Alabama No. 1; USC drops out of poll

NEW YORK -- Alabama will head into the postseason as the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1973, while Southern California dropped out of the ranking Sunday after an eight-year run.

The Crimson Tide claimed the top spot in the media poll in overwhelming fashion, receiving 58 first-place votes after its emphatic 32-13 victory against previously No. 1 Florida in the Southeastern Conference title game.

Texas moved up one spot to No. 2 and received two first-place votes, after squeaking past Nebraska 13-12 in the Big 12 title game Saturday night. TCU is No. 3, followed by Cincinnati, Florida and unbeaten Boise State.

The Trojans dropped out to snap a streak of 130 consecutive polls in which they were ranked, after completing their worst regular season since 2001. USC (8-4) was ranked 20th before losing 21-17 to Arizona on Saturday.

Southern Cal's streak was the second-longest active in the country behind Texas' 156 weeks in the poll. Ohio State is now second with 83 straight AP rankings.

While the Trojans dropped out, No. 25 Central Michigan earned its first AP ranking in school history. The Chippewas (11-2) won the Mid-American Conference for the third time in four seasons with a 20-10 victory over Ohio on Friday.

The Crimson Tide was No. 1 for a week earlier this season, but spent the previous three at No. 2 before defeating the defending national champions. The last time Alabama went into a postseason game No. 1, the Tide lost the Sugar Bowl 24-23 to Notre Dame.

On Saturday, Alabama locked up a spot in the BCS national championship game with its SEC title, and is expected to play Texas on Jan. 7 at the Rose Bowl.

TCU has its highest rankings since winning the 1938 national championship.

The rest of the top 10 was Oregon at No. 7, followed by Ohio State, Georgia Tech and Iowa. The 11-15 spots were held by Penn State, Virginia Tech, LSU, BYU and Miami.

Pittsburgh dropped two spots after losing 45-44 to Cincinnati in a game that decided the Big East title. Oregon State dropped four spots to No. 17 after losing 37-33 at Oregon in a game that decided the Pac-10 championship.

West Virginia moved up six spots to 18 and Stanford moved up four spots to No. 19.

No. 20 Nebraska moved up one after nearly knocking the Longhorns out of the national title game in the Big 12 championship.

The final five were Oklahoma State, Arizona, Utah and Wisconsin -- all of which have been in and out of the rankings this season -- along with Central Michigan.

Falling out with USC were Clemson, Houston and California. Unbeaten Montana, which plays Appalachian State in the FCS semifinals on Saturday, received one point in the poll.