama won its fourth national title in seven seasons by defeating Clemson, 45-40, in a rather exciting game.

I was actually rooting for Clemson, because they were the only remaining undefeated team left and also because Alabama already has eleventy billion national championships. However, I have to give the Crimson Tide credit: they are clearly the best team in the nation. With this win, it can be argued that Nick Saban is now the greatest coach in college football history.

Alabama and Clemson landed in the one and two spots in the final AP poll of the 2015 season, released yesterday. Clemson, Stanford, Ohio State and Oklahoma round out the top five. The Cardinal might have a legitimate argument that they, other than Oklahoma or Michigan State, should have been included in the four-team playoff, but it appears as if their two regular season losses were just too much for the Playoff Committee to overlook.

The Houston Cougars, meanwhile, end the 2015 season with a #8 ranking in the AP poll. This is Houston's third-highest finish ever, behind a #4 ranking after the 1976 season and a #5 ranking after the 1979 season. It's also UH's sixth end-of-season top-ten ranking in program history. The Coogs finished #8 in the final Coaches Poll as well.

One has to wonder what things would have been like had the Cougar managed to not stub their toe against UConn; it probably wouldn't have mattered in terms of getting the Cougars into the playoff, but as their convincing win over Florida State indicated, the team was clearly better than the #18 ranking the College Football Playoff Committee gave them going into the postseason.

Few Cougar fans could have expected this level of success when the season began; I certainly didn't! The Coogs' success led USA Today sportswriter Paul Myerberg to give the Coogs an "A+" for the season; the only other teams receiving such a grade being Alabama and Clemson. Furthermore, the Cougars are already being mentioned as a top-ten team in some way-too-early guesses about the 2016 preseason poll.
#18 Navy joins Houston as the only other American Athletic Conference team in the top 25; the only other "Group of Five" school in the top 25 is Conference USA champion #24 Western Kentucky, which had its best season since moving to FBS.

For what it's worth, only four out of top ten teams in the AP's preseason poll ended up in the postseason top ten: Ohio State, TCU, Alabama and Michigan State. Three more teams in the preseason top ten ended up in the postseason spots 11-25: Baylor, Oregon and Michigan State. Make of it what you will regarding the usefulness or accuracy of preseason polls.

Although I know I shouldn't get excited about the coming season, it's going to be an especially long offseason for me. Only 234 days until #5 Oklahoma and #8 Houston meet at NRG Stadium to kick off the 2016 season!

No comments: