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There are no more games to play, though we sure could use a third game between BYU and St. Mary's to decide the No. 1 billing. We won't get it, so we have to dissect the resumes of each team as much as we can.
St. Mary's and BYU played each other twice this season, and BYU has a higher aggregate point differential against St. Mary's directly (BYU is +6 in the two-game series). BYU was up against it in the first meeting in Moraga, Calif., which St. Mary's won by six, because it was the Cougars' first real contest of the season, and the Gaels were already several tough tests in. The Gaels were up against it in the second meeting in Provo, Utah, a 14-point win for BYU, because it was at elevation where the Cougars train regularly.
BYU and St. Mary's also played four like opponents this season: Cal, Cal Poly, Arizona State and San Francisco Golden Gate. In those games, both the Gaels and Cougars won all four. The Gaels have a higher point differential in those four games (207 for, 75 against, +132); BYU is 182 for and 114 against, +68).
At the end of the day, it's a very tough judgment call, and we think the Gaels had the best season of anyone in America and are the best team in the country, but not by much. And perhaps it’s because of their defense. Against top teams, including Navy, Dartmouth and Utah, BYU was defensively dominant once – 60-0 over Navy. In every other game they allowed at least 20 points (except for 15 from Dartmouth). St. Mary’s, meanwhile, held Life, Lindenwood, Cal Poly, and Santa Rosa to less than ten. In every game, St. Mary’s played superbly, while it seemed like BYU had some periods where they weren’t on top of it.
Life lost one game, a very tough contest to St. Mary's, all season. Cal was beaten pretty handily by the Gaels, and also lost to BYU. We give the Running Eagles the nod over Cal.
UCF was dominant in its win over Arizona in the DI-AA Championship, beating the Knights by 51. The dominance of that win, coupled with UCF's incredible two-year run, sees them jump to No. 7. If you need results-based evidence for the move, look at Utah's result against Arizona earlier this season: the Utes won by just 10. Central Washington beat Utah by just one.
Toward the bottom of the rankings, we pull Penn State up a few spots. When the Nittany Lions came back into the fold after their suspension was lifted, we stuck them pretty low. But, at the end of the day, they beat Clemson in the ACRC playoffs in the fall, and we adjust the rankings to let the on-field results do the talking.