The college football season is officially over, but there is plenty for those on The Farm to look forward to next season. After the impressive season by Christian McCaffrey, the snub-talk of him not receiving the Heisman Trophy of being the nation's best football player, and the sweet, sweet, Rose Bowl victory, the Stanford Cardinal have been rewarded by the Associated Press. After Alabama "upset" the No. 1 ranked Clemson Tigers, the final AP Top 25 poll has the Cardinal ranked No. 3 in the country.
While the rest of the nation might not have stayed up to watch the Cardinal this past season, it's fairly obvious the folks at the AP did—McCaffrey was honored with its College Football Player of the Year selection, something that hasn't happened to a non-Heisman winner since 2005. The AP Poll is the nation's longest running, it began in 1936, and the preseason poll began in 1950. It is voted on by a panel of 61 sports writers and broadcasters weekly.
Here is the official methodology the AP uses in determining rank:
The AP Top 25 is determined by a simple points system based on how each voter ranks college football's best teams. A team receives 25 points for each first place vote, 24 for second place and so on through to the 25th team, which receives one point. The rankings are set by listing the teams' point totals from highest to lowest.
Fittingly, Alabama and Clemson remain ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively.
The ranking is an indisputable reward for Stanford's show-out performance at the 2016 Rose Bowl, and the regular season. Widely considered to have been one win from the College Football Playoff, the Cardinal shellacked the Iowa Hawkeyes 45-16 in the game, and wasted no time in grabbing the spotlight on New Year's Day. On the very first play from scrimmage, Hogan found McCaffrey for a 75-yard touchdown strike, it took the Cardinal just 11 seconds to grab the lead. McCaffrey's first play equaled more total yards than Heisman Trophy winnner Derek Henry had for the entirety of the Cotton Bowl. Early in the second quarter, McCaffrey would amaze again, returning a punt 63 yards to put the Cardinal up 28-0.
The Cardinal finished the season with a record of 12-2, and the No. 3 ranking equals the programs highest mark since the post-bowl poll began being conducted in 1968.
Stanford last captured a national football title in 1940, but could be poised to make a legitimate run next season, thanks to this ranking. Further, the 2016 Cardinal recruit class has been ranked 12th overall by Rivals, with 19 total commits thus far.