And in the end, it is as it began.
Alabama concluded the 2017 college football season where it started as the No. 1 team in the Amway Coaches Poll following a dramatic win in the College Football Playoff national championship game. The Crimson Tide swept the 62 first-place votes cast in the final poll.
This is the first of the five national championships Nick Saban has won at Alabama where his team started the season at No. 1 in the preseason poll. However, the journey was a circuitous one after the Crimson Tide lost its final regular-season game and controversially entered the Playoff as the No. 4 seed.
Georgia, the victim of the Tide's overtime heroics Monday, finished second. (Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart will pick up an extra $200,000 for his team's top five performance)
The voters left the remaining playoff participants in the top four. Oklahoma will finish third after taking Georgia to the limit in the Rose Bowl, while Clemson, which entered the postseason at No. 1, is fourth after a decisive loss to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
And what of unbeaten Central Florida, the self-proclaimed national champs who are the only undefeated team in the Football Bowl Subdivision? The Knights were voted seventh overall by the coaches, a three-position gain from their regular-season finish following a thrilling Peach Bowl win against Auburn.
Three voters put UCF second and one had the Knights as low as 12th. But most voters still had them ranked behind the playoff participants as well as some other major bowl winners.
Though the Big Ten was left out of the playoff, the conference's strong postseason showing landed three representatives in the top 10 to close out the campaign. Ohio State heads the group at No. 5 after beating Pac-12 champ Southern California in the Cotton Bowl. Orange Bowl winner Wisconsin follows at No. 6, and Fiesta Bowl champ Penn State is No. 8. No. 16 Michigan State and No. 17 Northwestern give the league a total of five squads in the top 20.
Of course the SEC is well represented in the final rankings as well, also putting five schools in the top 20. In addition to the top two, Auburn finishes at No. 12. LSU checks in at No. 18 after losing a Citrus Bowl squeaker to Notre Dame, and Mississippi State is No. 20 following a TaxSlayer Bowl victory against Louisville.
The final top 25 of the 2017 season:
Others Receiving Votes
Washington State 71; Troy 40; South Carolina 35; Florida Atlantic 35; Fresno State 35; Army 25; Iowa State 8; Utah 6; Wake Forest 3; Iowa 3; Appalachian State 2; Ohio 1; San Diego State 1.