The final Associated Press Top 25 pool had a distinctly local flavor to it, as the Syracuse Orange and Army Black Knights each appeared.
Otherwise dominated by schools from the south, the Associated Press’ final college football rankings from the 2018-19 season welcomed in two New York-based schools.
The Syracuse Orange and Army Black Knights each earned a final victory, as each ended resurgent seasons ranked in the AP’s Top 25, released on Tuesday. Syracuse ends their season ranked 15th, while the Black Knights came in at 19th.
Syracuse (10-3) appears in the final AP rankings for the first time since 2001, the same year they last reached double-figures in wins. The Orange also appeared in the College Football Playoff rankings for the first time in program history. Picked to finish last in the ACC’s Atlantic Division, they instead went 6-2 in conference play, finishing second to only the national champions from Clemson.
Among the Syracuse standouts were quarterback Eric Dungey (3,622 yards of offense), receivers Jamal Custis and Sean Riley (a combined 1,662 yards and nine touchdowns), defensive linemen Kendall Coleman and Alton Robinson (10 sacks each), and kicker Andre Szmyt (Groza Award winner as a redshirt freshman).
Syracuse concluded their season with a 34-18 win over West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl on Dec. 28.
Meanwhile, Army (11-2) finishes their season with their first final AP ranking since 1996, and highest finish in the poll since coming in third in 1958. The ranking caps off a season of landmarks for the Black Knights, who also outright retained the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for the first time in program history with wins over service academy rivals Air Force and Navy.
On Dec. 22, Army ended their season with a 70-14 win in the Armed Forces Bowl over Houston, a win that proved historic in more ways than one. Not only did they tie records for the largest scoring output and margin of victory in bowl history, but they also reached the 11-win plateau for the first time. With their win over the Cougars, the Black Knights are one of eight teams in the nation to win bowl games in three consecutive years.
Army’s senior class, headlined by fullback Darnell Woolfolk (956 rushing yards, 14 touchdowns) and linebacker James Nachtigal (8.5 sacks) departs with 31 wins, the most by a graduating class.
“We are incredibly excited to have earned the recognition of the Associated Press and the Amway Coaches Poll as one of the nation’s top teams in 2018,” head coach Jeff Monken said in a statement on GoArmyWestPoint.com. “Our team set a pre-season goal to finish in the top-25 and I am so proud of this accomplishment for our players, our staff, and especially our seniors. This honor brings distinction to West Point, the Long Gray Line, and the men and women who serve our nation around the world in the United States Army.”
Both New York teams also appeared in the Amway Coaches Poll. Syracuse matched its 15th-place posting, while Army came in 20th. Looking forward to next season, both teams also appeared in ESPN’s “Way-Too-Early Top 25” for 2019.
Army will open their 2019 season at home in West Point on August 30 against Rice. Syracuse’s program resumes a day later, as the Orange take on Liberty on the road.