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Rutgers ranked in Top 25 for first time since '76

No joke. Rutgers is ranked.

The Scarlet Knights, long a college football laughingstock,
moved Sunday into The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time
since the final poll of the 1976 season.

No. 23 Rutgers (4-0), led by tailback Ray Rice, the fourth
leading rusher in the nation, is off to its best start since 1980
after beating Howard 56-7 on Saturday.

"I'm not going to downplay it. It is significant considering
where we started," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "It shows
we're making progress in the right direction."

The Scarlet Knights were one of three new teams at the bottom of
the new media poll, which was mostly unchanged at the top.

Ohio State is still No. 1 with 59 of a possible 65 first-place
votes. No. 2 Auburn, No. 3 Southern California and No. 4 West
Virginia each received two first-place votes.

Auburn had 1,513 points and USC had 1,491. The Tigers lead over
the Trojans grew nines points from last week.

USC remained No. 2 in the USA Today coaches' poll, while Auburn was third.

No. 5 is Florida, followed by Michigan, Texas, Louisville, LSU
and Georgia. The only change in the Top 10 was No. 9 LSU
flip-flopping with No. 10 Georgia.

Throughout the 1990s, the Scarlet Knights were among the worst
teams in Division I-A, routinely getting blown out by their Big
East rivals.

Last year, in coach Greg Schiano's fifth season at the state
university of New Jersey, Rutgers had its first winning year since
1992. The Knights went 7-5 and played in the Insight Bowl, their
first bowl game since 1978.

The Knights have benefited from an early weak schedule -- three
I-A opponents with a combined 4-8 record and a I-AA team -- but of
course it wasn't long ago Rutgers couldn't beat anybody.

Schiano, a New Jersey native, was 10 years old the last time
Rutgers was ranked in 1976. Those Scarlet Knights went 11-0 and
reached as high as No. 17 in the country.

"I don't think of it in a historical perspective," he said.
"You need to win to get into those polls, and the Rutgers program
has had some up and down times as we know. I'm glad it's happening
now and hope to keep it going."

The other new teams in the poll were No. 24 Georgia Tech, which
has lost only to Notre Dame in it's opener, and No. 25 Missouri
(4-0).

Missouri is ranked for the first time since the second week of
the 2004 season.

Virginia Tech is No. 11 followed by Notre Dame, Iowa, Oregon and
Tennessee. The next five were Oklahoma, TCU, Clemson, Florida State
and California.

No. 20 is California with Nebraska No. 21 and Boise State at No.
22.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.