Perfect Alabama finishes No. 1 in AP Top 25 for 12th time

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Alabama head coach Nick Saban and offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood hold the trophy after their win against Ohio State in an NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Alabama won 52-24. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Alabama finished the season No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the 12th time, extending its record by completing the program’s first perfect season since 2009.

The Crimson Tide were a unanimous No. 1 in the final poll, getting 61 first-place votes, after beating Ohio State 52-24 in the College Football Playoff championship game Monday night.

Alabama was the preseason No. 3, but when it started playing this strange season amid a pandemic in late September it moved up to No. 2. The Tide jumped to No. 1 in early November and finished as major college football's only undefeated team.

“We set this as a goal, to potentially be the greatest team to ever play,” Tide quarterback Mac Jones said. “I think we made a valid statement in winning the national championship tonight.”

The Buckeyes were second, followed by Clemson at No. 3. Texas A&M was fourth, finally passing Notre Dame for the Aggies' best finish in the AP poll since they won the national title in 1939. The Fighting Irish made the playoff but slipped to No. 5 after losing to Alabama in the semifinals.

For the Crimson Tide, it is the sixth national title under coach Nick Saban in the last 12 seasons. No other team has won more than two during that time. With 12 AP titles overall — Paul “Bear” Bryant was coach for five and Gene Stallings for one — Alabama has four more than Notre Dame, in second place with eight.

Big 12 champion Oklahoma finished No. 6, Georgia seventh and Cincinnati was eighth.

The Tide, Aggies and Bulldogs give the Southeastern Conference three teams in the top seven. The SEC finished 7-2 in the bowls, counting Alabama's national championship victory.