OSU's win continues the trend of short-tenured head coaches quickly claiming titles. Jim Tressel's team hoisted the hardware after an undefeated season in just his second year in Columbus. Oklahoma's Bob Stoops also pulled the trick in '00, leading the Sooners to a championship in an undefeated second season at the Norman school. Sandwiched in-between, the 'Canes first-year head man Larry Coker pushed his troops to an undefeated title run in '01.
Miami came in at No. 2 in both final '02 polls. Also in both polls, Sugar Bowl champ Georgia (13-1) earned a No. 3 ranking, followed by Orange Bowl winner USC (11-2) and Rose Bowl winner OU (12-2). UT snagged the sixth spot above 11-2 K-State in the AP poll while the 'Cats bested the Horns in the coaches' poll. Orange Bowl loser Iowa (11-2) at No. 8, Outback Bowl winner Michigan (10-3) at No. 9 and Rose Bowl loser Washington State (10-3) at No. 10 rounded out the top 10 in both polls.
After its trio of top seven finishers, the Big 12 landed only one other team in the top 25. Colorado, despite its loss to a weak Wisconsin club in the Alamo Bowl and its 9-5 overall record, remained in the final rankings at No. 20 in the AP and No. 21 in the coaches' poll. Big 12 South Division bowl winners 9-5 Texas Tech (Tangerine) and 8-5 Oklahoma State (Houston) couldn't crack the top 25, remaining in the Others Receiving Votes category of both polls.