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Published: Monday, 10/11/2010

Alabama drops to 8th; UM out

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK - Hit the reset button on the college football season.

There's a new No. 1 team in Ohio State and uncertainty at the top of the rankings for the first time all season, after Alabama's 19-game winning streak ended at South Carolina.

The Southeastern Conference, which has won the last four national championships, has some catching up to do in the 2010 title chase. The Buckeyes and No. 2 Oregon have a couple of BCS busters in No. 3 Boise State and No. 4 TCU on their tails. And for the first time in about a decade, Nebraska is a legitimate national championship contender.

The Buckeyes moved up one spot in the Associated Press poll after preseason No. 1 Alabama lost for the first time since the 2009 Sugar Bowl. The Crimson Tide fell 35-21.

Ohio State received 34 first-place votes and Oregon (15), Boise State (eight), TCU (one) and No. 6 Oklahoma (two) also got first-place votes from the media panel.

The Crimson Tide slipped to No. 8, Louisiana State was No. 9 and South Carolina moved up nine spots to 10th after the program's first victory against a top-ranked team.

The last time Ohio State was No. 1 was the final regular-season poll of 2007.

That season ended with LSU beating the Buckeyes in the BCS championship game to become the first national title winner with two losses. That type of mayhem is a long way away, but the potential for BCS controversy is high, unlike last season, when Florida, Alabama and Texas moved into the top three spots in late September and didn't budge until the SEC title game.

Michigan State, which doesn't play Ohio State this season, moved up four spots to No. 13 after defeating Michigan 34-17. The Wolverines, who were No. 18 last week, fell out of the top 25.

Four teams that started the season ranked in the top 10 have fallen out, including Texas and Virginia Tech, which are gone altogether. Florida is down to No. 22 after losing its second straight game. The Gators fell 33-29 to LSU and have their worst showing in the poll since they were unranked to end the 2004 season, Ron Zook's last as Florida coach.

If No. 7 Auburn and No. 9 LSU keep winning, the strength of the SEC could push them past the teams in front of them and into the thick of the national title mix.

But it's just as likely the SEC will not produce an undefeated champion and be shut out of the BCS championship game for the first time since the 2005 season, when Texas and USC played for the title.



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