By RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Football Writer
Alabama reclaimed No. 1 from Georgia in The Associated Press college football poll in one of the closest votes in the recent years, and six teams — including Kansas — made their season debut on Sunday.
The Crimson Tide received 25 first-place votes and 1,523 points in the AP Top 25 presented by Regions Bank, two points more than the Bulldogs. Georgia received 28 first-place votes to become the first team since Alabama in November 2019 to have the most first-place votes but not be No. 1.
The Tide was No. 2 behind LSU that year, with 21 first-place votes to the Tigers’ 17.
The last time there was a two-point margin between Nos. 1 and 2 was Nov. 1, 2020, when Clemson was ahead of Alabama. There have been three other polls with a two-point margin at the top since 2007.
Ohio State remained third, but the Buckeyes also gained some ground on the top two, getting 10 first-place votes.
The Crimson Tide started the season at No. 1, but the defending national champion Bulldogs took the top spot away from their Southeastern Conference rivals after Week 2 when Alabama needed a late field goal to beat Texas.
The Bulldogs remain unbeaten but needed a fourth-quarter rally to beat four-touchdown underdog Missouri on Saturday night. Earlier in the day, the Tide managed to pull away from Arkansas in the second half without Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young.
Young sprained his throwing shoulder in the first half and missed most of the game in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 Clemson and No. 6 Southern California all won and held their places this week, though the Wolverines and Tigers are now separated by just three points.
No. 7 Oklahoma State, followed by Tennessee, Mississippi and Penn State, round out the top 10.
The rest of the AP Top 25 got a major overhaul after 10 ranked teams lost, five to unranked opponents. That cleared the way for seven teams to move into the rankings this week, most notably No. 19 Kansas.
The Jayhawks are ranked for the first time since Oct. 18, 2009, which was the longest drought for a team currently in a Power Five conference.
The closest margin between Nos. 1 and 2 in AP poll history is zero. Oklahoma and Miami tied for No. 1 in the 2002 preseason poll, and Miami and Washington shared the top spot in mid-October 1992.
The last time there was a one-point margin between the top two teams was 1992, when the Hurricanes and Huskies were separated by a point in the weeks before and after they were tied.
With Kansas back in the rankings, the longest poll appearance drought belongs to Illinois, which was last ranked in 2011. And the Illini have positioned themselves to make the leap with a 4-1 start heading into their home game against Iowa next week.
Next up on the list is Rutgers (2012), Oregon State (preseason 2013) and Vanderbilt (final 2013).
The voters generally decided to start from scratch at the back half of the rankings, flipping seven teams.
— No. 17 TCU is in the rankings for the first time since a brief stay in 2019 at 25th.
— No. 18 UCLA is off to its first 5-0 start since 2013.
— No. 19 Kansas stayed unbeaten by knocking off Iowa State. The Jayhawks last started 5-0 in that 2009 season, then proceeded to drop their next six games and fall to the bottom of major college football for more than a decade.
Both Kansas schools are ranked for the first time since Oct. 14, 2007.
— No. 22 Syracuse improved to 5-0 with an easy victory against Wagner and finally cracked the rankings. The Orange are ranked for the first time since early in the 2019 season.
— No. 23 Mississippi State has been ranked for only one week (after the first regular-season game of 2020) since the end of 2018 season.
Both Mississippi SEC schools are ranked for the first time since Nov. 11, 2015.
— No. 24 Cincinnati. The Bearcats are the one team to enter the rankings this week that already had been in this season. Cincinnati fell out after a Week 1 loss at Arkansas and has won four straight since.
— No. 25 LSU has its first ranking under coach Brian Kelly. The Tigers have won four straight, including two SEC games, since losing a heartbreaker to Florida State on Labor Day weekend.
Among the seven teams to drop out of the AP Top 25, five of them will be unranked for the first time this season: Oklahoma, Baylor, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Pittsburgh.
Florida State and Minnesota had brief stays in the AP Top 25. The Seminoles and Gophers were teams on the rise for a week and then both lost at home.
SEC — 7 (Nos. 1, 2, 8, 9, 13, 23, 25).
Pac-12 — 5 (Nos. 6, 11, 12, 18, 21).
ACC — 4 (Nos. 5, 15, 16, 22).
Big 12 — 4 (Nos. 7, 17, 19, 20).
Big Ten — 3 (Nos. 3, 4, 10).
American — 1 (No. 24).
Independent — 1 (No. 16).
RANKED vs. RANKED
No. 25 LSU at No. 8 Tennessee.
No. 17 TCU at No. 19 Kansas.
No. 11 Utah at No. 18 UCLA.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com
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