The Washington State Cougars found themselves on the outside looking in when the final Associated Press Top 25 Poll was released following Alabama's win over Clemson in the national championship game late Monday evening.
After the program's first nine-win campaign and bowl game victory since the 2003 season, there was some hope the Cougars would climb their way back into the poll after dropping from No. 20 following a loss in the Apple Cup.
However, Washington State fell just short, finishing with 51 points in the final rankings, second-most behind Georgia (10-3) among teams outside the top 25. The win over Miami resulted in a 31 point improvement from the week 15 rankings, including a five-spot jump from No. 32 to 27.
The Pac-12 finished with just three teams in the final rankings, led by Stanford (12-2) at No. 3 following a dominating win over Iowa in the Rose Bowl. Utah (10-3) jumped three spots to No. 17 after knocking off BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl and Oregon (9-4) somehow managed to avoid a major slide, dropping four spots to No. 19 despite a laugher-of-a-loss to TCU in the Alamo Bowl.
USC also received votes, finishing with 10 points despite a six-loss campaign. Boise State (9-4), who WSU faces in week two next season, received 7 points.
Washington State last finished inside the AP Top 25 in 2003 when they landed at No. 9, capping a three-year run with top 10 finishes. On Monday evening, WSU checked in at No. 20 in ESPN's Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2016.