AP Top 25: Gators are No. 1, Utes surge to No. 2

Published 1:04 pm Friday, January 9, 2009

MIAMI — Florida is No. 1 in the AP Top 25. Utah is perfect at No. 2, though not perfectly happy.

Texas and Southern California also claimed to be the best — but media voters didn’t think so.

The Top 25 teams in The Associated Press college football poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, final records, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote, and previous ranking:

Record Pts Pvs

1. Florida (48) 13-1 1,606 1

2. Utah (16) 13-0 1,519 7

3. Southern Cal (1) 12-1 1,481 5

4. Texas 12-1 1,478 3

5. Oklahoma 12-2 1,391 2

6. Alabama 12-2 1,264 4

7. TCU 11-2 1,193 11

8. Penn St. 11-2 1,153 6

9. Ohio St. 10-3 1,013 10

10. Oregon 10-3 997 15

11. Boise St. 12-1 938 9

12. Texas Tech 11-2 916 8

13. Georgia 10-3 903 16

14. Mississippi 9-4 857 20

15. Virginia Tech 10-4 713 21

16. Oklahoma St. 9-4 534 13

17. Cincinnati 11-3 506 12

18. Oregon St. 9-4 467 24

19. Missouri 10-4 435 25

20. Iowa 9-4 317 —

21. Florida St. 9-4 246 —

22. Georgia Tech 9-4 223 14

23. West Virginia 9-4 144 —

24. Michigan St. 9-4 138 19

25. BYU 10-3 137 17

Others receiving votes: California 128, Pittsburgh 106, LSU 95, Nebraska 64, Tulsa 61, Northwestern 53, Ball St. 13, Boston College 11, Rutgers 11, Rice 8, Arizona 4, Kansas 2.

The Gators received 48 first-place votes and 1,606 points in the poll released early Friday, after they beat Oklahoma 24-14 in the BCS national title game.

Utah, the only team in major college football to go undefeated this season, got 16 first-place votes and 1,519 points.

“I thought we had an outside chance,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said in a telephone interview with the AP. “There was enough national sentiment, I thought we might get the No. 1 slot. It wasn’t to be.”

Florida won its third AP national championship and second in the last three seasons. Steve Spurrier and Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel led the Gators to the 1996 title.

No. 3 USC received one first-place vote. Texas was No. 4 and will have to settle for finishing ahead of fifth-ranked Oklahoma.

The Longhorns beat the Sooners in the regular season and thought they deserved OU’s spot in both the Big 12 and national championship games.

The Utes from the Mountain West Conference swept through their regular season, while Florida and Alabama from the SEC, Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12 and Southern California from the Pac-10 jockeyed for position in the national title chase.

The Mountain West does not have an automatic bid to the BCS — it’s not considered a strong enough league to deserve one — but the Utes earned their way in.

Utah was seventh in the final regular-season poll, but that perfect record looked much more impressive after the Utes beat Alabama 31-17 in the Sugar Bowl last week.

“All you can do is go out and beat the people on the schedule, which was exactly what our guys did,” Whittingham said.

Whittingham proclaimed his team No. 1. USC’s Pete Carroll had already done that after the Trojans’ 38-24 victory in the Rose Bowl against Penn State. Texas coach Mack Brown followed suit, proudly touting his Longhorns as the nation’s best after a 24-21 victory over Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl this week.

Whittingham said he would vote his team No. 1 in the USA Today coaches’ poll, even though the American Football Coaches Association has agreed to have all its voters place the winner of the BCS national championship game first on their ballots.

Utah did receive one first-place vote in the coaches’ poll and finished fourth.

Whittingham isn’t worried about losing his vote.

“That’s their call,” he said. “I have to look out for my players.”

Brown said he would vote for his team, too, but Texas was not listed first on any ballots. The Longhorns ended up ranked No. 3 in the coaches’ poll, right behind USC.

Carroll has never had a vote in the coaches’ poll, always skeptical of the way major college football crowns a champion.

Florida’s Urban Meyer became the 17th coach to win multiple AP national championships.

“I’ll tell you, we’re going to enjoy a big win, we’re going to enjoy the national championship,” he said, brushing off questions about other coaches claiming their team is best. “Let someone else worry about that. Gators are No. 1”

Alabama’s loss to Utah dropped the Crimson Tide to No. 6 in the final poll.

TCU, Utah’s Mountain West rival, finished seventh, followed by Penn State, Ohio State and Oregon.

Boise State led off the second 10, followed by Texas Tech, Georgia, Mississippi and Virginia Tech.

Oklahoma State, Cincinnati, Oregon State, Missouri and Iowa rounded out the top 20.

Florida State, Georgia Tech, West Virginia, Michigan State and BYU were the final five.