Super Bowl XXV was close, exciting and a big disappointment in the ratings.

Although some analysts have cited the Giants' 20-19 win over the Bills as the No. 1 Super Bowl of all time, it was only No. 17 as far as A.C. Nielsen is concerned. As a matter of fact, the only Super Bowl in the past 17 years with worse ratings was last year's, when the 49ers blew out the Broncos 55-10.Super Bowl XXV averaged a 41.8 rating, which was still easily good enough to make it the most-watched program of the week. And ABC's pre-game and post-game shows ranked second and third.

Americans also showed they were looking for a laugh in the midst of the Persian Gulf war - the other eight shows in the top 10 (two tied for 10th) were all comedies.

And interest in news shows and gulf war specials declined. All three network newscasts saw their ratings drop from the previous week. And as for gulf war specials, CBS' Monday and Friday night "War in the Gulf" hours tied for 32nd, a "60 Minutes" war special was 39th, and NBC's "America at War" on Sunday was 84th.

In the battle between the Big Three networks, ABC was an easy winner, pulling a 15.6 average rating. CBS was way back in second with a 12.1 and perennial front-runner NBC was third for the second week in a row with an 11.6. (Each rating point equals 931,000 homes.)

For the season to date, just half a rating point separates the three networks. NBC leads with a 12.8 rating, ABC is second with a 12.6 and CBS third with a 12.3. All three networks are averaging a 21 share.

Despite a big lead-in from the Super Bowl, ABC's new sitcom "Davis Rules" finished just 16th for the week - not a particularly good showing.

On the other hand, CBS did surprisingly well with its repeat showing of "Lonesome Dove." Last week's final three segments finished 16th, 18th and 29th.- THE TOP 10: 1. "Super Bowl XXV," ABC; 2. "Super Bowl XXV Kick-Off," ABC; 3. "Super Bowl XXV Post-Game," ABC; 4. "Cheers," NBC; 5. "Roseanne," ABC; 6. "Murphy Brown," CBS; 7. "Empty Nest," NBC; 8. "The Golden Girls," NBC; 9. "Full House," ABC; 10. (tie) "The Cosby Show," NBC, and "Coach," ABC.BEVERLY HILLS RENEWEL: Fox has announced that its "Beverly Hills, 90210" has been picked up for the rest of the season.

No, the ratings for the Thursday night show are not good. Yes, the pickup order has something to do with the fact that Fox has close to nothing in the way of replacement shows. But the hourlong drama/comedy about a family that moves from Minnesota to Beverly Hills has turned out to be pretty good.THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: BYU is proving once again it will do anything to its football schedule as long as it makes money.

The school has a history of doing things like this - playing games in December, switching games and bye dates, going to Australia (for heaven's sake) and agreeing to play powerhouse Florida State while undergoing serious rebuilding.

The latest change comes by way of ESPN. The Cougars' game at Colorado State this fall has been switched from Saturday, Nov. 2 to Thursday, Oct. 31 - meaning BYU will have less time to prepare for what's expected to be one of the better WAC teams.