Veteran mentor Sonny Lubick's 2001 squad won five of its final six games including a win in the first-ever New Orleans Bowl, Colorado State's third bowl in a row, its sixth over the past eight seasons, and the team's second consecutive bowl victory.
Miami was top ranked, followed by Tennessee and Florida, then Oregon and LSU.
The Rams moved from 37th following the regular season into 24th in the final poll - a move of 13 places - the third highest jump by any team in the top 25.
Pitt moved 14 spots, from 25th to 11th in the final poll, as did Boston College, from 35th to 19th, the only who moved more places than the Rams in the final poll.
For a complete listing of The New York Times' top 25, see nytimes.com/sports.