South Carolina Cracks AP Top 25

Monday, September 25th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Leave it to Lou Holtz to downplay South Carolina's first appearance in the Top 25 since 1993.

``If we're 23, there's a lot of bad football teams, because I don't think we're the 23rd best football team in the country by any stretch of the imagination,'' Holtz said Sunday.

The Gamecocks (4-0), who beat Mississippi State 23-19 on Saturday, were ranked No. 23 in The Associated Press Top 25 college football poll in balloting by the 71 sports writers and broadcasters on the AP panel.

South Carolina, which last appeared in the poll for one week early in the '93 season, are off to their best start since 1988. The Gamecocks were 0-11 in '99 and opened this season by snapping a 21-game losing streak with a win over New Mexico State.

They also have wins over a then-No. 9 Georgia and Eastern Michigan.

Once again, Nebraska and Florida State were 1-2, but the Seminoles moved a little closer to the top spot.

The Cornhuskers (3-0), 42-13 winners over Iowa, received 39 first-place votes and 1,743 points, while the Seminoles (4-0), 31-0 winners over Louisville, had 30 first-place votes and 1,732 points. Last week, the Huskers led the Seminoles by 24 points; this week the lead is 11.

Florida (4-0) was No. 3 with one first-place vote and 1,603 points after its 59-31 win over Kentucky, with idle Virginia Tech (3-0) moving up a spot to No. 4 and Kansas State (4-0) dropping a notch to No. 5 after a 55-10 win over North Texas. The Wildcats received the other first-place vote.

Washington was No. 6, followed by No. 7 Clemson, No. 8 USC, No. 9 Michigan and No. 10 Miami.

Tennessee, which beat Louisiana-Monroe 70-3, improved two places to No. 11, followed by No. 12 Ohio State, No. 13 Texas, No. 14 Oklahoma, No. 15 UCLA, No. 16 TCU, No. 17 Wisconsin, No. 18 Michigan State, No. 19 Auburn and No. 20 Oregon.

Southern Mississippi was No. 21, followed by No. 22 Purdue, No. 23 South Carolina, No. 24 Illinois and No. 25 Georgia.

It was a good day for Clemson, that other team from South Carolina. The Tigers (4-0), with a 31-10 win over Virginia, moved up four spots and into the top 10 for the first time since 1991.

Both UCLA, a 29-10 loser at Oregon, and Wisconsin, which lost 47-44 in two overtimes to Northwestern, fell out of the top 10. The Bruins (3-1) tumbled from nine places; the Badgers 10. Oregon (3-1) moved into the poll for the first time this season.

Notre Dame (2-2), which lost to 27-21 to Michigan State, dropped out of the Top 25, as did Mississippi State (2-1).

In the USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll, the top five were Nebraska, Florida State, Florida, Virginia Tech and Kansas State.