NCAA FB

Tide top AP's final poll; unbeaten Boise finishes 4th

Alabama
Alabama head coach Nick Saban holds championship trophy after winning the BCS Championship NCAA...
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It's unanimous. Alabama is back on top in college football.

The Crimson Tide was voted No. 1 in The Associated Press poll early Friday to earn its seventh AP title after beating Texas 37-21 in the BCS championship game.

Only Notre Dame has more AP national championships, with eight. Oklahoma also has seven.

The Crimson Tide (14-0) hadn't finished No. 1 since 1992, but in just three seasons under coach Nick Saban, the South's most storied program has returned to greatness.

"Third year and we're already national champions?" Alabama nose guard Terrence Cody said. "That's hard to believe."

Texas (13-1) is No. 2 in the Top 25 and Florida (13-1), last season's champion, was third.

The only other unbeaten team in the nation, Boise State (14-0), wound up fourth. It was the Broncos' best finish in the AP poll. Back in 2006, the last time Boise State busted the BCS and went undefeated, the Broncos ended up fifth in the final rankings.

Only four points separated Florida and Boise State.

The USA Today coaches' poll had the same top five as the AP, but the gap between No. 3 Florida and No. 4 Boise State was 11 points.

The Tide is the fourth straight Southeastern Conference team to win the national title. No league had ever captured three straight before last season. Alabama is the first unanimous No. 1 in the final Top 25 since Texas in 2005.

Ohio State finished fifth followed by TCU, Iowa, Cincinnati, Penn State and Virginia Tech, giving the Big Ten three top 10 teams, the most of any league.

Poor postseason showings in recent years have hurt the Big Ten's reputation nationally, but this season Ohio State and Iowa won BCS games as underdogs and Penn State beat LSU in the Capital One Bowl.

Pac-10 champion Oregon starts the second 10, followed by BYU, ACC champion Georgia Tech, Nebraska and Pittsburgh.

For the Cornhuskers, it's the best final ranking since 2001, when they finished eighth.

No. 15 Pittsburgh, along with Wisconsin, Utah, LSU, Miami and Mississippi complete the top 20. The Hurricanes hadn't finished a season ranked this high since they were No. 17 after the 2005 season.

The final five were Texas Tech, Southern California, Central Michigan, Clemson and West Virginia.

USC's victory in the Emerald Bowl against Boston College helped the Trojans avoid ending a season unranked for the first time since 2001, coach Pete Carroll's first year.

Alabama won five AP championships under Bear Bryant, three in the 1960s and back-to-back titles in 1978 and '79.

After Bryant retired in 1982, Alabama couldn't keep up with the high standards he set. Gene Stallings, one of Bear's Boys, came the closest, winning a national title in 1992.

But in the late 1990s and earlier this decade there were some lean - and at times embarrassingly bad - seasons for Alabama.

The Tide lured Saban away from the NFL after the 2006 season. He had 'Bama back in the national title hunt last season and completed the journey this season.

"I'll tell you what I told the team," Saban said, "that I've never been prouder of a group of guys for their resiliency, their buy-in, their hard work, the blood, sweat and tears that they put in to accomplish what they accomplished this season."

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