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Ohio State uneasily takes No. 1 spot

NEW YORK — Hit the reset button on the 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 Saturday at South Carolina.

The SEC, which has won the past four national championships, has some catching up to do. The Buckeyes and No. 2 Oregon have 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 championship contender.

The Buckeyes moved up one spot in the Associated Press poll after Alabama lost for the first time since the 2009 Sugar Bowl.

Ohio State received 34 first-place votes.

"I love it for the Ohio State students and fans, but it's a big responsibility and opportunity for us," Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor said.

Auburn is the highest ranked SEC team at No. 7. An SEC team, either Florida or Alabama, had held the top spot in the last 29 AP polls, dating to Nov. 2, 2008. The last time the highest ranked SEC team was this far away from No. 1 was Oct. 22, 2006, when Auburn was seventh.

The Tide slipped to No. 8. South Carolina moved up nine spots to 10th.

FSU jumped seven spots to No. 16 with a 45-17 victory at Miami that knocked the Hurricanes out of the rankings.

Florida fell to No. 22. The Gators have their worst showing in the poll since they were unranked to end the 2004 season, Ron Zook's last as coach.

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

"You take a look at the top 10 week to week and the precarious nature of any ranking is obvious," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said Sunday.

The first BCS standings come out next Sunday, using the coaches' poll, Harris poll and computer rankings to order the teams.

LSU'S FAKE FIELD GOAL: The Tigers' fake that led to a first down and the winning touchdown against Florida on Saturday came about after a timeout.

On fourth and 3 with 35 seconds left, coach Les Miles intended to attempt a tying 53-yarder, then switched to the fake after calling a timeout to avoid a delay of game penalty.

Miles thought the fake failed when holder Derek Helton's toss to kicker Josh Jasper hit the ground. "I was not a happy guy,'' Miles told the Shreveport Times. "Thank goodness, he made a nice fielding catch.''

The ball bounced right to Jasper, who ran 5 yards for a first down at the UF 31.

Then they waited for a review to make sure it was a lateral and not a forward pass, which would have meant it was an incompletion, giving the ball to Florida.

"But it was dead sideways," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Sunday with a hint of a chuckle — he had a rooting interest as Florida's loss dropped it a half-game behind the Gamecocks for the SEC East lead.

Helton's reaction when they returned to the field after the timeout and Jasper told him that the fake was called: "Really?'' The rest of the LSU players were just as surprised.

"We're done with that fake," said Miles, who had also used it successfully in 2007. "We'll be done practicing it from now on."

miami's harris sore: Already hampered by a bruised right (nonthrowing) shoulder, Miami quarterback Jacory Harris pulled his groin in Saturday's loss to FSU. According to coach Randy Shannon, Harris was walking around Sunday "like it wasn't nothing." Receiver Leonard Hankerson was drilled in the third quarter and went into the locker room late in the game rubbing his head. Shannon said Hankerson is okay. Shannon took the blame for the FSU loss. "We were demanding in practice, but I guess I have to do a little bit more," he said.

GEORGIA: Saturday's dominating home win over Tennessee restored a glimmer of hope in a disappointing season. "If we can keep playing games like this," said quarterback Aaron Murray, a former Plant High standout,, "we'll finish the season off strong." Georgia (2-4, 1-3 SEC) still has a climb to get back to .500, but has a chance to build a winning streak vs. Vanderbilt (2-3, 1-1) and Kentucky (3-3, 0-3) the next two weeks. Then it's the annual game against Florida in Jacksonville on Oct. 30.

kentucky: Running back Derrick Locke, the team's leading rusher, is questionable for Saturday against South Carolina with stingers in his shoulders.

LOUISVILLE: Deion Branch had his No. 9 jersey placed in the school's ring of honor on Saturday. Branch, a wide receiver in 2000 and '01, ranks in the school's top 10 in receptions (143), receiving yards (2,204) and receiving touchdowns (18). Now with the Seahawks. Branch was MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX, won by the Patriots.

Oregon: Running back Kenjon Barner was released from a hospital after spending the night following a collision on a kickoff return against Washington State. The Ducks are off until Oct. 21, when they host UCLA.

Late Saturday

Stanford 37, USC 35: Nate Whitaker made up for a missed extra point with a 30-yard field goal on the final play to give the Cardinal a second consecutive victory over the Trojans.

"No one panicked,'' quarterback Andrew Luck said of the drive that began with 1:02 left.

Whitaker's first winning kick of his career gave Stanford its first home victory over USC in a decade.

"I thought we played better in this game than we did (in a last-second loss against Washington the previous week, also on a field goal)," Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said. "We're so close to being good, but we aren't there yet."

Nevada 35, San Jose St. 13: Vai Taua ran for 196 yards and three touchdowns for the host Wolf Pack. Nevada defensive end Dontay Moch had five tackles for loss to become the WAC's all-time leader with 52.

fast facts

Up next

UCF: at Marshall, 8 Wednesday, ESPN

USF: at West Virginia, 7:30 Thursday, ESPN

FSU: vs. Boston College, noon Saturday, ESPN

Miami: at Duke,

1 Saturday

UF: vs. Mississippi State, 7 Saturday, ESPNU

Ohio State uneasily takes No. 1 spot 10/10/10 [Last modified: Monday, October 11, 2010 12:11am]
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