Kansas State, Notre Dame move up

Updated: October 28, 2012, 6:45 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- No. 3 Kansas State and No. 4 Notre Dame each moved up a spot in The Associated Press college football poll, setting up a final four of sorts for the last month of the regular season.

Alabama is No. 1 for the ninth straight week and it is unanimous. The Crimson Tide received all 60 first-place votes. Oregon is No. 2 for the sixth straight week.

Florida's 17-9 loss on Saturday to Georgia dropped the Gators five spots to No. 8 and allowed Kansas State and Notre Dame each to move up a spot after victories.

Now the top four are all undefeated and none will play any other the rest of the way.

The Tide, Ducks, Wildcats and Irish will spend the last month of the regular season competing against each other from afar, vying for two spots in the BCS National Championship game. All of them could get to Dec. 2, BCS selection day, unbeaten.

The finish line is now in sight, but no looking ahead.

"It's tough not to, knowing you're so close, but man, you just have to focus in on next week, focus in on next game," Kansas State wide receiver Chris Harper said after the Wildcats' 55-24 victory against Texas Tech. "It's really hard not to look ahead, but the position that we're in, you can't do it."

Alabama and Oregon both face big tests Saturday. Emerging Heisman trophy contender AJ McCarron and the Tide go to Baton Rouge, La., to face No. 5 LSU in a game that could decide the SEC West.

The Pac-12's game of the year was supposed to be Saturday as well. The Ducks will be at No. 18 Southern California, but the Trojans are coming off their second loss of the season. USC fell 39-36 at Arizona and hasn't looked much like a team that started the season No. 1.

Still, Matt Barkley and crew figure to provide some resistance to an Oregon team that has yet to enter the fourth quarter of a game with the result in doubt.

Kansas State is home against Big 12 rival Oklahoma State. Notre Dame, coming off a 30-13 victory at Oklahoma, takes on Pittsburgh in South Bend, Ind.

A BCS mess looms. Alabama's position as No. 1 is safe as long as the defending national champions keep winning. The other three will jockey for the position behind the Tide, and voters (both in the AP poll and the two used in the BCS standings) will parse scores and schedules, looking for the slightest flaws to separate the Ducks, Wildcats and Irish.

One-loss LSU is No. 5, followed by Ohio State, which is ineligible, and Georgia, which moved up five spots.

The Bulldogs put together by far their best defensive performance of the season against the Gators. Georgia had been allowing more than 200 yards per game on the ground over its last three, but Florida ran for only 81 yards.

No. 12 Louisville, the lowest-ranked unbeaten, has not been ranked this high since it reached No. 8 early in the 2007 season, the year after Bobby Petrino coached the Cardinals to the Orange Bowl, and then bolted for the NFL.

Rutgers went from undefeated and No. 18 to unranked after a ghastly performance at home against Kent State. The Scarlet Knights committed seven turnovers and the Golden Flashes won 35-23 for the Mid-American Conference's fourth victory this season against the Big East. For the second straight week, a ranked and unbeaten Big East team lost to a MAC team. Last week, it was Cincinnati losing at Toledo.

Elsewhere in the MAC, Ohio University also went from unbeaten to unranked. The Bobcats, ranked for the first time since 1968, lost 23-20 to league rival Miami of Ohio. MAC teams Toledo (8-1, 5-0), Kent State (7-1, 4-0), Northern Illinois (8-1, 5-0) and Ohio (7-1, 3-1) all received votes in the latest AP Top 25.

Also falling out of the rankings was Michigan. Moving back in was No. 21 Nebraska, No. 24 Arizona and No. 25 UCLA.

No. 13 Oregon State fell six spots and No. 17 Mississippi State fell four after losing their first games of the season Saturday.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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