By RALPH D. RUSSO, Associated Press
Breaking down the AP college football poll after Week 8 of the regular season.
MAKING A STATEMENT
Even better than the Bear.
Alabama is No. 1 in the AP poll for the eighth straight week, the longest run atop the rankings in the history of the storied program.
The Tide has twice previously been No. 1 for seven consecutive weeks — in 1979 when Bear Bryant coached 'Bama to his last national title and in 1980 when the Tide finished sixth.
Nick Saban's Tide is working on trying to win its third national title in the last four seasons.
Alabama's latest No. 1 ranking came with just the slightest smudge. The Tide received 59 of 60 first-place votes after being a unanimous top pick for the last three weeks.
Oregon is No. 2 for the fifth consecutive week, though the gap between the Ducks and No. 3 Florida narrowed after the Gators beat South Carolina 44-11 on Saturday.
Florida was so good it persuaded one voter to give the Gators a first-place vote. And why not?
To this point, Florida has played a tougher schedule than both the Tide and Ducks, and dominating a good South Carolina team — albeit without producing much offense — was enough for Doug Lesmerises of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland to make the switch.
"That gave the Gators three wins over very good opponents, while Alabama still has that opening win over Michigan and then blowouts of lesser teams," he wrote in a blog post.
Alabama is about to enter the difficult part of its schedule. The Tide is home against unbeaten and No. 13 Mississippi State on Saturday. The next week is the latest installment of Alabama's Game of the Century series with LSU. After that, No. 22 Texas A&M comes to Tuscaloosa.
South Carolina was the only team ranked in the top 16 last week to lose Saturday, so the top half of the latest poll only had minor adjustments.
Kansas State stayed at No. 4 after beating West Virginia 55-14. Notre Dame is No. 5 after a 17-14 victory against BYU and LSU remained sixth with a 24-19 victory at Texas A&M.
South Carolina dropped from ninth to No. 17.
Seems like a long time ago that Oklahoma lost at home to Kansas State and tumbled out of the top 10.
The Sooners have been making steady progress since, working back to No. 8 this week after pounding Kansas 52-7. Oklahoma has outscored its last three opponents 156-48. Safety Tony Jefferson has led a defense that hasn't allowed a point over the last two weeks with the first unit on the field and Damien Williams has provide a big-play threat at running back.
Texas Tech, Texas and the Jayhawks are not exactly murderers' row, but the Sooners have restored some order in Norman and gotten themselves back to the fringe of the national title picture.
They can dive deeper into it Saturday when Notre Dame comes to town, but the Sooners still need plenty of help — in the form of two Kansas State losses — to even have a chance of winning the Big 12.
From No. 5 to No. 25 in two weeks.
Quarterback Geno Smith and the Mountaineers were fifth in the Top 25 after winning at Texas, then fell flat 49-14 against Texas Tech and slipped to No. 17.
A second straight lopsided loss — this time to Kansas State — dropped the Mountaineers (5-2) another eight spots.
Their defense has been a mess, and now the offense can't keep up.
"I'm not going to sit here and point fingers at anyone else," Smith said after a deflating night in Morgantown.
After two losses by a combined 76 points — coincidentally the same amount of points they received in the poll — should the Mountaineers be ranked at all? It's a fair question. Working in their favor is no team in the Top 25 has faced opponents with a better winning percentage than West Virginia's, who are 33-15 (.686).
Still, Toledo (7-1), which finished first among the others receiving votes with 49 points, has a reasonable gripe.
The Rockets handed Cincinnati its first loss on Saturday at the Glass Bowl in Toledo, and their only loss was in overtime at Arizona.
IN AND OUT
Cincinnati was the only team to fall out of rankings this week, a stiff penalty for its first loss.