Alabama No. 1 in AP poll; Okla. St. No. 3

Updated: January 10, 2012, 2:27 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW ORLEANS -- Alabama split the games and swept the titles.

The Crimson Tide were voted No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll for the eighth time, tying Notre Dame for the most of any team in college football, after winning a rematch Monday night with LSU in the Allstate BCS Championship Game.

Alabama's 21-0 victory easily offset the Tigers' 9-6 win on Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and gave it the top spot in the AP ranking to go along with the No. 1 ranking in the USA Today coaches' poll.

The Tide received 55 first-place votes and No. 2 LSU got one. Big 12 champion Oklahoma State (12-1) was No. 3 and received four first-place votes.

Erik Gee of KNML-AM in Albuquerque, N.M., had said before the title game that he would vote LSU No. 1, which he indeed did.

Oregon finished fourth and Arkansas was fifth, giving the SEC three of the top five teams in the country.

Before the ballots were cast early Tuesday morning, most voters said they would at least consider voting LSU No. 1 in the final AP poll even with a loss because of its stronger overall résumé, which included a road victory against the Tide. Oklahoma State would get consideration, too, depending on how things went in Tide-Tigers II.

Alabama dominated LSU in the Superdome, holding the Tigers to 92 yards and recording the first shutout in BCS Championship Game history.

Coach Nick Saban led Alabama to its second AP title in the past three years and joined Bear Bryant (five) as Crimson Tide coaches with multiple championships.

"The goal was, 'control your destiny,' " Saban said, referring to his team's approach to the game.

He might as well have been talking about the rankings, too. Alabama made it simple for most voters to pick a No. 1.

"I set the bar high for Alabama in order to earn the top spot on my ballot," Jon Wilner, of The Mercury News in San Jose, Calif., said. "The Crimson Tide needed to offset both the regular-season loss to LSU and the Tigers' superior regular season. And Alabama did just that."

And so, the potential controversy of a split national title was avoided.

As voter Chad Cripe of The Idaho Statesman put it: "Alabama left zero doubt."

Not to Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, who told USA Today while watching LSU get shut down and shut out: "I will say this, I bet you there'll be a lot of people wish they'd given us a shot to see a different kind of game."

"We'd have thrown it 50 times," Gundy added. "You like to think (quarterback) Brandon Weeden and (receiver) Justin Blackmon could have put together some touchdowns. Get the ball thrown down the field and open some things up. Try to make it exciting, and see what happens."

The Cowboys, with the nation's second-highest scoring offense this season, scored more than 50 points in six games, and beat Stanford -- and likely No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck -- in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl 41-38 in overtime Jan. 2.

"It kind of hurts to watch it. I just think we could score," Gundy told USA Today. "We'd use all 52 yards across (the width of) the field. Get people on the edges. Use the vertical game."

LSU can claim the SEC championship and victories against Pac-12 champion Oregon and Big East champion and No. 17 West Virginia. LSU coach Les Miles praised his team when asked if the Tigers deserved to be voted national champions, though he stopped short of lobbying.

"This football team has as quality a run as there is in this country," he said. "Played eight nationally ranked teams. Played in six stadiums before the SEC championship game, which we won, as well. I think this team accomplished a lot. I think that's for the voters to figure."

Southern California, which sat out the postseason because of NCAA sanctions, was No. 6, and Pac-12 rival Stanford was seventh.

Boise State finished No. 8.

No. 9 South Carolina made it four SEC schools in the top 10.

The Big Ten had the next three teams: Wisconsin, Michigan State and Michigan.

Baylor and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III finished No. 13, ahead of future Big 12 rival TCU, and current Big 12 rivals Kansas State and Oklahoma, and another future Big 12 program, West Virginia.

Conference USA had Houston at No. 18 and Southern Mississippi at No. 20.

In between was Georgia at 19.

The Atlantic Coast Conference had Virginia Tech at No. 21, Clemson at No. 22 and Florida State at 23.

No. 24 Nebraska gave the Big Ten four teams in the final rankings and No. 25 Cincinnati made it two from the Big East.

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.

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