College Football: SEC rules in poll
Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 20, 2011
NEW YORK — The latest AP college football poll gives a new meaning to the term all-SEC.
The Southeastern Conference is the second league to have the top three spots in ranking all to itself.
No. 1 LSU held the top spot for the ninth straight week in Sunday’s rankings, and after a weekend when three other top-five teams lost, Alabama moved up a spot to No. 2 and Arkansas jumped three places to No. 3.
The only other time in the 75-year history of The Associated Press rankings that the top three teams all came from the same conference was the final regular-season poll of 1971, when Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado from the Big Eight were 1-2-3.
And this time it’s not just one conference, but one division (the SEC West) holding down the top spots.
No. 4 Stanford from the Pac-12 is the first non-SEC team in the rankings and Oklahoma State dropped from No. 2 to No. 5 after its first loss of the season. The Cowboys lost 37-31 in double overtime at Iowa State on Friday night.
That opened the door for Alabama to move up to No. 2.
“You’re excited to see things like that of course because at Alabama we play for championships, that’s what we do,” defensive end Damion Square said after Alabama’s easy victory against Georgia Southern on Saturday.
Little did Square realize the situation was about to get even better for Alabama and the SEC.
Oregon lost 38-35 at home to USC that night and Oklahoma fell at Baylor 45-38.
The last time three of the top five teams lost on the same weekend was Oct. 11, 2008, when No. 1 Oklahoma lost to No. 5 Texas; No. 3 Missouri lost to No. 17 Oklahoma State; and No. 4 LSU lost to No. 11 Florida.
Oregon slipped five spots to ninth with its second loss of the season. Oklahoma dropped from No. 5 to No. 12.
No. 6 was Virginia Tech, followed by Boise State, Houston, Oregon and Southern California at No. 10.
The Trojans, at one time a fixture in the top 10, have their best ranking since the middle of the 2009 season.
Houston has its best ranking since 1990, when David Klingler and the Cougars were as high as No. 3 in the rankings.
Record-breaking quarterback Case Keenum and the current Cougars are the only other unbeaten team in the nation outside of LSU.
Those SEC West powers might not have the top three spots locked up for long.
LSU hosts Arkansas the day after Thanksgiving. Another loss by the Razorbacks, whose only loss so far is to Alabama, would likely knock them back.
Though if Arkansas beats LSU, which beat Alabama, maybe the teams would stay the same but the order would change?
Alabama plays Auburn on Saturday.
In the event of a three-way tie for the SEC West title, the BCS standings are used as a tiebreaker to determine which team will play Georgia in the conference title game on Dec. 3 in Atlanta.
The second 10 in the Top 25 starts with No. 11 Michigan State, which has clinched a spot in the first Big Ten championship game.
Oklahoma is followed by No. 13 Georgia, No. 14 South Carolina and Wisconsin.
Kansas State is No. 16. Michigan is No. 17 heading into its rivalry game against unranked Ohio State.
Clemson already has a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game sewn up, but the Tigers dropped 11 spots in the latest rankings after a 37-13 loss at North Carolina State.
No. 19 is TCU, which has earned no less than a share of the Mountain West Conference title.
No. 20 Penn State will play Wisconsin for the right to play Michigan State in the Big Ten championship.
Baylor’s big victory helped Robert Griffin III and the Bears moved up three spots to No. 21.
Nebraska and Notre Dame are tied at No. 22.
No. 24 Virginia beat Florida State 14-13 on Saturday night to move into the AP rankings for the first time since Dec. 2, 2007. The Cavaliers will play Virginia Tech next week for a spot in the ACC title game.
ACC rival Georgia Tech also moved back into the rankings at No. 25.
Florida State and Southern Miss dropped out after losses.
AP Sports Writer John Zenor in Tuscaloosa, Ala., contributed to this report.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
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