Michigan, taking advantage of losses by Notre Dame and Florida State, vaulted past Nebraska into the top position Sunday in the United Press International college football ratings.

The Wolverines used a 41-3 victory over Wisconsin to move up three places, outpolling an undefeated Nebraska squad in the latest balloting by the UPI Board of Coaches.

Michigan's ascension marked the earliest point in a season a team with a loss had become No. 1. The UPI ratings began in 1950.

"I'd be the happiest guy in the world if it were Jan. 2," said Michigan Coach Gary Moeller, already in long meetings to prepare for Michigan State next week.

BYU moved up one place to No. 9.

Michigan received 22 of 56 first-place votes cast by the 59-member Board of Coaches and finished with 745 of a possible 840 points. No. 2 Nebraska received 16 first-place votes and 717 points, and No. 3 Virginia was at the top of 10 ballots and earned 706 points.

For the second straight week, the ratings underwent a major shakeup because of losses at the top. Notre Dame, top-ranked last week, was upset 36-31 at home by Stanford, and No. 2 Florida State lost 31-22 at Miami.

The Wolverines moved into the No. 1 position to become the first 3-1 team in history to earn top ranking.

Michigan lost 28-24 to Notre Dame in its season opener, giving up the winning touchdown pass to the Fighting Irish with 1:20 remaining. The Wolverines then posted decisive victories over UCLA, Maryland and Wisconsin.

The last time the Wolverines were ranked No. 1 was in the 1981 preseason rankings. That rating was short-lived, however, as Michigan lost its opener that year to Wisconsin.

Nebraska and Virginia both were passed over despite being undefeated in five games.

"I don't think right now you can really say anybody's the best," Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne said. "There's a lot of pretty good teams out there. Nobody's dominating things to make it a clear-cut decision."

No. 4 Miami, which received four first-place votes, improved four places and Tennessee, with one first-place vote after an open date, jumped over Southeastern Conference rival Auburn into fifth place.

The sixth-ranked Tigers remained unchanged after a 16-14 victory over Louisiana Tech, failing to improve their position despite three first-place votes.

Notre Dame fell to seventh, followed by No. 8 Florida State. Brigham Young improved one place to ninth after an idle week, and Southern Cal broke into the Top 10 after a 30-17 victory over Washington State.

No. 11 Colorado fell two places after beating Missouri on a controversial "fifth down" touchdown as time ran out, and Illinois remained at No. 12. No. 13 Washington and No. 14 Clemson exchanged places after victories.

No. 15 Georgia Tech moved up three places after winning its eighth straight game over two seasons, and No. 16 Texas A&M dropped one spot after a narrow victory over Texas Tech. No. 17 Oregon was unchanged.

No. 18 Indiana improved four places after winning for the fourth time in as many games this season and No. 19 Wyoming moved up five places after edging San Diego State 52-51 to go to 6-0.

Arizona and Mississippi were tied for 20th following victories and No. 22 Texas entered the ratings after a victory over Rice. No. 23 Arkansas dropped seven spots, falling to 2-2 after losing to Texas Christian.

No. 24 Iowa returned to the ratings after a week's hiatus following its 12-7 victory over Michigan State, and No. 25 Texas Christian made the rankings for the first time since November 1984.

Dropping out of the ratings this week were Michigan State, Fresno State and Ohio State.

The national champion will receive the UPI Coaches Trophy and a $32, 000 non-athletic scholarship from the Gerrits Foundation and United Press International. Schools ineligible for consideration in the ratings because of NCAA sanctions are Florida, Houston, Memphis State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

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UPI Top 25

1. Michigan (3-1)

2. Nebraska (5-0)

3. Virginia (5-0)

4. Miami (3-1)

5. Tennessee (3-0-2)

6. Auburn (3-0-1)

7. Notre Dame (3-1)

8. Florida State (4-1)

9. Brigham Young (4-1)

10. Southern Cal (4-1)

11. Colorado (4-1-1)

12. Illinois (3-1)

13. Washington (4-1)

14. Clemson (5-1)

15. Georgia Tech (4-0)

16. Texas A&M (4-1)

17. Oregon (4-1)

18. Indiana (4-0)

19. Wyoming (6-0)

20. (tie) Arizona (4-1)

20. (tie) Mississippi (4-1)

22. Texas (2-1)

23. Arkansas (2-2)

24. Iowa (3-1)

25. Texas Christian (4-1)