Gamecocks vault to No. 3 in AP poll

Updated: October 8, 2012, 1:20 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- South Carolina, Florida and West Virginia move into the top five of The Associated Press college football poll after a Saturday during which nine Top 25 teams lost.

No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oregon hold their spots at the top of the rankings. Alabama is a unanimous No. 1 again. The rest of the Top 25 got a makeover.

No. 3 South Carolina, off a 35-7 victory against Georgia, moves up three spots. No. 4 Florida jumps six spots after beating LSU 14-6. No. 5 West Virginia moves up three with a 48-45 victory at Texas.

No. 6 Kansas State, No. 7 Notre Dame and No. 8 Ohio State also move up. LSU drops to No. 9, and unbeaten Oregon State is No. 10. The last time the Beavers were ranked in the top 10 later in the season was 2000, when they finished No. 4 in the country and beat Notre Dame 41-9 in the Fiesta Bowl.

The last time nine ranked teams lost in the same week was the weekend of Oct. 18, 2008.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has the Gamecocks ranked higher than they have been in 28 years.

"Have we ever been that high before? How about '84?" Spurrier asked during his conference call with reporters Sunday. South Carolina reached No. 2 late in the 1984 season.

"Well, we've still got a ways to go," he added.

Behind pass-rushing terror Jadeveon Clowney and hard-running Marcus Lattimore, the Gamecocks have emerged as the leading contender in the SEC to knock off Alabama -- if South Carolina can get a crack at the Tide.

They don't play in the regular season, but could meet in the SEC championship game.

The Gators haven't been in the top five during the regular season since 2009. That was the end of the Tim Tebow era. Year 2 under Will Muschamp is starting to feel a bit like Urban Meyer's second season at Florida. Those Gators won the national title.

As for West Virginia, this just about sums it up: In the last two weeks, the Mountaineers have allowed 108 points and won both games.

Next up for the Geno Smith and the Mountaineers is another trip back to Texas, this time Lubbock to face Texas Tech (4-1).

Ohio State moved up four spots to No. 8 after a 63-38 victory against Nebraska.

The Buckeyes are playing only for pride because of an NCAA postseason ban, one they probably could have avoided if Ohio State officials had self-imposed it last year and not waited for the NCAA to weigh in on the tattoo scandal.

In a year when the Big Ten looks down, Ohio State seems capable of going undefeated. No. 25 Michigan is the only other Big Ten team ranked this week.

No. 12 Florida State, No. 9 LSU and No. 15 Georgia all took tumbles in the rankings after spending the whole season ranked in the top seven.

The Seminoles' loss to NC State was probably the most disappointing because the Seminoles seemed primed to make a run at playing in the BCS championship game. The ACC is without another dominant team. Clemson is the only other ranked squad from the conference, and Florida State already beat the Tigers.

The Wolfpack hadn't shown much against their best opponents, especially defensively. But they shut out EJ Manuel and Florida State in the second half.

"They fought for the inches and made the inches and we didn't," coach Jimbo Fisher said.

No. 21 Cincinnati (4-0) and No. 22 Texas A&M are ranked for the first time this season, and No. 24 Boise State and No. 25 Michigan are back after falling out earlier. In between is No. 23 Louisiana Tech, which hasn't been ranked in the Top 25 since 1999.

"It shows we have some credibility in our program," La. Tech coach Sonny Dykes said Sunday.

The Bulldogs (5-0) are third in the nation in scoring at 53 points per game and are a serious threat to bust into the BCS from the Western Athletic Conference a la Boise State. The Bulldogs have won three road games, including games at Virginia and Illinois for which they were paid $1.6 million dollars to visit.

The biggest hurdle comes Saturday against Texas A&M in Shreveport, La. The game was originally scheduled the opening week of the season, but it was postponed because of severe weather.

"We'll find out where we are as a program," Dykes said. "We'll find out how we handle the spotlight."

Falling out of the rankings after losing were TCU, Nebraska, Northwestern, UCLA and Washington.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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