Gators finish unranked; Auburn tops polls

Published: Monday, January 10, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 1:05 p.m.

Florida sent Urban Meyer out a winner in the Outback Bowl, but the Gators' victory over Penn State was not enough to vault UF into the final coaches poll that came out Tuesday.

Florida received votes, but not enough to crack the top 25.

The 8-5 Gators also failed to make it into the final AP top 25 poll. It was only the third time in the past 21 years that UF finished the season unranked in the AP poll. The other times were in 2002 and 2004 under Ron Zook.

After winning the national championship in 2008 and finishing No. 3 in the nation a year ago, the Gators had an unexpected drop-off this year after opening the season in the top five.

Auburn finished No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll, completing an unprecedented climb to its first national title in 53 years.

The Tigers led the AP Top 25 following a 22-19 victory against Oregon in the BCS championship Monday night. They also finished No. 1 in the USA Today coaches' poll.

The Gators placed in the also-receiving votes category in the coaches' poll (Northern Illinois (11-3) 82; Tulsa (10-3) 41; San Diego State (9-4) 36; West Virginia (9-4) 35; Iowa (8-5) 31; Miami (Ohio) (10-4) 13; Florida (8-5) 10; Connecticut (8-5) 7; Air Force (9-4) 4; Hawaii (10-4) 4; Notre Dame (8-5) 3; Washington (7-6) 1 and the AP poll (Utah 98, Iowa 54, San Diego State 52, Northern Illinois 47, Miami (OH) 21, Florida 19, West Virginia 16, Notre Dame 9, Connecticut 8, Air Force 5, Navy 3, Hawaii 2, Brigham Young 1, Eastern Washington 1).

Auburn won its only other AP title in 1957, and the Tigers started 2010 further back than any other champion since the poll expanded to 25 teams in 1989.

Auburn (14-0) began the season at No. 22. The previous lowest preseason ranking for a national champion in the Top 25 era was Oklahoma, which went from No. 19 to No. 1 in 2000. The Tigers received 56 of 59 first-place votes. One voter did not submit a ballot.

Undefeated TCU (13-0) had to settle for No. 2. The Horned Frogs received the other three first-place votes and had their best finish in the AP poll since winning the 1938 national title.

Oregon finished third, a spot ahead of Pac-10 rival Stanford. Ohio State was fifth.

Auburn's title makes it five straight for the Southeastern Conference, joining Florida (with two), LSU and Alabama.

The Tigers had three other SEC West rivals ranked ahead of them at the start of the season -- Alabama, Arkansas and LSU -- but nobody realized what a difference their new quarterback would make.

Cam Newton, who transferred from junior college last spring after leaving UF, carried the Tigers to a national championship and won the Heisman Trophy along the way.

The last time the Tigers had a perfect season was 2004, but Southern California and Oklahoma played for the national championship and Tommy Tuberville's team finished No. 2.

The nation's strongest conference finished with three teams in the top 10, five in the first 15 and six in the Top 25, more than any other league. LSU was eighth, Alabama 10th, Arkansas 12th, Mississippi State 15th and South Carolina 22nd.

The Big 12 had five teams in the final rankings: No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 13 Oklahoma State, No. 18 Missouri, No. 19 Texas A&M and No. 20 Nebraska.

The Atlantic Coast Conference had four teams in the poll: No. 16 Virginia Tech, No. 17 Florida State, No. 23 Maryland and No. 25 North Carolina State.

No. 7 Wisconsin and No. 14 Michigan State joined Ohio State to give the Big Ten three teams in the final poll.

Conference USA also put two in the final rankings with No. 21 Central Florida and No. 24 Tulsa.

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