Alabama, LSU ranked 1-2 again

NEW YORK -- Alabama and LSU are back atop The Associated Press college football poll, holding down Nos. 1 and 2 the way they did most of last season.

The Crimson Tide is No. 1 for the third straight week, and it was almost unanimous. Alabama received 58 of 60 first-place votes. LSU got the other two.

The Southeastern Conference rivals were ranked first and second for eight weeks during last season before eventually meeting in the BCS title game. The difference last year was LSU was first and Alabama second -- until the Tide won the national championship game.

LSU moved up to No. 2 this week after Southern California's first loss of the season. USC slipped 11 spots to 13th after losing 21-14 at Stanford, which jumped from 21st to ninth.

USC was preseason No. 1 in a close vote and slipped to No. 2 after Alabama throttled Michigan to start the season.

"We have really been fighting against allowing ourselves to accept average," Tide coach Nick Saban said after a 52-0 demolition of beleaguered Arkansas this week.

LSU hosts Alabama in Baton Rouge, La., on Nov. 3.

No. 4 Florida State heads into maybe its biggest regular-season game of the year with its best ranking since Oct. 9, 2005.

The Seminoles, coming off a 52-0 victory against Wake Forest, host No. 10 Clemson at Doak Campell Stadium on Saturday in a game that should go a long way to determining who wins the Atlantic Division of the ACC.

No. 9 Stanford shot up 12 spots after beating USC for the fourth straight season.

The Cardinal are proving there is life and prosperity after Andrew Luck. The assumption was when the two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up moved on to the NFL, Stanford would slip back into the Pac-12 pack.

"I have been saying it for years, even before I became head coach: This game isn't about who you play, it is about how you play," coach David Shaw said.

There were signs last week, in USC's 42-29 victory against Syracuse, that the Trojans' line play would be a problem.

Even before the season, there were fears that USC's defensive line looked thin and the offensive line less-than-dominant. But there was so much talent and skill on both sides of the ball, including Heisman favorite Matt Barkley at quarterback, it was easy to overlook potential problems.

"We obviously did not have an answer (for their defense)," Barkley told reporters after the game.

No. 11 Notre Dame rose nine places after dominating Michigan State 20-3 in East Lansing, Mich.

Behind linebacker Manti Te'o and defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt, the Irish smothered the Spartans, allowing 237 total yards, only 50 on the ground.

Notre Dame and Stanford meet in South Bend, Ind., on Oct. 13.

No. 24 Boise State and No. 25 Nebraska, after brief exits, are back in the rankings, and No. 23 Mississippi State is in the Top 25 for the first time in a bit more than a year.

The Bulldogs are 3-0 for the first time since 1999, though getting there was tougher than most probably expected. Mississippi State won 30-24 at Troy on Saturday.

"We jumped into the polls and we did not perform at our best. I hope it's a real motivating factor," Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said Sunday.

Falling out of the poll were Tennessee, BYU and Virginia Tech.

The Hokies suffered maybe the most surprising loss of the weekend, falling 35-17 to previously winless Pittsburgh.

Virginia Tech is unranked for the first time since October 2010, snapping a string of 29 polls.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.