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No doubt about Alabama: Tide is No. 1 in AP poll

By Ralph D. Russo

AP College Football Writer

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 10:58 a.m. HST, Jan 10, 2012


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

The Crimson Tide was 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 with LSU in the BCS championship on Monday night.

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.

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 resume, 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 last 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," said Jon Wilner of the Mercury News in San Jose, Calif. "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."

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 it 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: No. 10 Wisconsin, No. 11 Michigan State and No. 12 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.






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