UGA returns to No. 1, Alabama slips to 3 behind OSU


By RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer

Georgia regained the top spot in The Associated Press college football poll from Alabama on Sunday after being eliminated last week by the Crimson Tide, which slipped to No. 3.

The Bulldogs received 32 first-place votes and 1,535 points in the Top 25, presented by Regions Bank, to easily claim No. 1. They were just two points behind Alabama at No. 2 last week.

Georgia thrashed Auburn 42-10 on Saturday. The Tide, whose Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young was sidelined with injury, escaped a surprise offer at home from Texas A&M.

Ohio State moved up one spot to No. 2, receiving 20 first-place votes and 1,507 points.

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No. 3 is a season low for Alabama, which was a preseason No. 1 but dropped to No. 2 after Week 2. The Tide received 11 first-place votes.

There were two notable Top 25 season debuts: No. 24 Illinois is ranked for the first time since 2011, and James Madison is in the AP Top 25 for the first time in his show’s history. The Dukes are playing their first season as a member of the Sun Belt Conference at the highest level of Division I college football.

Clemson overtook Michigan and moved up to No. 4 and the Wolverines dropped one spot to No. 5.

Tennessee moved up to No. 6, which is the best ranking for the currently undefeated Volunteers since No. 5 early in the 2005 season. Tennessee stumbled to a 5-6 finish and unranked that year.

Southern California dropped one spot to No. 7, with Oklahoma State, Mississippi and Penn State holding onto their spots to round out the top 10.

The shuffle that made Georgia from No. 1 to No. 2 and back to No. 1 in three polls hadn’t happened in more than a decade.

Florida went back and forth between No. 1 and No. 2 in 2009, changing minds with Alabama as both teams won in late October.

The Tide is the first team to drop from No. 1 to No. 3 with a win in 25 years, when Nebraska beat Missouri in overtime in the famous “Flea Kicker.” Michigan jumped from No. 4 to No. 1 on November 10, 1997, after a 34-8 win over No. 2 Penn State.

The week after Kansas handed over the ignominious title of the Power Five conference team with the longest streak of not being ranked in Illinois, the Illini are now out of control in their second year under coach Bret Bielema.

Illinois improved to 5-1 by beating Iowa and landing in the poll for the first time since October 16, 2011: 178 polls.

Next on the list of longest qualifying droughts for Power Five schools are: Rutgers (2012), Oregon State (2013 preseason), and Vanderbilt (2013 final).

— James Madison has been a powerhouse in the Football Championship Subdivision for years, winning a national title in 2016 and losing to North Dakota State in the NCAA championship game in 2017 and 2019. The Dukes have not had trouble moving up so far, going 5-0 and averaging 44 points per game.

— No. 22 Texas qualifies again after beating rival Oklahoma and tying Kentucky for the Top 25.

— BYU is unranked for the first time this season after losing to Notre Dame.

— Washington dropped out of the rankings after a second straight loss.

— LSU’s return to the Top 25 was brief after being beaten at home by Tennessee.

The Sun Belt went from its inception in 2001 to 2015 without having a ranked team. The conference has now had at least one ranked team for at least one week each of the last five seasons and six of the last seven.

James Madison is the second Sun Belt team to crack the Top 25 this season, along with Appalachian State.

SEC — 6 (Nos. 1, 3, 6, 9, 16, 22).

Large 12 — 5 (8, 13, 17, 19, 22).

ACC — 4 (Nos. 4, 14, 15, 18).

Big Ten – 4 (Nos. 2, 5, 10, 24).

Pac-12 — 4 (Nos. 7, 11, 12, 20).

Six games, the most of the season, pairing ranked teams:

No. 10 Penn State at No. 5 Michigan.

No. 3 Alabama at No. 6 Tennessee.

No. 8 Oklahoma State at No. 13 TCU.

No. 15 North Carolina State at No. 18 Syracuse.

No. 16 Mississippi State at No. 22 Kentucky.

No. 7 USC at No. 20 Utah.

Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25. Sign up for the AP College Football Newsletter: https://bit.ly/3pqZVaF

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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