Georgia No. 1 in AP poll for second time, with Alabama No. 2

enna Watson/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK
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INDIANAPOLIS- Georgia is No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll, earning their second national title by beating Alabama on Monday night.

The Bulldogs received all 61 first-place votes to be a unanimous No. 1 for the ninth time this season. Georgia’s only other time finishing No. 1 was 1980.

The Tide finished No. 2, giving the Southeastern Conference the top two teams in the final rankings for the third time since 2011.

Michigan was No. 3, the Wolverines best final ranking since winning the national championship in 1997 and their first top-10 finish since 2006.

No. 4 Cincinnati, which became the first team from outside the Power Five conferences to reach the playoff, finished with its best final ranking.

As did No. 5 Baylor. The Bears previous best finish in the AP poll was No. 7 in 2014.

Ohio State was No. 6 and Oklahoma State finished seventh. The Cowboys had their best finish in the poll since they were third in 2011.

Notre Dame was eighth, Michigan State was ninth and Oklahoma was 10th, giving the Big 12 three top 10 teams.

For Michigan State, its the Spartans first top-10 finish since a string of three straight from 2013-15. The two Big Ten schools from the state of Michigan last both finished the season ranked in the top 10 in 1999.

Utah was No. 12, BYU was 19th and Utah State was No. 24, marking the first time the Beehive State has had all three of its major college football teams finish the season ranked.

Clemson finished 14th, snapping a string of six straight seasons in which the Tigers were no worse than fourth in the final Top 25.

No. 21 Houston edges Auburn 17-13 in Birmingham Bowl

Mickey Welsh / Advertiser / USA TODAY NETWORK
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala.- Jake Herslow caught a 26-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass from Clayton Tune with 3:27 left to help lift No. 21 Houston to a 17-13 victory over Auburn on Tuesday in the Birmingham Bowl.

The Cougars (12-2) marched 80 yards on eight plays to cap the third season in program history with at least 12 wins. They snapped a four-game bowl losing streak and won 12 of their final 13 games, the only loss coming to No. 4 Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference championship game.

The Tigers (6-7) went in the opposite direction in coach Bryan Harsin‘s first season. They ended a season with five straight losses for the first time in 71 years and dropped their third bowl game in a row.

Game MVP Tune completed 26 of 40 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns with an interception while also rushing for 43 yards. Nathaniel Dell caught 10 passes for 150 yards, while Alton McCaskill ran for 66 yards and caught a touchdown pass.

Auburn, which fired offensive coordinator Mike Bobo after the regular season, had one more chance but couldn’t get a first down. Tank Bigsby ran for 8 yards on first down and then T.J. Finley threw three straight incompletions on short passes.

Houston ran out the clock.

Finley completed 19 of 34 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown in his third start since replacing injured Bo Nix. Bigsby had 88 rushing yards and 68 receiving yards.

The Cougars had moved across midfield for the go-ahead score after Auburn’s second targeting ejection, this time against Jaylin Simpson.

Tune set it up with a 20-yard pass to tight end Christian Trahan.

The Tigers rallied from a 10-0 deficit to take the lead late in the third quarter on Kobe Hudson‘s 12-yard touchdown catch from Finley on third and goal.

THE TAKEAWAY

Houston punctuated one of its better seasons with a win over a Southeastern Conference team, this one after taking off following an opening loss.

Auburn had another game that slipped away late, including a quadruple-overtime loss to No. 1 Alabama. The Tigers were without some key players who were hurt, transferred or opted out.

TARGETED

Auburn safety Smoke Monday was the first player ejected for targeting after an earlier flag against him was overturned. This call came during Nehemiah Pritchett’s interception return. The penalty knocked the Tigers back 47 yards.

UP NEXT

Houston will try to close the gap on Cincinnati with an offense that is expected to return Tune and tailback Alton McCaskill. The Cougars open against UTSA.

Auburn has an important offseason that includes replacing Nix, who was injured and subsequently transferred to Oregon. The Tigers open against Mercer.

AP Top 25: Ohio State jumps to No. 2 past ‘Bama, Cincinnati

Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Ohio State is No. 2 in The Associated Press college football poll, surging three spots Sunday past No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Cincinnati in a close vote.

Georgia is a unanimous No. 1 in the AP Top 25 presented by Regions Bank for the seventh consecutive week, but for the second week in a row, No. 2 has changed.

Alabama slipped past Cincinnati last week and then Ohio State leapfrogged them both after routing Michigan State 56-7 on Saturday. The Buckeyes received 1,434 points from the media panel. The Crimson Tide had 1,423 and the Bearcats got 1,416.

Notre Dame is up to a season-high No. 5 and Michigan will go into its game against Ohio State next Saturday ranked No. 6. The winner of Buckeyes-Wolverines will play in the Big Ten championship game.

Oklahoma State moved to a season-high No. 7 and is one of three teams from the Big 12 residing in the back half of the top 10, along with No. 9 Baylor and No. 10 Oklahoma.

The Cowboys host the Sooners next Saturday in a Bedlam game that will help decide the Big 12 championship participants. Oklahoma State has clinched a spot, and Baylor and Oklahoma are still alive.

Mississippi rounds out the top 10 at No. 8.

POLL POINTS

Michigan State was one of two teams ranked in the top 10 last week to get blown out Saturday.

The Spartans dropped five spots to 12th after losing to Ohio State and Oregon fell from fourth to 11th after getting pounded 38-7 by Utah. The Utes moved up eight spots to No. 16.

The last time two top-10 teams lost by 30 or more points on the same day was Sept. 22, 1984, when No. 15 Florida State beat No. 4 Miami 38-3 and No. 1 Nebraska beat No. 8 UCLA 42-3.

– For the first time this season no teams fell out of the rankings.

Four ranked teams lost in total, with Wake Forest and Arkansas joining Oregon and Michigan State. The Demon Deacons were the only ranked team to lose to an unranked team. Wake’s lopsided loss at Clemson dropped the Deacs eight spots to No. 21.

No. 25 Arkansas fell four spots after losing at Alabama by a touchdown, narrowly keeping Clemson from returning to the Top 25 for the first time since the last weekend of September. The Razorbacks received 105 points to Clemson’s 101.

CONFERENCE CALL

SEC – 5 (Nos. 1, 3, 8, 14, 25).

Big Ten – 5 (Nos. 2, 6, 12, 17, 18).

ACC – 3 (Nos. 20, 21, 24).

Big 12 – 3 (Nos. 7, 9, 10).

Pac-12 – 2 (Nos. 11, 16).

American – 2 (Nos. 4, 19).

Conference USA – 1 (No. 15).

Mountain West – 1 (No. 22).

Sun Belt – 1 (No. 23).

Independent – 2 (Nos. 5, 13).

RANKED vs. RANKED

– No. 2 Ohio State at No. 6 Michigan. For the 24th time, The Game will be a top-10 matchup.

– No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 7 Oklahoma State. Bedlam will be a top-10 matchup for the third time. The last time was 2015 and the Sooners won by 35.