Fla. St. Now No. 1 in Football Poll

Monday, October 2nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The 492 yards Nebraska allowed to Missouri cost the Cornhuskers an even bigger number.

Nebraska dropped from No. 1 to second in The Associated Press Top 25 poll Sunday, a day after an alarming defensive performance against one of the lowest-rated offenses in the country.

Although the Cornhuskers (4-0) held on for a 42-24 win, the 71 sports writers and broadcasters who make up the AP panel voted defending national champion Florida State No. 1, one spot ahead of Nebraska.

The Seminoles collected 42 first-place votes and 1,745 points, while the Cornhuskers had 28 first-place votes and 1,731 points after a third consecutive harder-than-expected victory. Florida State defeated Maryland 59-7 Thursday night.

Missouri (1-3) gained nearly 100 yards more than any other team has against Nebraska.

Cornhuskers coach Frank Solich, who said his preseason vote in the coaches' poll went to Florida State, isn't worrying about the first poll of October. It's the December polls, which play a large role in deciding who will play for the national championship, that matter.

``I think it's still anybody's guess as to who the best team in the country is and I think people understand that,'' Solich said Sunday. ``There's a lot of games to be played.''

Nebraska remained No. 1 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll, but another game like Saturday could cost the Huskers that spot as well.

Missouri was No. 90 nationally in offense coming into the game with a 291.7-yard average. The Tigers' yardage Saturday was the most allowed by the Cornhuskers since San Jose State had 343 in the season opener.

It was the third time this season Nebraska had a rough time on defense, where it lost six starters from last season. The defense has usually tightened in the second half and the offense has played well enough to make all but one victory lopsided.

As far as the rankings, Solich said Nebraska's unbeaten record is what really matters at this point.

``We just feel good that we're 4-0 and still in the ballpark,'' Solich said.

It's rare for a No. 1 team to fall after winning and Nebraska was the beneficiary one of the last times it happened. In 1994, the Cornhuskers won a national title after moving into the No. 1 spot late in the season when Penn State fell to No. 2 despite beating Indiana 35-29.

The last time it happened was 1997, when Penn State dropped from the top spot twice, once after a 57-21 win against Louisville (Florida took over), and again after a 16-15 win over Minnesota (Nebraska took over); and Nebraska dropped after an overtime win over Missouri (Michigan took over and won the AP national title in '97).

Last week, Nebraska had 39 first-place votes and 1,743 points to Florida State's 30 first-place votes and 1,732 points. In the new poll, Florida State gained 12 first-place votes; Nebraska lost 11 first-place votes.

In addition, Oregon State moved into the AP poll for the first time since Jan. 4, 1969. The Beavers (4-0), who beat USC 31-21 for their first win over the Trojans after 26 consecutive losses to them in a 33-year span, are ranked No. 23.

The Top 25 underwent a top-to-bottom shakeup as nine teams ranked last week were beaten — seven by unranked teams.

Virginia Tech (4-0), a 48-34 winner at Boston College, moved up to No. 3, replacing Florida, a 47-35 loser to Mississippi State. The Gators (4-1) tumbled to No. 12.

Kansas State (5-0) moved up a spot to No. 4 after a 44-21 win at Colorado, followed by No. 5 Clemson, No. 6 Michigan, No. 7 Miami, No. 8 Ohio State, No. 9 Oregon and No. 10 Oklahoma. Kansas State received one first-place vote.

Florida State's ascent to No. 1 comes a week before the Seminoles play at Miami, which moved up three places after a 64-6 rout of Rutgers.

``It doesn't mean a thing at this time,'' Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said Sunday. ``Especially when we're going to a place like Miami this week. It just gives them more fuel for the fire. Playing down at their place is always tough, and this will give them extra incentive. But our goal is to end up No. 1.''

Texas was No. 11, followed by No. 12 Florida, No. 13 Washington, No. 14 TCU, No. 15 Auburn, No. 16 UCLA, No. 17 Southern Mississippi, No. 18 USC, No. 19 Georgia and No. 20 Mississippi State. USC dropped 10 places after its loss to Oregon State.

Tennessee, a 38-31 overtime loser at LSU, was No. 21 — down 10 places — followed by No. 22 Northwestern, Oregon State, No. 24 Wisconsin and No. 25 Notre Dame.

Michigan moved up three spots to No. 6 with a 13-10 win over Wisconsin (3-2), which fell seven places; and Oregon leaped 11 spots to No. 9 with its 23-16 win over Washington (3-1), which fell seven places.

Northwestern, a 37-17 winner over Michigan State, returned to the Top 25 for the first time since early in the 1997 season.

Dropping out of the poll this week were Illinois, Michigan State, Purdue and South Carolina (4-1), which lost at Alabama, 27-17.

The top five in the coaches poll were Nebraska, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Kansas State and Clemson.