As expected, Notre Dame retained its spot atop the Associated Press Top 25 poll after a win over USC clinched one of the two spots in the Jan. 7 BcS title game. In its latest release, all 60 media voters tabbed the Fighting Irish as the No. 1 team in the country.
If Notre Dame can beat the winner of the SEC championship game, they would become the first team since BYU in 1984 to finish the season as the AP No. 1 after beginning the same season unranked.
As was the case last week, the Tide, Bulldogs and unbeaten Ohio State filled spots 2-4 behind the Irish, with Florida moving into the Top Five on the strength of its win over then-No. 10 Florida State. The Seminoles were the lone team to drop out of the Top 10 this weekend, falling three spots to No. 13.
Oregon (No. 6), LSU (No. 9) and Texas A&M (No. 10) dropped one spot each despite wins in Week 13. Stanford, which beat UCLA to clinch the Pac-12 North and earned the right to face the Bruins again next weekend for the conference championship, was up three to No. 8.
Kansas State held serve at No. 7 from a week ago to round out the Top 10.
A trio of teams from non-automatic qualifying conferences each moved up five spots apiece: No. 18 Kent State, No. 19 Northern Illinois and No. 20 Utah State. If some combination of those three teams, along with Boise State, finish in the Top 16 of the final BcS rankings released next Sunday — the Golden Flashes and Huskies square off in the MAC championship game this Friday — one team (the highest-ranked) would earn a BcS berth.
Louisville (then-No. 19), Rutgers (No. 21) and Mississippi State (No. 25) all dropped out of the Top 25, replaced by Northwestern (No. 22) and Boise State (No. 25). With the Cardinals and Scarlet Knights dropping out, the Big East has no ranked teams in the AP poll.
(Writer’s note: I mistakenly juxtaposed the coaches’ poll with the AP poll when writing on first-place votes. The error has been corrected. Apologies to all.)