MIAMI — Florida is out of The Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Not just the Gators — the entire state.
For the first time since Dec. 6, 1982, no Sunshine State team was among the AP rankings on Sunday, marking the end of 472 straight polls where either Florida, Florida State or Miami — and usually all three — were on the list. Florida and Florida State both lost Saturday, the Gators losing at No. 1 LSU 41-11 and the Seminoles continuing their freefall with a 35-30 setback at Wake Forest.
The top 10 teams in the poll were unchanged. LSU, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 5 Boise State, No. 6 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Stanford, No. 8 Clemson, No. 9 Oregon and No. 10 Arkansas all won by an average of 34.4 points. No. 4 Wisconsin was idle.
Most notable this week wasn't who's in the poll, but who's out.
"That shocks me that it's been that long," said AP poll voter Randy Rosetta of TigerSportsDigest.com, a Fox Sports site covering LSU, after learning the nearly 29-year streak of a Florida team appearing is over. "It doesn't shock me that it's happened now because you've got three programs that are in flux, all in the first or second year of new coaches after two highly successful guys left Florida and Florida State."
Jimbo Fisher is in his second year coaching the Seminoles after replacing Bobby Bowden, and Will Muschamp is in his first season taking over for Urban Meyer with the Gators. Al Golden is in his first season at Miami — and clearly, there's some growing pains happening all over the place.
Adding to the ignominy of the weekend is this stat: Saturday was just the second instance since Oct. 14, 1978, that Florida, Florida State and Miami lost on the same day. It also happened Oct. 30, 2004.
"Very disappointing," Fisher said Saturday after his team — a preseason national title hopeful — lost its third straight.
Texas fell 11 spots to No. 22 after losing 55-17 to Oklahoma. Michigan State and Houston moved into the poll at No. 23 and No. 25 respectively, with Florida (formerly No. 17) and Florida State (formerly No. 23) the only teams to slide out of the rankings.
The Seminoles, Gators and Hurricanes have three of the top five consecutive-appearance streaks in AP poll history. Florida State made the list 211 straight times from 1989 through 2001, Florida made 209 straight appearances from 1990 through 2002, and Miami's best run was 162 in a row from 1985 through 1995.
Now? Nothing. Around the state, South Florida fell from the poll last week after losing to Pittsburgh, and Miami has not been ranked since November.
It all seemed so different just a few weeks ago.
South Florida opened with a win at Notre Dame on the way to a 4-0 start. Miami beat Ohio State with relative ease, giving Hurricanes fans some hope that 2011 would be a turnaround year. Florida State was ranked No. 5 before losing to Oklahoma, which was the start of the Seminoles' slide. Florida was up to No. 12 after blowing out Kentucky. Even Florida International — one of the nation's worst programs before winning the Sun Belt title last season — was getting some buzz as a possible Top 25 team.
The Gators appeared on 20 of the 60 ballots cast by a nationwide panel this week. Only two voters had South Florida listed among their Top 25 in Sunday's balloting. Florida State was listed on every voter's ballot a month ago, and now appears on none of them.
The injury-plagued Gators have dropped two straight by a combined 58 points — you have to go back to 1971 to find an instance of Florida losing consecutive games by a higher point total. Of course, Florida's losses this year came to the teams currently holding down the top two spots in the poll, although that was of no consolation to Muschamp on Saturday night.
"We are at Florida," Muschamp said after the loss at LSU. "We expect to be able to win these games."
Rosetta said he was impressed by what he saw at times from Jacoby Brissett, and that played a role in why he ranked the Gators 20th on his ballot this week. Brissett became the first Florida true freshman quarterback to take his first career snap as a starter, a move made because of injuries to senior John Brantley and freshman Jeff Driskel.
"I still see a talented team there that right now is playing with a lot of walking wounded guys," Rosetta said of the Gators. "I'd like to see what they could do against Alabama and LSU with a full complement of guys. I hate to punish a team that is playing short-handed. ... I think there's hope for Florida if Brissett were to remain the quarterback for the next several weeks until Brantley is healthy."
Florida could easily make this a one-week blip for the state. The Gators play Auburn next weekend.1 comment on this story
Michigan and Georgia Tech, now both 6-0, moved up one spot each to No. 11 and No. 12, with West Virginia, Nebraska and South Carolina holding down the next three spots.
Illinois, Kansas State, Arizona State, Virginia Tech and Baylor were the next five, followed by Texas A&M, Texas, Michigan State, twice-beaten Auburn and Houston in places 21-25 in the poll. Virginia Tech rallied past the Hurricanes in the final minute on Saturday to win 38-35, a victory that likely kept the Hokies in the AP poll for the 16th straight week.
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