As expected, Alabama claimed the top spot in the final Associated Press poll of the 2012 season. Thanks to the beatdown the Tide put on Notre Dame, however, there was a rather significant shakeup around the top of that last poll.
The Irish tumbled from the top spot in the final regular season poll down to No. 4, with Oregon taking over the No. 2 spot and Ohio State, ineligible for the postseason thanks to NCAA sanctions. The Buckeyes, incidentally, were the only team at the FBS level to finish the season undefeated.
Florida’s own whooping in its bowl game cost the Gators as UF fell from No. 4 to No. 9.
As was the case in the coaches’ poll, the SEC placed three teams in the Top Five with Georgia and Texas A&M tied for No. 5. That conference also set an AP poll standard by placing a total of five teams in the Top Ten, with South Carolina at No. 8 being the other.
Alabama, incidentally, won their ninth AP poll title, breaking a tie with, you guessed it, Notre Dame for the most all-time.
Stanford moved up one spot to No. 7 and Florida State three to No. 10 to complete the Top 10.
Louisville was easily the biggest climber from the final regular season poll to the final 2012 poll, leaping up nine spots to No. 13 on the strength of its Sugar Bowl win over the Gators. Others making significant moves upward was Northwestern from No. 21 to No. 17, Clemson from No. 14 to No. 11 and San Jose State from No. 24 to No. 21. A&M, incidentally, moved up from No. 10 into the Top Five.
On the flip side, a pair of MAC schools took the steepest hit in the rankings while still staying in the poll, with Kent State falling seven spots to a tie for No. 25 with Nebraska and Northern Illinois down six to No. 22. Four teams dropped five spots apiece — Kansas State (No.12), LSU (No. 14), Oregon State (No. 20) and Michigan (No. 24) — while Oklahoma fell three to No. 15.
For some reason, Texas entered the rankings at No. 19 while Vanderbilt jumped in at No. 23. UCLA (then-No. 17) was the only team to drop out of the Top 25.