- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Ohio State didn't move up in the final Associated Press poll of the season despite Notre Dame's blowout loss in the BCS title game.
Instead, Oregon -- which beat Kansas State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl -- leapfrogged the Buckeyes, moving from No. 5 to No. 2. Ohio State likely suffered from the out of sight, out of mind phenomenon since it did not play in a bowl. How the Ducks wound up five spots ahead of Stanford, which beat Oregon at home and won the Rose Bowl, is anyone's guess.
In other poll news, raise your hand if you had Northwestern finishing as the highest-ranked Big Ten team in the USA Today coaches' poll. The 10-3 Wildcats closed the year ranked No. 16 in the coaches' rankings, which of course do not consider teams on probation like Ohio State. It's a fantastic achievement for Pat Fitzgerald's club, which also finished No. 17 in the AP poll. Northwestern should be a top-20 team to start 2013, as it brings back the vast majority of its starters.
Michigan, which began the year in the top 10 of both polls, finished No. 24 in the AP and was not ranked in the coaches' poll after an 8-5 season that included a loss to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. Nebraska just barely finished as a ranked team in the AP, placing No. 25 there. The Huskers were No. 23 in the coaches' poll.
Summing up the final polls:
3. Ohio State
Receiving votes: Penn State (No. 27 overall), Wisconsin (No. 35)
Receiving votes: Michigan (No. 26), Wisconsin (No. 30).